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Last Christmas - in Broadchurch

Alec Hardy thought he was going to be alone this year in Broadchurch for Christmas.  His DS had moved to Weymouth and he had just recovered from a life saving heart op.  He thought of trying to find his daughter until Rose Tyler walked into his life when her brother wanted a tour of the Police Station.  A heart-warming story for Christmas where Alec finds love and a family at last.

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Chapter 1
The Tyler family were getting ready for their Christmas trip.  Tony had been dying to spend Christmas away and now he was older, his dad had agreed so they had hired a holiday cottage by the beach in a small seaside town called Broadchurch and Jackie had chosen an end of terrace bright pink house that she thought would be perfect.  They were going to spend 10 nights there, returning on the 2nd January and they were all looking forward to the break.

So on the 23rd, everyone piled into Pete's large SUV, Tony was in his booster seat, arguing with his dad that he was old enough at seven to do without it but Rose talked him into it by saying when they got there, while mum and dad unpacked, she would take him to find the local police station.

Tony Tyler had a 'thing' for police stations.  He had been to nearly every single one within the London area in less than two years and each station had been only too happy to play host to the chairman of the Vitex corporation's son.

The first thing Tony wanted to do was go down to the sea even though it was cold so Rose said she would unpack later and take him down then while their parents went back to the supermarket they had seen a sign for back on the main road, she would go find him the local Police Station.  So Pete said he would have to get a spare key from the agency the next day and said they would call her when they got back.  Tony and Rose set off to the beach, trying to keep her young brother out of the water and from getting his trainers wet, unsuccessfully and Rose had found a map of the town on the internet and said they had to walk across the other side of the harbour.

Trudging in squeaky trainers, the young boy held his sister's hand as they followed the harbour road, crossing over the bridge and Tony watching all the birds on the river and pointing out a run-down blue cabin by the water's edge that seemed to stick out more than the other cabins, then he wanted to look at the other side at the boats and finally, they were opposite the Police Station steps.

Rose had read about the town, how a young boy had been murdered and wondered why her mother had chosen the place to spend the holidays but it was all over, the killer had been caught and there was no likelihood the events were going to repeat themselves so she knew her brother was safe and he wasn't going to be left alone for a minute.

They sat on the wall when Rose went to get him a drink from an outdoor café that was still open, there were quite a few people around surprisingly and Tony was dying to get into the station.  They had just crossed the road and Tony as usual bounded up the steps, knowing to wait at the top but he had just almost reached the door as Rose got to the top step and as he turned back around, he almost collided with a tall man just coming out.

"Whoa there young man, easy," the man said as he caught Tony in time to stop him colliding with him.

"Sorry Mister," the boy grinned up at him, the man still holding the boy's arms carefully so as not to hurt him.

Rose caught up and Tony pulled his arms away, going back to Rose.  Rose smiled and apologised for her enthusiastic brother.

"Sorry about that, he gets excited when he sees a Police Station and can't wait to look inside, it's his hobby."

"That's ok.  Are you the boy's mother?"

Rose laughed but it was Tony that spoke.  "No Mister, she's my big sister, my mum went shopping and Rose is taking me into the Police Station, I want to see where you lock bad people up.  I've been to every single Police Station in London," the boy grinned, crossing his arms and tapping his foot that he wanted to go in.

Rose smiled.  "Sorry about my brother, he gets impatient when he knows where he's going."

"That's alright Miss.  I'm Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and please, go ahead, I'm sure your brother can be accommodated, there are not many people around with it being the holidays."

"Thanks.  Will it be ok if we just go in?  We don't need to come back?"

"No, it will be fine.  I've finished for the day, I can take you in if you like, it's no trouble."  He turned to the boy.  "What's your name son?"

"Tony Tyler Sir.  Are you really a policeman?  Where's your uniform?  Do you have a police car?"

Alec smiled.  "I don't wear a uniform and yes I have a police car but it's a plain one."

"Does it have lights and a siren?"

"Yes but I have to put them on only in emergencies.  Would you like to go inside Tony?" Alec asked, pointing to the door.

Tony didn't need to be asked twice.

Rose followed at a distance, knowing her brother was safe going inside accompanied by the man who solved the Broadchurch murder.  She had read all about him, followed the news and read all about his illness and the case that had haunted him finally being laid to rest.  The reason she had followed so closely was because without his beard, the detective inspector resembled someone she missed dearly and would never see again but she was not going to let that get in the way of her brother's enjoyment.  She had recognised him instantly but never imagined she would actually meet him but there again, she should have half expected it since she had told her brother they were going where he worked.

Alec walked up to the front desk and the sergeant looked up.  "Thought you'd left for the holidays Sir, getting in some overtime?"

"No, I came back to escort a young visitor around the station since it's quiet.  I'll give him a quick tour since hardly anyone is working.  Can you give him a visitor badge?"

Tony tugged on the bottom of Alec's coat.  "I want to see where you lock people up and where you introgate them."

Alec smiled, looking at Rose, who was doing the same.  "You mean interrogate them?"

The boy grinned and nodded.  "Yeah, introgate them and make them tell you they were naughty.  Then you lock them up."

Alec ruffled the boy's blonde hair.  How could he have known the woman wasn't the boy's mother?  They looked so much alike.

"Well Tony, I'll get the keys and I can show you inside and lock you in if you like?"

"Really?"  The boy's face lit up.  "You'll lock me in?  Cool!  Rose, he's going to lock me in!"

Rose smiled.  Now Alec knew her name and he knew where he had heard the name before when the boy said Tyler.  She was Rose Tyler, the Vitex heiress and she was in his Police Station.  He had read about her and about her mother marrying the president of the Vitex corporation in a whirlwind romance and her being adopted. Back when he had been married, his ex was jealous of the young woman, coming into all that money through her mother's marriage and had followed her story and all the events she had attended for her mother's charities.

He should have recognised her, she was constantly in magazines he had seen when he was in hospital, photos of her at charity events and attending other occasions. She looked ordinary enough to him, she wasn't dressed like she had money, she was wearing black trousers with knee high boots, a pink jumper and a herringbone three-quarter length coat.  Alec was proud of his observations, her blonde hair was shoulder length and was sort of curled and brushed back.  She was a natural beauty, she wasn't wearing any make-up.  There was nothing false about Rose Tyler.

It was when she smiled though, he could see why she was constantly in the news and why every week it was claimed she had a new man interested in her, her name being linked with actors and other personalities including one that he thought resembled himself, especially when he had a beard for a role he was playing which these days seemed constantly since the actor was playing a role probably based on himself about a girl's murder in a small town in Somerset.  There had even been rumours in the town that they would be filming there but the police knew nothing about it.  Some had even joked he could be the actor's stand-in.

Tony beamed as he was handed the visitors badge and Alec took him down to the interview room and sat him down opposite.  Rose stood by the door smiling.

Alec was going to give the boy the full works, asking him his name and how old he was.  When they came out, he led them down the corridor and through a door to the holding cells and he opened one of them, letting Tony in first.

"Right Tony, this is where we leave you.  You want me to lock you in?"

The boy nodded, a big grin on his face.  He sat on the bench with his arms folded, waiting for the door to close.  "Come on Mister, shut the door," Tony said impatiently, swinging his legs under the bench.

Alec started to close the door.  "You can call me Alec and I'll lock the door for five minutes then I'll let you out again.  If you've had enough, just knock or shout and I'll let you out."

"I won't want to come out," the boy replied adamantly, a sulk on his face replacing the grin.

"Well, we'll see about that."

Rose laughed.  "Well we'll just have to explain to mum and dad that you wouldn't come out, then you'll miss your tea and putting the tree up tonight."

Tony thought about it.  Alec closed the door and locked it, leaving the small window and the hatch open and allowed Rose to look through.  Tony was happily still swinging his legs and singing something about London Bridge, though what that had to do about being locked up, only the boy himself knew.

Alec took the opportunity to talk to Rose at last, since the boy had been through the station like a whirlwind.

"It's really good of you to do this Alec, he won't stop talking about all over Christmas now.  I don't expect you get many small boys wanting a tour."

"Not really, though I've had to interview a few, especially during my last case.  I take it you know about that?"

"Yes, it was tragic about that poor boy.  His family must be feeling the effect now at this time of year.  We've just come down for the holidays, we've rented a cottage by the beach.  You've probably seen it, that pink one on the end."

