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Rose Tyler finally gets back to The Doctor after six years in the alternate universe's time to find he has regenerated after she and the duplicate Doctor split up but she leaves and goes to live by the sea in a town called Broadchurch. Alec Hardy has just got a transfer from Sandbrook and the two of them meet when Rose befriends Claire Ripley whom Alec is hiding from her husband.







Rose Tyler finally gets back to The Doctor after six years in the alternate universe's time to find he has regenerated after she and the duplicate Doctor, who had got the dimension cannon working again split up but she leaves him and goes to live by the sea in a town called Broadchurch.  Alec Hardy has just got a transfer from Sandbrook and the two of them meet when Rose befriends Claire Ripley whom Alec is hiding from her husband. 

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Chapter 1
Standing on a windswept beach in Norway again, Rose held the other Doctor's hand after he told her what she'd been longing to hear – that he loved her.

"Well, what now?" Rose asked him as the Tardis faded from view.

"We can get the hell off this freezin' cold beach, that's what," her mother told her.

The clone Doctor smiled at the same old Jackie Tyler and turned to Rose.

"I'm still him Rose, like I said, nothing's changed."

"Yeah, I get that now and you're back.  Mum's right, we need to find somewhere to stay the night so come on then, I'm tired, I've not slept in days and while that might be OK for a Timelord, I ain't one of them."

The clone Doctor woke up the next morning, Rose had her arm over him and was only wearing one piece of underwear and he was just in a pair of boxers they'd got him from the hotel gift shop as it was about to close.  He smiled at the sleeping woman beside him, she'd tried so hard to get back to him and all she'd got was a copy of him but he wasn't going to let that get in their way.  Well so he thought.

Six months later, it was now 2013 in 'Pete's world' and the clone Doctor was still trying to get the failed dimension cannon up and running again.  It had stopped working after all the planets had been put back where they belonged in the other universe but Torchwood had been determined not to stop exploring other worlds even though the original purpose was for Rose to find the Doctor again, there were still vast advantages to do so, the knowledge they could obtain for one, let alone all the inventions and devices they could get their hands on.

The clone Doctor, now officially James Smith or 'Jamie-babe' as Rose called him at home in their luxurious two-bedroom apartment in Richmond overlooking the river disagreed to a certain extent of what Torchwood could gain from it but he couldn't help but jump at the chance of still travelling to other universes, since they'd had no luck growing their own Tardis.

They had laughed and gone to the 2012 Olympics, this time without him getting sucked into a child's drawing and the spectators disappearing though he was upset he didn't get to light the flame at the opening ceremony.  Neither of them talked about getting married or having a family, Rose was still the head of research and Jamie head of the cannon project, Mickey having stayed behind in their original universe.

They were happy, or so he thought, Rose never complained if he worked late, she would just wait for him coming home and they'd make love even when he was tired, which he felt now he was no longer all Timelord.  Then, a few months later, he had a breakthrough and the cannon started measuring timelines again.  They were looking for volunteers to go but he didn't think either of them should be the ones if they found the original one.

"Why not?" Rose asked him.

"Because he's still there Rose, there can't be two of us and you heard him when he left us here.  I thought you'd be the last one who would want to find him again when he went off."

"That's not fair Jamie and you know it, he had no other choice.  Forget it then, we'll stay here but where are we going?  It's been almost a year and mum's forever putting wedding magazines in front of me every time we go to visit."

"You want to get married Rose?"

"Not necessarily, not if you don't want to?"

"We are not getting married just to please your mother.  Rose, you know I love you, that's enough, isn't it sweetheart?"

She went to put her arms around him, she hated fighting with him.

"Yeah, I know you love me, you plum.  I'll tell mum she's wasting her time then shall I?"

"I have a nice comfy sofa in my office, don't forget," he teased, taking her hand.

Time went on, they got volunteers to complete successful missions to other universes, none of them the right one, Rose was disappointed and they'd still not got around to getting engaged, let alone getting married though James had bought her a pink sapphire ring which Rose insisted on wearing on her wedding ring finger just to please her mother and he was happy to let her.

Soon, almost three years had passed and James had broken his own rule, he'd been tempted to use the dimension cannon when they thought they'd found the right universe again and it had caused a major row, ending in Rose leaving and going back to her parent's house but James had come back saying he'd found the right universe but it had been somehow changed.  Rose didn't want to know, they were hardly talking and James was on the verge of letting their rented apartment go since he now buried himself in his work, fine tuning the cannon in on that universe, getting readings on the timelines until one day, he announced he thought he'd got it right.

Rose of course got to hear the news, Jake had been keeping her up to date and acting as a go-between for the two ex-lovers.  He'd been heartbroken for both his friends that their three year relationship had ended so badly because the Doctor had given in and tried to beat Rose to get back where they'd come from.

"So, heard the latest then?" Jake asked her, pouring two cups of coffee and taking one across to Rose's desk.

"James disappeared and never came back?"

"You don't mean that Rosie and you know it.  You still love him."

"You think you know me so well Jake but you don't, not really.  Yeah, I love him even though he wasn't really the doctor, I accepted him and treated him like he was but he did the unthinkable Jake, he couldn't resist it after we promised each other we'd never go back."

"Well, you said he was always curious.  Anyway, I got word from someone in his department, he's found the right timeline.  It's 2013, how it should be back there but so far, he's not sent anyone.  I think he's waiting for you to ask to be sent there."

"Well, that's very good of him then, now he finally thinks about me?"

"Don't be like that Rose, go see him."

"Why?  I've not seen him for more than a few minutes since I moved out last month then only because Pete called us both to his office because mum had been on to him about us.  It didn't end well, trust me."

Rose's mobile rang – it was James.  She didn't feel like answering though but the phone kept on playing 'Their' song as the ringtone and she could have sworn she'd changed it to something more appropriate.

"Hello James."

"Hi Rose, how are you?"

"What do you want?"

"Well, 'erm, I wanted to ask you if you could come to the cannon room?  I have some news for you, unless Jake's already told you?"

"Yeah, he did but I'm not interested James."

"Rose, I know you're upset and I said I was sorry but I hate to see you like this.  Think about it, the readings are still strong, we can get you safely there but it's up to you if you go and if you want to stay there.  You could finally get back and I won't stand in your way.  I still love you."

A tear formed in her eye.  It was never going to be the same.  She could stay here, constantly being reminded there was a way back to her original home and though her mother would never go with her, Mickey was still there, somewhere but she had a feeling he'd gone off after Martha Jones, she couldn't really blame him she supposed.

"I'll think about it.  How long will the gap be open?"

"We don't know, it's been a while now but it could revert to one of the other timelines, there's no real way of telling but if you make your mind up soon, you'll be guaranteed of getting there, I promise."

Jake looked at her and knew she was going to accept the invitation to go back and find the real Doctor, she wouldn't stay here and remain unhappy when she'd been given yet another chance.

Rose went back home to think about it – what did she really have to keep her here?  Her stepbrother yes, he was worth staying for as was her mother but her heart was really back with the real Doctor and always had been and while she'd tried not to let the disappointment show to Jamie, deep down he must have known he wasn't the version she'd wanted.

The next morning, she stopped to do some shopping, buying a lightweight rucksack and three packs of space-saving bags from a discount store because if she was going, she was going prepared.  Once in the office, she wound up the projects she'd been researching and told her secretary to hold all her calls.  Then she went to see Pete.

"You're going, aren't you?" he stated.

"I have to and I love you all so much but I'll never be happy."

"Your mum said last night that you'd go.  It's not about you and James splitting up, is it?"

"No, though that didn't help Dad.  I loved him and he couldn't resist going to take a look, without me and he never even told me he was going."

"Because you would have stopped him and he knew it.  He's an explorer Rose, he's stuck here as much as you are and he accepted he couldn't go travelling any more but it has to be affecting him, more than it has you."

"I know and I'm sorry I got so mad with him but it's over, we both know it.  He'll want to keep doing it but he asked me if I wanted to go, on my own.  He can't stay there and he knows it but he'll want to keep popping over to see what's going on and he won't if I'm there.  I'll take one of the portable devices with me, if I change my mind but I was warned it may not always keep working, I'll have to chance it."

"Don't go without saying goodbye to Tony and your mother, will you?"

They got up and Rose hugged her stepfather, who had been the only father she'd ever known.  She went home to start packing, rolling out the air in the spacebags and putting them in the rucksack and getting out the 'Universal' credit card she took on other missions with her.  Then she went down to join the others for dinner, Jake and James were already there.

James took her to one side after dinner.

"So, you're going then?" he asked, sounding disappointed she'd actually taken him up on the offer.

"Yeah, I have to James, I'm sorry.  These last few years we've had together, they've been good though, yeah?"

"Yeah, they were the best and even all that time we were apart, I never stopped loving you and I never will.  I'll be here, if you ever come back.  I'll keep the gap open as long as I can and even if that one closes to that timeline, the chances are it will open up again.  I'll see you in the morning then, are you all packed?"

"Yeah.  I have to say goodbye to Tony in the morning."

James smiled.  "Good luck with that then, he'll miss you, we all will."

"Don't make it any harder for me James, please."

"It doesn't have to be like this Rose."

"Yes, it does.  I have to find him, ask him why."

"Why he left me with you?  I'm the one who should be mad at him, not you.  I'm the one he left because I did what he wouldn't have done and you know what?  The Daleks will still come back Rose, they're not gone, they just want you to believe they're gone, they always survive when I lose everything, including you, twice."

Rose ran off to her room, crying.  James didn't know whether to leave her or go after her, he'd get yelled at by his almost mother-in-law for driving her away, that's if she was still talking to him when Rose vanished in front of the dimension cannon in the morning.  He decided he'd only make her worse by going after her and went to the guest room Jackie had given him if he didn't feel like driving all the way back to the apartment he'd once shared with the love of his lives.

The next morning, Pete was putting her rucksack in the back of his car, James had left early, getting away with just a hug from Jackie and a 'Try and talk her out of going' speech, Rose turned to Jackie and Tony.

"Bye then, I'll try and come back, when I can."

Jackie and Tony could only wave as Pete drove off.  James was doing the final checks to the dimension cannon, having operators checking and re-checking it was pointed at the correct timeline and everything was looking good.  He'd made sure all the readings pointed it was the beginning of July, 2013 and they'd picked up signs of the Tardis though they couldn't be sure if the other Doctor had regenerated or not.

Rose was wearing her blue leather jacket, a pair of black trousers and a purple top, just as she'd been dressed the last time she'd gone though why, she'd couldn't tell anyone.  James called her forward as Pete helped her with the rucksack.  He handed her a smaller version of the portable device she'd used the last time, his new 'improved' version he called it.

"Right, this is it then.  Good luck Rose, I hope you find what you want, we'll all be here, if you decide it's not what you want."

He tried to put his arms around her as best he could.

"Bye James, I did love you but I have to do this, I know you don't want me to and I'm not trying to punish you for doing the same to me but this is what I want, what I've always wanted."

She reached up and kissed him goodbye and went to take her place.  The cannon fired up and Rose vanished in a flash of light, something James could never get used to but now his love had gone away, he felt like smashing the whole thing up, wishing he'd never even seen the thing, let alone getting it working again and he cursed the day he'd found the right universe.  He'd never told Rose that he'd located the Tardis, though he'd not had the courage to let himself be seen but the ship had looked different, more like it used to be ages back but he'd thought nothing else of it.  Rose was gone and his new life here, in Pete's world was never going to be the same again.

Sure, he'd be able to spot Rose in the timeline, he'd sent her to the last known location of the Tardis, which seemed to be in a village called Leadworth, wherever that was.  Still, there was no need to be hanging around the Powell estate any more, was there?

Rose had landed in the middle of a village green, hoping no-one had noticed and pretending she'd been there all along and just got off a bus.  She got her bearings and there, just by the side of a pub, was the Tardis.  She smiled and hitching the straps of the rucksack up, checked she still had the portable device in her jacket pocket and made her way across to the blue police box and knocked on the door, hoping the Doctor was at home.
Chapter 2
Rose thought she could have used her old Tardis key she had around her neck but it was rather bad mannered to do so after all this time and if he wasn't there, he'd get one almighty shock when he did get back but if he was really inside, he'd be watching on the monitor.  There was no reply and she was about to go look around the village when the door creaked open, he'd not oiled it then.

A girl with ginger hair stood gaping at her, obviously surprised someone had been able to detect the ship.

"Hello, who are you then?" she asked with a Scottish accent.

"Hi, is the Doctor inside?  I'm Rose."

"What?  How can you be Rose?  She's lost in another universe."

Rose was relieved that at least he'd talked about her.

"I came back, I got lucky.  Can I come in then?"

"What?  Oh aye, you should come in but he's not here, he's with Rory, my husband, they'll be back soon, you know boys will be boys.  So, how did you get back then?"

"We had this project that measured timelines and we got it right, well the other Doctor did, you know about him?"

"Aye, I was told, the Doctor said he'd left you with his clone but he thought you were sealed off."

"Yeah, well I might be, there's no guarantee I'll get back but we split up, me and the other Doctor."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that then.  How long has it been for you?"

"I'm not sure about here but it's been about six years in my time, what year is this?"

"It's August 2012, we were just getting ready to take a trip, to New York, you could come with us?"

"I don't know, I wasn't expecting anyone to be with him, I mean well, of course he wouldn't be on his own, he had no reason to think I'd ever come looking for him, with him leaving me with his twin."

"Oh, you don't know then?  I'm Amy by the way.  I hate to tell you this but he regenerated, a while back.  He crashed the Tardis in my back garden when I was seven years old and he came back for me, twelve years later."

Rose smiled.  "Yeah, that sounds like him.  So, what's he like then?"

She turned as the door opened, looking at two men.  Which one was he?  She soon found out as one with flattened blondish hair walked past her to greet Amy and the other one, wearing a tweed jacket, a red bow-tie and his hair even wilder than the man she'd just left behind remained in the doorway.

"Hello Rose.  What are you doing here?"

"Oh, 'erm, hello Doctor, surprise!  When did you regenerate then?"

"Almost three years ago, well sort of, it's a bit wibbly-wobbly and all that.  You met Amy?"

"Yeah, I did thanks."

"Doctor, we'll leave you two to talk then and go get ready to take our trip."

"Nice to finally meet you, I'm Rory, Amy's husband."

"Hi, it was nice to meet you both then, I won't keep him long."

"Rose, I'm disappointed in you.  You come all this way and then want to leave again?  What happened?  He didn't die or anything?  Did he get sick?  Did his mind burn?  I had to wipe Donna's memories, she couldn't handle being a part Timelord, it was the saddest thing I've ever had to do," the Doctor told her, his eyes looking sad and full of regret.

Rose looked at him, he seemed older yet she knew he was the same person as the man she'd just left.

"No, he's fine, we split up, he did something unforgivable.  We got the dimension cannon working again and we promised each other we'd never try and get back to this universe, to find you but he came anyway, we fell out over it, badly.  He said he never saw you though."

"No, I don't remember seeing him, he must have kept out of the way, timelines and all that.  So, apart from that, how have you been?  You never got married you two?"

Rose smiled and looked where her ring had been that she'd left behind, not telling James she'd given it to Pete to give back to him if she didn't return after a reasonable length of time.

"No, mum wanted us to but he said we shouldn't get married to just please her, so we didn't, thankfully.  We lived together, we finally got our acts together, something you and I never seemed able to do.  He got things a bit wrong though, we thought it was around July 2013, he was a bit out but not too much."

"I get the theory of the dimension cannon but they can be a bit 'off' I suppose.  So, I hate to disappoint you, you obviously wanted the old me?"

"That's not fair Doctor, you have Amy and Rory, you don't need me."

"Ah, there's one other thing, a slight technicality, did my clone tell you about River Song?"

"From the library?  Yeah, she died, sorry."

"No Rose, that was in her personal future, we met again, a few times and we sort of got married, well, it's complicated."

"Oh, right, shouldn't have expected anything less.  Was that before or after you regenerated?"

"After, it was another timeline, one that carried on once we put it right.  Never mind.  Come to New York with us?"

"No, I don't think so Doctor but I did come to ask you something.  It doesn't seem relevant now."

"Rose, one thing I learned was never look back.  When we first met, in my ninth regeneration and then you stayed with me, well we had something special but I don't usually reminisce about the past, you were the exception to that rule and I know I could never tell you how I felt about you back then but now, well you know because I left him with you.  Please Rose, go back and make up with him, he needs you."

"No he doesn't Doctor.  I came to ask you why you did it, why you left us both there.  Yes, we got together and we had three years but neither of us could commit, he would have used the dimension cannon to keep coming over here whenever he felt like it and he would have left me behind."

"I think you're wrong Rose, very wrong, he was me."

"Not to me he wasn't and not to him either, he always would wonder why you left him, the Tardis coral you left wouldn't even start growing, he tried everything.  The only thing he could do was be satisfied with travelling to other alternate realities and one day, he would have stayed in one of them, or got trapped in one, just like I was trapped there.  I'm sorry Doctor but you were wrong, I didn't want a copy of you, I wanted you and now, well you've moved on."

"You stayed once before."

"You weren't married then, were you?"

"That's not the point Rose, neither of us can ever win this."

"Yeah, I know.  I'll be off then, I have everything I need to stay here but will you do one thing for me?"

"Of course I will, Rose Tyler."

"Take me to July 2013?"

The Doctor laughed.  "Any particular reason?" he asked, flipping some switches.

"Yeah, that's what the cannon aimed for and if I decide to go back, I might go back and meet myself."

"Ah, yes, good point Rose.  Right then, July 2013, my driving has improved somewhat to my last incarnation.  I know how much you loved that version of me Rose and I'm really sorry it didn't work out for the two of you.  What did he call himself in the end?"

"James Smith, he said he was tired of pretending to be called John.  When we were together, we called him Jamie, he said he'd had a companion by that name."

"Ah, yes, a good few regenerations back that was.  Outside that door, it's July 2013."

"I never even felt the Tardis move."

"A few slight modifications."

"Anything to do with landing in Amy's back garden when she was seven?" Rose smiled.

"She told you?  Oh well, anyway, where do you want to be, London?"

"No, not really, everyone thinks I never survived the Cyberman attack."

"That's not exactly true Rose.  Mickey put them straight, said you and your mother went to live in a quiet seaside town to recover, you still officially exist in this world, it was the least he could do.  He got married I believe, to Martha."

"I had a feeling he would, good for him.  So, where was this quiet seaside town then?"

"Ah, let me think."

Amy had just come back into the console room.

"It was called Broadchurch."

"Yes, there you go Rose, it was called Broadchurch.  Shall I take you there?"

Rose nodded and the Doctor twisted a few more dials.  "Here we are then.  Do you have any money?"

Rose smiled.  "You know I worked for Torchwood in that universe?  I have a universal credit card, I won't starve."

"Then take my psychic paper, it will help you and let everyone think you've been just moved here.  I believe it's seven years here but why 2013?"

"I've no idea, it was him, he seemed to think this is where I needed to be.  Do you know something that I don't?"

"Why would I Rose, you've been with him, not me."

"Well it was 2016 where I came from, I expect he was trying to keep the three year difference to keep things relative and all that."

"Donna told me you learned quite a lot, when you were in that reality that sprung up around her."

"Yeah, you could say that.  Anyway, it's over.  I'll be on my way then, find a place to stay."

"Mickey took care of that as well, I saw him, before I regenerated.  Use the psychic paper, there's a place to stay and a job waiting for you, you've just left your mother back in London and you're starting a new job, he set everything up in case you and Jackie ever came back."

"I'll have to find him and thank him then."

She took the wallet containing the psychic paper and Amy handed her a piece of paper.

"The Tardis has set everything up for you, here's the address of your new apartment, just on the seafront I believe and the name of the hairdresser's shop you'll be working in.  Your elderly aunt on your father's side just died and you were her sole beneficiary so that will explain how you're able to live."

"The Tardis just did all that, for me?" Rose asked.

"You were always her favourite Rose," the Doctor added.  "This is where we leave you but you can contact me, if you want?"

"I don't know but I suppose I'll hear about you from time to time?"

Amy giggled.

"I'm not nearly as jeopardy friendly as you were Rose, I'm rather hurt by the insinuation," the Doctor huffed.

Amy went up to her and pulled her into a hug.  "Take care of yourself Rose, look us up, Amy and Rory Pond."

"I will, some day.  Have fun in New York."

"We will, if he doesn't get the year wrong," Amy smiled.

Rose picked up her rucksack and went towards the door, looking back.  "I don't like the redecoration, I much preferred the coral."

"Yes, well that's been gone a while now.  Goodbye Rose, take care of yourself."

"Yeah, you too.  Bye Amy, look after him?"

"Aye, I look after my boys."

Rose never doubted she wouldn't.

She stepped outside the Tardis to find herself on a beach, with golden cliffs behind her – Broadchurch if the Doctor had got it right and she was just in time to see the Tardis fade from view.  He didn't waste any time, she thought.  She looked at the address, there was a rough map on the back.  She made her way off the beach and onto the harbour roadway, following it around and crossing a road bridge and found herself passing the police station and following the esplanade until she saw some flats and made her way onto the path.

The Tardis had chosen well by the looks of things, a seafront apartment, on the first floor.  She hoped it was rented or she'd have to explain how she came to be in it.  She wondered though how she was going to get inside but as she stopped, a woman came out of the flat underneath.

"Hello dear, are you Rose by any chance?"

"Yeah, Rose Tyler."

"Good, your friend left a key for you but the cleaners have one anyway, welcome."

"Thanks.  So a cleaner comes in?"

"Oh no dear, not once you take over, that's up to you now.  If you need anything, just knock.  I'm Madge by the way."

"Nice to meet you Madge."

Rose thought she had best not ask too many questions such as who the friend was or how long she'd had the key.

"I'd best get sorted then, it's been a long day.  Are there any shops around here?"

"There's the mini market, just past the police station, it's part of the caravan site, there's a takeaway as well.  So, what do you do then?"

"Oh, I'm a hairdresser, I have to go find the salon tomorrow."

Madge let her go and Rose let herself into the apartment which was quite spacious, having two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and a balcony.  As Rose settled down, a few miles down from Broadchurch, Alec Hardy was just settling Claire Ripley into a two bedroom cottage he had found for her.