Alec knew it, it was just at the side of the cottage he had rented until spring next year.  He had got a good deal on a two bedroomed holiday cottage that would have remained empty and been able to move into when he came out of hospital.  His friend Ellie had helped him move and he had just got his job back part-time and been allowed to drive again.  He'd moved back to the hotel for a few weeks until the house was empty of the last of the holiday-makers but it was now his temporary home when he would have to decide by the end of March if he was going to stay or get another transfer.  Now everything was out in the open, he should have less trouble finding someone to take him.

There was no sound coming from inside the cell.  Rose was worriedly looking through the hatch to see Tony still singing to himself.  It had been over five minutes.  Alec smiled at Rose.

"Best let him out then or he'll miss putting up the tree.  Have you just arrived?"

"Yeah, a couple of hours ago, I brought him out while mum and dad went shopping and getting unpacked.  I'll have to go get Tony something to eat soon, I don't know how long they will be out."

"There's a café by the harbour, you probably saw it.  I can take you and your brother over when we've finished here, that's if we can get him out of this cell."

He unlocked the door and Tony made no effort to get up.  "Come on Tony, time to go now.  You've served your time and I'm letting you out for good behaviour.  I'm putting your sister in charge of you.  If she tells me you've been naughty, she can bring you back and I'll lock you up again."

Rose wished he hadn't said that, the boy would now be thinking of all sorts of ways of getting into trouble to get locked up again.

"Thanks Alec, that was really cool!" Tony grinned, putting his arms around Alec's legs and looking up at him.  "Can I see your office now?"

"I suppose so, if your sister doesn't mind?"

"No, it's fine, lead the way."

They went upstairs to the CID room and into Alec's office, getting looks from the few personnel who were still working, them wondering if it was Hardy's girlfriend or wife and his son and Tony climbed onto the leather sofa.

"Thanks Alec, that was great.  This is the best Police Station I've been in."

Alec sat behind his desk that was tidy for a change.  "It was my pleasure to show you around.  Now why don't we go over to the café and get you something to eat?  It will be dark soon and they'll be switching the lights on around the harbour."

The boy crawled over onto Rose's lap as she sat down beside him.

"You've done enough already Alec, thanks.  I can take Tony for something to eat."

"I have to go that way, I live over there, just behind where you're staying."

"Oh.  Ok then, maybe you could walk us back, it will be dark soon, I never realised what time it was and we've been out longer than I thought.  I'm surprised mum hasn't called to see where we are but I suppose it will be mad in the supermarket."

Alec didn't want to think about it, he still had to go do his shopping and get presents for Ellie's two sons and a bottle of wine for her to take with him.  He had promised he would go down for Christmas dinner since he had decided not to attempt the journey to Scotland.  His daughter had contacted him when he was in hospital but she had never come down to visit.  He had hoped she would forgive him now everything was in the open but it may take her a bit longer.  He had to call Ellie to say he would be taking her up on her offer.

Tony was up in a flash and pulling his sister up.  "Come on Rose, I'm hungry.  When will mum and dad be back?"

"I don't know Sweetheart but we'll go to the café, Alec's going to take us."

"Cool.  Alec, can we go in your police car?"

Alec laughed.  "Sorry, I don't have it with me, I walk to work."

The boy looked at him.  "Then how do you chase bad guys?"

"I have a driver who takes me out when I need to go anywhere."

Tony seemed satisfied by his answer and got Rose to her feet.  Alec switched out the light and they went back downstairs, Alec taking the visitors badge from Tony and handing it back.  The desk sergeant smiled to himself, he had never seen the detective show anyone around before and wondered if he was trying to impress the young blonde woman that was with him.

Alec led them back down the steps but Tony wanted to go the other way.  It was starting to get dark but he insisted on seeing what was on the other side of the wall so they crossed over and Alec lifted him onto the sea wall as the waves came crashing over the rocks.  Tony was laughing as they got nearer, saying he wanted them to get even closer.  Alec was cringing at the thought, he really hated the sea.  He lifted Tony back down and they started walking back.

The few Christmas lights had come on as they walked back.  Tony was holding Rose's hand but he held his other hand out to Alec, who just looked at Rose and she nodded it was ok.  Reaching the other side of the harbour, Rose could see their pink cottage but there was no car parked at the side so she assumed her parents were still out.  Stepping into the nice warm café, Tony went to sit on one of the benches at a table by the window, sitting himself in the middle.

Rose sat on one of the chairs so Alec took the other one next to her, looking at the menu.  Rose wasn't really hungry but she didn't know when she would get anything else so she chose something and a children's meal for Tony, getting up to go to the counter.  Alec got up and followed her.

"I'll get these Rose, my treat," he offered as Rose made her order.

Rose looked at him.  "Thanks, that's really nice of you."  She put her purse away and crossed back to her brother.  "Move over Tony and let me sit there please," she asked, standing in the gap between the tables.

Tony shook his head and folded his arms, a trait he had inherited from his mother. "Nope," was all he said.

"Tony, you can't take all the room up, now move over."

He remained where he was until he saw Alec crossing back to the table.  "Want Alec to sit here," Tony declared, moving over.

Alec smiled at the boy and squeezed through the gap, sitting at his side as the waitress brought a tray with some juice for Tony and tea and coffee for Rose and Alec.  Rose thought how good he was with her brother but she had read he had a daughter and she supposed it just came natural to him.

"So Tony, did you enjoy your tour of the Police Station then?" Alec asked, pouring milk into his cup.

"It was great Alec but I wish I could have gone in your police car."

"Well it doesn't really look like a police car, it's just black."

Tony looked disappointed.  "Rose, when we get back are we putting the tree up?"

"Yes, when mum and dad get back.  We don't have a key yet, remember?  We have to wait for them so we'll stay here until mum rings."

"But Rose, that could take ages," the boy complained as his meal arrived.

Alec could see the look on Rose's face, wondering how she was going to keep her brother occupied if her parents weren't back by the time they were ready to leave.

"Well Tony, would you like to come and see my house?  I live just at the back of where you are staying.  It's nice and warm and you can wait there.  If that's ok with your sister?"

Rose didn't have much choice.  Her mother had complained they had only been left one key and the letting office were going to get the owner to drop another key off in the morning.  "That's very kind of you Alec.  We don't want to be any trouble.  We didn't get a spare key so my dad has it."

"It's no trouble.  The café will be closing soon and there's nowhere else to go, everywhere will be closing soon.  Honestly, I'll enjoy the company and it's just around the corner from you and only a few yards away.  You can't walk around, it's dark and it's cold and you have a seven year old boy to think about."

Rose thought about it, it was really good of him.  "Ok, thanks, I'll call mum and see where they are."

Tony had eaten most of his meal when he declared he needed the bathroom so Alec offered to go with him while Rose called her mother.

"How much longer are you going to be Mum?  Tony and I are in the café but it's closing soon."

"Rose, it's murder in here and we're only half way around.  We managed to get a tree but it's not as nice as the one at home.  Is Tony ok?  Did he get inside the Police Station?"

Rose turned around to see Alec waiting outside the door to the Gents, the door slightly open asking if Tony needed help, to which he got a firm "No" that Rose could hear him.  She didn't know how to break the news that Tony had made a new friend and wanted to bring him home with him probably.  She smiled across at Alec, who smiled back.

"Well Mum, about that.  Yes he got in, got interviewed by a detective inspector then got locked in a cell for ten minutes because he didn't want to come out.  I had to bribe him to get him to leave.  Then he insisted on seeing the detective's office, then he wanted to stand on the sea wall as the waves were crashing up and now we've been invited to wait with the detective until you come back."

All Jackie could manage was a "What?"

"It's fine Mum, the detective just lives around the corner from our cottage.  He's the one that solved that murder a few months ago, do you remember?"

Jackie did.  Rose had been following the investigation because the detective looked like a certain Timelord she used to know.  "Well ok, I'll call you when we get back, this wouldn't have happened if we had brought things with us."

Rose could hear Pete saying they didn't have to room to bring all the shopping they were going to need for the holidays.  Rose laughed at the thought of them arguing over how many different types of cakes and other treats they were going to get.  Tony had finally come out after Alec had to go in after him when the boy was taking his time and persuaded him the café was closing and they would all get locked in for the night.  Rose said goodbye to her mother and got up to join them by the door.

They walked across the car park to a row of houses, Alec's being the first, a black SUV parked outside.

"Is this your police car Alec?" Tony asked him, admiring it.

"Yes, now why don't we get out of the cold and go inside?"  He opened the door, allowing Rose and Tony in first and switched the lights on.

Tony went to sit on the chair but only after Rose made him take his still damp trainers off in the entryway.

"Tony, your feet are still wet from earlier, I told you not to walk in the water, didn't I?"  The boy just grinned at Alec as he sat down.

Alec went to the kitchen area and brought a clean towel and handed it to Rose. "Here, dry his feet on this and I'll put his socks on the radiator to dry."

Tony was already pulling his wet socks off as Rose went to dry his feet after taking her coat off and handing hers and Tony's jacket to Alec in exchange for the towel. Alec had taken his coat off and went back to the kitchen, switching the kettle on.

"I'll make us a drink Rose, I've got some juice for Tony.  My friend has two boys who come and visit sometimes."

Rose wondered if his friend was male or female then remembered that his ex DS had a family and supposed it was her he was talking about.

Tony was wriggling his feet around and laughing as Rose dried them properly.  Alec smiled to himself watching them.  Ellie had brought her two boys here but watching Rose with her brother brought back memories of when he used to fuss over his daughter.  Making drinks and handing Tony some juice, Alec sat on the sofa next to Rose.

"So, are you both looking forward to Christmas?" he asked, thinking he would be on his own had it not been for Ellie's offer.

"I am," Tony replied.  "I'm getting a bike but it's at home, dad said there was no room in the car for it."

"Tony, you know you can ride it when we get back.  You'll get other presents too." Tony made a face at her.

Alec still had to go shopping but he was playing host.  He would have to go later, it was only four thirty.  Rose had just put her cup down when her phone rang.

"Rose, we're back but could you wait a bit longer so we can wrap some presents up?  Just give us half an hour."

Rose looked at Alec who was trying to entertain her brother.  "Yeah, we'll be fine though I think Alec may be glad when we give him his house back."

"Oh, it's Alec now is it?  What happened to the detective?" her mother half joked.

Rose forgot.  "His name's Alec Hardy and I think Tony got a new best friend."

Rose wasn't going to be wrong.  Half an hour later, his socks almost dry and him getting his trainers back on, Tony was pulling on Alec's arm as he yanked him around the corner to meet his mum and dad.  The boy had insisted Alec came to help him put the tree up when he'd asked where Alec's tree was and he said he hadn't got one yet.  Alec knew at this rate he would have to maybe leave his shopping until later, the supermarket was open late for the holidays.  He may even leave it until early tomorrow morning, he was going to ask Rose to go over to the pub with him for a drink.

Rose did the introductions as an excited Tony wanted to start putting the tree up, insisting Alec had come to help him and telling his mother how he had been locked up in a police cell.  Pete smiled at his young son and thanked Alec for looking after him so well.

"Well Mr Tyler, you have a great boy there, he really enjoyed himself and Rose was there to make sure he behaved."

Pete already liked the man and had also read what had happened to him.  "Please, call me Pete.  I'm afraid Tony gets a bit excited.  He's never actually been locked in a cell before."

Alec smiled.   "Well we were stood outside the entire time and the key was in the lock.   Rose kept looking through the hatch at him."

Jackie had got the tree out of the box with Rose's help and was putting it on the stand.  Soon, Tony had decorations all over the floor and Alec was handing them to him for Rose to put them exactly where on each branch he wanted them.  It was after six when they finally finished, Jackie wanted to get Tony his tea, then his bath and to bed, complaining his socks were dried up and asking what had happened, Rose having to explain and getting a look.

When Jackie had finally got Tony upstairs, Alec asked Rose if she wanted to go for a drink with him later.  "Yeah, I'd love to after dinner, mum's already getting it ready.  Would you like to join us?  She always makes too much and she'll insist you stay."  Jackie's cookery skills had vastly improved after she had taken basic lessons from their cook.

Alec really wanted to and the shopping could always wait, he would go when the supermarket opened in the morning and get there before the rush.  So they all moved into the kitchen to eat, Jackie laying four places, Tony already having some soup because he'd already eaten something earlier, Pete asked Alec about his job now all the fuss had died down and Alec made no secret of saying he was finding it boring now.  He knew he had been all over the papers but this was the first time he had sat down with a family and talked for a long time.

"So Alec, what are you doing for Christmas day?" Jackie asked as she and Rose cleared the dishes.

"Oh, I was going down to Weymouth to a friends' on Christmas day and nothing special on Boxing Day.  I'm on emergency callout over the holidays but only if the entire south coast of Britain collapses into the sea or something equally drastic."

Jackie was appalled the man had to travel so he wouldn't be on his own.  "Well, why are you driving all that way down there for?  Come round and join us, we're only around the corner.  You can see your friend the day after.  Tony would love it if you were here, wouldn't he Rose?"
Chapter 2
Rose was beginning to feel left out of it.  Yes, Tony had befriended the detective but since he had done, now she had seen him in person, he was nothing like the gruff person she had read about.  He was lonely and so was she.  For the last few years, if it hadn't been for Tony making Christmas worthwhile, she would have just stayed in her room because this was the time of year she missed him – her Doctor. She had only got to spend one Christmas with him.  Here was Alec, sat looking at her but she knew it wasn't the fact they looked alike that was drawing her to him.

"Rose, would you like to go out now?" Alec asked, getting up from the table.

Rose looked at her mother.  "You two go out, we'll clear up."  Jackie knew it had been a long time since Rose had been on an actual date, apart from Mickey dragging her out.

"Ok, I'll just get my coat."

They walked to the pub just opposite the harbour, passing the one next to the row of houses, Alec saying all the locals went in there and he couldn't forgive them for hounding a man to death who turned out to be innocent.

Over their drinks, Rose talked about home, her job, being Pete's assistant and how her mother and he had met, the official version.  She had been offered another position at Torchwood and Vitex but Pete spent most of his time at Torchwood anyway, officially they both said they worked at Vitex.  Pete virtually ran them both from behind the scenes, Jake did most of the day to day work at Torchwood with Mickey helping him.

She knew with being in the police, Alec would have heard of Torchwood but she wasn't going to mention it.  After two drinks, Rose said she still had her unpacking to do.

"Thanks for the drinks Alec.  I hope Tony didn't ruin any plans you had."

"No, I had no real plans.  I have to go shopping early tomorrow now though, I had planned on going after work but it's no matter.  It was really good of your mother to invite me to Christmas dinner but I feel I'll be intruding."

"No you won't.  We normally have loads of people round on Christmas Day and Tony will be disappointed if you don't come, you're his new best friend now you've locked him up."

Alec smiled.  It would be nice, instead of travelling all that way, he could go there on Boxing Day after all.  Besides, it gave him more chance to get to know the woman who was sat next to him.  "Ok then, since you've actually made me change my mind, it's not often people can do that.  I'll call my friend in the morning so she knows not to expect me.  I can't go disappointing Tony."

"Good, 'cos you'd be disappointing me as well."

"Really?"

"Yeah."  She slipped her arm into his and kissed his cheek.  "You were really good with Tony, he's normally less well behaved than that."

Alec felt himself blushing.

"I really have to go now Alec, thanks for everything."

Alec got up and helped Rose into her coat.  "Then allow me to see you home."

He led them out, Rose stopped to visit the ladies room and Alec looked in the doorway.  They were advertising a special Christmas Eve dinner, bookings still being taken so he planned on asking her out again.  He quickly went back to the bar and asked to make a reservation and got one for seven thirty.  Pleased with himself, he went back to the doorway just as Rose was coming out.  They walked back across the car park and back to the pink cottage.  Stopping just at the side, Alec asked if he could take her out tomorrow night for a meal.

"I'd love to but will anywhere be serving food on Christmas Eve?"

"Leave that to me Rose, is that a yes?"

"Yes, on one condition."

"What's that?"

"That afterwards, you come back here and have a few drinks with us and some Christmas cake."

Alec laughed.  If she had asked that this time last year, he would have said no and he wouldn't even be asking her out.  "I think I can manage that.  I'll pick you up at seven then?"