"Right Claire, this is where I leave you.  You have the address of the hairdressing salon I got you that job in?  I'm risking a lot for you so don't let me down."

"I won't Alec, I promise.  I have a bit of money saved up, Lee doesn't know about it.  You'll come and visit me?"

"As soon as I can get my transfer arranged, I just have to wait for the word I've been accepted in Broadchurch.  It should be next week but I can't keep coming down all the time, the idea was to keep you safe."

"You're not going to ignore me are you?"

"Well no but I'll only come down when I need to, it's better that way.  If anyone asks, I'm just a friend."

"OK, I get it.  Bye then, you could call in the salon?"

"That's not a good idea Claire."

Alec left and got back into the car he had borrowed to bring Claire down from Sandbrook after she'd been getting messages from her husband that he was coming back to look for her.  Lee Ashworth had supposed to have left the country after being acquitted and walking free from court because Alec's then wife had lost vital evidence and he was still paying for it after taking the blame himself.  He'd been lucky that the chief in Broadchurch had been willing to give him a chance to redeem himself, albeit at the expense of turning down someone for a promotion and he'd had to wait until that officer went on leave.

His phone rang as he was about to set off for the long drive back and he was hoping it wasn't Claire already.

"Hardy," he answered without looking.

"DI Hardy?  It's CS Jenkinson, from Broadchurch police.  I have good news.  I've spoken to the chief constable, your transfer has been approved.  Can you start next Monday?"

"It will take me a few days, can we make it Wednesday?"

"Very well, I'll have one of my staff book you a room at one of the hotels, for as long as you need but you will be required to find a place of your own within three months.  You'll get an allowance for being away from home."

"Fine, can someone send me the details when it's booked?"

That agreed, he set off, to tell his daughter he was moving away, that would go down extremely well.  It was fortunate he'd been accepted since he just settled Claire nearby, he hadn't thought it such a good idea to keep her in the same town, she was still married and he was recently divorced, it wouldn't look very good and would do his reputation no good either.  It had been a rough time, trying to keep working in the town a killer had walked free and a young woman was still missing and he'd taken the blame to spare his daughter but she'd know soon enough, the tongues hadn't yet stopped wagging nor the fingers stopped pointing.
Chapter 3
Separately, Rose, Claire and Alec were all settling down to their new lives, Rose had been to the hair salon she was starting a new job in the following week, as did Claire although they didn't yet know they would be working with each other and Alec had been to see his daughter to explain he was moving away but would still see her every other weekend and that he'd go on the Saturday to meet with her at a place of her choice.

Rose was finding her way around the town, loving the fact her apartment had a sea view and thought Mickey had chosen well though how he and the Doctor had arranged everything, she had no idea unless the new Doctor had just arranged things at the last minute, it had sounded like it but she was thankful none the less.

Alec had settled into the hotel the following Wednesday, well as best he could and reported to his new chief, thankful his old friend had filled in all the medical paperwork that he'd completed an exam prior to his departure from Sandbrook but he knew he'd never had passed it in a million years.  His medication was getting in short supply and he'd have to call his friend to send some more or come down for a visit, preferably late at night when there was no-one around.

Why he'd let himself be transferred by the sea, he'd no idea but staying in a hotel wasn't for him and he knew he'd be out within the week so the day after he'd arrived, he took a walk along the harbour and spied a blue chalet by the side of the river and wondered how much it would cost to rent and where he needed to apply.  Getting back to his new office, he typed in the description and was surprised to see it was a local rental company but it was booked for the next two weeks.  He made a note of the agents details and meant to call in and put his name down for it, as punishment, he told himself, well everyone else was punishing him anyway.

Rose found the larger supermarket on the main road, being tempted to walk up but had to call for a taxi with all her shopping and unknown to her, Claire was also stocking up, getting herself sorted hoping she would still see Alec, he wasn't that far away, he'd have no excuse really.  She wished he'd got her somewhere nearer the sea, why couldn't he have got her a cottage or something in the town he was transferring to, didn't he want to be seen with her?

She'd tried and failed, several times to trap him, even when he'd gone to the hospital with her when Lee had been in custody, all he'd done was try to comfort her, she'd no-one else to turn to, she couldn't even go to Cate because the woman believed Lee had killed Pippa, which had been true but her neighbour didn't know that.  Then Alec had suspected she knew more than she'd been letting on and she'd let him talk her into saying it was all Lee's idea to get rid of Pippa and she'd changed her story twice, Alec had been clever enough to know her first story wasn't true, little did he know the second one had been equally untrue.

There was no way she would ever tell him what really happened that night and she'd played a major part in it all, along with the girl's father and uncle of Lisa.  If Lee hadn't been stupid enough to lose control of himself, she wouldn't be in all this mess in the first place.  Wherever Lee was, he deserved everything he'd got so far but now he was after her, to get his revenge on her telling Hardy's now ex wife he'd killed Pippa and knew where Lisa was though where Ricky had taken her that night, she'd no idea, he'd never said.

All she had to do was keep her head down, start a new job, albeit working for someone else but she'd been told another new hairdresser was starting at the same time and she'd been worried she would have some competition but there had been another vacancy created, luckily as one staff member had just discovered she was expecting.

On their first day at 'Turning Heads' hair salon, Rose and Claire were introduced to the other staff and each other, Rose taking an instant liking to Claire because she reminded her of the serving girl, Gwyneth, back in the 1800's and she could have sworn the woman must be a descendent and also a relative of Gwen Cooper's and meant to ask Claire the first chance she got, well not about if she'd a distant relative who had the gift of sight.

They both went for their lunch at the same time and went into a nearby café on their first day.

"So Claire, do you live here then?" Rose asked her, munching on a sandwich.

"No, I live just outside the town, got a little cottage down there.  You?"

"Yeah, just down on the seafront, I'd had enough of living in London.  Me and my mum came down here before and I remembered I liked it so I thought I'd come back."

"I lived in another town before I came here, had some bother so here I am."

"Well, it's none of my business so I won't poke my nose in then?"

"Right, we'll get on just fine then," Claire smiled.  "You got a boyfriend?"

"Me?  No, not for a while, my last one got married after we finally split up, we'd been on and off for years."

At least that was true in this world and there was no way she was mentioning the other world and it would just make things complicated if she said she'd been going steady for three years then they'd had a row and she'd left him.

"I've got no-one now, my husband went off somewhere, a friend helped me relocate down here," Claire told her.

"We should go out sometimes then, pick up a couple of blokes?"

"Yeah, that would be good, that's a great idea, take our minds off it."

The two woman had different days off but agreed they would meet on Saturday night and have a few and see if there were any men on holiday they fancied after Rose said it would be better if they didn't pick up any of the locals.  They were now into their second week but on the Friday morning, the town was in turmoil.  Claire was late for work because the bus had been diverted and all they heard on the radio was that there was a police incident on Harbour Cliff Beach and Claire hadn't seen anything, having to get off the bus and make her way up into the town.

At lunch time, Rose tried to get more details of what had happened.

"Really Rose, I saw nothing, the road was closed off and the bus was being diverted.  I wonder what happened?"

Just then, Olly Stevens came in the café and saw the two woman, ignoring Claire and making a bee-line for Rose.

"Hello ladies, I've not see you two around, are you on holiday?"

"Nope, we work here and we've been coming in here since last Monday, where have you been?"  Rose asked him, noticing his press badge and being thankful she was a nobody in this world but if he dug too deeply he'd see her name on the list of the missing but returned after the Cybermen incident.

"Oh well, it was worth a try.  You wanted to know what was going on down by the harbour, have you not heard?"

"No, that's why we were talking," Claire informed him, debating whether to bother Alec and find out from him what was going on.

"They found someone on the beach early this morning, a young boy.  I think I know who it is but I've got the lead detectives on my back for releasing the name and one of them is my aunt, the other a new grumpy Scottish detective and trust me, my aunt's got plenty to complain about, she should have got a promotion." 

Claire stifled a giggle, Alec was up to his neck in it then.  Should she let on?

They went back to work but just before they left for the day, Alec appeared on TV and Rose thought she was seeing things – how could there be another who looked like the Doctor and her James?

Claire was asking Rose if they were going out the following night but she really wasn't in the mood now.

"No, let's leave it yeah?  Seems a bit odd now, going out looking for blokes, the town won't be taking the news very well, if he was a local boy."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right Rose, we'll leave it this week then?  Why don't you come down to my place on Sunday afternoon, we can have a chat and find a local pub down there, I'll tell you what bus to get though you have to walk from the main road."

"We'll do that then?"

Alec had not had a good day, this was about all he needed, he was supposed to be here to stay out of trouble as his new boss had already kindly reminded him and his new DS was being a sore loser over him getting her job, though he'd expected her to be upset then get over it and Ellie Miller did not look like she was going to get over it in a hurry, if ever.  Plus the local reporter was her nephew, whom he'd already had a run-in with earlier and he'd chewed her out over that, it had been a great start.

His phone rang as he was leaving for the press conference – it was Claire.

"Alec, what's going on?  What happened to that boy?"

"Like I could tell you any more than has been reported?  What do you want Claire?"

"Why don't you come down and see me Alec?"

"I'm busy, that's why.  Maybe at the weekend, if I have some time, I'm not making any promises though."

Claire had forgotten she'd invited Rose down and just said, "Fine then."

Before leaving work on Saturday, Rose wishing she'd not taken on a full-time job now, Claire handed her a piece of paper with her address on and the times of the buses.

"You'll have to get a taxi home though, the last bus that goes through Broadchurch is at six."

"Well if I've had a drink, I'll be just as well, won't I?" Rose grinned back, taking the address.

Rose made her way to the bus stop the next day, thinking that if it didn't turn up, she'd just get a taxi and tell Claire the bus had missed but it arrived more or less on time but Olly had seen Rose standing in the bus shelter, playing with her phone and was tempted to go talk to her.  Rose didn't have any contacts in her phone though apart from Claire and the salon, she'd been unable to get Mickey's but she didn't think Martha would appreciate his ex looking him up anyway.

Claire let her in and made some lunch for the two of them, Rose saying she should go up to her next weekend and they'd take it in turns, since they didn't know anyone else around here.  Claire was very careful not to tell her new friend where she'd been living or who her husband was, she'd been kept out of the media thanks to Alec but Lee had been plastered all over the news on his acquittal.

They were about to take a walk down to the beach just after four then go find a pub when there was a knock on the door, Claire forgetting Alec had said he'd try and call in.  Now she'd have to admit to Rose that he was the friend who had helped her move here and hope he'd keep quiet about why she was there but it wasn't likely he'd want everyone to know since it was supposed to be between the two of them.

"Alec, I'd forgotten you were coming."

"You asked me Claire, how could you forget?  Are you going to keep me standing here all afternoon?"

"Oh, sorry, come in, I have company, a woman I work with."

She led him into the sitting room, Rose already recognising his Scottish voice from the TV the other day and wishing she'd stayed at home.  All she needed was a reminder of two men now that she'd lost, even though James was her own fault.  Had he followed her here and disguised himself as a detective?  Why would he do that?

Alec looked straight at Rose, who had got up.

"Alec, this is Rose.  Rose this is Alec Hardy, the friend who helped me move here."

"Hi, nice to meet you Alec, I saw you on TV."

"So did everyone else.  A pleasure to meet you Rose.  Have you been working there for long?"

"No, I started the same day as Claire, funnily enough, we became friends with us both knowing no-one here but now I know she already knew someone."

"I didn't mention you Alec, I didn't think you'd want anyone to know."

Rose wondered about what exactly, was there something going on between these two?  Only one way to find out.

Claire could see her friend was going to say something and ushered him into the kitchen.

"Why did you get me to come and see you Claire?"

"I was missing you Alec."

"Don't put on that act with me Claire, why invite me and your friend at the same time?  Did you tell her I was your boyfriend?"

"No, of course not, what do you take me for Alec?"

"I don't know Claire but if you're playing some kind of game, then you can forget it, I'm not going to play it.  I have enough with that murder going on and you should stay away from me."

"I don't believe this Alec, you get another child's murder to solve when you couldn't even convict my husband?"

"You think I knew what was going to happen eh?  That I chose this place because I had an idea something was going to happen there?"

"I don't know Alec, did you?" 

She thought he was going to slap her or something but he just put his hands on his hips like he always did when they were disagreeing over something, which was usually Lee or his ex wife.

"Don't be so stupid Claire, I came here to forget about what happened in Sandbrook.  Did your husband follow you here?"

Claire looked livid and raised her hand but he caught it before she could strike him.

"Go on then, get out, since you didn't want to come here in the first place, I've got a real friend now, I don't need you Alec."

"Yes, so I could see, it won't last Claire and you know it, she'll find out who you are."

"Why do you think I wanted to get away from there to somewhere where no-one would know me?"

"Maybe because I mentioned I was getting a transfer?"

"Go away Alec, just leave me, I can do without you, I don't need you."

"I hope you get a good salary then, this cottage was not cheap and I'm not paying for it."

"I'll manage, thanks.  You can see yourself out then."

"Fine, don't bother calling me when your husband comes looking for you."

"I won't so don't worry, go back to your murder investigation and hound some other poor woman's husband."

"Lee's guilty, we know that."

"Well blame that stupid wife of yours then, it's all her fault."

"Stop it Claire, it's done with, unless you know who took the evidence?"

Claire's heart stopped – did he know and was just helping her to see if she's slip up?  Well, he was in for a long wait then.  He was far too clever for Lee, after all the trouble they'd gone to, to keep out of the investigation, Lee had still been a suspect or did Alec suspect Ricky as well?  If he did, he was keeping quiet about it.

Alec was looking at her.  "How much have you told your friend out there?" he asked, nodding towards the door.

"She knows nothing, I can't tell her and neither can you so don't try putting her off."

"Why would I do that?  If you've made a new friend, you'll be less likely to keep bothering me, won't you?"

"That's just typical of you Alec, bringing me down here and then dumping me."

"I have not dumped you, it's just not a good idea being seen together, people will get the wrong idea after you were involved with Sandbrook."

"I was never a suspect, was I Alec?"

"I never said you were, just keep your distance, that's all I'm saying."

"Are you afraid someone will find out you're keeping me in an unofficial witness protection program?"

"The less said, the better and stay away from that reporter in the town, what's his name."

"Too late, Rose and I already met him the other day, I think he fancies her, he hardly even acknowledged I was there."

"Then don't talk to him."

"I won't get chance, like I said, he went straight for Rose."

"Then maybe he's not so stupid after all, he may think you're married.  You are going under Ripley?"

"Of course I am Alec, that's a bit of a stupid question."

"Right, I'm off, you are being rude to your friend, leaving her.  Where's she from?"

"How would I know?  London somewhere I expect, she hasn't said much, we agreed not to talk about our pasts."

"Good, keep it that way then.  Don't call me unless it's urgent and I'll try and get down next Sunday, don't invite your friend at the same time."

Claire smiled.  "Oh, you don't fancy her then?"

"Stop it Claire, I mean it."

Claire switched on the kettle and went to get the teabags, indicating to ask he wanted one.

"I'll pass, I'll phone for a taxi."

"Come for a drink with us Alec, you can share a taxi back with Rose.  She lives by the sea, so she told me anyway, you might see her around."

"Not if she's working all day I won't, I have no need to go into a women's hairdressers."

"I don't know about that, your beard's grown and your fringe is getting in your eyes, let me trim it for you."

"No thanks, I'll pass."

It wasn't that he didn't trust her, she would see it as something personal and that was not what he wanted – to get personal with her.  He'd brought her nearby for one reason only, to see if Ashworth would come after her and she'd finally tell the truth.  That and see if she really was the one who broke into Tess's car but how could she have done?  That would imply she knew for a fact Ashworth killed Pippa and maybe Lisa but since she'd already told him two different stories, he wouldn't be the least surprised if that's all they had been and she had helped him cover the whole thing up.
Chapter 4
Rose was wondering what those two were talking about in Claire's kitchen, they were probably having an argument over something since she'd heard her friend say she'd forgotten she'd invited him.  She was still getting over the shock he looked like James, let alone the Doctor she used to know, it still hadn't registered that he was gone and although she'd stayed with him the last time, she felt she was no longer wanted and he'd moved on, like he'd thought she and his twin had.

Was she right though?  Had James sneakily followed her here and established himself as Claire's friend, Alec Hardy?  If he had, he was doing a good job of ignoring her and she'd have to check her device when she got home and see if there had been any activity.  She'd not even looked at the thing since she'd got there, she'd had no need, she had chosen this life and if things got really bad, she would just leave, no-one would be any wiser.

She heard the front door opening and caught a glimpse of him leaving.

"Right, I'm off, I'll try and call next weekend if I can but with this murder investigation, well I won't be able to keep answering the phone every time you call, got it?"

"Yeah Alec, I get it.  Trust you to walk into another murder."

"Well it's not like I planned it Claire.  My taxi is coming down the lane.  I'd best not be rude and say goodbye to your friend," he gestured and nodded towards Rose, who was now in the doorway.

"Nice to have met you Alec," Rose ventured, holding out her hand.

He took it and kissed the back of it.  "You too, Rose was it?"

"Yeah, I work with Claire, remember?"

"Yes, I remember.  My taxi is here, I may see you around?"

Before she had chance to answer, he was gone.  Claire was looking at her.

"What?" Rose asked.

"Don't get the wrong idea, he's just a friend."

"It's nothing to do with me.  Was he your boyfriend?"

"Hell no, no way!" Claire laughed.  "Me and Alec?  I tried, trust me, even when his wife left him but he wasn't interested in me, not in that way."

Claire was still jealous though, he may not be interested in her but she'd make sure no-one else got to him and that now included Rose.

Rose decided to forget about him, he wasn't James and it was impossible he was the Doctor, not now.  She decided she would have to remember to check her device because if it was James, well she was going to corner him.  Didn't he trust her?  She had said she had no idea if she was going back or not and she still hadn't so she would need to make sure the device was fully charged.

"So, are we still going out then?" Claire asked, reaching for her jacket.

"Yeah, ok but I'm not in the mood to pick a bloke up."

"What's got into you then?" Claire asked her.  "You're not thinking of making a play for Alec are you?"

"No, why should I?"

"Trust me, he's not your type, he's not anyone's type really.  He's divorced with a teenage daughter."

"So how do you know him then?"

"He knew my husband."

"So where's your husband?"

"He left me."

"Oh, sorry.  I left my boyfriend as well, the one after my ex who got married, there's no point in talking about it."

"Yeah, I know what you mean.  Come on then, it's your round."

After Alec got in the taxi, he could have sworn Rose had given him a funny look, like she knew him from somewhere but Claire had said they worked together and she would have mentioned her before she moved down here.  He tried to forget about her but he was formulating a plan, maybe he could get Rose to spy on Claire and see if she would tell the truth about what happened the night Pippa died.  He'd been trying, she'd spun him one tale then another and he'd no way of knowing if that had been true or not.

Still, what would Claire's friend be wanting with him?  He decided though he was going to get a car even though he wasn't supposed to drive, he'd had no attacks recently so if he kept taking his medication, he'd survive a bit longer.  He'd go requisition a car from the garage in the morning, someone would have to use their own and that would make him even more popular than he was with Miller.

Monday morning was chaos in the station, with extra officers all cramming into the squad room and Alec making Miller address them, which put her in a good mood.  He also found out Mark Latimer had managed to get himself an alibi for the night his son died, in the form of the local hotel owner.  The rest of the week was to consist of routine enquiries for him and for Rose and Claire, a lack of customers since no-one was visiting the town on holiday, which resulted in the owner, Maureen, asking for volunteers to cut their hours.  Rose took the opportunity to ask to be the one, since none of the others looked like they would.

So Rose cut down by one day, now having Wednesday and Thursday off, Claire had Tuesday, which suited Rose so she'd have some time to herself.  Claire was getting a bit clingy though she could understand, since her husband had left her and she hardly knew anyone.  Friday, Claire had said she'd somewhere to go and Rose wondered what she was up to or if she was meeting with Alec Hardy but she bumped into him when she wandered down to the harbour to get some lunch.

"Hello Rose, remember me?" he asked as she sat down opposite the police station at one of the catering stalls.

"Yeah, of course I do.  Were you looking for Claire?"

"No, I work opposite, I saw you.  I wanted to apologise for seeming rude the other day."

"Oh.  I didn't think you were being rude, you were there to see Claire."

"Well, even so.  May I join you?" he asked, sitting opposite her.  "Did you know Claire before coming here?"

"No, we started on the same day, she told me she knew no-one.  Were you supposed to be a secret then?"

Alec smiled, the first time since he'd been here.

"I don't think so, it's complicated.  She had some trouble and she came to me for help – end of story."

"Ok, I believe you then.  So what are you doing ending up in Broadchurch?"

"I could ask you the same," he replied as his food arrived.

He wondered if he should let her in on the reason why he and Claire were in the town but as she smiled at him, he decided he didn't want her to get involved just yet.

"To get over someone, we had a massive row over something and I left him."

"You don't have to explain anything to me, my wife left me for another DS and she took our teenage daughter with her."

"That must have upset you.  Do you get to see her?"

"Not so much and now I'm in the middle of another murder investigation."

"Another?"

"Well yes, did you not read about those two missing cousins in Sandbrook?"

"No, I've been out of it, I was travelling."   It was half true she supposed.

"Well it was all over the news, the main suspect got let off due to lack of evidence."

He didn't see any reason in telling this young, very pretty woman that Claire was involved, he didn't want her getting caught up in it, well not yet anyway.

"Was Claire involved somehow?"

"What makes you think that?"

"Just a guess, the way you two stared at each other and the raised voices in her kitchen."

"You are too clever for your own good.  Just be careful with her, she's not who you think she is."

"Is that a warning?"

"Take it how you want."  He went in his pocket and pulled out a card and handed it to her.  "If she gives you any trouble, call me."

"So you expect some then?"

"Oh yes, I do but don't let that put you off, she came down here to start afresh, you should give her a chance I suppose."

Rose was always willing to give people another chance but if Claire was indeed involved in one of his cases, she would have to be careful.  She took the card and smiled at him.

"So, you came to work down here to keep an eye on her?  You trust her that much?"

"What makes you think I can't trust her then?"

"Oh, I don't know?  You could have found her somewhere and left her?"

"Look, don't get involved Rose.  I have to get back to work now but call me, for anything.  Actually, did you know Danny Latimer?  Did he deliver a newspaper to you?"

"No, sorry, I never met him.  I hope you catch whoever did that to him."

Alec got up but stopped for a moment.  Should he ask her out?  Maybe in the middle of a case wasn't such a good idea, he should leave it until he'd caught Danny's killer, if he was still around.  His GP had passed his details onto the hospital down in Dorchester, which he was annoyed at and he'd already been put on their waiting list to see a specialist.  Not that he intended going, well not until this case was solved and even then, his chances would not have improved and maybe they would lessen since he wasn't exactly stress free.

"It was nice to see you again and remember, call me if Claire worries you."

"Why should she worry me?"

"She can have a bit of a temper when she doesn't get her own way so don't provoke her."

"I'll try and remember that, Alec.  I normally go to lunch with her but she was being secretive today for some reason."

"That sounds about right.  I hate to think what she's doing."

When Rose got back to work, Claire was in the staff room finishing a sandwich and looked at her.

"Miss me?" Claire asked, glaring at Rose.

"I managed.  Are you coming to my place on Sunday?  I need to go shopping tonight if you are.  Why don't you stay over tomorrow night instead of going all the way back home and waiting around for buses?  You can stay Sunday night as well, save getting a taxi."

"Yeah, thanks, I'll bring some stuff with me then, we can go out on Saturday night.  What's the night-life like around here?"

"It seems a bit quiet, which suits me fine."

"I've got a better idea, why don't we go down to Weymouth on Saturday night?  Bring a change of clothes with you tomorrow and we'll get the bus down after work."

"Ok then, we'll do that but Sunday afternoon, we'll get the bus back and I'll make lunch."

"If I've not got a hangover then," Claire grinned.

Rose went back to work, wondering why Alec would be warning her about Claire, they'd become good friends but sometimes, Claire would look at her in a funny way, especially after the visit from Alec last Sunday, which seemed to have thrown her friend off somewhat but was she involved with this case he'd been talking about?

Alec had gone back to work annoyed with himself that he'd not at least asked her out for a drink but maybe it would complicate things even more with Claire if he were to ask her friend out.  He was about to leave when he got a message from Claire, who was on her way out.

It read 'Did you see Rose this lunchtime?'

Alec replied with 'Why do you ask that?'

'I passed the police station, I saw Rose and someone sat with her.'

"Why ask then' he replied, sarcastically.

'She's my friend, keep your hands off her Alec and don't corrupt her like you did me.'

'I did not corrupt you Claire, you needed no help there.'

'Just stay away from her, she's not your type Alec.'

'Keep out of it Claire, you don't own me.'

'No but if Tess finds out, she'll stop you seeing your daughter.'

'That's none of your business Claire and don't try anything with Rose.'

'You do care then?  I'll tell her Alec, about me and you.'

"There is no me and you, it's all in your head Claire.'

Claire huffed at his reply, there was no way she was going to let him anywhere her new friend, she'd had no-one since Lisa although she'd pretended to be friends with Cate but Lee was probably having an affair with her long before he had Lisa that night and Ricky had smashed her head on the wooden floor, she'd got the truth out of her husband eventually which was when she had gone to tell Alec she'd give him the proof he needed to charge Lee with Pippa's death but why should she tell on Ricky?  Lee should have left the man's niece alone and she'd had half a mind to have told Alec he killed Lisa as well.

Alec put his phone away and put his overcoat on, why he wore it everywhere he didn't know, it was just a habit.  He saw Miller looking at something on the screen.  It was CCTV footage of a boy skateboarding down the middle of the High Street late at night.

"We should have a reconstruction, next week.  Your boy, what's his name, Tom, he should lead it, jog people's memories."

"Excuse me sir, that's not a good idea, he's been through enough already."

"Oh, so your loyalty stops where your family are concerned?  He's the best one, he's more or less the same age.  Ask him."

"I'm his mum and I say no."

"Do you want to catch Danny's killer or not?  Get the town involved in some way, let them think they're doing something."

"Fine then but I want it known I protested."

"Yes Miller, duly noted."

"Why do you have to be such a pain?" Ellie muttered under her breath, not really caring if he heard her or not.

He had but let it go.

"You're invited for dinner, next week so pick a night."

"What?  Why would I do that?"

"It's what people do, they invite their bosses for dinner, why are you making this so difficult?  Ok then, Tuesday, I hope you like chicken, my husband will be cooking."

"Right then, fine.  Can I bring someone with me?"

"What?"

"Yes Miller, I do have female friends, well one's sort of a friend of a friend."

"You're wanting her to be more?" Ellie grinned, mostly at the thought of the resident grouch having a female friend when he was so off with her.

"Well I've not asked her as yet, I've only met her twice and if I invite her along, it won't seem like I'm asking her out on an actual date, will it?"

"Oh, that's very sneaky – Sir.  Fine then, bring her along.  What's her name then?"

"Her name is Rose."

"That's a nice name.  Does she know?"

"About what?  I told you, I've not asked her yet."

"No you plum, does she know you fancy her?"

"Not exactly but I had lunch with her today across the road."

"Oh, I thought I saw you sitting with someone but I couldn't see who it was."

Alec thought everyone was out to spy on him today, that made two of them.  How was he going to ask Rose between now and Tuesday night though?  He couldn't just come out and ask Claire for her number, not after the messages he'd just sent and received.  He couldn't even go into the hair salon, though it was unisex but Claire would be there unless he went on Tuesday morning on some pretence, looking for Claire and get Rose on one side and ask her if she'd go with him.  He could use the excuse he didn't want to go on his own and he'd feel outnumbered, that was a perfectly good reason to ask someone to go with you somewhere he told himself.

He'd given her his card in the hope she might see Claire in a different light, Rose would make a very good spy and Claire would never suspect anything and as for Rose, well he'd just say Claire was unstable, which she was and ask her to keep an eye on his friend for him while she was at work.  Yes, Rose might just fall for that one with a little bit of luck.

Little did he know though he wouldn't have to wait that long.  He'd successfully got the use of a car, he claimed so it wouldn't waste resources having someone drive him around but like he'd predicted, it didn't win him the detective of the month award. 

Saturday morning, Rose had taken a dress and a comfy pair of shoes to work with her to save walking back down the slope to go get changed and Claire had done the same and they reckoned they would be in Weymouth in time to go to a few bars and this time, Claire was determined she was going to pick a bloke up and she was getting one for Rose though she was already protesting as the bus reached the bus station behind the main shopping area.

They made their way to the seafront bars and after coming out of a few of them, found somewhere that did food and settled down for the night, saying they would share the taxi money back to Claire's cottage and she would lend Rose a pair of PJ's as she'd thrown some undies into her shoulder bag.  Just before ten, Claire was well gone, having more drinks than Rose, who was pacing herself but as Claire came back from the ladies room, she tapped Rose on the shoulder, giggling.

"Two blokes behind us, they've been watching us," Claire informed her.

Rose spun around on her barstool but Claire stopped her.  "Shush, don't look," she giggled as the two men, both with beards got up.

Rose thought it was a bit ironic Claire should choose two blokes with beards when Alec Hardy had one but neither of the prospective candidates were a patch on him Rose thought.

Claire was all over one of them already, the other was trying to put one hand on Rose's knee and the other up her dress so she slapped both of them away, telling him to get lost.  Claire noticed and sidled up next to her.

"Come on Rose, don't be a spoilsport, this is what we came for," she told her as the two men went to get more drinks, though Rose thought Claire had drunk too many already and she herself had a full one in front of her she'd not even touched.

"Yeah, well I'm not going off with an octopus thanks very much.  I know how to fend off men you know."

"Why did we bother then?  We could have stayed in Broadchurch.  If you don't want yours, mine will go as well and I won't forgive you if they do, so come on, grin and bear it, I've not had sex in ages, not since…"  She stopped.

Claire was about to say since the last time she saw her husband when she'd given in to him just before she got scared and had gone to Alec for help getting away.  She'd told him Lee had gone away but he'd gone back a few times, roughed her up and forced her to have sex with him then left but she couldn't tell Alec the truth.  Maybe she could put Rose off by saying it was with Alec but at this point, she didn't care to elaborate, let Rose think what she wanted.

"You're not the only one Claire, I've had no-one since I split with James but I'm not that desperate."

"Fine but if I go off with him, you'll have to find your own way back to Broadchurch."

Rose thought about it.  Money wasn't exactly an object but since she'd not that much cash on her after buying drinks and no cash machine around, she could hardly go roaming the streets looking for one and she just had enough to go halves with Claire to get to her place.  The two men came back and Rose was about to slap 'hers' in the face if he didn't stop trying to snog her, Claire was taking no notice as she snogged the one who had taken a fancy to her.

The obnoxious bloke was asking her name so she lied and said it was Jackie.  She went in her purse and found Alec's number and contemplated calling him but would he travel all that way because Claire was getting over-friendly with a bloke she picked up?  Maybe not but she was worried about what her friend was about to do, leave her here while she went off and she wouldn't be taking the other one with her.

"Get off me," Rose complained as the bloke's hand was on her thigh again.  "Claire, come to the ladies with me?"

"Oh, ok then.  Be back in a tick, don't you go anywhere will you?" she said to the other one.

Once in the ladies though, Claire turned on her.  "What are you playing at Rose?  I thought you were my friend?"

"We are friends Claire but that doesn't give you the right to expect me to be palmed off with some bloke I don't like."

"Tell the truth Rose, you fancy Alec, don't you?"

"I hardly know him Claire, he's your friend."

"Yes, he is so back off, I saw you having lunch with him yesterday."

"So what?  He works across the street, big deal.  He has to eat you know?"

"Well you didn't have to talk to him."

"Was I suppose to ignore him then?  I'm not arguing with you Claire."

"Good and you can make your own way back, I'm taking mine back to the cottage."

With that, Claire stormed out.  Rose picked up her phone and Alec's card, hoping he wouldn't get mad with her for ringing him after ten in the evening.

Alec had been dozing on the couch, thinking he must get to bed but every time he did, he felt himself drowning all over again.  He got up, being careful not to make himself dizzy in the process and going to the kitchen area, got a glass of water and took his pills.  He was about to make sure he'd locked the door when his phone rang.  An unknown number came up as he squinted to see the screen then he remembered he'd given Rose his card.

"Rose, is that you?" he answered.

"Yeah, hi, how did you guess?"

"Well I don't know that many people who would be calling me at this hour and since all the accident claims and PPI pests have gone to bed, it was a reasonable assumption.  Is Claire causing some bother?"

"Yeah, sorry, I shouldn't be bothering you at this time, sorry."

"Where are you, it sounds noisy."

"In a bar down in Weymouth and I think Claire's about to leave me here.  She picked up a bloke and because I wouldn't go with his mate, she's about to storm out with him.  I'm scared Alec, I think the other bloke's waiting for me."

"What bar are you in?" he asked, forgetting the time and he was still a bit tired but here was his chance to prove he wanted to be her friend and ultimately, ask her out although it was only to Miller's house.

"Ok, I'll be right there, stay inside until I get there and don't leave with Claire or that other bloke," he told her, after she said they were in The Blue Parrot bar on the seafront, close to where there was a funfair.

He hung up and picked up his car key and his jacket, glad now he'd taken his pills but had some in his pocket, just in case.  He knew the route to Weymouth was a reasonable easy one and he'd just have to use his police sign to go look inside for her, she would be safe enough in there.  He connected his phone to the built-in hands-free kit and set off and was just at the turn-off when his phone rang again, the same number.

Rose had gone back out and Claire was still snogging the bloke she was with and the other one wasn't around but he'd seen Rose and followed her, grabbing her from behind that she called out.  Claire got up, pulling the other one with her.

"Come on then, we'll all get a taxi to my place, you two can pay.  Come on Rose, show a bit of enthusiasm."

"I haven't got any, either he stays here or I do, your choice Claire."
Chapter 5
Claire didn't even have to think about – if Rose was going to spoil her chance of getting laid tonight, she could think again.

"Don't be so tight Rose, relax, just go with him."

"No way, sorry, whoever you are but you're really not my type."

"He's got a beard, Alec's got a beard," Claire replied, trying to get to her feet again when she'd sat on the chair.

"Stop going on about Alec."

"Who's Alec?" the man who was trying to grab Rose by her waist and getting a dig in the ribs for even trying asked her.

"Never you mind, now get lost."

"Aw come on darlin' just a little biddy kiss?"

"Gross, no way am I snogging you.  Come on Claire, neither of us have enough money to get back on our own."

"He'll pay, won't you love?" she asked the man who was trying to bite her neck and who just nodded enthusiastically.

"Well I'm coming with you then, he can sit in the back if he wants to come along for the ride but if he tries anything, seat belt or not, he'll be through the cab windscreen."

"Don't get so worked up Rose, you just want to shag Alec, don't deny it."

"Who's Alec?" the other man asked again.

"Forget it Claire and if I did, what's it got to do with you?"

"He's my friend, not yours, that's what.  I wish I'd never invited him down last Sunday."

"Well you did and I talked to him, so what?  Oh, I get it, you invited him down to show him off to me then tell me to back off and he's out of bounds?"

Claire knew she'd been caught fair and square, that had been half her intention but it seemingly was beginning to backfire on her.

"Oh come on or we'll never get a taxi."  Claire turned to the man with her.  "Your mate's out of luck, you still coming then?"

The man nodded and took his mate to one side then they both followed Rose and Claire out of the bar, Claire clinging hold of her friend for support.  They saw a food vendor and Claire wanted some chips, Rose saying she'd pass, then they joined the queue for a taxi and Rose was praying Alec would turn up soon but she turned around and sent him a quick message since she didn't want him to be used as a cab telling him to meet her at Claire's cottage.

That was when Alec pulled over at the side of the road and squinted at the small screen, reading Rose's message.

'Change of plans, we're getting a taxi to Claire's, meet me there?'

He quickly sent one back, since it was nearer to turn around then take the turnoff for Claire's than continue to Weymouth and he was already regretting coming out.  Why had he though?  He'd only met Rose twice and he was feeling like a teenager again and when she'd called him earlier, he was ready to go to her rescue, mainly so she'd thank him and agree to do some spying on Claire for him but now, that wasn't his only motive. 

Getting to know Rose would lead to other things, romantic things he thought he'd never find himself wanting again but he had his condition to think about and she would do him no good in that regard but he'd have to be honest with her, he'd never told Claire or even Tess.  He started the car again, checked the road in both directions and turned the car back in the direction he'd just come from and hoped he wouldn't have to wait too long for her or she'd find him asleep at the wheel though maybe he could close his eyes while he waited.

Rose had insisted on sitting in the front of the taxi, twice having to reach back and almost break the hand of the bloke sat behind her while Claire and hers were stuffing their tongues down each others throats and were oblivious to everyone else, including the driver, who'd seen worse before now and thought it was quite tame.

Rose vaguely remembered which turn-off to send the cab driver down off the main road and the car slowly made it's way down the track to the row of cottages, she was thankful there was a car with dimmed headlights waiting just past Claire's.

Claire was aware they'd arrived and looked out of the windscreen.

"Who's that outside my cottage?  Rose, did you call Alec?"

"What else was I supposed to do Claire?  You were going to leave me there or make me go with him," she nodded her head in the direction of the man behind her as the car stopped.

Rose couldn't get out fast enough but Claire was even faster, leaving the other two men and the driver wanting to be paid for his troubles.  Alec had heard the car and got out as Rose approached him, Claire having slowed down when she saw it was actually him.

"What are you doing here Alec?  In case you've not noticed, we're with someone."

Alec took no notice and strode past Rose and Claire and held his ID card out to the cab driver.

"Take these two back where they came from."

"He's not going anywhere," Claire told him, grabbing the bloke she'd been snogging.

"Well ok then, take the other one back."

"Is he Alec?" the other man asked indignantly as Rose approached.

"Yeah and he'll kick your ass if you don't get back in that cab and leave, right now."

"Come on mate, I've got other fares waiting," the cab driver complained, wishing he could just go and leave them to sort it out. 

He didn't want any trouble with the local police and this bloke still holding his ID card looked like he meant business, especially if the woman who'd been sat in the front was his girlfriend and the other bloke was trying to muscle in on her.

The man with Claire was trying to get away.  "Oh no you don't, get inside you."

"But my mate," he protested, in a slurred voice as the cold night air and the alcohol were beginning to mix nicely.

"Your mate is going back, you can please yourself," Alec insisted as he grabbed at the other man's collar and reached for the back door of the cab.  "Go on, go home or I'll have someone come and pick you up for being  drunk and disorderly."

"But I've done nothing," the man protested. 

Claire wanted to scream.  "Alec, I swear if this one gets in that cab, I'll make sure Tess hears about everything."

"Not now Claire, beside, what have you got to tell her?  The truth maybe?"

The cab driver had decided enough was enough and started backing up so he could turn around, since Alec's car was parked in the other turning point.

Claire huffed, grabbed hold of the man she'd somehow persuaded to stay and was dragging him towards the cottage and digging into her pocket for her key.  She suddenly turned around as Alec held Rose back.

"You're not going in there with her are you?"

"No she's not, thanks Rose, you're a real mate.  Go on then go off with Alec, you've been a misery all night since I told you I'd found us a couple of blokes.  Tell him then, tell Alec you want to shag the life out of him.  Did you know that Alec?  Rose fancies the pants off you, she told me, in the ladies, what she wants to do with you."

"Stop it Claire, go sober up and whatever you think you have to tell Tess, go ahead, she knows how much of a liar you are when it comes to Sandbrook."

"I wasn't talking about Sandbrook Alec," Claire retaliated, turning around and walking off.

Rose was standing next to Alec's car.

"I suppose I shouldn't have got you into that?"

"Forget it, she'll cool down.  You should have stayed where you were Rose."

"And get left with him?  No thanks.  I was a bit scared Alec, he's bigger than me, I may not have been able to fight him off for much longer, he could have dragged me off somewhere."

There was no point in telling him she could have taken the bloke with one hand tied behind her back, what would be the fun in that?  She'd play the innocent damsel in distress and Alec could think he was her knight in shining armour.  What was the harm in it?

"Well be more careful next time.  Come on, it's way past my bedtime.  I don't suppose there's any point in telling you do to anything like wait?"

Rose just smiled and wondered if Claire had hit the nail on the head.  She decided she should maybe keep quiet on the way back, until they came to the first turn-off for Broadchurch which was a quiet country road and Rose wondered if he'd gone that way on purpose but they soon came to a village, Alec turning the car right and following the road until they came out just by the harbour and  Rose was relieved to find he'd followed a shortcut on the sat nav.

"So where do you live then?" he asked as he followed the harbour road, hoping he could just go up by the side of the station if she lived up in the town.

Rose directed him past the police station and he stopped in front of the apartments.  He turned off the engine and they sat in silence.

"Thanks for rescuing me."

"No problem, despite the time.  You seem rather sober at the side of Claire."

"I wasn't in the mood for drinking but I'd already promised I'd go with her, I wish I hadn't now."

"Well I would not have had to come and rescue you then, would I?"

"Can I at least offer you some tea, or some hot chocolate?"

"It's late Rose, I really should get home."

What had he to go back to though?  An empty house where he would be on his own, not that he wasn't used to it by now but this very pretty young blonde was inviting him in for a late night drink, when would he get another invitation?  He shouldn't seem so enthusiastic about it though, he didn't want her to think he was desperate for some female company, even though he was but not that desperate to take up with Claire.

What had Claire been getting at though?  What could she possibly be dreaming up to tell Tess?  Tess could see right through her anyway and if it was what she had insinuated about Rose wanting to take him to bed, it would surprise his ex wife rather than anger her that someone else wanted him.

"Well in that case, how about Sunday lunch?  I was going to make it for Claire but even if she's sobered up, I doubt she'll come down now after tonight's fiasco.  I was just going to do chicken."

He really should accept the invitation or go to the takeaway rather than face having lunch on his own and no-one would be in the station.

"Then I accept, thank you.  Don't worry about Claire, she'll be talking to you again by Monday I expect."

"Yeah, then she's off on Tuesday and I have the next two days off."

"You only work part time then and yet you can afford an apartment on the sea front?"

"I manage, everything's included, it's only temporary, the salon went a bit quiet.  Besides, I've got some money saved up, a great aunt left me something in her will and I get a monthly amount from a trust fund."

That was what she had decided to tell anyone who questioned her financial position, best not tell anyone, especially a police officer she had a limitless bank card.

Alec wasn't aware what day Claire was off but maybe now, he could ask Rose to go to the Miller house with him, that was if he didn't stuff up a little thing like having Sunday lunch with her.

He started to get out of the car, reaching in the side pocket to retrieve the 'Police' sign and putting it on the dashboard.

"I doubt there will be any traffic wardens at this time of night Alec," Rose smiled, reaching for the door handle.

"I would not want any of the residents complaining a strange car had pulled up outside.  I insist that I walk you to your door anyway."

"Thanks, that would be nice."

It was only a short walk but as they stopped at the steps that lead to the balcony, Alec held out his hand to help her.

"I've not had that much to drink Alec."

"I was not inferring you had Rose, I was hoping you would help me?"

"Very funny Alec but I'll humour you."

He was rather hoping she would.  He was disappointed hers was the first door.

"Thanks again, are you sure about the drink?"

What did he have to lose by accepting?  It was now getting on for midnight and he really should go home but the way she was looking at him, she looked as lonely as he was.

"Well, ok then, I've not had any hot chocolate for a while."

In the dim light outside on the opposite low railing, he could see a smile on her face.  She opened the door and put the hall light on then went across to the living room and put her shoulder bag over the chair.

"Make yourself at home Alec, I'll go put the kettle on."

Alec had followed her and was looking out at the moon on the water.  He shivered at the thought of seeing Pippa in the river and if he were to contemplate taking up with Rose Tyler, staring out to sea was not going to help him.  Rose came back in and he absent-mindedly ran his fingers through his hair, sweeping it back.

"You need a haircut Alec, why don't you come up to the salon and I'll cut it for you?"

He cringed at the thought but maybe if Rose was to trim it?

"I don't know exactly where it is, I just know the name of it and Claire will be there."