"Fine, I look forward to it.  Oh and Christmas dinner starts at two or earlier if you don't mind getting tangled up in wrapping paper and playing with whatever Tony's got for presents."

"No, I don't mind.  I'll come round early then, say midday?"

"Great, Tony will love that."

He leaned towards her.  "Rose, you won't slap me if I kiss you goodnight, will you?"

Rose giggled.  It was the first time a man had actually asked her if they could kiss her.

"No."  He didn't need any more as he leaned closer and pressed his lips onto hers.  Rose kissed him back with the same intensity.

"Goodnight Rose, you have a really great family and I look forward to spending Christmas with you."  He reached into his jacket and brought out his phone.  "Can I get your number?  Just in case."

Rose smiled and took his phone, tapping her number in and handing it back.  "What about your number?" she asked.

Alec smiled.  Well if I call you, you'll get it, won't you?"

"That's not fair, you have mine."  She tried to snatch his phone to delete her number but he held it out of reach.  "I'll call you, later."

It was only just after ten but Rose had to unpack so she had to settle for that.  "I might not answer if I don't know whose number it is," she teased.

"Well how many people would you expect to be calling you after ten at night?"

He had a point, it wasn't like she had a load of contacts in her phone.  Neither Jake or Mickey would be calling unless there was a dire emergency.

"Oh, maybe your boyfriend will be calling you to say goodnight?"  He was fishing and Rose knew it.

She smiled, poking her tongue between her teeth.  "Wouldn't you like to know?"

"Now you are teasing me.  If you had a boyfriend you would not have just kissed me like that."

"Goodnight Alec.  I'll see you tomorrow night unless you want to come round before Tony goes to bed?"

"Yes, I will, he'll be even more excited than he was getting locked up."

Rose laughed.  "That was the icing on the cake, he'll love you forever now.  When he gets back to school, he'll drive everyone crazy."

"Goodnight Rose."  He leaned over to kiss her again.

Rose went back inside with a smile on her face – this was going to be the best Christmas since she had been here, even though her brother lightened her mood.  There had been no topping the Christmas she had last spent in her own world.

She had just finished unpacking after getting a grilling from her mother about Alec Hardy when her phone rang with an unrecognisable number.  She knew it had to be Alec but she was going to wind him up.

"Hello, who is this?  If you're prank caller, I'll have you know I have a friend in the police."

She heard a small laugh down the phone.  "Relax Rose, I am the police," Alec's Scottish voice that Rose thought was rather sexy came back at her.

"Oh well, in that case, consider yourself warned."

"Hello to you too Rose.  Forgotten me already?  Obviously those two kisses I gave you were not memorable enough.  I think I'm just going to have to make them more so next time, maybe after dinner tomorrow night?"

"You promised to have a drink with us tomorrow night, remember?"

He remembered.  "Yes but that won't stop me from stealing you away afterwards.  I only live around the corner in case you'd forgotten.  How about we have a drink with your family then you come back to my place for a few more?  I can see your cottage from my bedroom window, are you at the front or back of the house?"

"The back," she replied, opening the curtains.  She could see lights on upstairs in a few of the short row of houses and one on the end where Alec was living when she saw a flicker of light as he pulled the curtains back and saw someone waving.  She waved back.

Rose liked the idea of that.  She had not had a boyfriend as such since she had been here.  There had been all kinds of rumours about her having a different boyfriend every week, the papers linking her name to celebrities including that rather dishy - looking Scottish actor that bore a strange resemblance to The Doctor and now Alec Hardy since she had met him.

"Ok, I'd like that."

Alec was pleased with himself.  "How about I pick you up early tomorrow night then I can spend some time with Tony before we go out?"  He was growing fond of the boy and his boundless energy.  He missed his daughter but she was almost sixteen now, not seven.

The next morning, Alec was up early and out to the supermarket just as it opened.  Why couldn't this town have a 24hr one like down at Dorchester?  Still, he couldn't get away last night anyway, he was having a rather pleasant evening with Rose Tyler.  He thought about calling Rose and asking her to lunch but he figured she would be busy with last minute shopping and so while he was getting presents for Ellie's boys, he found a remote control police car for Tony, a perfume set each for Rose and her mother and a bottle of scotch for her dad.

Rose and Jackie had got dropped off on the High Street, Pete offering to take Tony for a walk.  So finding an indoor market that was still open, Rose decided she needed to get a present for Alec since he was going to be having Christmas dinner with them and bought him a teal and grey striped tie in a gift box, Jackie buying him some cufflinks.  Rose was about to call him to see if he wanted her to pick something up for him to give to Tony when he called her.

He had got back from his shopping trip, wrapped his presents and was at a loss what to do.  He called Ellie and said he had made some new friends and was spending Christmas Day with them and he would come down on Boxing Day.  Ellie asked if the friend was a female.

"Oh come on Alec, I'm not mad at you, as long as you bring her down on Boxing Day, I'd like to meet her."

"Have I said I'd met a woman Miller?" he asked.

Ellie sniggered.  "Have you said you didn't?  So how did you meet her?"

"Miller, she's down here on holiday, with her family.  Her young brother wanted to look around the station, I asked her to go for a drink with me.  End of story.  Since when did I have to explain myself to you?"

He still called her Miller even after what they had been through but he was not going to tell her he was taking Rose out for dinner.

"So why are you spending Christmas with her?"

"Because her family invited me, they're staying just around the corner from me, in that pink cottage."

"Oh, that's handy then, for a few midnight rendezvous," Ellie laughed, thinking that would be a first for the detective.

"Shut it Miller.  I'll ask her if she wants to come with me and if not, I'll come on my own so get over it."

After that, he was still bored and having lunch with Rose would cheer him up, even if it meant Tony tagging along but he thought the boy would be otherwise occupied.

Rose answered her phone, trying not to let her mother hear her.  "Ah, the mysterious phone caller, are you still going to remind me who you are later?"

Alec laughed.  "Well I was wondering if you might have lunch with me if you're back before one.  Any chance?"

"Well I have presents to wrap but I can do that later, I'll be back for one.  We're almost ready to come back, we'll just get a taxi, I don't know where dad and Tony are, I think they went for a walk up on the cliffs, Tony wanted to go."

"Tell me where you are and I'll come and get you.  It's no trouble."

"Well if you're sure, we're just in the market next to a hotel, I think it's called The Traders."

"I know where that is, I used to stay there.  Wait outside, I'll be about five minutes."

"Oh Alec, do you want me to get you something to give to Tony?"

"No, I picked something up for him earlier.  Hope no-one has bought him a toy police car."

Rose laughed.  "Not that I know of, I think you're pretty safe with that."

Sure enough, five minutes later, a black SUV pulled up outside and Alec got out to load their shopping bags in the back.  Rose got in the front seat next to Alec, Jackie admiring the car.  Alec parked outside his house and walked back with Rose and Jackie, carrying Jackie's shopping, Rose was going to scold her later, saying he had just got over a heart operation but he insisted he was ok.  Pete and Tony were back and Jackie insisted Alec stayed with them for lunch but Alec had really just wanted to get Rose on her own and since that wasn't happening, after they had eaten, he asked her to go for a walk around the harbour with him.

Tony's ears pricked up when he heard Rose was going out with Alec.  "Can I go too Alec, please?" he asked, looking at his new best friend.

Rose tried to hide her disappointment, of walking across the harbour, maybe hand in hand with Alec and spending some time with him but she knew her brother looked up to him.

"If it's ok with Alec," Rose told him.

Alec was a bit disappointed too but it seemed the boy had taken to him.  "Ok Tony. Get your coat."

Tony jumped up and rushed to the coat rack, waiting for Rose to reach it down for him.  "No walking in the water Tony Tyler," Jackie said.  "And don't you go letting him Rose.  Try to come back before it gets dark.  Then when Tony's had his tea we can wrap presents."

"Oh, Alec and I are going out tonight, he's taking me out for a meal."

"On Christmas eve?  There won't be anywhere open will there?"

"I have it all arranged and afterwards, Rose invited me back for a drink, if that's alright," Alec replied.

Jackie could only say yes since both her son and daughter were taken with the man.  The three of them set off, Tony walking between them, telling Alec about what he had been doing at school and they walked to the end of the harbour, Tony trying to guess how many boats there were.  They got to the end and he wanted to go around the other side and stand on the sea wall again.  So walking back to where they had been the day before, Tony walked on the sea wall, Rose holding his hand, then he wanted to go onto the beach.