"She won't be on Tuesday.  I'll make an appointment for you, just come in when you can but I go to lunch at twelve thirty so if you make it before then, we can grab something to eat.  That's if you want to?  We can go back to the outdoor café by the station again."

"I'm sure you have better things to do than have lunch with me Rose?"

"No, not really, I doubt Claire will be the same now, she'll be in a mood with me."

She went off to make the drinks and came back, being careful to give him the one without the tiny marshmallow pieces in.

"She'll get over it, you are the only friend she has and I'll be her enemy now."

"Maybe we'll both be her enemy?" Rose mused, standing by the window and gazing out.

She knew why Mickey had chosen this place – because of her goodbye at Bad Wolf Bay and even though it had been obvious she and James would take up with each other, Mickey had planned all this in case it didn't work out and she came back.  She had checked her device was still working and she was going to do that every Sunday from now on, James had explained to her the other world may fade in and out, depending on the timelines and she knew she shouldn't panic if one day it wouldn't switch on, she'd just have to wait until the two worlds were back in sync with each other and he'd avoided the possibility she would go back to the wrong time which was why she'd insisted the Doctor brought her to the right year.

When she'd thought about it though, had James made a mistake by sending her a year out and would it make any difference to her getting back, should she choose to return?  Maybe not, his driving had always been off although it seemed this new Doctor had perfected it somewhat.

Alec was standing behind her, wondering if he should make his move on her or not, he'd had enough of rejection from Tess and he didn't want to spoil his chances but he'd have to sooner or later or some other man may steal her away, well not any man she picked up in a bar though.  They finished their drinks and Alec held his hand out to take the empty mug.

"You should close the curtains Rose."

"There's hardly anyone around at this time of night, trust me.  I just like the view, it reminds me of something."

"You don't have to tell me, if you'd rather not," he replied, daring to step closer.

"It's nothing, it was a long time ago, seven years to be exact, I should have got over it by now."

"That depends on what it was.  Some things are not so easily forgotten."

"I said goodbye to someone, by the sea but it wasn't here, it was in Norway."

"Why were you in Norway?"

Rose smiled.  "It was someone I used to travel with, we got as far as Norway and things started getting complicated and he left me."

Alec reached his arms out to see if she would back away but wishing the curtains were not still open.

"Why would anyone want to leave you?" he asked as Rose stepped even closer and he started putting one arm then the other around her.

"It doesn't matter Alec.  I found someone else eventually but we had a blazing row and I left him and came down here to forget it.  I'm running away Alec."

"We are all running away from something Rose.  Me, I'm running away from a case that went bad on me and my ex wife and I never found anyone to help me.  That's why I'm helping Claire hide from her husband, he was part of the investigation and she turned on him."

"You don't have to explain it to me Alec."

"Well I would rather explain it than you think I'm helping her for any other reason.  Rose, would you like to go out with me on Tuesday night?  My DS invited me for dinner and I'd feel a bit awkward going on my own.  I already told her I may bring someone with me."

"Oh.  Were you going to ask Claire?"

"Hell no, I was going to ask you.  So, would you come with me?  My DS thinks I'm a bit of a recluse, amongst other things."

"You're asking me to go with you to prove her wrong then?" she teased, feeling herself rest her head on his chest and his arms closing around her.

What was she thinking of?  He was almost the twin of James and although that was over, she really should try and get away from similar men but when he kissed the top of her head, she glanced up at him.

"I'll come with you, on the condition you let me cut your hair for you and you make it clear to her you are not a recluse."

"Well, that's not all she calls me behind my back I'm sure but yes, I'll let you cut my hair but don't tell Claire, I declined her offer to do the same."

"I'll swear the others to secrecy then.  So, we have a date then?"

"You want to call it a date?" he asked, sounding surprised.

"What's so bad about it being a date?  You a bit out of practice at dating then?"

"Honestly?  Yes, just a wee bit I suppose.  It's just dinner at the house of someone I work with."

"Fine, a non-date then?" she teased.

"Well, I wouldn't want to disappoint you by saying it was not a date, would I?  If you're inviting me to lunch tomorrow, I suppose you could look at it as a second date?"

She started putting her arms around his back, under his now open jacket, making him move even closer as he felt her hands on his shirt and wished they were under it and not on top.  He leaned down and went for her neck, he'd not forgotten that much as he kissed it gently then when she didn't push him away, he repeated it several times until Rose knew she couldn't resist him for much longer and moved slightly so they caught each others eyes.

He stopped what he was doing and tried to judge the right angle to get the most of kissing her properly as she reached up.

"So, what Claire said back there?" he asked, a smile on his face.

"I never said a word to her, I didn't want her to think I wanted to make a play for you."

"Ah but I was right though, she saw through you anyway and you do fancy me?"

"Alec, shut up and just kiss me already."

"Only if you want to make more of it?"

"Well you won't find out unless you do kiss me, will you?"

With that, he decided he really did have nothing to lose, she was willing to take a chance and so was he as he brushed her lips with his own and then felt the kiss deepen as she sank her lips into his.

"Alec, stay with me?"

"Rose, I would love to but I can't, really."

Rose pulled back slightly.  "I must have got my wires crossed then?"

"No, you did no such thing and I really would love to continue seeing you?"

"Yeah, I'd like that too, I was just getting way too ahead of myself, maybe I've drunk more than I thought after all?"

He could tell she was disappointed.

"Rose, it's not you, really, you are far too gorgeous and I don't deserve your attention but it's me, I have this condition and I've never told anyone, not even my ex."

"Then tell me Alec, I deserve to know, don't I?  You told your friend you'd be bringing someone to dinner with you, was that to prove to her you could get a girlfriend?"

"Well partly but I wanted to ask you out when I'd left Claire's last Sunday and when I saw you opposite the station, I couldn't resist the urge to go over and talk to you.  Then when Miller asked me, I thought it was a good way of asking you on a date with me and I was thinking how the hell I was going to ask you to come with me and then you rang earlier and I thought if I went out to rescue you, well I'd get the chance to ask you to go with me."

Rose put her finger on his lips to stop him, he was so like James, whose gob didn't stop for anything.

"Alec, shut up and just kiss me again and if you want to leave, then fine but you can trust me, so tell me what's wrong with you and maybe I can help?"

"Oh Rose, I really wish you could help but no-one can, I can only help myself and I will.  I was going to wait until I solved this case but I won't put it off now.  Rose, I have a heart condition, I have to take medication for it and I'm waiting to see a specialist so I can be considered for a pacemaker."

He thought if that wasn't going to put her off, nothing would.  He waited for her reaction.

"Then tell me what to do if you have an attack but please Alec, please stay with me?"

"You want me to stay, after what I told you?"

"Yes, because like Claire said, I really do fancy the pants off you."

She pulled him down for another kiss, not caring if anyone passing on the other side of the esplanade could see them or not.
Chapter 6
Alec found he couldn't hold back kissing her properly for any longer so he broke the kiss and pulled the curtains over.

"If I stay, you have to promise you'll go easy on me," he insisted, pushing her hair back.

Rose smiled and went for his shirt buttons.  "Then tell me what to do, if needed."

Rose kept her promise after he told her where his pills were and if he didn't recover, to get him to the nearest hospital but as Rose lay on him and they took their time, he recovered without her having to dash to the kitchen to get him some water.

"Wow, are you certain there's something actually wrong with you?"

Alec was trying to recover on his own, his irregular heartbeat not knowing what was actually 'normal' but still managing somehow not to cause him too much discomfort as to interrupt what he thought was impossible, that of just having made love to Rose, who had moved to one side to allow him to in his own time although she was still trying to recover from her own high.  He was wishing he could have watched her, the light from the outside filtering through the curtains, bathing her face in the moonlight and swore he was going to call the hospital on Monday and set a rocket under them to get an appointment because once was never going to be enough with her and he wanted to see the look on her face as the waves of pleasure crashed over her.

"I'm fine Rose, don't make a fuss darlin' so come back here."

She moved back and settled on him.

"I think you'd best put your shorts back on mister, just in case."

"I will, when I've finished with you.  That was amazing Rose, I never even intended staying but you actually made me want to.  You made me feel wanted again."

"Aw, of course you're wanted Alec," she replied, kissing his neck as he moved her hair back and kissed hers.

"Tell that to my ex.  I'd best go and get those shorts then."

"There's no hurry, is there?"

After they fooled around again, Rose glanced at the bedside clock/radio and grimaced at the time.

"Yeah, it's really late and we have the morning, don't we?"

"Yes, if you want me to stay?"

"That goes without saying Alec, do ya think I'd throw you out?  I'd be worried about you collapsing or something while you're driving home."

"It's not far, we passed it on the way here, just behind the pub.  There are two ways in, the satnav brought us back a different way, did you think I was maybe tryin' to get you down some secluded lane?"

"Very funny Alec, I'd just got away from one creep, thanks.  I'll go find your shorts then but you're not going anywhere, are you?"

"Was that a question?  I get the feeling it was an order."

"Take it how you want but I'd feel better if we both put something on, it could be embarrassing if I have to call for help."

"Yes, I see your point.  Like you said, we have the morning.  Don't take too long though."

Rose found his shorts and tossed them to him and went to find a silky vest top and some clean underwear then went to clean herself up in the bathroom.  She looked in the mirror and smiled to herself.  She never thought she would get over James but was she getting over him?  Maybe not if she'd just made love to his almost double and she hoped she'd get away with it, she'd just got over her monthly on Friday morning and would have to go to the clinic on Monday lunchtime or it would be too late and she'd have to wait another month.

She didn't know how coming through the void had affected her this time, she had never stayed anywhere long enough to find out before now and she'd been taken by surprise when it had arrived, more or less on time.  Maybe being back in her original world had somehow balanced things out?

"Rose, have you got lost?"

She shook her head and pulled on the vest top.

"Nah, you remember what us women are like, don't you Alec?" she called out.

"Yes, they take far too long and leave us poor men wondering why.  We should get some sleep and then, I'll make you breakfast in the morning."

"I can make it, you're my guest, for now so take advantage of it," she told him as she came back in.

"Oh, so I won't be a guest from then onwards?"

"Well I hope you'll be more than a guest Alec," she replied, circling her finger on his chest after she climbed back on top of him.  "Does it bother you?"

"No, I try not to think about it and I swear Rose, I am calling the hospital on Monday, I've put it off far too long, I'm not going to mess about any more, you deserve better than I have to offer."

"Oh, I never noticed any difference except for me being on top but I don't want you to think I was trying to take that away from you?"

"No, I did not think that but you were trying to spare me the embarrassment if I couldn't finish what we started so don't deny it and I am grateful for that but I want to prove to you there was no need."

"Well until you get seen at the hospital, you have two options."

"So what are they then?" he asked, pushing her onto her back and leaning over her, kissing her through the silky top that felt tight on her and debating whether to just pull the thing up out of his way.

Rose was rather enjoying it but took his hand and together, they pulled the silky top up over her tummy and clasping his hand, put it underneath and put her hand on top until he got the message to go ahead and move his hand where he wanted it.

"Well, let me continue being on top and doing all the moving or we quit while we're ahead."

"No, I don't like the last option, do you?"

He had pulled the top all the way up and was kissing where his hand had been, Rose now ruffling his hair she wanted to cut on Tuesday.

"Nope, I was hoping you wouldn't choose that one but there is just one small detail, just a tiny one."

"There always is."

"Oh, I don't mean anything bad it's just you'll have to take the precautions, until I can get to the clinic."

"Oh, is that all?  You mean you don't?"

"I never planned this Alec, I never intended dragging you out late at night and end up in bed with you, it's just I've not had time to go to get my injection yet."

"They do injections?"

"Well they did in London," she lied.  Now she'd put her foot in it, maybe they didn't do them here yet or maybe it had been so long for him, he wasn't up to date on such matters.

"Well I seriously doubt anything happened Rose, although it was more than pleasant to say the least so yes, until you get back on something, I'll risk being seen getting something from the mini-market and hope they've not seen me on TV."

"Aw, don't be so shy, you're not gonna hide me are you?"

"No, I don't think I could actually, since I told you to stay where you were and you left anyway."

"I'm useless at doing as I'm told."

"I just bet you are, little Miss Trouble."

"Do ya want to find out just how much trouble I really am?" she teased, trying to get him on his back.

He moved and pulled the silky pale pink top back down, after one last kiss.

"I'll find out, won't I?"

When Claire woke up the next morning, alone, she had a bad hangover but still remembered her friend had called Alec.  She reached for her phone and pressed Rose's number.  Alec had the misfortune to answer it since Rose was at the other side of the bed, half under him.

"Yes," he answered, hoping it wasn't her mother although they'd not discussed the details of Rose running away from her past.

"Alec, what are you doing answering Rose's phone?"

"What do you want Claire?"

"No, you tell me why you were waiting last night and why you're answering her phone."

"Are you her mother then?"

"Are you in bed with her?"

"Mind your own business Claire but no, she's in the bathroom, I slept in the spare room."

"You're such a liar Alec.  Ask Rose if I'm still coming for lunch today."

"After last night?  You have the nerve to ask that?  I already asked her out for lunch and you are not invited."

"Thanks a lot Alec, for stealing my friend.  You just wait."

"I can hardly contain myself Claire, your behaviour towards her last night was dismal, forcing someone onto her so you could take someone home."

"Huh, you have some room to talk about forcing someone Alec."

"You don't know what you are talking about Claire.  I expect Rose will call you back later or see you at work."

With that, he hung up as Rose was moving underneath him.

"Who's that?"

"Claire."

"Oh, did you tell her you were with me?"

"Not exactly, did you want me to?"

"Come here first then I'll tell you.  Morning lover."

"Good morning to you Miss Trouble."

"Are you really gonna call me that?"

"Oh yes but only when we're on our own.  She wanted to know if she was still invited for lunch and you may want to tell her I took your spare room."

"Yeah, like she'll believe that.  I don't think I want to see her today, I think we need some time apart."

"Oh, well I'll leave then shall I?"

"What?  I didn't mean you Alec."

To prove it, she pulled him towards her and they kissed.

"I was just teasing darlin'.  I'll get dressed and start breakfast shall I?  Then we can go for a walk and I'm taking you out for lunch.  I need to go home before that to get changed."

"Yeah, ok but you also have to call at the mini-market don't forget."

"You won't let me, will you?  You can come with me, I'll show you where I live then."

After they cleared the dishes, they walked down the rest of the esplanade and onto the beach, Alec making Rose walk nearest the water and trying not to look.  He knew he'd have to tell her, since she didn't appear to know about his last big case.  Rose got some stones in her sandals and he held out his arm to steady her while she took them off.  She just smiled at him and passed them to him one by one and assumed he was going to carry them for her.

"Yes," he thought, "I've just gone and got myself a girlfriend."

They walked past the boatyard, seeing some smaller boats chained up just below the hut where they believed Danny had been killed but he didn't want to mention the fact to her and as they walked further, they spied some rocks and Alec decided he needed a rest.

"Are you ok Alec?"

"Yes, I just need a rest, I'll be fine.  I think we need to talk, don't you?"

He sat her down and put his arm around her, half facing her.  He began to tell her about what had happened when the two cousins had gone missing, finding Pippa in the river three days later and how he suspected Claire's husband.

"So, she's innocent in it all then?"

"Well we had no reason to think she knew about it, she claimed at first she was at a friend's house all night and returned the next morning to find him cleaning the whole house and then afterwards she changed it to her coming home early.  The girl was in the river too long but they think she was strangled."

"That's horrible Alec, what possible excuse could someone have to strangle a twelve year old girl?  That's why it got to you, this new case, that boy, Danny, he was the same age."

"Yes and my daughter was just a bit older at the time and the other older girl is still missing.  I thought by protecting Claire, she may tell me more, she may know where Lisa went off to or if someone took her, maybe she went with a boyfriend somewhere.  I never gave up Rose, even when he walked free."

"I know you didn't Alec but you can't blame yourself."

"I was in charge, it makes it my fault."

"It's what made you ill and you have to go easy on yourself.  Don't go getting your heart fixed just to torture yourself with a similar case."

"I can't let another family down Rose but I'm not doing it for that, I'm doing it now for you because I want more with you Rose, if you'll have me?"

"You'd do it for me?"

"Yes, I never had a reason before, I told myself it was punishment, for failing but now, I'm not going to fail on this case."

"Well, you've not got your ex wife to contend with, have you?"

"Miller is just as bad, trust me but if I have you, that will make all the difference."

He looked around to make sure they were completely alone then pulled her closer, pushing a strand of her hair behind her ear and touching her cheek.  Then he kissed it gently as Rose put her hands under his jacket and she looked up at him.

"Maybe you should give her a chance?"

"Just for you Rose, no other reason because until I'm seen at the hospital, you will have to keep me out of trouble."

"You said I couldn't keep myself out of trouble Alec."

"Yes, well now you have a chance to prove yourself to me.  Do you want the job?"

"What job's that then?"

He smiled and leaned in to kiss her.  "That of maybe being my girlfriend?" 

"Oh."

"If it's too soon, then just say, we can just be friends, if that's all you want?"

"No Alec it's just there are things I've not told you, that's all.  I told you about the man who left me in Norway, well after that, there was James and we were together for three years but he did something I couldn't forgive him for and we split up.  We lived together, we never talked about getting married, mainly because my mother kept bringing up the subject every time we walked through her front door but it didn't seem important to us, we were happy."

"Then why could you not forgive him?"

"It's complicated Alec, it's best left alone."

"Then tell me when you want to, I'm not going anywhere.  Come here."

She slid over to sit in his lap and put her arms around his neck and they kissed for what seemed like ages to them.

"I expect you will want me to meet your mother then?" he asked when they'd stopped for breath.

"Ah, that could be a bit awkward, she went off to visit her cousin, in the Peak District, I don't know when she'll be back."  It was a bit further than that but it was all she could think of as she looked into his brown eyes.

"Well when she gets back then but you can tell her about me when you call her, can't you?"

"Oh yeah, I can do that, I'm not gonna hide you.  Well except from Claire but that might be a bit late now.  You really didn't have to tell her you used the spare room, I don't think she'll be fooled."

"Maybe not then, I'll let you tell her."

"Thanks a bunch Alec."

"Come on, let's walk back before the tide cuts us off because I am not climbing up the cliff pathway."

"Yeah, it looks a bit steep.  Did you see that hut up there?"

"We think Danny was killed there."

"Oh but I thought he was found on the beach?"

"Yes, someone transported him down there."

"By boat?"

"What makes you think that?"

"Why not?  Did you think a car was the only method of transport around here?"

"You may be onto something Rose."

Just then, his phone rang and he fumbled in his pocket after Rose got up.  She smiled when he refused to get his glasses out to read the screen.

"Hardy.  What?  Can't it wait until tomorrow?  While you're at it, have someone take a look in the boatyard below the hut, see if there are any missing.  Never mind why, just do it and I want that woman at the caravan site brought in again first thing tomorrow morning."

"Trouble?"

"No, just more evidence come to light, I won't bore you with it but maybe they will find a boat missing."

Rose held out her arms to help him up.

"I can get up on my own you know, are you implying I can't?"

"Nope and don't be such a grump or I'll get you a Mr Grumpy t-shirt."

He took her hands and got up, pulling himself towards her.

"I am not a grump, blame those morons in CSU for working Sundays and bothering me."

"They're just doing their jobs Alec.  Have you got any suspects?"

"Not exactly, just half the town's male population."

"So not that many then?" she smiled.

"I am not going to bring my work home with me Rose, you'll just have to accept I may have to work late or go out at all hours."

"That's a great way to get yourself a girlfriend Alec."

"You've not said if you want the job or not yet.  Does that put you off?" he asked, leaning down for another kiss and putting his hands under her t-shirt, making her shiver.

"Was it meant to?" 

He never answered as his now cold hand was directly on her strap, playing his thumb under it.

"Be serious Alec because if that was meant to put me off then tough, it didn't work."

"Good, then it was not meant to put you off, I just wanted to be honest with you."

"Right then, now we've established that then yeah, I want the job."

He lifted her off her feet as her arms were around his neck and they kissed again.  He picked up her shoes and took her hand, Rose instinctively walking near the water's edge after he'd told her about the river.  Alec could see some flashing lights in the distance and this would be his first test, being seen walking hand in hand with a young blonde along the beach, on a Sunday morning.  If that didn't get the department talking, nothing would and they would stop calling him all the names they could come up with though now they might be replaced with implications he was the office Romeo.

As they were passing a row of boats, the CSU's were getting out of their four-wheel drive vehicle and getting out their equipment as the officer in charge, the name escaping Alec's attention approached them, Rose wishing Alec wasn't carrying her sandals.

"Sir, are these the boats you were talking about?"

"Yes, so see if any have been used recently or if any are missing."

"One there, see, a cut chain," Rose pointed behind where Alec was now standing. 

Brian Young looked at her, then saw she was bare-footed and wondered what the two of them were even doing up here but it shed a new light on the grumpy new DI, he had a girlfriend, a very observant one.

They left the forensic team to get on with it and walked back to where they could get off the beach, Rose sitting on the step and Alec being a gentleman and holding her sandals as she put her feet into them, then holding out his hand to help her up, Rose stealing a kiss in the process.

"Come back to my place for a while?"

"Let me make sure I've not been given a parking fine first then," he smiled.  "We were going to my house, were we not?"

"I can't go out for lunch like this, I want to get changed first."

"You look fine Rose."

She went to kiss his cheek as he checked the car windscreen to see there were no tickets.

"I told you, no traffic wardens at night or on a Sunday.  Beside, they wouldn't dare give one to the police, would they?"

"Don't bet on it Rose.  Go get changed then, I'll wait."

"Down here?"

"I may distract you if I come up with you."

"I don't mind if you do, what's the rush?"

She pulled him away from the car and around the back, stopping to kiss him before going up the steps.

"I want you to feel at home here Alec."

"I will and the same applies to my place, when you have been there."

Rose went to get changed while Alec busied himself making some tea, setting it on the kitchen table and waiting until she came back in, wearing a blue floral dress.  One thing Rose had learned in her time in the other universe was that men liked women to dress up a little whenever they went out although she'd not intended going out that much and never entertained the thought of getting herself another boyfriend, not so soon after her split with James.

"You look great love," Alec complimented her, getting up.

"Thanks Alec.  So, where are you taking me?"

"Well, I need to go and change my shirt, then we'll call at the store on the way and we'll drive back to the village we went through last night, we passed a pub, remember?  Just where we turned off the road."

Alec drove them the short distance to his cottage, just behind the pub on the harbour and Rose thought it was charming, with a black stove for the heating and the open plan living room with kitchen area at the back.

"Is there a garden?"

"Yes, come and see."

He opened the back door to a stone patio area with a wooden table and four chairs and the well kept garden beyond.

"So you rent this?"

"Aye, it came furnished, it was a holiday let but I got a good deal on it and I get half of it paid, no bills to worry about either."

"You questioned my ability to pay the rent?" she smiled, sitting on one of the chairs Alec pulled out for her.

He sat beside her and took her hand, kissing the back of it.

"I dare say I earn a lot more than you do Rose and besides, you pay more for the view."

"I expect so.  When we come back from lunch, we could go for another walk then sit out here and talk for a while?"

"Will you stay here tonight, with me?"

"Don't you like my apartment?"

"I'm not so keen on the view."

"Sorry, you should have told me last night, I could have closed the curtains sooner if I'd known."

"No matter, we can go to your place if you want?"

"Well if you lend me something to sleep in, I'll stay but I'll have to leave early to get ready for work."

"So would I, if I stayed with you.  I'll make sure you are not late.  I meant it though, I may have to work late some nights."

"Then just come around when you get out, it's only a few minutes away, you can leave your car at the station."

"Aye, I dare say I could, what would they think of me eh?"

"That you got yourself a girlfriend?"
Chapter 7
They called at the store, Rose pretending she wasn't with him and going for some more hot chocolate for when she stayed at his house and they drove back to the pub in the next village, Rose surprised how busy it was when Broadchurch was so quiet and having to wait for their meals though not by too long.  Alec then followed the sign for the beach car park and they went for another walk.

What they didn't know was that the beach went all the way down near Claire's cottage and she had gone for a long  walk, mainly to sober up from the night before and they had stopped at some rocks and sat down, Alec looking around and then leaning in to kiss her but Claire could see a fair distance and was certain it was them up ahead so she walked nearer, going behind a crack in the cliff to get a better view.

Rose was now sitting on Alec's lap, facing him and he had one of his hands down the back of her dress, trying to get it under her strap as they continued kissing.  Alec pulled away, taking his jacket off and putting it around her shoulders and he reached under it, catching the zip and tugging it down and unfastening the strap, pulling the dress off one shoulder.

"If you carry on like this Alec, we'll get caught," she laughed.

"Shush love, I won't let us get caught, come closer."

His other hand was wandering as Rose leaned into his shoulder, Alec now kissing her neck and his hand reaching its intended target, Rose hoping no-one was passing but they were almost up against the cliff and he was keeping one eye on anyone who could be approaching from either direction though it would look like she was simply leaning on him as he had pulled the jacket to the side of her that wasn't resting on him.

"Rose, we really need to talk love, I think it's becoming clear we're more than friends?"

"Yeah, do ya think?  What else is there to talk about?"

"Oh I don't know?  Maybe about where you come from, besides London."

"Yeah, you first though."

"Ok but maybe we'd best finish this first eh?  We can talk in the garden when we get back, this is rather a nice way of passing an afternoon, don't you think?"

Rose couldn't agree more as she put her other arm around his neck and pressed into him and they kissed again.

"I think I more than just like you Alec."

"I feel the same Rose, I more than like you.  Let's go back to my place and finish this eh?"

"In the garden?" she mused.

"Well it will be more private than here but I can show you my bedroom."

"Yeah, I'd like that, will you fasten me up again?"

"With pleasure love though it was nicer unfastening the zip."

"Well next time, I'll wear something easier."

Just a few yards further down, Claire didn't need to use her imagination to guess what the two of them were doing, Rose had just taken Alec's jacket off and was kissing his cheek while handing it back, Alec swinging it around to put it back on as she got up.

"Are you ok?"

"Fine love, don't worry so much.  Did you keep that water bottle in your shoulder bag?"

"Yeah and from now on, I'm going nowhere without it when I'm with you and when we get back to your place, give me a strip of your pills to keep with me, in case you run out of them and keep some at my apartment."

"So you are not taking any chances then?"

"When it comes to you, no."

"Then I know I'm in safe hands.  You did promise you would tell no-one?"

"Don't worry, I've got no-one to tell anyway."

Claire was annoyed she couldn't hear what they were talking about.  She knew she couldn't be that far from Broadchurch, unless they'd come by car but she could see another set of cliffs further up and wondered if she should carry on walking but it was getting on for four in the afternoon and it had taken her a fair while to walk as far as she had done.

One thing she knew for certain was that Alec had been lying to her earlier, he had been in Rose's bed despite him saying otherwise, he was male and despite how many times she'd tried, she had failed to get him to go with her but Rose didn't know that.  She could spin her so-called friend a tale or two about when he'd gone to the hospital with her after Lee had been arrested and she'd been scared to keep the baby.  Alec had been the only person she could trust and he'd stayed with her until it was over and driven her back.

Rose would be no wiser and it would put her off him because if she couldn't have him, why should Rose have him?  She turned around as the two of them walked off, arm-in-arm, determined as soon as she saw Rose at work tomorrow, she would find out how serious they were and if Rose bragged she had a new boyfriend, that would be it, she'd make sure it didn't last much longer.  She would drop a few hints then if that didn't work, she'd have to come up with something a little more drastic.

Once back at Alec's place, Rose made some tea and they sat in the garden.

"So, are you going to tell me more about yourself?" Alec asked her.

"Ok, right up until I met my second boyfriend, he was known as 'The Doctor' and he was a history professor but Mickey was my first real boyfriend, I grew up on a council estate, got a Saturday job in a London department store then went full-time but some students got in and dressed up as shop-window dummies and while they were messing about they blew up a gas main though thankfully, no-one was hurt.  Then I met the Doctor and went on research trip but we started getting too close for just a boyfriend/girlfriend and he backed off, he left me.  He went back to the hotel and handed my ticket back home to the desk clerk.  Then I met James and everything changed."

"Then you left him?  Was it because you didn't want to be the one being left again?"

"Yeah, I suppose it was.  He did something, after we promised each other and I couldn't get over it.  I left our apartment and went back to my mother but she started going on at me, told me not to be so stubborn and go back to him and that we had a good thing going."

"Maybe you should have given him another chance?"

"I couldn't.  If he broke his promise to me, how could I trust him again?  He would have kept on doing it."

"Did he cheat on you or something?  I know all about that and I never forgave Tess."

"No, he wasn't cheating on me and I swear Alec I can't tell you what it was."

"You have to trust someone Rose, I would like it very much if it was me."

She could maybe tell him some of it.

"He found out who The Doctor was, he knew him.  He tried to find him, he wanted to know why he'd left me and why he'd never stayed in touch with him."

"Why would he have done that?" Alec asked her, pulling her over to sit in his lap.

"Because they were like brothers.  I never knew Alec, after that, I knew he'd keep on trying to contact him and he'd never quit even after he promised me."

"I see then, it would have made it difficult for you, if this Doctor had come back into your boyfriend's life again."

"Yeah, you could say that.  I couldn't understand why he never wanted to get an closer, it was like he was afraid of something."

"I'm not afraid Rose and my ex is well and truly out of the picture, she has someone else.  You can trust me."

"I think I can Alec.  I want to be more than friends with you."

"I'd like that too darlin' and I don't want to hide you.  Never mind about Claire, I can deal with her and you need to know why I'm hiding her.  I'm using her to lure out her husband and hoping that she'll tell the truth about the night Pippa died and Lisa went missing."

"I understand Alec.  So there was nothing between you?"

"No and don't let her tell you otherwise, right?"

Alec went for some takeaway food later then led her upstairs, handing her a white t-shirt before she went into the bathroom to get changed.  Rose spent the night with him again, a repeat of the previous one and making Rose feel like she was depriving him of taking the lead but he kept telling her it made no difference to him and he would get himself sorted as soon as he could.

When they lay together afterwards, he made her a promise.

"I am going to get well again Rose, you can count on that love but there are things you need to know.  I may not come through the surgery, that's the reason I put it off so long but now I have a reason."

Rose smiled, running her finger across his chest.  "Oh, what reason's that then?" she teased.

"Don't pretend you don't know, the reason is you.  I had no-one to care about me then you came into my life from nowhere."

"I just came from London Alec, nothing mysterious about that, I didn't come from another planet or anything."

"Oh, that's a real shame, I used to read about people coming from parallel universes, I'm truly disappointed now."

Rose moved to prop herself up.  "Are you being serious Alec?"

"Why?  You are Rose, you're from a parallel universe?  Your reaction tells me everything, I'm a trained detective so don't deny it.  I used to write stories of people being able to come and go to other worlds and all that stuff that's been happening recently, planets in the sky, the spaceship that was supposed to be over London and that probe showing images of so-called Martians then the military organisation called UNIT declaring it was all a hoax.  I've heard things Rose, being in the police then you mentioned that store blowing up and shop dummies coming to life.  You told the wrong person love, you went to another universe but you came back."

"Blimey Alec, how did you know?"

"Come on Rose, it's what I do.  Was it those Cybermen a few years ago and what were those other creatures they were fighting that came back when the planets appeared in the sky and the earth got moved?"

"Daleks, your worst nightmare, trust me.  Did they not round people up where you were?"

"No, they were leaving smaller towns alone for some reason but everyone was scared then not long after that, Pippa and Lisa went missing, I was the one to find Pippa and part of me died that day, it could have been my daughter."

"I'm sorry Alec, you told me and I'm sorry I couldn't tell you, you could see how it would have looked.  I went to another universe, one just like this, by accident the first time then I went back after Canary Wharf, I was trapped there and that boyfriend, he was a time traveller and he did leave me in Norway but not conventionally, he got a message through to me but a few years later, the stars were going out and it made it possible for me to get back."

"So he was this Doctor then?  Who was James?"

"The Doctor was a Timelord with the ability to change if something happened to him.  That spaceship over London?  We were there, well I was, the Doctor had just regenerated and was recovering but he woke up in time to fight the alien leader for the planet but he had his hand chopped off and grew another one.  A friend found the hand and kept it safe and he got it back and when the Daleks tried to take over, he got injured but instead of regenerating again because he liked the way he was, he healed himself and poured the rest of the energy into the hand."

"You do know how this sounds Rose?  If it were anyone but me, you would have been locked up."

"I know that.  Anyway, the Doctor had this friend called Donna, I met her family when I found my way back and went to find the Doctor but he'd just been shot by a Dalek then his ship was taken on board the Dalek mother ship, Donna was locked inside and the ship was deposited in the heart of the Dalek ship and from what she said, it got set on fire but she had this urge to touch the hand that he'd lost that was kept in a jar and when she did, James grew out of it, he was the Doctor's clone or brother or whatever you want to call him."

"A twin?  Then what happened?"

"When it was all over, the Doctor took us back to the other universe, my mum and Mickey had followed me, she remarried and I've got a younger stepbrother and me and James settled down, until my stepfather and Torchwood found the right universe again and James altered the devices but we promised each other we would never go back and he broke that promise though he never found the Doctor but he would have carried on, he wanted some answers."

"So you never forgave him and came here yourself?"

"Yes, James wasn't the only one who wanted to know why he'd left us but when I got here and found him, he'd changed again and it didn't matter.  I have a device to get back but James altered it so if anyone used it, we'd always go back to the right universe and just after we left so there were no mistakes but this universe phases in and out, well this timeline, there are others and it's out of phase and I don't know when and if it will be back."

"This is all incredible Rose but I know most of those things happened.  So after the earth was put back where it belonged, you have no idea what happened here until you came back again?"

"No, James filled me in on what happened after I left until he went back with me, he had all his twin's memories but he was half human, he doesn't have the ability to regenerate.  We realised the Doctor was trying to make up for never telling me he loved me and he'd given us another chance, James was essentially him and I accepted him without question but him going back like that, well it made me doubt him."

"Maybe he doubted himself, doubted why he even existed?"

"Yeah, I thought about that but I'd accepted it, accepted he was still the Doctor, maybe it wasn't enough for him after all?  Maybe deep down, I never really accepted him either."

It was the first time it had made any sense since she had stormed out that night and gone to her mother's.  Alec was holding her arm and looking at her, having turned on the bedside lamp when they had started talking.

"That's not all, is it Rose?  James was his twin but the way you looked at me when I walked into Claire's cottage last Sunday, you thought since the Doctor had changed, James had followed you across, didn't you?"

Rose broke away and got out of bed, grabbing her underwear and glad she was still in possession of his white t-shirt, which she pulled down as she stepped into her lacy knickers and ran to the bathroom, slamming the door.  Alec wondered what he'd just said then realised he was far too clever for his own good but he knew he'd been right, the way she'd looked at him and taken so easily to him, she felt at ease with him but had she just had sex with him, twice because she thought he was James?

He seriously doubted her motives for being with him but it didn't make any sense, since she'd left the man behind and not knowing if she was ever going back again but what did it matter?  He got up and quickly cleaned himself up with some tissues, forgetting he'd still been wearing something while they'd been talking then retrieved his shorts and went to knock on the bathroom door.

"Rose, is everything ok in there?"

Rose had been trying to process how much Alec actually knew but he'd lived through it and after she'd left, she'd relied on James to fill her in and at least he seemed to believe her and knew she wasn't making it up, well maybe he didn't quite believe in time travel or Timelords but he hadn't said anything.

"Yeah, just give me a minute.  Are you ok?" she called back, wiping her face.

"I'm fine, come out Rose, I'm not mad at you, you should have said."

Rose opened the door.  "What did you want me to say when you had lunch with me the other day?  Come out and ask if you were James?"

"No, I never meant that, you could have dropped a few hints that I reminded you of him.  I take it he was beardless then?"

"Yes, they both were and I swear Alec, I never meant to hurt you or compare you to them, I never compared James and the Doctor, ever and we never argued about it.  He betrayed me by not telling me he was going back, he left me behind when he promised he'd never leave me like his twin did, he could have been left here and the Doctor's idea of us finally being together would have been for nothing."

"You've done the same Rose," he told her, putting his hands on her shoulders.  "You are the one that's been trapped here or did you intend for that to happen?  It took you all that time to get back and you got his clone, how did it make you feel eh?"

"That's got nothing to do with it Alec, I accepted him, I loved him and he was going to leave me again."

"So you beat him to it eh?  Did that even occur to you?"

"What are you trying to prove Alec?  That I'm with you because of that?  That James wasn't the real thing?"

"I'm not saying that love.  Come back to bed eh?"

"What for Alec?  You obviously think I have a thing for men who look like the Doctor."

He moved his arms around her neck.  "You are being daft Rose, I think no such thing.  I think I'm the luckiest man on this version of the world.  The Doctor has changed again and you obviously don't like his replacement or you would not be here with me and if I look like him?  It makes you happy and that's what's important to me.  Now since I can't carry you, come back to bed with me and we'll talk more tomorrow when I finish work, if I'm still invited though I've no idea what time that will be."

Rose smiled.  "What, leave your car at the station?"

"No, I'll drive the few yards and park where I did last night, I'll have to go home and get changed anyway or I'll give the game away."

"What game?"

"That I'm staying over at my girlfriend's place?"

She reached up to kiss him.  "I thought that was the whole idea Alec?"

"Well yes but I need to let them get used to the idea, don't I?  That man we met this morning, he needs time to spread the rumours."

"It will be all over Broadchurch by tomorrow night, can you handle it?"

"Come back to bed and I'll tell you.  Was there anything you wanted to add by the way?"

"About what?" Rose asked as she put her arms around him.

"This Doctor, he was a time traveller and he had a ship, what sort of ship, was it a time machine?"

"Yeah, the Tardis, we went to other planets and other times, we met Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria, she was the one who founded Torchwood, so James told me."

"Torchwood was destroyed at Canary Wharf."

"James said it was still active in Cardiff."

"You mean under the Millennium Centre?  Sorry love but there was another massive earthquake there, nothing's left."

"Oh, then I wonder what happened to Jack, he used to travel with us, James said he ran it."

"I can find out for you, if you want?  There was something involving children just after the earth was returned, it frightened the hell out of me and Tess, the kids were all under some sort of control."

"Crikey, James wouldn't have known about that.  I don't think I want to know then."

"No, you are not meant to know or that new Doctor would have told you.  So this spaceship then?"

"Well, she could disguise herself, in the shape of a police box, you know, from the 1950's."

"Are you insinuating I remember them?" he grinned, leading her back to his bedroom.

"Nah but there were still a few around even before I left, there was one outside an underground station in London though it looked a bit different but I'm surprised no-one's reported seeing one and then the next minute it's vanished."

"Well if the police got any reports, they would say the caller had been drinking too much.  So how did it move then?"

"It sort of faded from view and reappeared somewhere else, I didn't believe it myself at first, it took some getting used to.  I should maybe look up Donna, see how she is.  When she accidentally touched the Doctor's hand, she merged with James and gave him is human demeanour and believe me, if the other Doctor could talk, well James sounded just like her and had her personality at times though he was still part Timelord and that became more dominant, thankfully."

"What was her name then, besides Donna?" he asked as they got back into bed.

"Donna Noble, she lived in Chiswick but she may not remember me, James said the merger would be too much for her and the Doctor would probably have to take her memories of him from her, it's sad really, she was the one who saved us from the Daleks in the end.  Maybe I could contact her grandfather, Wilfred, he was a really nice old man.  James took her surname when my stepfather set him up on his arrival.  Oh, I forgot to tell you, when my mother remarried, she'd met my real father's counterpart."

"You know how to confuse someone Rose, get some sleep, you have plenty of time to tell me though that depends on my recovery."

"Why are you talking like you won't get over it?"

"I may not, that's what held me back but when I call the hospital, I'll ask if I can use my medical insurance, though I may have to put something to it but I'll get the money somehow."

"Aw, don't worry about that, I can help you there."

"Yes, about that Rose, there is no aunt who left you money in a will, is there eh?"

"Not exactly.  Our Torchwood, all agents have a universal credit card they can use wherever they land, it has unlimited funding, don't ask me how it works though.  I didn't think it was a good idea to admit that to a police detective, the tale of the trust fund sounded better."

"Yes, it did but I'll let it go though I'm not taking money from you."

"You wouldn't be, you'd be taking it from our Torchwood and maybe I know how it works.  Pete assumed there would be a Torchwood wherever we landed or something similar and it taps into their accounts, without then knowing so no, you wouldn't be taking the money from me, would you?"

"I suppose not then but let's see how long I have to wait eh?  If it's only a few weeks then I can manage with you looking after me but if not, then I'll consider letting you contribute."

"I may as well pay it all, what else do I have to spend it on?"

"Well we'll just have to see about it then, goodnight darlin' and I know you meant well, trying to shield me from the truth but I'm glad you could tell me."

"You guessed most of it, you're far too clever for me Alec Hardy."

"Aye just you remember that, Rose Tyler, you have no idea how clever I can really be."

Little did he know he was going to have to put that into practice as they went to sleep, holding onto each other, Rose being prepared for him waking up panicking he was drowning again and trying to calm him down.  Claire Ripley was a few miles down the coast, scheming how to break them up and determined she was going to succeed.
Chapter 8
Claire was preparing to have a showdown with Rose the following morning.  Rose and Alec had woken up and kissed then made breakfast early and Alec took Rose back to her apartment.

"So are you coming round tonight?" she asked him as she got out of his car.

"I don't know darlin' I may be late, there will be a lot of information come in over the weekend but I will try to get away at a reasonable hour but if not, I'll call you eh?"

"Ok but I'll be worried about you, you know that?"

"Yes, I am aware of that love.  Stay away from Claire, she'll just make trouble if she gets a hint you and I are seeing each other, right?"

"Yeah, got it, don't make trouble with Claire but if she wants to still go to lunch, I'll have to tell her I've got to nip to the doctor's for something.  I'm gonna see if I can go back on something, I might not be too late.  See ya later lover."

Alec smiled and leaned over to grab her arm, pulling her back.

"Less of the lover.  Now give me a kiss."

Rose leaned on the passenger seat and reached over, just catching him.

"You're gonna make me late and you are my lover, aren't you?"

"That's beside the point, just don't refer to me as that where Claire might hear.  Just be careful with her, she can wrap people around her little finger, especially if she gets you to feel sorry for her.  You will tell me if she mentions her husband or where she came from, won't you?"

"Yeah, I'll tell ya, now I really gotta go."

She watched him turn the car around and went up to her apartment to get ready for work.  Claire was on the bus on her way to the salon, still plotting how to get Rose away from Alec and trying to decide which story to go with.  She finally settled on one and thought how long it would take her to convince her new friend Alec was friendly with more than her, if she could get Rose to believe he'd only just recently left her, Rose might get jealous enough to leave him.

If that didn't work, she would have to go to step two, play on the hospital visit while she was in Sandbrook and Alec going with her only she wouldn't say the baby had been Lee's, she would claim it was Alec's and he forced her to go with him and to get rid of it.  If that didn't work, nothing would.

Rose got to work on time and Claire was in the staffroom drinking tea, talking to another girl.  Rose did not want to bring up the fact she'd almost been left in Weymouth with a creep and would have had to wait for Alec if Claire had refused to let her get in the cab.  Rose knew her friend would not be happy with her, if she remembered.  She did.

"Thanks for that on Saturday night Rose, you almost put my bloke off.  So did you get lucky with Alec then?"

"There's no need to be like that Claire."

"Well he answered your phone, didn't he?  Why was that then?  Was he on top of you?"

The other girl, Tiffany was enjoying the conversation, since Claire didn't seem to want to keep if private, other women's love lives were much more interesting than her own with Wayne.

"I'm not discussing it Claire, you were going to leave me in that bar with that creep."

"What creep was that then?" Tiffany asked them.

"None of your business," they both replied.

"Charming."

Their boss, Maureen stood in the doorway.

"You should be getting ready for your first clients instead of discussing men," she reminded them.

They went to rinse their cups and went out one by one, Rose being last for some reason, mainly to keep out of Claire's way.

"What's wrong with you two?" Maureen asked her.  "I thought you'd made friends?"