Once there, Rose made sure the tide was out and let Tony run in front of them.  Sitting down on a small jetty a bit further down, Tony was looking for shells and Alec put his arm around Rose.

"So, alone at last.  Your brother is a bit of a handful."

"Yeah, sorry about that, he's a mixture of a whirlwind and a hurricane dad says."

Alec made sure the boy was occupied and pulled Rose close, brushing her lips with his own until she responded and kissed him back.

"That was just a gentle reminder, I'll remind you some more later, after our dinner date."  He leaned over again, capturing her lips.

Tony happened to turn around at that moment and covered his face with his hands but peeking through them and let out a very loud "Yuck, Rose!"

Both of them laughed.  Then the boy went back to what he was doing singing "Rose has got a boyfriend," Alec laughing and Rose blushing bright red.

On the way back, Alec purposely took the boy's hand and Rose's because Tony was holding some shells in his other hand and some were in his pocket.  Everywhere was closed by this time as they passed the outdoor food stalls and it was getting dusk.  They walked back to the pink cottage, Tony was chatting away to Alec, Rose couldn't hear what Tony was saying but Alec was keeping on answering him now and then until they reached their destination.

"Mum, I got some shells from the beach and I walked on the wall and Rose was kissing Alec - yuck!"

"Was she now?"

Jackie looked up from her magazine, another tale about Rose being seen with a reality TV star who as far as she knew Rose had never even met.  Perhaps if Rose was interested in Alec Hardy it would stop these stupid rumours.  Thank goodness only two other people knew where they were.

Rose blushed slightly, chastising herself for letting her brother catch them, he would keep on about it now.  "It was no big deal.  I have nothing to hide, Alec is taking me out again tonight, you know that."

"Yes well in case you've forgotten, the press would love to get a photo of you actually kissing a bloke, you're in the magazines again with some poor reality star.  Never even heard of him."

Jackie held the magazine up that read 'Rose Tyler spotted with Big Brother star.'

Rose scowled.  She had been at the same charity event and she had passed him – once.  Alec looked at the magazine.  Rose was smiling and the star, who he had never heard of looked like he was staring right at her, smiling back.  He knew the picture was totally out of context and they had probably just been smiling at other people or people in general and he knew the kind of life she led but he couldn't help feel a slight pang of jealousy.

"Mum, you know all that stuff is rubbish.  According to them I'm out on the town every night when you know I'm at home with you.  Can't you do something about them Dad?"

She looked at Pete, who was watching TV with Tony by this time, having turned off the news onto some silly cartoon his son liked.

"What?  Oh don't take any notice of them Rose, you don't usually."

Rose wanted to scream.  No wonder she could never find a real boyfriend when she was constantly linked to every male in the country trying to make a name for themselves at her expense.  She wanted to say that she had met someone and he wasn't a stupid boy reality star who would use her name to rise to fame.

Rose shoved the magazine in front of her dad.  "Well it's gone too far this time, I don't even know his name, well I know it's written here but all I did was pass him.  I think I was smiling at mum at the time.  They just do what they like."

Pete was about to say if she got herself a real boyfriend she wouldn't have all this speculation but considering a prospective candidate was standing a few feet away, he thought he had better not say anything.

"Ok, I'll get the legal department onto it after the holidays but the more you deny it, the more you feed the media frenzy.  They're like sharks waiting to sink their teeth into anything that moves."

"Yeah, well some wannabee star is not going to find fame off my back."  Rose motioned Alec into the kitchen.

"Sorry about that Alec, that's what I'm constantly up against.  I wouldn't blame you if you left right now."

"Well if it's any consolation Rose, I know what it's like, remember?  I was labelled the worst cop in Britain in case you've forgotten.  Even you don't hold that title."  He smiled and stepped closer to her.  "It's ok Rose I believe you.  Although I won't thank the press if they try to take a photo of us together when we go out tonight."  He leaned forward and kissed her.

"No-one knows we're here, that's why we chose an out of the way place.  I thought they would have given up by now."

"Don't worry about it, I don't believe everything they say in the papers, look what they did to me in the beginning.  It was only when the local newspaper released my story that they backed down and now no-one bothers me.  Let them get their teeth into something then they'll leave you alone."

Rose managed a smile and put her arms around his waist and leaned into his shoulder.

"You might not still say that if they take a picture of us."

He wondered if he would.  He'd had worse and if having his photo in the papers with Rose Tyler was a bad thing, he wouldn't mind.  He didn't quite know what his chief would think though, he had pleaded to go back to work part-time and it wouldn't help if he was linked to the name of the Vitex heiress and in every paper and magazine as her latest in a long line of 'flings'.

Rose looked up.  "I should go get ready if we're still going out."

"Of course we are still going out.  You don't think that's going to bother me do you?  Come on Rose, next week they'll have you going out with someone else and you're not even in London.  You're here, with me."  He leaned forward to kiss her again.  "I say the joke is on them, they'll be red faced when you're over a hundred miles away from where you're supposed to be dating a nobody."

Rose smiled.  He was right and he didn't seem to care.

"Why don't you go get changed and I'll go back and put my best suit on and call back for you at seven?" he asked as he kissed her forehead.

Rose's mood lightened.  "Ok, where are you taking me anyway?  You never said."

"Where we went last night, I booked a table for us at seven thirty."

"When did you manage that?"

"While I was waiting for you coming out of the ladies room.  I know how long women take in there, I used to be married.  You may as well know that now.  I don't know what you read in the papers but it was her that lost that evidence in the case that went wrong.  I asked for her name to be kept out of it, for our daughter's sake.  I didn't want her to know it was her mother so I said it was me.  My daughter still hates me but she contacted me when I was in hospital.  I've not heard from her since and I was going to go up and find her today but then your brother almost collided with me and here I am.  Remind me to thank him for that."

"I will and you are very sneaky Alec Hardy.  What would you have done if I'd slapped your face when you tried to kiss me last night?"

"Well, I wouldn't have gone on my own.  I dare say I could have enticed another young blonde to be seen out with me.  Now I'm getting better, I shouldn't have any problems picking up women."

Rose playfully hit his arm as she pulled her arms away from him.  "Oh, so I'm just an experiment then?  To see if you've still got it?"

Alec laughed.  Perhaps she was but she was becoming much more than a test to see if he could still pick a woman up and since this didn't really count as it was her brother he was almost picking up off the floor, he still didn't know if he had it in him.

"Oh, I think since you agreed to go out with me tonight, I still have it but you can judge for yourself later, if you come back to my place after we've had a drink with your parents when we get back from our dinner date."

Rose giggled.  "Oh, you're so sure of yourself aren't you?"

She was just about to move back to kiss him again when the kitchen door opened and they jumped apart.  It was Jackie.

"Oi you two, go do your snogging some place else, I have to get Tony his tea ready since you two are swanning off to some fancy place to eat.  I've got my eye on you Alec whatever your other name is so be warned."

Rose tried to stifle another giggle but caught her mother's eye.  "And you madam, you just be careful the press don't get hold of this because it's becoming tiresome."

"Yeah but Mum, you know it's just the media twisting things to make up a story and I really am going out with Alec tonight."

Alec could speak up for himself, he was the one that interrogated people, not someone's mother.  "It's Alec Hardy Ma'am.  Don't worry, I won't let the press get to her, I've been avoiding them a long time, I know how to deal with them."

"Oh, is that right Mr worst cop in Britain?  You didn't do a very good job there then did you?"

Rose leapt to his defence.  "Mum, stop it.  Alec was ill then, didn't you read that bit?  The bit that he was suffering from a heart problem and trying to solve a young boy's murder?  Just leave him alone.  I'm going out with him so back off."

"It's ok Rose, I can defend myself.  Mrs Tyler, I can assure you I'm perfectly alright now and I'll take great care of your daughter.  I can understand your hostility and I wasn't at my best during that unfortunate case otherwise I would have solved it in a much shorter period of time than I did.  Rose, I'd better go get changed, I'll be back at seven ok?"

Rose nodded.  Alec could certainly hold his own against a formidable Jackie Tyler who had backed off pretending to rattle some pots and pans as she always did when someone defeated her.