"We did until Saturday night when two blokes tried to pick us up and I was apparently more fussy than Claire was.  She got the huff because I didn't want the one I got left with, well I didn't want either of them."

Maureen laughed.  "Well I don't want to hear about it and please, keep if off the shop floor?"

"Yeah, I will, can't say the same for Claire, she's got a real Welsh temper on her."

"I'm well aware of that Rose and I know she has a more senior position than you but she did used to run her own salon, she's had more experience.  You're coming on well though, you're more popular with the male clients."

"Yeah, that's getting a bit embarrassing since I've just got someone interested in me."

"The man from Saturday night?"

"No, someone in the town but it's awkward, Claire introduced me to him and I think she's jealous.  I only met him twice but we get on well, I saw him yesterday."

She didn't want to let on who it was but everyone would find out if he turned up to have his hair cut tomorrow.  She also didn't want to let on how Claire knew him nor the fact he rescued her on Saturday night.  The morning went fairly quickly, Rose being kept to doing the men's hair when they came in and a few trims of teenagers and it was soon lunchtime.  She went to get her jacket and wondered if Claire was going off again like she did last Friday.

Rose quickly walked to the clinic, relieved it wasn't very busy but disappointed to learn she'd have to wait until next time but was given some anyway and told not to start them until after her monthly.  That meant Alec was either going to have to keep himself in check or continue to take the precautions and neither of them were favourable but he was going to be busy, they may only see each other at weekends or he would be too tired.

She just had time to grab a sandwich and was just finishing when Claire came back in.

"Thought you'd got away with it earlier?"

"What is it with you Claire?  You said Alec wasn't anyone special to you, when I asked you so why are you making a big deal out of it?"

"So he was in your bed then?"

"What's the point in denying it?  So, what if he was?"

Claire thought she was getting somewhere and Rose couldn't figure out why she was so bothered about it. 

"Why couldn't you just say so?  There are things you should know about him."

"Well not now and you're off tomorrow, then I'm off so I don't know when we'll have time to talk.  He told me about himself anyway, I doubt you can tell me anything I don't already know."

"Then ask him about the hospital, before we came here."

With that, Claire went back to work, Rose wondering what she meant.  Had he suffered a heart attack and she had been there with him?  He'd said he'd spent a lot of time trying to get her to turn on her husband, it was viable he'd gone too far and ended up needing treatment but he hadn't said if Claire knew about his condition or not so she couldn't ask her about it. 

When it was time to finish work, Rose made sure Claire had left before venturing out.  She stopped to send a message to Alec asking if he was going to be working late.  He called her back.

"It's mad here Rose, I have no idea when I will get done, don't wait up sweetheart."

"Aw, it's ok Alec, just come round and I'll give you my spare key, yeah?"

"Well in that case, I will try my best but I can't promise love.  Maybe it will be best if after tonight I don't bother you with my problems eh?"

"Don't be like that Alec, you need someone to talk to, I'm a good listener."

"Well we'll see then.  How did you get on with Claire today?"

"Don't ask, I was glad to get away.  She was being really catty and she showed me up in front of everyone, I really just wanted to walk out."

"Don't let her win Rose, she is not worth it.  Look, I will try and finish early but Miller already hates me and if I give her more work to do, things will be even worse but I suppose some of it can wait, the killer is not going anywhere."

"Ok then and I have something to tell you and to give you a clue, you'd better have a good supply of what you bought yesterday."

"Oh, so you were too late then?"

"Yeah, don't worry about it, I'm sure nothing happened on Saturday night."

Alec smiled.  "Well not in my condition anyway, I think you are probably safe.  I've not had time to make that call though, I will have to wait until morning now."

"Well don't leave it much longer, I'm really worried about you now.  Claire said something about asking you about the hospital.  I thought she didn't know?"

"What?  What was she saying?"

"Nothing much, just ask you about going to the hospital but we'll talk about it later."

"Yes we will, I have no idea why she brought that up but it was not me who was in the hospital and I never told her, unless she has guessed and it would be a lucky guess at that.  Don't worry about it, I'll explain it to you.  I have to go now, we have to go out again."

"Just promise me you'll take care of yourself, don't go doing anything stupid like chase a suspect, will you?"

"No, Miller will keep me in check, don't forget you are coming with me tomorrow night to her house."

"No, I'd not forgotten, at least you won't be both working late."

She had reached her apartment and as she approached the steps, Claire was waiting.

"What are you doing here?  How did you know where I lived?"

"Lucky guess, you said it was on the seafront.  Are you going to invite me in then?"

"No, that's not a good idea Claire.  I spoke to Alec, about the hospital and he said it wasn't him who was there so what's your game?"

"I'm not talking about it out here so if you want to know, invite me in."

If she wanted to find out, Rose had little choice as Claire followed her up the steps.  Rose was not going to make her feel welcome though as she never offered her anything.

"Go on then, say what you have to.  I'm not gonna deny I've been seeing Alec, he said there was never anything between you and him and I believe him."

"Well you might want to have a rethink about that Rose, when I said before, that Sunday, I was trying to spare you.  Me and Alec, back in Sandbrook, well he lured me away from my husband when things started going wrong, Lee was a suspect in a murder and a disappearance and in exchange for not dragging me into it, Alec said he would protect me if I testified against Lee."

"He already told me that Claire, well some of it."

"Yeah?  Well did he tell you what else I had to do in return for his protection?"

Rose shook her head, knowing she shouldn't believe a word of what Claire was about to tell her but Alec may not have told her everything.  She had just met him, Claire had known him longer and come to the town with him but if there was anything between them, why was he hiding her?

"He said he'd only protect me if I slept with him, his marriage was breaking up, his wife was cheating on him but I don't think that would have stopped him.  He made me have sex with him and three weeks later, I was pregnant and he made me get rid of it."

Rose sat down before she fell down.  Why was Claire telling her this?

"Is that true Claire?"

"I swear on my mother's grave it's true, that was the reason I kept changing my story about Lee, so he'd get off because Alec wouldn't let me go.  Then he dragged me all the way down here and he wouldn't even keep me in the same town, like he was ashamed of me and his reputation would be ruined.  I have to keep it quiet or he said he would tell Lee the baby was his and I got rid of it when he was arrested, I had no choice Rose, I was scared.  That's what we were arguing about at my place, I told him I wanted out and he could tell Lee, that I didn't care any more then that following night he came back and forced me against my will to sleep with him again."

Rose didn't want to believe it but why was Claire making up such a tale?

"You'd better go Claire, I need time to think about what you told me."

"You do believe me, don’t you?  Why would I lie to you?  I don't want you to go through what I did, that's all.  He'll be nice to you then he'll start dominating you and how do you think it makes me feel?  He leaves me stuck down in that cottage and only comes down when he wants sex, I'm tired of it Rose but I can't get away from him and he'll trap you as well.  Get out Rose, while you still can, before you get too deep in it or you'll never be free of him."

Claire left, reluctantly and Rose didn't know what to think.  Should she call Alec or wait and see if he showed up?  She made herself something to eat and put the TV on, seeing more about the boy who had died and appealing for witnesses though there was nothing from Alec.  Her doorbell rang just after nine – it was Alec and she wasn't sure she wanted to let him in.  She did though and when the door closed, he leaned down to kiss her but she backed away.  Should she tell him what Claire had just said or leave it?

"Hey sweetheart, what's wrong?" he asked as she hesitated to kiss him.

"Nothing Alec, come on in and I'll make some tea.  Have you eaten?"

He cringed at the thought he'd eaten fish and chips out of paper again.  "Yes, I'm fine love but what has got into you?  Have you been listening to Claire again?"

"No," she lied, hating herself.  "What you said earlier, well if you're gonna be busy and working late, maybe we should just see each other at the weekend?  I told you about the clinic and it's not fair you having to take the precautions all the time."

"I really don't mind Rose but if that's what you want?  Now do I get a kiss eh?"

Two hours later, they had talked about Alec's version of events taking Claire to the hospital after he said Claire had gone to him when Lee Ashworth had been arrested in connection with the youngest girl's death and she'd been scared to tell him. 

"So that's it Rose, I went to the clinic with her and that was it, then he got off after the evidence was lost and she came to me because she was scared of what he'd do to her but she kept changing her story.  There is nothing else to tell, I accepted a transfer and I was reluctant to leave her behind because if Ashworth comes back looking for her, she may tell me the truth.  Now, am I staying or going home?"

"I'm tired Alec, you can stay if you want to but I'm not in the mood for anything else right now."

Alec got up and held his hand out to help her up, he could tell something was bothering her and it was about Claire.

"Don't let it worry you Rose, it's nothing to be bothered about, there is nothing between Claire and myself."

That was what Claire had told her, who did she believe?  Alec stayed the night though after Rose only offered him one goodnight kiss and when she thought he was asleep, she turned away from him, he began to wonder how much damage Claire had actually done.  He didn't want to confront her in case it drove her away for good so he decided to give her time to come round.

The next morning, he woke up and she wasn't in bed but heard noises from the kitchen so he got dressed and went in to join her, trying to put his arms around her from behind and kiss her cheek.

"Mornin' darlin' do I get a kiss?"

She turned around and gave him a peck on the lips.

"I've made you some breakfast, have you taken your pills?"

"I was about to, I knew you would remind me.  Tell me what's wrong Rose."

"Nothing.  Well maybe things were a bit intense over the weekend."

"Intense?  I suppose you could put it like that after we fell into bed together on Saturday night so if you want to cool things off?"

"It's not that Alec, I'm worried it's all too much for you, balancing a murder investigation and a new girlfriend.  I just don't want you to have to choose, I don't want you to overwork but at the same time I don't want you to neglect your work because you feel you should be spending time with me.  You did tell me what happened between you and your ex wife."

"That was her fault just as much as mine Rose, I can balance things out," he told her, eating his scrambled eggs on toast.

"Well I just don't want to put too much pressure on you, you have your health to think about.  Maybe if you'd told your ex wife, she would have gone a little easier on you."

"That's in the past Rose, I did not think I would have got Tess to go easy on me even if I had told her.  Are you still coming with me tonight?"

"Yeah, ok, are you still coming to get your hair cut?  Don't worry, Claire won't be there.  Don't forget to call the hospital today though."

"No, I won't forget love," he told her as he picked up the plate and took it to the sink.

"You're very well trained Alec."

"Well you did say that I was no longer considered a guest.  I'll see you around twelve then?"

He let her put her plate down then grabbed her by the waist.  "We need to talk love, after we've been to the Miller house because I'm a detective and I know there is something wrong.  Claire got to you, didn't she?"

"Alec, just leave it or we'll both be late for work.  We'll talk later, yes and it's nothing to do with Claire."

"You had better not be lying to be about it because if it is Claire, I'll do more than have a few words with her for interfering, trust me.  Did I tell you that Tess accused me of getting too close to her, back in Sandbrook?"

"No, you didn't.  Did you get too close to Claire?"

"There's no time to discuss this Rose but no, I was completely professional all along with her."

"Apart from hiding her from her husband?"

"Who else was going to do it eh?  I got her to go against him, I was responsible for him retaliating, what was I supposed to do, just leave her?  I'm not arguing with you Rose, we'll discuss this later."

With that, he put his jacket on and Rose knew to back off before he had an attack.

"I'm sorry Alec, I'll see you later.  Are you ok?"

"Yes, I'm fine, I sometimes forget I have to avoid getting angry but I'm not angry with you, I'm angry with Claire."

She went up to him and kissed his cheek.

"Is that all I get?" he smiled.

"I'll make it up to you when we get back tonight, I just worry about you, that's all."

"Well I will hold you to that promise Miss Tyler.  Now I really have to go, you can give me your spare key later then."

Rose wondered if there was even going to be a later, she had to think about this carefully as to who she believed – her friend or her lover.
Chapter 9
Claire had got back to her cottage the night before, pleased she seemed to be making Rose start to believe her.  She wished she was in the following day but it was her day off until she had an idea.  She called Tiffany and made an excuse up to get her to swap.

"Hi, Tiffany, it's Claire.  Listen love can you do me a really big favour?  I know you have Thursday off but I need to go somewhere that day so can you take tomorrow off and I'll go in?  I'll explain it to Maureen, she won't mind."

"Oh, alright then but it's a bit short notice."

"Yeah tell me about it, just phoned for a doctor's appointment and the first one is Thursday morning, can you believe it and I really have to go.  I don't want to have to cancel it."

"No, I know how hard it is to get in, yeah, you go ahead then, I'll have tomorrow off this week."

"Thanks Tiff and I'm sorry about earlier, that thing with Rose, she just got me annoyed when I found us a couple of blokes on Saturday night, she never told me she fancied my old flame and now I'm not sure I wanted it to be over with him, we came down here together but we split up and it's rather a sore point now."

"You don't have to explain it to me Claire, it happens."

"Yeah but how do I tell him I want him back, now he's with Rose?"

Claire thought she had put on quite a performance and it should convince Tiffany and it may even get around the salon that Rose had stolen Alec from her and Rose would know nothing about it until Friday.  In the meantime, she would continue to work on splitting them up and add a few more bits to the story and bring up the subject of the hospital again but what had Alec told Rose, she would have surely mentioned the subject to him.

The next morning, Claire got the bus as usual and was sat in the staffroom when Rose walked in, still a bit annoyed she'd let Claire get in the way of her and Alec last night and not sure what to do about it.  He had been fine with her last night and she had been off with him yet despite that, he'd stayed and acted normally before he'd gone off to get changed for work.  She'd already promised she would go to his DS's house that night and going out to dinner was a rare occurrence since she'd found herself back in this world and in Broadchurch.

She hadn't been prepared to face Claire again so soon but as she walked in, she didn't say anything.  Claire had walked in early instead of taking her time and told Maureen the same as she had done Tiffany and had got away with it after being told the next time to arrange it officially and not approach another member of staff directly.  Claire had promised not to do it again.

"Bet you didn't expect me in today, did you Rose?"

"No but it's none of my business, who did you swap with?"

"Tiffany, she had to go somewhere today, she called me last night to see if I'd swap with her," Claire lied.

Rose was in two minds whether to call Alec and put him off his haircut but maybe if Claire saw him come in to get his hair cut by her, she'd change her tune.  On the other hand, it could just make things even worse but it was a gamble.  Rose went back out and approached Sarah, who was at the desk checking appointments and seeing who was free to do clients who came in without an appointment.

"Hi Sarah, can you keep me free from around half eleven?  Someone I know said he may call in for his hair cutting, if he can get away from work."

Sarah smiled at her.  "Oh, a mysterious boyfriend eh?  Good for you Rose.  Yeah, I'll keep that in mind, do you want me to make an appointment for him then?"

Rose wasn't quite ready to give his name, just in case Claire saw or Sarah gave the game away by mistake.

"No, it's fine, he may not even come but I'll just be around, in case he doesn't show, I'll find something else to do, there's always the clearing away to do or I can pop the towels to the laundry and go back later for them."

"I wish the boss would invest in a washer/dryer," Sarah laughed, since it was mainly her who had to give up part of her lunch break to drop them off.

Just after eleven thirty, Rose was getting nervous, she didn't know if it was the thought of cutting Alec's hair, him finding Claire was working, which she thought was the only reason he'd agreed because she should be off or the fact everyone would see them, he was known in the town with this murder case.  Maybe it was a combination of all those factors which gave her the jitters as Sarah was looking at her ten minutes later when a young lad in his late teens came in asking if Rose could cut his hair because his mates had been talking about her.

"Sorry love, Rose has an appointment in ten minutes, take a seat and I'll get Amber to see to you when she's finished with her client."

The lad looked around and Rose darted for the room where they kept the equipment, towels and assorted shampoos and conditioners and hoped he didn't think she would come out just because he was grinning at her.  In the time she had been there, various youths had tried to chat her up, she'd felt like slapping half of them but they told their mates and business was slow.

Thankfully, the spotty youth had just got seated with Amber when the bell above the door went and Alec walked in but Claire also heard the bell and had got suspicious when Rose had avoided the youth when he'd come in, Rose always did them.  Alec walked to the desk, not realising Claire was even there as she was setting an elderly woman's hair and had her back to him.

"I think I have an appointment with Rose, she told me to come in."

Sarah looked up at him, she knew who he was, the disagreeable town's new detective inspector who had already had a run in with the town's reporter, who was a friend of hers.

"Take a seat DI Hardy, Rose will be out in a minute."

"Right, I'll do that then," he told her as he took off his overcoat and put it on the rack and sat down, wishing she'd not just said his name loud enough for everyone in the salon to hear, even under the hairdryer. 

Then he saw Claire as she turned around and he felt like just getting up and running out but he'd promised Rose and things had already been tense last night and this morning between them and if he left, it would be even worse.  Claire was furious as she'd seen him come and tell Sarah Rose was expecting him and he'd had the nerve to turn down her offer of cutting his hair for him.  Right, Rose deserved everything she could throw at her from now on.

Alec had been nervous enough all morning, what with things being strained earlier then he'd informed Ellie Miller he had somewhere to go at eleven thirty and after sitting in his car for five minutes a few metres away from the salon, he'd dragged himself out to keep his promise and show Rose he wanted to be seen with her and not hide her away, like she said he'd done with Claire whom he didn't want to be seen with, especially now he'd got himself a new girlfriend.  Well he hoped he still had one, after this morning, he wasn't so sure, which was why he'd forced himself out of the car.

Rose was taking her time but the longer she left it, she would be late going for her lunch and Alec may walk out so she pulled herself together, waved at him and indicated for him to take the vacant chair she went to stand behind, seeing Claire glaring at them.

"Glad you could make it Alec, how do you want your hair?"

"I guess I will just leave that to you but this fringe has to go," he smiled, looking at her through the mirror as she wrapped the cape around him and ran her fingers through his hair, reminding him of what she had done on Saturday night and Sunday morning. 

He wished she had done it to him before they had parted earlier, him not knowing what was going on with her.  As Rose combed his hair and parted it, he thought back to the conversation last night and glancing through the mirror, could see Claire had finished as she was standing talking to the receptionist, goodness knows what she was talking about he mused.

Rose was half smiling at him, trying not to show any emotion in front of her work colleagues but failing.  What had she been thinking about, taking Claire's word over his?  He'd shown no signs he had even been with Claire, let alone get her pregnant, with his heart condition so she made her mind up that over the next few days, she would try and forget about what she had been told and try and make it up to him for being off with him last night and this morning.

Before either of them realised, Rose was brushing the hair from his neck and his shirt collar after picking up the hand mirror and him nodding when she showed him the back of his head.

"Is that satisfactory then?" she asked him.

"Yes, that's fine, thank you.  Do you have time to maybe trim my beard?"

She was about to say she didn't really do beards but Claire had just come back to tidy her things away since she had no more clients before lunch and she knew Rose and Alec would be going out together so she planned on getting out before Rose and confront Alec if he was waiting for Rose coming out.  She had been telling Sarah that Rose had stolen her boyfriend and he was punishing her by showing off in front of everyone and that he'd never come to the salon when she'd suggested it.  Sarah had said she felt sorry for her, if Rose was going to parade him in front of everyone and brag about him.  That was two people she already had on her side.

Rose carefully trimmed Alec's beard with a small pair of scissors, trying not to take too much off and holding his chin and stop imagining snogging his face off in front of the entire salon.

"Is that enough off?" she asked him as she looked in the mirror.

"Yes, it's sufficient, thank you.  I will wait for you outside then I'll drive us to the harbour café or the harbour side again?"

"That's easier for me to get back up here, thanks.  I'll tell Sarah to give you a discount, I think she knows who you are."

Alec hated being famous.  Rose shook the cape and threw it into the laundry basket, poor Sarah would be having yet another trip.  She followed Alec to the desk, Sarah about to charge him full price for a hair and beard trim.

"Give him some discount Sarah, he is a police officer."

Sarah was keeping in mind what Claire had just told her but had to comply.

"Sure Rose, it's your lucky day DI Hardy."

Alec paid and went to retrieve his coat, there were still another ten minutes before Rose could leave but she had to go put her things away and get her jacket, it was still not all that warm for early August.  She stopped Alec in the doorway.

"Where's your car?" she asked him as he opened the door.

He nodded in the right direction.  "I'll wait by the car for you so you will find it."

"Yeah, thanks and I owe you an apology, for last night and earlier."

"You can make it up to me later then.  Don't let me keep you."

Rose went back inside to see Claire had disappeared and since she was desperate to use the ladies room, didn’t see Claire going out.  Claire looked around outside and saw Alec waiting by a car just up the street, she knew he was waiting for Rose.  Alec was thinking about his conversation with Miller as he had been about to leave.

"Miller, I have to go out, I'll be back after lunch.

"What?  You're leaving all this with me?" she queried standing in his office doorway, pointing to all the folders on her desk as he put his coat on.

"Get someone else to help you, him, over there for one."

"You mean Frank?  Are you still coming over tonight?" she asked as she closed the door so no-one else would find out, mainly so they wouldn't talk about it when he'd gone out.  "Did you ask that woman out?"

"Yes, I asked her but now I don't know if she is still coming, she cooled down a bit this morning."

"What did you do to her?"

"It's complicated Miller, leave it, she may still come, she said she would and don't you go putting her off either."

"Oh, not me Sir, I'm looking forward to meeting any woman who can put up with you."

He was shaken from his thoughts as Claire approached.

"What have you been saying to Rose Claire?  What are you playing at?" he asked her, leaning on the roof of the car.

"What makes you think I've said anything at all Alec?"

"You know you have so just you stay away from her with your lies."

"I never told her any lies, I just said ask you about the hospital, you were there with me Alec."

"We both know full well why you were there but you probably twisted it around in that mind of yours.  Back off Claire, I mean it."

"What are you going to do to me Alec?  Force me again?"

"Stop it Claire, it won't work, I warned her about you."

"She was my friend Alec, you took her away from me, was she any good then?  You dragged me down here and left me."

"Don't start that again Claire, you agreed to come with me, you didn't feel safe, remember?"

"I wish I'd stayed where I was Alec, you only come around when you want something from me," she accused him, aware people were passing by and Rose would be there any minute.

Rose was just leaving the salon and looked up the street, seeing Claire talking to Alec.  Was what she had said true and they were arguing over it?  She got nearer, neither of them were taking any notice as she approached.  Then she could hear what Alec was saying.