Alec gave Rose a quick peck on the lips and Rose said she would let him out of the back door but he wanted to say goodbye to Tony in case the boy was going to bed when he got back.  She walked outside with him and around the corner, leaning into him since there was a cold wind blowing.

"Go back inside Rose, it's ok.  I can understand your mother.  I'll be back soon."  He leaned down to kiss her, covering her with his open jacket.  Rose leaned into him, putting her arms around his slim waist.

She watched him walk back around the corner and went back inside.  If her mother ruined this for her, she might never forgive her.  She suspected it had been her that had kept The Doctor at bay since she continually fended him off from Rose and equally tried to push her back with Mickey.  Rose was certainly not going to let that happen with Alec.

Rose avoided her mother's look as she went back upstairs but Jackie knew her daughter, that if she made her mind up, not much changed it.

"Rose, I'm sorry, I was just watching out for you."

"Well if he says he doesn't want to see me again, I'll blame you."

"Come on Rose, don't be like that.  I invited him to spend Christmas Day with us, didn't I?"

"Well you might just have put him off now, thanks."

"Oh he probably won't let that put him off, he'll have had worse but you don't know anything about him except what you've read about him."

"Well at least he's not some creep trying to make a name for himself.  Some of the even have the nerve to actually confirm they've been out with me."

Jackie smiled.  She knew Rose hadn't adjusted to this lifestyle while she had embraced it but Rose was single and a target for every eligible bachelor in the country.  "I'll apologise if you bring him back for a drink later.  Ok?"
Chapter 3
Rose had to relent.  At least her mother was trying to make up for it.  "Please Mum, don't try and put him off.  I've never found anyone I actually want to have my name linked to for a long time."

Jackie knew that, she had been trying to get Rose to go out properly since their arrival in this world.

Rose was back downstairs just before seven, having wrapped all her presents, bringing them downstairs and writing a card for Alec.  She had been standing at her window, watching for Alec's bedroom curtains to open when she saw the light going on.  At least he was getting ready by the look of it.  She just hoped he wouldn't take any notice of what her mother had said.

Pete had managed to get a spare key from the rental agency and Rose took it with her just in case Alec wouldn't come back with her later.  They walked across to the pub and Alec ordered drinks while they waited for their table.  Rose didn't know what to say, so she apologised for her mother.

"I'm really sorry about earlier Alec, it's just she's so used to seeing my name everywhere I think she finds it hard to believe I'm actually going out on a date with someone."

Alec smiled and took her hand over the table.  He'd had worse from his ex mother-in-law.  "Don't worry about it Rose.  She was just concerned about you and I know she doesn't like seeing you in the papers all the time.  Like I said, I know you're here if they say you've been seen out in London with a nobody.  Forget about it because you're out with me on Christmas Eve and this time last year, I was on my own feeling sorry for myself.  Now your family have offered to let me spend Christmas with them.  I'd like it if you came with me on Boxing Day, to meet my friend Ellie Miller.  Would you come with me?"

Rose smiled.  "Yeah, ok, I'm sure I can slip away if you want to show me off to her."

Alec blushed slightly.  He supposed he was trying to prove to Miller he could get himself a girlfriend if he really tried.  He went back to eating his meal.

Rose smiled, she knew she had got him on that point.  When they finished their meal and went to finish their drinks in a small corner of the pub, Alec put his arm around the back of the seat and took her hand.

"I didn't intend to make the visit to see my friend into a case of showing you off you know."

Rose squeezed his hand.  "I was only teasing Alec.  I was getting you back for earlier when you said you could probably still pick a woman up if you tried.  You can still do it, I'm out with you, aren't I?  Or do you think I'm just trying to get myself in the papers for real this time?"

Alec dropped her hand.  "Rose, I think nothing of the kind, I'm rather hurt by that remark."

Rose couldn't tell if he was serious or not.  She picked up her drink to finish it.  "Shall we go have a drink with my parents or are you just going to walk me home?"

Alec finished his drink, he was still on non-alcoholic apart from the odd occasion and he was saving that.  "Yes, I'll still come and have that drink like I promised and you promised to come back and have a drink with me."  He saw the look of doubt on her face.  "Come on Rose, I was just teasing you back."

Rose nudged him with her elbow.

"Ow!  What was that for?"

"For making me think you were serious.  It's not funny Alec, don't you think I get tired of it all?  As fast as Pete gets his legal team onto dis-associating my name from some pretender, another pops up linked to my name.  We've tried all sorts of stuff."

"Well maybe you should really think about giving them something to talk about?"

"I would but every time I get remotely interested in someone, my name crops up with last years winner of dancing on ice or something equally gross."

Alec burst out laughing.  Hell, if he was going to want to continue to see her while she was here, he knew what he was letting himself in for at least and knew what he was up against.  He wasn't going into this blind.

"What's so funny?" Rose asked as he helped her on with her coat.

"Well just maybe being linked with the winner of the worst cop in Britain award may keep them busy for a while."

They were laughing about it all the way back to where Rose was staying, passing by Alec's house.  "Are you sure you don't just want to come in now?" he asked.

"You promised.  Come on, just one drink and non of that stuff you were drinking in the pub – dad will insist."

"I know but I still can't drink that much, I have to be careful even now."

"Well as long as you have one, he won't complain but watch out for my mother, she might keep trying to fill your glass so keep it fairly full.  She didn't mean to be rude earlier but it bothers her."

"Stop apologising Rose, it's fine, really.  I know what I'm getting myself into, I've dealt with the press.  So do you think I'm the worse cop in Britain and do you still want to be seen with me?"

They had reached the side of the pink cottage and Rose stopped on the wooden walkway outside the house.  "Yes Alec, I still want to be seen with you.  At least you are somebody, not like those waste of space hopefuls."

"Well I'm glad we've decided I'm not a waste of space."

Rose looked at him.  "You could never be that Alec."  She leaned into him and kissed him.

Then she took his hand and said, "One drink, then I promise we'll go back to your place."

She let them in, making a noise just in case they were interrupting something but Pete and Jackie were dancing to a lively tune, Jackie telling them to take their coats off and join in.

Alec was at a bit of a loss, he wasn't used to dancing but he made the best of it just as the pace slowed a bit and he could keep up.  Rose poured two drinks and whispered that he should remember what she had said.  It was almost eleven before they managed to get away, Jackie putting a piece of Christmas cake on Alec's plate and insisting he didn't leave until he had finished it and bringing some tea in since eating the cake with a glass of wine didn't go down very well.

Rose went to get her coat and handed Alec his.  "I'm just going round to Alec's for a while.  I won't stay out late and I'll be up when Tony wants to open his presents in the morning.  Alec got something for Tony so he'll bring it around tomorrow."

Jackie had still not apologised to Alec for earlier and Rose wasn't going to let her get away with it but not now, she was keen to sample some more of Alec's snogging skills.  She didn't have to say anything though as Rose was about to open the door.

"Alec, I'm sorry for what I said earlier, I didn't mean it.  It's just Rose has her name linked to men all the time and none of it is true, that's the life she leads now.  It usually puts men off."

"Well Mrs Tyler, I can assure you it's not putting me off.  We may well just have to set the record straight.  Goodnight, I'll see you for Christmas dinner tomorrow, I'm looking forward to it."

Jackie could tell this man was different.  "Oh come here, call me Jackie."  She put her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.  "You're more than welcome tomorrow.  Just make sure you treat her right."

"I will Jackie, thanks."

She gave Rose one of her 'Don't you stay out all night looks' but she knew Rose wouldn't take any notice.  Rose seemed happier this Christmas than she had done since being here and certainly since The Doctor spent that one Christmas with them.  It was just a shame that Alec happened to remind Rose of him.

Alec let them into his rented house, glad to be finally alone with her and took her coat then opened a bottle of wine he had bought just for the purpose since he knew he'd invited her around for a drink.  He'd bought white wine and a bottle of lemonade since that was what she had been drinking the night before, being careful not to put too much lemonade in hers and plenty in his, not that he was planning on taking advantage of her.  Well not tonight anyway, he would see how things went if she wanted to spend some time with him the following night.  He put some music on, one of the few CD's he'd picked up though he didn't know why and selected a slow song and asked Rose to dance.

It turned out to be more of a smooch as they got closer, Alec leaning into her neck, breathing in her perfume and her shampoo.  "You smell really nice, just like real roses," he whispered.

Rose smiled and thought if anyone else had said it she would have slapped them.  "Thanks Alec.  I really shouldn't stay too late, Tony is always downstairs before eight and he waits for us all.  Why don't you come around early and join in.  I got you a present and mum did too."

"You didn't have to Rose, really.  I was quite happy to get a present for Tony and I got one for you as well.  I didn't forget your mum and dad either, hope your dad likes scotch."

Rose smiled as she leaned into his shoulder, moving slowly to the music.  "I was on my own last year, no-one to bother about.  I managed to drop a present off for my daughter but that was it."

"So you were going to visit your friend so you wouldn't be alone?"

They had stopped dancing and were just standing, Rose with her arms around his waist and halfway up his back.

"That was my second idea.  My first was going to try to see my daughter, Daisy."  It was the first time he had really mentioned her.

Rose looked up at him and they kissed again, more deeply than the few stolen kisses they had shared outside and Rose melted into him.  She tried to pull away but he took the opportunity to seek her tongue with his own and she could feel her own tip of her tongue grazing his.  When they finally parted, Alec led her to the sofa and lay her back against the cushions, stopping to take his shoes off and taking hers off.

Before either of them knew it, they were back kissing again, Rose up against the back of the sofa, Alec stretched out beside her, pulling the zip of her dress down and Rose taking off his tie and unbuttoning his shirt.  He pulled the dress away from her shoulders, revealing her black lacy bra and moved to kiss along the top of it.  Rose fumbled to unfasten his shirt cuffs and rolled the shirt off his shoulders and Alec wriggled around to get under her, trying not to fall off the sofa while throwing his white shirt over the back.  Then, pulling her dress down so it was around her waist, he unfastened the strap of her bra, pulling it away until he could feel her skin on his chest.

Rose let out a muffled sigh as they touched skin to skin, Alec trying the get under the hem of her dress to reach her underwear and pulling the dress up so it was all around her middle and now off her shoulders.  Rose was just glad the material wasn't the sort that creased easily or she would have some explaining to do when she got back.  Once Alec had pulled the dress up, he gently ran his hand on her inner thigh, his thumb grazing under the thin material of her underwear.

Rose could feel the pressure building up, it had been years since she had let a man touch her in this manner and even then it had been hurried and clumsy and Alec seemed like he wanted to take his time.  So did she.  If this was going to be a holiday romance, she wanted it to be one she could remember.  She flinched as his finger joined his thumb at the top of her leg, right where she was most vulnerable and began to kiss his chest, running her fingers through the smattering of hair.

"Alec, please, go further?" she whispered.

She had longed to be touched again but properly, not by a boy or someone immature but by someone just like Alec.

He whispered her name as she felt his fingers graze along the top of her thigh and moved her underwear out of the way.  Before too long, Rose was getting lost in his delicate touch, he had somehow managed to get her underneath him and Rose knew she was about to explode into a thousand pieces if he kept this up.

"Rose, let me take you to the bedroom?"

Rose managed to nod but didn't think she would get that far but he moved slightly and she allowed him to pull her off the sofa, gathering their clothes and getting upstairs to Alec's bedroom as fast as they could.  Alec closed the bedroom door and Rose let her dress drop to the floor as he pushed her towards the bed.

She could feel the heat searing through her, all that time she had held back, trying to get on with her new life.  She fumbled at his trousers, both of them tugging them down, leaving him with his boxer shorts, then Alec fumbling with the waistband of her lacy underwear until they both could resist no longer and Rose moved as he lay on her.

They both came apart at each other's touch, Rose releasing all her pent up emotions and Alec not having been with a woman since before his nasty divorce, Rose felt something give, something she had never felt before, a new sensation as she gave her all to the man she was with.  Both gasping for breath, Rose was still lost in the sensations she had felt.  At some point she thought Alec had mentioned 'protection' and she had managed to reply it was ok.  She might not have a boyfriend but she was sensible enough to take precautions.

As they both lay together afterwards, Rose still trembling from what had happened to her, Alec's arms were around her and he was nestling his head in her neck.

"Rose, are you ok?"

Rose nodded.  She managed to move her head and looked at him, smiling.  "Alec, that was amazing.  I've never felt like that before, I thought I was going to explode."

He knew what she meant, he had exploded, he'd been on his own far too long.  He realised why she was still trembling.

"Rose, that was your first time, wasn't it?"

Rose was surprised he knew.

"Yeah, I've never met anyone like you before.  I didn't know what was happening to me but it was good."  It still did feel good as the sensations lingered.

Alec smiled.  "You should have said, we could have taken this slowly."

"I guess I got carried away by it all, I've not even been with a man for a long time then it was nothing like this.  I mean I used to have a boyfriend but it was nothing serious, I was only nineteen and he was older but he wasn't ready for that sort of commitment so I left him, before my mum remarried.  Then I met someone else but we were just friends, I wasn't ready for anything more."  It was part true, she knew The Doctor could never make that sort of commitment as much as she had loved him.

"Well I haven't been with a woman since my illness, mainly because I didn't think I was able.  I guess we both needed it.  Are you going home?"

Rose moved to look at him.  "Do you want me to?"

Alec just tightened his arms around her.  "You'll have to get away first.  I have to make sure you don't forget me this time."

Rose eventually fell asleep, curled up in Alec's arms after getting up to get cleaned up and putting their underwear back on.  Rose felt happy as she drifted off and all the loneliness of the time she had spent was finally gone.  Alec had set his alarm and when they woke up on Christmas morning, they kissed for a while and got dressed.  Alec gathered the presents he had wrapped up and they were back in the Tyler cottage just before eight, Rose saying her mother would be making breakfast.  Sure enough, they were greeted by the smell of cooking coming from the kitchen as Rose hung up her coat by the door.

Jackie knew Rose hadn't been home.  She had knocked on her door and her room was empty.  Well at least she hadn't let Alec stay over, goodness knew what Tony would be like if he had caught them together, he'd been bad enough going to bed saying Rose and Alec had been getting all kissy and soppy while they had been out and had been pulling faces and pretending to kiss.

"Well you two, at least you got back in time, Tony will be down any minute, your dad's keeping him amused while I make breakfast.  Have you two eaten?"

Rose shook her head and looked at the food and trying to take some toast got her hand slapped.  "Go call your dad and Tony.  Oh Alec, put those under the tree will you?  You really shouldn't have bothered."

"Well you were good enough to invite me, it would have been remiss of me not to say thank you properly."

"Come on.  I'll show you which are Tony's," Rose said.

Pointing him in the right direction, Rose kissed his cheek and said she was going to get changed so Alec sat on the sofa.  Tony was soon down, throwing wrapping paper all over the floor and Rose emerged in a pale blue sweater and black trousers.  Alec retrieved the present he had got for her and they exchanged gifts.

After spending the morning playing partly with Tony's new police car and a game he had got, they all sat down for dinner, Alec really feeling like he belonged to a family again.  Rose and Alec helped to clear up then they went back to Alec's house after Tony went to bed, Rose going to get a few things for the morning.  Jackie supposed they weren't going to be seeing much of Rose for the remainder of the holidays.

When they got to his house, he poured them some drinks and they lay on the sofa kissing and removing some of their clothing like her sweater and Alec's shirt and Rose spotted the scar from his operation, being careful to avoid it but he said it didn't really hurt.  The next day, Alec made them some breakfast and they drove down to Weymouth to see Ellie and the boys, Ellie greeting Rose and asking how she put up with him.

"Seriously Rose, he used to be a real pain before he had his operation, I don't know how I ever worked with him," Ellie laughed over Boxing Day dinner.

"Yeah, mum used to come home in a right mood after work," Tom laughed.

Alec was squirming, remembering what he used to be like when he was ill.

"Well I did something about it, didn't I?" he asked, trying not to call her Miller in front of everyone.

"Oh, only after you collapsed on me during a chase and almost died on me, then he had the nerve to check himself out of hospital."

She was going to say "And then caught the killer" but everyone remained silent, no words were needed.  Rose had read the story, she didn't need it re-telling.  After saying goodbye, Ellie asking Rose if she was going to stick around after she told her she was only there on holiday, Rose saying she didn't know yet, they drove back to Broadchurch and it was Alec's turn to ask her.

"Now Miller brought the subject up, what's going to happen Rose?  Is this just a holiday romance for you?"