"Don't poison Rose with your lies Claire, just back off and leave her alone."

Claire suddenly turned around and walked off, she would get to Rose later, she'd probably seen enough.

"Rose, there you are love, let's get going then shall we?"

"We could have walked Alec?"

"Yes, then I would have to come back for my car.  I'll put it in the car park opposite the station and move it later unless you want to go to the other café?"

"Well, it's a bit cooler today but I'll need a ride back."

Alec thought he was already in Miller's bad books, another ten minutes were neither here nor there.  He drove to the harbour car park and parked just outside the café, putting the police sign on the dashboard, which made Rose smile.

"Are you even supposed to use that to get out of paying Alec?"

"Well if you're not happy about it, go put 50p in the machine and get me an hour's ticket then."

"I don't have any change or I would."

"Well then, stop complaining and let's enjoy our lunch shall we?"

Rose smiled at him as they walked to the entrance and he held the door for her.  Thankfully, the place was quiet, the murder was doing the town no good at all, it depended on tourists at this time of year and the only people coming were those who either never watched the news or were not that bothered.

Alec ordered for both of them, Rose hoping it wouldn't take too long or she would be late back but Alec assured her if she was, he would go in with her and blame it on himself entirely though Rose thought that would go down well with Claire.  They were unaware they were being observed by Claire, who was sat across the other side of the harbour at one of the catering stalls eating a packet of chips.  She had been livid when Alec had walked in the salon and Rose had been expecting him, that must have been why she was talking to Sarah earlier.

Well let her have her day, the way she was now spreading lies about Rose stealing Alec from her, Rose would be very unpopular by Friday.  Rose and Alec finished lunch and wasted no time getting back in his car, Claire had left ten minutes earlier, having watched as the two of them had sat by the window and the way Rose had been acting, she'd ignored the warning about Alec she'd been given last night.  As they had eaten lunch, Rose was apologising.

"Rose, I did try to warn you love, did I not?" Alec asked her, putting his hand gently on hers as she rested it on the table.

"Yeah, I'm sorry Alec but she was rather convincing you know, you were right."

She didn't yet want to tell Alec what Claire had actually said, it would make him angry and he didn't need that, he had showed it even in the salon and definitely when they had been getting out of the car before going into the café.

"So, no more listening to Claire eh?"

"I'll try not to.  I asked her about the hospital but she refused to say any more."

Well Claire had not mentioned it in great detail, she could have got pregnant by her husband, got scared and persuaded Alec to go with her.  She had been given no real proof Claire was telling the truth about any of it, including him going back to Claire's cottage last Monday night.  Well at least Claire couldn't claim he'd been back, since she had been with him since Saturday night but had Alec really been working late last night?

She could hardly come right out and ask him after the way she had treated him last night but maybe she could drop a few hints to his DS about him keeping her working late without arousing his suspicion.   Rose was just getting out of Alec's car, him being double parked but not worrying too much about it.

"So I will call for you around seven then?" he asked her as she unfastened her seatbelt and kissed his cheek.

"Yeah, I really have to go, I'm due back on the shop floor in five minutes.  Thanks for lunch."

"You are welcome love, we have to talk later."

Claire was busy getting her scissors, combs and sprays all lined up by her chair for her next customer.  As Rose walked back in, Claire glared at her through the mirror, like she had done while Alec had been there.  Rose wanted to be immature and pull a face at her but decided it wasn't really worth it.  She wondered though why Sarah had ignored her when she came back in and it was a mystery why Claire had suddenly changed days off with Tiffany though she knew the excuse Maureen had been given but wasn't buying it.  It had been too much of a coincidence, Claire waiting for her last night and spinning her that tale then she must have decided to lay it on even more and to do so, had conned Tiffany into swapping days off.

Rose dreaded to think what she would be telling everyone over the next two days but since Claire was now off on Thursday, it was one less day to worry about this week.  She wished Alec was picking her up from work but it was only a five minute or so walk down the slope to the esplanade once she'd crossover over the road and gone by the side of the hotel.  Alec had told her he'd stayed there for a few days on his arrival but he'd soon got out.  Thankfully, Claire was not waiting for her and she hoped her so-called friend had gone home but unknown to Rose, she had gone down to the seafront and was hiding in the shelter across the road on the corner.

Claire was prepared to stay as long as it took to see Rose and Alec together and hopefully, later on they would put a light on and she would be able to see them.  Claire just hoped she wouldn't get moved on if any uniformed officers happened to turn in that direction from the nearby police station.  Just before seven, most of the cars that had been parked when she had arrived had gone and she saw a black car come around the corner and stop by the gap in the wall where Rose's apartment was.  She then saw Alec getting out, a bunch of pink flowers and a box of chocolates under his arm as he closed and locked the door.

"Huh, he never bought anything for me," she huffed to herself.

Alec had just got out of the car, leaving chocolates and wine on the back seat to give when he got to Miller's house and with his free hand, ran it through his newly cut hair.  The haircut however had not gone unnoticed when he'd got back to his office as Miller had made a point of mentioning it as she had followed him in.

"So, that's where you got to then?  You didn't have to get your hair cut to come to dinner at my house tonight," she laughed.

"I did not have it cut for your benefit Miller, Rose, the friend I'm bringing tonight, she's a trainee hairdresser."

"She did a good job then, she even trimmed your beard for you," she teased.

"Stop it Miller and no awkward question tonight either."

"Oh, so she's not your girlfriend then?"

"We have a few things to sort out, I think I may have rushed things over the weekend and she wants to back off somewhat."

Ellie could think of nothing witty to say that wouldn't get him riled and result in her missing her own dinner party tonight.

As he rang Rose's doorbell, she was putting the finishing touches to her appearance, trying not to appear nervous at meeting someone Alec worked with.  Claire had not helped either, she had been nervous about cutting Alec's hair in front of everyone and him asking her to trim his beard had been totally unexpected and she'd only just resisted the urge to snog him while she was doing it.  She went to open the door, Alec smiling at her and holding the flowers and the chocolates out to her.

"For you sweetheart, to say I let you off for last night and this morning, I know it was just Claire that made you that way."

"Aw, thanks Alec, the flowers are lovely and I love these chocolates.  Maybe we can share them when we get back?"

"Aye, maybe if we get back early enough eh?"

She took the flowers to the kitchen and found a vase under the sink and quickly unwrapped them and poured some water in.  Alec was standing in the doorway and allowed her to pass, waiting until she put them on the window ledge.  Then without warning he took her hand and pulled her towards him.

"I missed you last night Rose."

"Yeah, I'm sorry I was so off with you Alec, we can make up tonight."

"Yes, we can.  We really have to go now."

Before he let her go, he snaked one arm around her waist and took her other hand, kissing the back of it then pulled her close and kissed her.  Down below just a few metres away, Claire was getting a good view as the two of them continued to kiss and her blood was boiling.  How could he stand there in full view and kiss someone and it wasn't her?  Well that was it, she was advancing to stage two of her plan and he wouldn't be able to convince Rose of his innocence this time, if he'd already told Rose he had taken her to the clinic after Lee's arrest.
Chapter 10
Alec held the car door open for Rose, unaware Claire was hiding in the shelter just across the road.  Claire watched them drive off and wondered where they were going but she was feeling hungry and she had to get home, back to her lonely cottage when Rose was enjoying his company.  Since when had she got so jealous?  Alec was never more than a friend to her after Lee had been arrested, she'd stayed in that boarding house in Sandbrook after selling her hairdressing business but paying off his debts had taken most of the money she'd got for it, since he'd put her down as guarantor and she had been caught up with.

Then she'd gone to Alec before it had been too late after she'd planned on telling Lee she was pregnant, he'd helped her find a clinic and gone with her but now, it was like he'd forgotten her, going off with Rose when it could just as easily have been her, if she'd played her cards right and it could still be her if she could split them up.  There was no reason why once Rose was out of the picture he wouldn't go back to being friendly with her again but did she only want to be friends with him?

Lee had gone to France and left her behind, Alec was free, she could easily get a divorce, she'd never taken Lee's name for professional reasons so there was no comeback if they were to get together.  The more she thought about it, the more appealing the idea became to her, what she had told her colleagues was becoming true, she did want him back.  She got to the bus shelter just as her bus was making it's way to the square and went upstairs to think carefully of how she was going to turn the rest of the staff against Rose, she only had one day this week so she would have to work fast.

Rose and Alec had arrived outside the Miller house.

"Is there anything I need to know before we go in?" Rose asked him as they approached the house.

"Such as?" he replied as he got the wine and chocolates from the back seat and locked the doors.

"What have you told her about me then?"

"Just you were a friend and you are a trainee hairdresser."

"Not your girlfriend?"

"Well this morning, I was not so sure about that, was I eh?"

"Yeah, sorry, I shouldn't have gone off like that.  Well now you can tell her, can't you?"

"Yes, I can."

 He stopped and was about to ring the doorbell when he turned to kiss her.

Ellie opened the door, Rose looking slightly flustered as he'd rung the bell and she was still recovering, since they'd not really kissed that morning or last night, thanks to Claire.

"Oh, hello, you must be Rose," Ellie stated as Alec held out the wine and chocolates.

"Yeah, hi, thanks for inviting me.  Alec got these for you."

Ellie was about to ask whose idea it was and if he'd really thought about it himself with no help from his 'friend'.  To her, Rose looked slightly flustered, perhaps they'd just been snogging on her doorstep and she'd missed it, worst luck.  It would have been worthwhile catching her boss snogging a young blonde, she wondered how old Rose was and if he knew how it looked.

"Thanks, come in, don't stand there all night.  You got all poshed up as well, we didn't."

"I always wear this suit Miller," Alec stated, allowing Rose to enter first and closing the door behind him.

"Alec, don't call her that all night will you?  Sorry, I suppose he calls you that at the station?"

"Yeah, tell me about it.  Do I have to call you Sir or Hardy all night then?" Ellie smiled, going into the kitchen and them both following her.

"Is there any need to refer to each other by name?  If I face you, you know I'm talking to you, right?"

Rose patted his arm.  "Yeah, we get it.  Hi, I'm Rose, Alec's girlfriend," she told Ellie's husband, Joe.

He had a tea towel over his shoulder, a pair of oven gloves in one hand and a pan in the other.

"Rose and Alec brought chocolates and wine," Ellie told him.

"Oh, you two can come again then, Ellie loves chocolates."

"Yeah so do I, he bought me some too," Rose told her as she looked around the kitchen.

"Where are my manners?  Let me show you into the dining room."  Ellie put the wine and chocolates down and squeezed past Rose, Alec standing to one side and Ellie spying her son sitting with his legs dangling through the banister.

"Tom, what are you doing?  You may as well come and say hello then."

Tom got up and began walking downstairs.

"You know DI Hardy, this is his friend Rose."

"Are you his girlfriend?" he asked Rose.

"Yeah, hi Tom, nice to meet you.  Were you a friend of Danny's?"

"Yeah, he was my best friend.  Mum said they'll catch the person who killed him, won't you Mum?

"We will Tom, we're doing our best.  Now off to your room and don't go waking Fred."

"Is he your other son?" Rose asked her, following Ellie into the dining room, feeling Alec's hand on her back.

"Yeah, he's 15 months, bit of a handful."

"I can imagine."  She wanted to say she remembered Tony at that age but that was gone for now, since the device was still showing no signs of life.

"Have you any brothers or sisters?" Ellie asked her.

"No, I grew up on my own, I lost my dad when I was just six months, mum never remarried."

She had told Alec the truth but it went no further than him.

"I've got a sister, lives in the town.  My nephew is the reporter around here."

"Don't we all know that?" Alec asked her, trying to decide if he should sit next to Rose or opposite her, it was either sit next to her or one of the Millers so he sat beside her after pushing her chair back as she sat down, smiling at him.

He just hoped Miller wouldn't sit opposite him, well one of them would he supposed, taking Rose's hand under the table as Ellie went out and squeezing it.

"Ok sweetheart?"

"Yeah, it was just Ellie asking if I had any brothers or sisters, I miss Tony."

"Sorry, you could hardly tell her about your family."

She reached over to touch his chin.

"I like your beard that way."

"My new look, remind me to thank my hairdresser."

"I will, don't you worry."

The dinner went well, Rose finding Ellie very easy to get on with, unlike Alec did and him trying to stop himself putting his hand on Rose's leg all the time.

"So where did you two meet then?" Joe Miller was asking them as Ellie got up to clear the dishes.

"Do you need any help Ellie?" Rose asked her, getting up and seeing the look on Alec's face as his hand moved away.

"No, you're a guest, it's fine."

Rose smiled.  "That's what I told Alec the first time he came to my apartment, then the next time, he tidied up after himself and said I'd only told him the first time he was there he was a guest.  Actually, we met through someone I work with but it's got a bit awkward, I don't think she actually meant for us to meet more than the once."

"Oh do tell Rose but when I come back, I love gossip."

Ellie went off and Joe insisted on pouring more wine into Rose's glass but Alec covered his with his hand.

"Oh go on, don't be a misery," Joe told him.

"He's driving," Rose told him in Alec's defence.

"I can tell him myself Rose.  We should have got a taxi here I suppose."

"Well next time, you won't get away with it," Joe laughed.

"Oh.  We're invited back then?" Rose smiled, taking a drink and noticing Alec had hardly touched his, thankfully since he would need his pills when they got back.

"Well you are, don't know about your boyfriend," Ellie joked, coming back in with desert.

"Thanks," Alec huffed as Rose rubbed her hand on his leg.

Ellie burst out laughing.  "Do you want some tea instead?"

"That would be good if you are making some?"

"Why don't you take your desert into the front room and I'll make some for all of us?  Joe, I hope you put all Fred's toys away?"

"Yes I did, did you think I'd leave them out with guests coming?"

Alec got up, reaching for Rose's hand.

"Don't mind us," Rose told them, taking the offered hand.

"Joe, come and help me," Ellie told her husband, Rose knowing he was about to get a lecture, she'd done the same with James but not over toys being left in the front room, obviously.

Alec led her to the front room, closing the door behind them and putting the plates on the coffee table, pulled her for another kiss, taking Rose by surprise.

"I missed you last night Rose, can we at least kiss tonight?"

"Yeah, I'm really sorry, I already told you that."

"I know, I was just making sure."  He sat her on the sofa and was just leaning over to kiss her again when he heard voices in the hallway.

The door opened and they broke apart before either of their hosts could enter.

"Hope we weren't disturbing you two?" Ellie grinned.

"Not at all," Alec lied, putting his arm around the back of the sofa and half on Rose's shoulder.

Ellie and her husband asked Rose a few more questions, Rose thinking it was more like an interrogation as she told them how she'd found herself in the town and had been lucky getting a job but Ellie wanted to know more about Rose and Claire's fallout, Rose having to be careful how she worded it.

"So she's jealous then?" Ellie mused.

"There is nothing for her to be jealous of, Claire was just a witness who testified against her husband on a case I was working on.  I told her I was putting in for a transfer and she asked if she could come with me and make a fresh start, end of story."

"So she lives in the town?"

"No, a few miles away and I hardly see her, I was hoping her husband would come back then she may tell me the truth."

"So she was involved with Sandbrook?" Ellie asked him.  "It's not a secret, what happened there."

"No but I put it all behind me and moved on, that's why I can't let the Latimer's down."

"Yeah but coming along and taking jobs meant for others?" Joe asked, getting him a dig from Ellie.

"Well I was not aware of that at the time, I was never told someone else was in line for the job.  Answer me this, could you have been in charge of a murder investigation on your first day back at work?" Alec addressed Ellie, Rose hoping he wasn't going to get worked up about it.

"I told you, this is my first murder involving a child, they would have just brought someone more senior in."

"Yeah, that could have been Alec," Rose suggested in his defence.

Alec glanced at his girlfriend again, why was she so quick to come to his defence?  He didn't need anyone to speak up for him – no-one ever had done before and he wasn't sure how to take it but seeing they were just about to make up after a tense couple of days, he thought he'd best leave it.  Why couldn't she have been around during Sandbrook?  He would have faired a lot better with someone like Rose by his side, he wouldn't have got so involved with Claire's problems for one but Tess had been suspicious of her even when there was nothing going on, what would she have made of Rose?

"It's ok Rose, I get that," Ellie told her.  "It's just getting to everyone, that's all and I miss putting my kids to bed."

Joe looked like he was going to say something else but Ellie gave him a warning look telling him to leave it.

Rose saw her chance to find out just how late they had been working and if Claire had told the truth about that Monday night she claimed Alec had been to the cottage and forced himself on her but what Rose couldn't work out was if Alec was indeed forcing her, why was she so intent on breaking them up?  Surely she should be glad he'd found someone else?

"Well, I'll have to see if I can get him to ease up, won't I?" Rose declared, taking his hand that was around her shoulder and rubbing it.  "I'm sure you won't find the killer any quicker by working all hours, will you Alec?  You can't interview suspects and follow leads late at night."

"Thank you Rose, talk some sense into him will you?  Every night last week it was after ten when I got home and last night it was after nine, I'm sure he only finished early tonight because we'd invited you to dinner.  Maybe we should invite you more often?"

"That won't be necessary, thanks all the same," Alec told her, kissing Rose's hand.  "I'm sure Rose will make me see sense, won't you love?"

"Yeah, just leave him to me Ellie, I'll make sure he finishes at a reasonable time from now on."

"I knew I was going to like you Rose.  At least I've got someone on my side, just because he had no-one to go home to."

"Well he has now, we just need to iron a few details out, this friend who introduced us, I'm having a bit of bother with her at work.  She's under the illusion she and Alec were more than friends, if you get my drift and the claws have come out."

"Oh, that's interesting, do tell me more," Ellie smiled as both Joe and Alec rolled their eyes.

"I'm sure they don't want to hear about our problems Rose," Alec warned her.

"Speak for yourself," Ellie told him.  "I want details Rose."

"Well why don't you two get together and chat amongst yourselves?" Alec asked her, feeling himself going a bit red and hot under his collar and he wasn't even wearing a tie.

"Spoilsport," Rose grinned.  "I'll tell you another time then, I've got the next two days off, we can have lunch.  I will say one thing though, she's making it very difficult for me at work, I dread to think what she'll tell them."

"You'll just have to tell your side, I'm sure Alec will back you up," Ellie told her sympathetically.

Alec kissed her hand again.  "Sure I will, I told you, don't worry about it."

Rose thought that was easy for him to say when he didn't have to work with Claire.

"We should be going Rose," he told her, getting up and dropping her hand, reaching out to help her up.

"Yeah, thanks again for dinner.  Ellie, can I take a quick peek at Fred before I go?"

Ellie smiled, she did like her boss's new girlfriend.

"Just a quick look, I should check on him, you can come with me."

Rose squeezed Alec's hand and followed Ellie upstairs.  Joe turned to Alec.

"She seems to be doing you some good then," Joe remarked.

"Yes, she does, she's making me see it's not all about work and I apologise for keeping your wife away from her family but back at my old station, well that was how I worked, to get away from my ex and I neglected my daughter in the process.  I'll make sure she finishes at a more reasonable time, no doubt Rose will drag me out if I carry on working late."

"I'm sure she will, she may want to be the boss."

"Aye, it seems that way and do you know something?  If that's what she wants, who am I to argue with her?"

Joe managed a smile but something about him was making Alec nervous and he'd seen Rose look the same way.

"Yeah, you and me both mate."

"Does she like me?  I mean as a boss?"

"She invited you for dinner, didn't she?  She's worked with worse than you, trust me but this investigation has hit her hard, with knowing Danny so well, he was always around here playing with Tom, we all used to kick a football around on the field and I was always helping Danny fix his skateboard."

Alec filed that piece of information away for future reference.

"Yes, well all murders involving a child are especially difficult, I never got over my last case involving one and her cousin is still missing."

"Well I think Ellie may go easy on you now you've proved to her you're human, getting yourself a girlfriend," Joe laughed.

Alec saw the funny side, something he wouldn't have done when he first arrived in the town.  He laughed back, just as Ellie and Rose were coming back downstairs.

The two women had been stood over Fred's cot.

"Aw, he's so cute, I wish I'd had someone when I was growing up, I just had some cousins but it wasn't the same really, I had no-one to look after and stick up for."

She was already missing Tony like crazy, one factor in her rush to get away from everything she'd not taken into account but she was going nowhere yet while her device was offline.

"So, you and Alec Hardy eh?  I hardly believed it when I asked him to dinner and he said he wanted to bring someone with him.  He's changed for the better just in the last few days but he seemed a bit off earlier on today."

"Yeah, well you can blame that so-called friend for that, she's trying to split us up but I don't know why when she told me at first she wasn't interested in him in that way."

"Would it have made any difference?"

"I don't know Ellie, I met him at her house than I didn't see him again until Friday lunchtime, he gave me his phone number because he was worried about me being friends with her.  I don't know how much he wants you to know but she came down here with him and she seems to think she owns him."

"I'd watch out for her then, she may see you as a threat."

"Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of, she's getting to me Ellie and I don't know how to tell Alec."

"Well you can always talk to me Rose, what about your mother though?"

"She's gone to visit her cousin, I don't know when she'll be back and she's still so far away."  Rose thought she'd best not mention just how far away her mother really was.

"I'll give you my number shall I?  Call me, if you can't talk to him."

"Thanks Ellie, I thought Claire was my friend but I know she isn't now.  The thing is, I think she invited Alec to her house that day on purpose, like she was trying to show him off to me and when it backfired on her, well it affected her and now she's out to get her revenge and she's being spiteful."

"Well I'd stay away from her outside work  if I were you."

"It's not that easy Ellie, she knows where I live, she was waiting for me last night and she upset me and I took it out on Alec.  He was so good about it though but I don't want to lose him because of it."

Ellie put her arm around Rose.  "Listen Rose, I can tell he's sweet on you, you have to tell him if she upsets you, he's part of the problem and he knows it.  I asked him if you were his girlfriend and he's scared he's moved too fast for you and you want to back off.  Trust me, he cares about you, don't let this Claire make trouble and spilt you up."

"I wish it was that simple Ellie but it's complicated, there are things I can't tell you."

"You don't have to, I'm here for you even if you can't tell me everything.  We'd best go back down, those two will have run out of things to say to each other by now.  Feeling better?"