Rose felt offended he could think such a thing.  "You don't get it do you Alec?  I'm tired of having my name all over the place in media invented relationships that are non-existent.  Can't you accept that?  I wasn't looking for a holiday romance but I found you, you're much more than that but you know the kind of life I lead, always in the limelight.  You told me before you knew what you were getting in to.  Do you still want that?"

Alec remained silent.  Yes he did know and he had been in the papers and knew they never left you alone and if he got involved with her, his name would be in the press alongside hers but this time, it would be a good thing and it would be true but was she doing this because she was tired of all the rumours or was she genuinely interested in him?  He guessed there was only one way to find out.

"Yes Rose, I know what I'm getting myself in to and I still want to keep on seeing you until you have to go but I'm asking you now Rose, think about maybe staying?"

"I go back on the 2nd of January Alec, we have plenty of time to talk about it.  Do you have to go back to work tomorrow?"

Unfortunately he did.  "Yes but I only work six hours a day, that's all I'm allowed, I finish at four.  I have the weekend off though, we could go somewhere if you like?"

"Yeah, that would be nice."

They drove the rest of the way back in silence, except for Rose singing to some songs on the car radio.

So the following day, Alec went back to work and Rose was taking her brother to the sports centre to go swimming but was back when Alec returned home and they went down to Poole for the weekend.  On the Saturday night, after they had made love again, Alec asked if she had decided to stay.

"I don't know Alec, it's a big decision to make.  I'll let you know, on New Years Eve.  Just give me some time to think about it."

"Alright, that's all I ask Rose.  I know it's not an easy decision to make and I don't expect an answer right away."

"I have to persuade my dad I can work from anywhere and there are things we need to talk about if you want me to stay and if you still do after I've told you, then I will."

"Anything Rose, I don't want us to have any secrets from each other unless you tell me you're from another planet of something."  He didn't realise just how close he had come.

"Not exactly but I'll tell you before I leave."

"You mean you've already made your mind up you're leaving?" he asked disappointedly.

"No, I've not made up my mind but if I do stay, I will have to go get the rest of my things."

"Well if you decide to stay, do you have to go back with your family?  I mean I could take you back up on Saturday, you have enough things with you for now.  I don't know if I can let you go."

He leaned closer and settled his head in the side of her neck.  "Please Rose, please think about it."

"I will Alec I promise but what I have to tell you may not be easy for you to accept."

NEW YEARS EVE

They had decided to go out for a drink then celebrate the new year with Jackie and Pete.  Rose had told her dad she was considering staying and they agreed she could more or less work from anywhere and Jake would set up a secure connection between her laptop and Torchwood when she got back, if she decided not to go back with them.  Explaining it to Tony had not been easy but before he went to bed that night, Alec sat the boy down and tried to explain that Rose was going to live with him.

"Tony, I'm not trying to take your sister away from you.  Rose is just going to stay with me for a while and we'll see you on Saturday then we'll see you all the time, we're not far away and you can come down and see us when we get a new house.  When we get settled you come down, I'll see if I can get you a ride in a real police car, how's that?"

The boy nodded and clung hold of Alec.  Rose sat watching them, smiling.  If it hadn't been for Tony, they never would have met.  Now it was crunch time - to tell Alec the truth about where she came from so Pete wanted to explain it to him, thinking it might be better coming from him but Rose insisted she should tell him.  They walked back round to Alec's house, Rose had not yet brought all her things round, just in case things didn't work out as she planned.

"Alec, you know you joked about me being from another planet?"

Alec's eyes widened.  "That was just a joke Rose, wasn't it?  I mean I know there are other worlds out there but surely none of them support human life.  I know there are unexplained things going on all the time, I know about Torchwood, we were all briefed about it but it got disbanded after the Cyberman attack and they all escaped but did they get far?  Some say they are still here or they were all destroyed?"

"No, they got away Alec, all of them but they were sort of destroyed.  They're trapped between dimensions, what's known as The Void, the space in-between worlds and Torchwood still exists ."

"And how would you know that unless…?"

He stopped in realization at what she was telling him.  "Oh, you had something to do with it?  But that was years ago Rose, when they first took over then three years later when they reportedly all disappeared and how old are you?  You must have been very young but how were you even involved in it?"

"Because when they disappeared from here, they tried to invade my world.  Pete came to warn us and between us, we stopped them."

Rose then told him about her first visit, getting here by accident though avoiding the words 'Time-Travel and Tardis' and Alec listened as she told him how they fought the metal menaces, resulting in her and her mother getting here, being brought to safety and how someone stayed behind to seal the gap.

Alec considered himself an intelligent man and so he listened to what Rose had to say.  No wonder she had gone to great lengths to avoid publicity but he knew he was already falling in love with her and it didn't matter that she was from a parallel world, she was as real as he was.

After she had finished, Rose got up from the sofa and paced the room, deciding if she should go get her things she had left from Alec's bedroom.  Alec never said a word, he just watched her face and knew she had been in turmoil telling him all this.

"So you actually work for Torchwood, Pete is the head and you're his assistant?  I suppose you just tell the cover story to unsuspecting police detectives you meet that you think you can't trust with the truth?"

"Alec, that's not it and you know that.  I'm telling you now because you asked me to stay and if I stay, I'm through hiding who I am.  Dad's willing to let me work from here, either from the house or I can rent a small office somewhere, it doesn't matter and he doesn't let me just tell anyone.  I didn't say anything because it wouldn't have mattered if you hadn't asked me to stay.  Now if you believe me, ask me again."

It was Alec's turn to pace the room.  He didn't know what to make of it.  She was being honest with him at least and he knew there was something more to her, why they were going to great lengths to protect her.  No wonder – if anyone got hold of the fact she was from another world, she would get locked up, even Torchwood couldn't protect her from that and he could see her point of not trusting even him up to now.

All he knew was that he was falling deeply for her and wanted her in his life.  So he asked her.  He walked up to her and held his arms out.

"Come here Rose.  It's ok, I understand why you couldn't even trust me before.  I know you have to protect yourself until you're sure about someone.  Are you sure about me?"

Rose nodded and clung to him.  "I wouldn't have told you otherwise, would I?"

"I suppose not."  He held her away from him and looked into her hazel eyes.  "Then Rose Tyler, will you stay with me?"

"Yes, Alec, I'll stay with you."

"You've no more secrets you want to tell me have you?  Just making sure."

He smiled and held her close again.  When she didn't answer, he assumed that was it but Rose knew she had to keep just one thing from him - how he resembled the man she had left behind and when the time came for him to meet Mickey and Jake, they would have to keep her secret too.

"Then Rose Tyler, I have one thing to tell you – the truth about Sandbrook that wasn't in the newspapers."

When they went to bed in the early hours of the new year, everything was out of the way, Alec believing there were no more secrets between them.  Rose mentioned the name of the man who had stayed behind, a Dr John Smith who had been a good friend but nothing romantic, which was true, although Rose had loved him dearly, the real reason why up until Alec, she had never dated anyone since being here.

MAY – five months after meeting

Rose was going home for her birthday, she and Alec were going up for a long weekend.  They had found a house, on the cliff facing the sea, Rose had fallen in love with the house, their bedroom facing the sea which Alec never complained about and Pete had bought them the house, mainly because Rose had made her mind up she was staying and it had space for an office which she shared reluctantly with Alec.  Alec had his furniture and other belongings sent down and they got settled in.  They had celebrated Alec's birthday by going to Torquay for the weekend though Alec said why Rose wanted to go there when they lived by the sea, he didn't know but had gone along with it.

When it came to the night of Rose's birthday party, Alec took the floor and announced he wanted to make an honest woman out of her and asked her to make their relationship official.  Rose had accepted although it had been a complete surprise.

Pete had just proposed a toast to the birthday girl when Alec decided now was the time.

"Rose, you don't know how happy you made me when I met you but now, I'd like to make it official by asking if you'll marry me."

Rose threw her hands to her face as he got a ring box out of his pocket and placed the single diamond ring on her finger.

Jackie was over the moon, already planning a big wedding and asked when it was going to be, Alec looking at Rose, who was beaming.

Alec was the one to answer Jackie's question.  "Oh I think maybe Christmas Eve, the night we had our first date – last Christmas in Broadchurch."

The End!

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