"Yeah, thanks Ellie, I'd like to be friends with you."

"Think nothing of it, I'll introduce you to Beth, Danny's mother as well, you need more friends than Alec."

As they walked downstairs, they could hear the two men laughing.  Rose missed the last step and slung her arms around Alec's neck, kissing the back of it.

"You two been talking about us?"

Alec grabbed both her hands to steady her as her feet touched the ground, pulling him with her.

"No love, what makes you think that eh?"

Rose smiled at Ellie and Ellie knew those two belonged together, no matter what Claire was going to throw at them.

They said goodnight, Alec spoiling things by saying, "Thanks for dinner Miller' and Rose tapping him for it, chastising him when they got back in the car.

"You just had to do that Alec."

"What?"

"Calling her Miller, you daft thing.  It was going so well, you never addressed either of them by name all night, just to prove your point that you didn't need to then you call her 'Miller' as we're leaving."

Alec took it the wrong way at first, then thought she may have a point and he didn't want another night like last night, of her ignoring him in bed again, he'd just got to like being with her.

"Sorry," he muttered as he turned the car around and headed back up the street.

"Muffin," Rose said quietly, putting her hand on his leg.

"Your place or mine?" he asked, stopping at the junction and looking both ways.

"Yours if you want, I'm off tomorrow.  Did you mean it?  That you wouldn't keep working late?"

"Yes, I meant it, I have something to go back to now, don't I?  Rose?"

When she didn't answer, he started getting worried things were still not settled.  Damn that Claire Ripley for sowing the seeds of doubt in Rose's mind, this was going to take some work on his part.

"Yeah but maybe we should cool off a bit?"

"Why?  Is it because of Claire?"

"I'm so mixed up right now Alec, I love being with you but this has all happened so fast.  When I came here, I wasn't quite over James and I wasn't expecting to find anyone I'd be even remotely interested in then you walked into Claire's cottage and I thought I was imaging things, that James had somehow followed me."

Alec knew where this was going, despite them already discussing he looked like her boyfriend from the other universe, she knew how to confuse a man.  He never said anything as he turned into the street and stopped in front of the row of cottages.  They got out and remained silent.

"Are we going to have a night like last night?" he asked, putting the lights on.

"No, I said I was sorry for treating you like that but after what Claire told me, I didn't know what to think."

"Then you had better give me all the details Rose, if she accused me of something.  I get the part about you not being ready to get involved with anyone so soon after your split with James but you have no way back at the moment, isn't that a sign you should move on?  You may never even get back if it stays offline then what will you do eh?  Be on your own?  I can't wait forever Rose, I may not even have much time at all, I'll have to call the hospital tomorrow, see what they say but I may still have a while to wait.  I couldn't get through to them today, then with taking my time to get my hair cut, I was busy when I got back."

"Please don't keep putting it off Alec, I worry about you."

"Come here Rose, please?"  Rose approached him and put her arms around his neck.  "Please Rose, don't shut me out, tell me everything she said to you yesterday, I want you tonight."

"You might change your mind when I tell you and that I still don't know whether to believe her or not."

"Well we'll have to risk it, who should you believe?  A woman who is deluded and hiding from her husband or a police detective who is crazy about you?  I made the moves on you Rose, it wasn't because of any involvement with Claire and I have no idea why she is doing this to me, maybe in that crazy mind of hers she took the fact I went to that clinic with her and she twisted it around that much she thinks it's real.  So tell me everything she said to you, please love?"

He nudged her and got her to kiss him.  "You can use my t-shirt again and maybe tomorrow, you'll bring something around yes?  I'll give you my spare key in the morning, maybe you can cook us something nice tomorrow night eh?"

"Alec, she said that Monday night, after I saw you at her cottage, you went back and you forced her against her will.  You wouldn't do that, would you?"

Alec let go of her and sat down.  At this rate, he'd be needing more pills.  Why was Claire doing this to him after he'd helped her?

"Don't you know me better than that Rose?  You trusted me with your secrets, why?  Because I'm a detective or because I look like your old boyfriends?"
Chapter 11
"That's not fair Alec and you know it.  I've not known you that long but I did trust you with my secrets because I have no-one else, not even Mickey any more.  I'm cut off from my family, the people I knew from before I went away, well I don't know what they think about me, Mickey spun them some sort of tale.  I just don't know Alec, you don't seem the sort of man who would do such a thing but she's very compelling and she's out to split us up."

"Yes, she is and you are letting her win.  Please Rose, just forget it tonight, I want to be with you, don't make me have bought those things for nothing?" he smiled, trying to get her to kiss him again.

He finally persuaded her to go get ready for bed and he took some more pills, to calm him down while he waited because he was furious about Claire, what the hell had he ever done to her to make her think he wanted her in that way?  Even when he had been getting divorced from Tess, he'd been careful about how close he let Claire get and he'd risked a lot to be seen going to an abortion clinic with her and he'd had to say he was there in an official capacity to get to stay with her.

She had played on an act of kindness and now he was paying for it and Rose had got caught up in the middle of it.  Rose was in the bathroom, telling herself she'd already made her mind up she wasn't going to ignore him tonight but that conversation hadn't helped.  Why should she let Claire win?  Claire was only half the problem though and she knew it, now Alec had brought up James again.  She had been so wrapped up in getting away and settling back in her old world she'd hardly thought about it but they had spent three years together and after only two weeks of being here, she was falling in love with yet another similar man.

Alec was all she had here and she would drive him away and then be left on her own with no way back.  At least when she had been trapped before, she'd had her mother and Mickey then she thought she had everything she wanted in James but that soon proved to be otherwise, had she really wanted James?  If that had been the case, why had she wanted to know why the Doctor had left James with her?  They'd had a few doubts when James had first got there but they had fallen back in their old routine like he'd never been away, never talked of getting married or kids, just being happy they had each other again.

James had told her of his adventures, Rose had got jealous over Martha and the woman, Astrid, from the Titanic but he'd told her none of them could ever have replaced her.  Taking a last look in the mirror, she gathered her clothes and stepped out to see Alec nervously sat on the edge of the bed, the duvet turned down and a single red rose on the pillow that he'd bought when he'd got the flowers earlier.

He held his hand out to her and she took it as he got up.

"Alec, I'm really sorry, can we make up?"

"Yes Rose, I'd like that very much and I have something to say to you.  I know this has all been rushed so during the week, what do you say to just seeing each other on your days off and weekends?  Would that help?  I don't really like the idea but if that's what it takes, then I'm willing to stick to that.  What do you say?  Maybe meet the odd lunchtime, if you want?"

"Alec, I don't know what to say.  Yeah, I think it may help because I don't want to lose you.  If Claire hadn't been at work today, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad but I was wrong to want to show you off to everyone, it didn't help things."

"You were not to know she would be there, she must have planned it so she had one day off the same as yours."

"Oh, I never thought of that.  Do you think she's planning something else?"

"Yes love, I think she may just may well be so you have to be very careful."

Rose clung to him.  "I'm scared of what she'll do now Alec."

"Shush Rose, it's ok, I won't let her go too far, I promise.  I did not want to say anything to you earlier and I may have been mistaken but I think she was in the shelter just opposite your apartment as we left, goodness knows if she was there earlier, when we kissed at the window."

"You’re scaring me even more Alec, what are we going to do?"

"Not let her win for one but just take it easy, stay away from her and if she comes around, don't let her in and call me, I can be there in a few minutes or send someone around if I'm out.  Call Miller if you have to even but please Rose, don't let her get in our way and if you still want to back off, because of the other thing, then I understand and I'll stick to the arrangement.  Now, are you getting into bed?"

He picked up the flower carefully and put it on the beside table.  "It's not as beautiful as you Rose."

"You old softy.  Let's just forget everything for tonight?"

"Yes Rose, I can do that and I just took two extra pills because that thing with Claire had got me worked up, what do you say about taking advantage eh?"

All Rose could think of as she pushed him onto the bed was a "Yes."

Rose decided she was going to take it easy the next day, do some shopping and cook something for when Alec got home.

"So are you staying here tonight then or shall I come to your place?" Alec asked as they got up and he tried to delay her running off to get changed, after they had kissed and fooled around.

"I don't want her watching us Alec."

"If I see her again, I'll have some officers warn her off.  Now are you sneaking to the bathroom again to get ready?"

"I don't know, should I?  Can I trust you not to peek while I get dressed?"

"Come on Rose, you were naked in bed with me last night."

Rose giggled.  "Yeah but you couldn't see me properly, could you?"

"Then I may just keep the lamp on tonight shall I?"

"Let's just get used to each other, yeah?"

"Just for you love.   Now I have to get breakfast ready or I'll be late for work"

"I can do that for you and I'll clear up too, leave me the key, won't you?" she called as she went to the bathroom, without her own clothes Alec noted.

He thought that was a good sign, he really felt like calling Claire and asking what the hell she was playing at but it would only make things worse, he believed Claire had changed her day off on purpose, just to see what she was missing.

Alec went off to work, saying they would meet for lunch, Rose was going home to get changed and then taking a walk to the supermarket and getting a taxi back to Alec's cottage later on and making dinner.  Claire had gone to work as normal, catching Sarah before customers started going in.

"Did you know Rose was having Alec Hardy coming in yesterday?" she asked.

"No, not until he came in, I was a bit surprised to see him here.  She just said to keep her free from half eleven and I'd no idea what for until he arrived.  She had a bit of a nerve though, asking him in when he's just split with you."

"Yeah, didn't she just?  That's not all though, he's doing it on purpose, to get back at me just because he turned up and my place on Saturday night and I told him to get lost and I'd brought another bloke home with me so you know what he did?"

Sarah shook her head.

"He took Rose off with him and probably took her to bed.  I wouldn't mind, I introduced them the week before but she didn't have to steal him away from me, did she?"

"So you'd already split up?"

Claire was having trouble keeping up with her story but recovered quickly.  She was about to explain when two women came into the salon so she got away with it.  She had been going to say she'd got jealous over seeing him take an interest in Rose and was just doing the same to him and he'd taken it seriously though if she didn't watch out, it would go too far.

Ellie was having fun grilling Alec about Rose.

"So, is she your girlfriend or not then?" Ellie asked him as they went to the Latimer house.

"You tell me Miller, she seems all mixed up over her ex and that thing with Claire does not help."

"You'll just have to give her time then."

"I'm trying Miller, I even offered to back off and only see her on her days off and at the weekend.  She said it may help but I still don't know if it will or not.  She's cooking for me tonight though, at my place.  She said she did not want Claire watching."

"Would she go that far?"

"Oh yes, she would go that far, I think she was in the shelter across from Rose's apartment as we went out last night so she came back to my place, she's getting scared of what lengths Claire will go to."

"Crikey, it sounds like one of those scary movies.  Can't you do something?"

"I'm open to suggestions Miller, I can't prove any of it, Claire will only deny anything and say Rose is being paranoid."

"Yeah, well it seems Claire's the one causing Rose's paranoia.  Maybe that's why Claire's doing it, to get to Rose?"

"Maybe but it's working.  If I see Claire down by the shelter, I'll get some uniforms to move her on."

"As if she won't know who sent them – Sir," Ellie smiled as they arrived at the Latimer house.

Alec was worried about Rose but since she was going to his place before Claire would get out of work and he'd been careful not to tell her where he lived, he had to be content with meeting Rose for lunch across from the station.

"Everything ok love?" he asked as he sat opposite after placing his order, Rose had already got hers, having arrived early.

"Yeah, did you call the hospital?"

"Yes, I have an appointment for next Wednesday afternoon.  Come with me?"

"Of course I will.  Do you want anything from the supermarket?"

"No, I'm fine.  Come across to the station and I'll give you ride up there."

"I was going to walk."

"You'll never get across that busy main road up there.  It's a fair walk anyway."

Rose reluctantly followed Alec to the back of the police station after lunch and he retrieved his car from the underground garage.

"I don't know why you bother bringing your car to work if you leave it here all day," Rose remarked.

"I do it to annoy the person whose car it used to be," he smiled as they got in.  "Miller drives me most of the time but if I have somewhere to go, it saves getting me a driver."

"Well I suppose you have a point then.  You don't have to wait for me, I can get a taxi to your place."

"Well if you insist love.  I'll be home by seven, if not, you have my permission to call Miller and tell her to throw me out."

"I'll hold you to that promise, don't worry," she told him as he pulled up outside the supermarket in the taxi pick-up area.

Once she got back to Alec's, at least she could relax without having to be worried Claire would be watching for any signs of movement outside her apartment but how had it got to this?  She had been a Torchwood agent, scared of nothing and one jealous woman who Alec had nothing to do with romantically had reduced her to being paranoid.  Claire was fast becoming her greatest enemy since being back in this universe.

She had looked at her device again that morning, it was still offline and had it been working, she may just have used it but not without saying goodbye to Alec.  She didn't have to call Ellie, who had been surprised just before seven, Alec had told her to go home.

"What?  Two early nights in a row?  Remind me to thank Rose."

"Don't complain Miller, you can stay late if you want, I'm going home."

"You mean now you have someone to go home to?"

"It may not be every night Miller, she wanted me to back off, remember?"

"I did say to give her time, maybe it's all happening too fast for her?"

"I gathered that Miller, thanks for the advice."

Ellie let it slide and took advantage of getting off early to go see her youngest son before he went to bed.  After Alec got home, getting a rather long unexpected greeting from Rose, they called at the pub for a drink and then took a walk towards Rose's apartment but Alec turned onto the stone pier instead, trying not to look at the water too much.  They sat down and Alec put his arm around Rose, pulling her into his shoulder and kissing her forehead.

"So are you coming back to my place, since you are off again tomorrow?"

Rose reached up to kiss him.  "Yeah, let me just call and get a few things for morning then, plus my PJ's"

"What do need those for eh?"

"So I don't have to borrow your t-shirt again," she teased, fingering one of his shirt buttons and sneaking another quick kiss while smoothing her fingers across his beard.

"You need that trimming again Alec."

"You need to stop before you get to like trimming it too much."

He helped her up and they walked the short distance to Rose's apartment, Alec making sure no-one was in the shelter.  Claire had been waiting in the shelter but not seeing them while they were in the pub, had got the bus home after she saw no movement in Rose's apartment but since she was off the next day she was determined to catch Rose at some point, she wasn't finished with her just yet.

"Sure you don't want to just stay here?" Rose asked him

"I have work, it's easier for you to come to my place.  What I said before, I meant it Rose, I'll come and stay with you tomorrow night, then we'll leave it until Saturday night, if you want?"

She put her pile of clothes on the bed and turned to him, putting her arms around his slim waist.

"Thanks Alec, you're being very good about all this."

"If that's what it takes, I'll do anything you ask Rose.  Don't let the fact Claire may be hanging around put you off though.  We are not going to hide from her."

"Yeah, I know Alec.  Come on then, I'll just throw these into my shoulder bag.  Can we get some chips on the way back?"

"I expect so, did I tell you Miller bought me fish and chips on the second night we were working the case?"

Rose smiled.

"I told her I couldn't eat them and she took it the wrong way, asked what kind of Scot I was not eating out of paper.  It was only I prefer them on a plate or at least a carton, I can't eat all the grease."

"Well she didn't know that, did she?  I'll be sure to get them in a carton then?"

"Oh, you mean to share?"

The next morning after Alec went to work, Rose tidied up then made her way back to her apartment, glancing in the shelter but thinking she was just getting paranoid but just after four, she had got back from the High Street, having decided to buy a sexy nightdress and surprise Alec when her doorbell went.  Claire was standing there.  Rose tried to close the door on her but Claire put her foot against it.

"Go away Claire or I'm calling Alec."

"Go on then, I'll make a scene if you do.  I just want to talk to you Rose."

"Yeah, of course you do but I'm not listening to anything you have to say so just go."

"Don't you want to know why I changed my day off?"

"To spy on me."

"Don't flatter yourself Rose.  No, I knew you'd think it was my day off and invite Alec to go get his hair cut."

"Lucky guess Claire.  Now just go, I'm busy."

"Getting ready for Alec calling around are you?"

"It's none of your business and that rubbish you told me, I don't believe a word of it Claire so forget it and stop coming around here and waiting across in the shelter."

Claire laughed.  "Why would I do something like that, I wouldn't waste my time.  Did Alec say I'd been there?"

Rose declined to answer.

"Oh well he would say something like that, wouldn't he?  He turned us against each other Rose."

"No he didn't, he made me see what a liar you are."

"Why do you believe him over me?"

"Oh I don't know, maybe it's because he's in the police?"

"Doesn't mean he does no wrong, ask him about Tess."

"He told me about his ex Claire, you're too late."

"Ask him what he was doing while she was seeing another DS."

With that, Claire moved her foot and Rose closed the door.  Whatever Claire's game was, she wasn't going to play it any more and wouldn't mention it to him unless he brought it up.  Alec turned up just after seven, Rose keeping the chicken casserole on a low heat in the oven and the veg ready to go in the microwave steamer.

Alec brought a bottle of white wine with him and a box of chocolates and greeted her with a kiss.

"That was nice sweetheart.  How was your day?"

"Great until Claire showed up just after four."

He moved Rose to one side and went to the window.  He'd left his car in the police car park, finding it easier to go around the back way and never passed the shelter though when he thought about it, he should have done really.

"Alec, what's wrong?" Rose asked, going up behind him.

"She will still be out there, hiding away somewhere."

"Well let's have dinner then we can go to your place."

"No, she is not driving us out."

He looked again and thought it was Claire sitting on the circular wall at the end of the esplanade, a woman was there looking at her phone but from that distance, he couldn't be sure it was actually her.

"Is that her?" Rose asked, putting her hand on his shoulder and him taking it, kissing the back of it.

"Forget it, if I can't tell it is her, she can't see us from where she is sitting.  What did she want anyway?" he asked, moving away and leaning down to kiss her.

"The usual, that you are trying to stop me and her being friends.  She did that herself when she told me those lies."

"So you know now she was lying eh?" he asked, going for her neck.

"She said ask you about what you were doing, when Tess was having an affair."

He let go of her and looked at her.

"Do you really want an answer to that Rose?"

"No, I trust you and I didn't even know you back then, I wasn't even in this universe anyway.  I suppose she was trying to make me think you were with her?"

"Most likely.  Rose, you can't believe anything she says, she opens her mouth and nothing but lies come out.  She fooled both Tess and I about what happened in Sandbrook.  I was daft enough to think she would turn on her husband but she will never do that.  Tomorrow, I will call the rental agency and take my name off the lease as her guarantor."

"You got her that cottage?"

"Well yes, I did not want to be in the same town as her did I?  Look Rose, if I had really been with her, would I have left her there?"

"No, I don't suppose so.  I'm sorry Alec, it's all too confusing.  I'll go serve dinner, chicken casserole."

"Sounds good to me love and no more talking about Claire."

After they had cleared the dishes, Rose put some music on and persuaded Alec to dance to a slow tune, never bothering about pulling the curtains over.  Claire had taken up her position in the shelter, her last bus was in half an hour but Alec was leaning on Rose's shoulder, moving in time to the music and was about to kiss her neck when he saw a light from across the road. 

Claire was checking the time then she glanced up and they had moved from the window, she'd been watching the two of them necking for at least half hour or so, couldn't they have pulled the curtains over?

Alec was on the phone, Rose trying to stop him.

"Please Alec, just leave it."

"No," he said, covering the phone while someone on the other end was relaying his message to get two uniforms around the corner from the station and move the person who was playing with their phone on from the shelter.

"She's been there long enough to see us dancing and kissing."

"We should really have pulled the curtains over," Rose said quietly, watching across the road and seeing two uniformed officers approach the shelter and someone get up.

"Are you even sure it's her?"

"Yes love, who else would it be?  Do you have any other stalkers I should be aware of?"

"How would I know?  I wasn't even aware Claire was a stalker, not until she went all creepy on me."

"Well she will think twice before sitting and watching us again but the times we see each other, it will be safer to come to my place."

"If you think so Alec."

Two uniformed officers had been caught on their way out by the already harassed desk sergeant who certainly didn't need one grumpy DI Hardy on the phone at this time of night when all he wanted after the last few weeks was a quiet night for a change.  Then Hardy had phoned in saying someone was watching his girlfriend's apartment when he wasn't even aware the disagreeable detective even had a girlfriend and felt sorry for whoever she was after DS Miller constantly complained on her way out that he kept her working late, well except for tonight and last night.

Alec was waiting for news as the two officers, one male and one female approached the figure huddled in the shelter, half facing Rose's apartment.  Claire looked up with a start and shoved her phone in her pocket and got up, pretending she was leaving.

"Excuse me Miss," the female officer said as Claire looked at the two of them, hoping she could make a dash and catch the last bus in twenty minutes, if it wasn't early.

"Is there something wrong officer?" Claire asked innocently.

"You will have to move on, you can't stay there all night.  Do you have somewhere to stay?"

"I'm not a tramp if that's what you're inferring?" Claire huffed.

"My colleague never inferred you were Miss but you can't stay there," the male officer told her.

"Had a complaint have you?" Claire half smirked, knowing full well Alec would have just got the uniformed officers to do his dirty work for him when he wouldn't face her personally.

"It has no bearing on us asking you to move on.   Now have you somewhere to go?" the female officer asked her again.

Claire nodded.  "I have a bus to catch in ten minutes and if I miss it, then you'll just have to lock me up for the night, I've no money for a taxi," she lied.

Well why should she pay for a taxi when they were delaying her catching the last bus to Dorchester?

"Then we will accompany you to the bus stop, after you," the male officer told her, gesturing her to walk in front of them.

Alec was watching from the window and saw them disappear around the corner then he took hold of Rose, thanking the desk sergeant who almost fainted due to getting the grumpy detective to thank him.

"She's gone love, relax."

Rose let out the breath she wasn't aware she'd been holding in.  She put her arms around him and leaned into his shoulder.

"I can't do this Alec, she's freaking me out.  I was scared of nothing, not Cybermen, Daleks, gas-masked zombies or werewolves."

Alec raised his eyebrows, she had never mentioned zombies or werewolves before and was now looking forward to hearing about them, once he had calmed her down and helped her get over this.
Chapter 12
Claire had been 'escorted' to the bus shelter outside the amusement arcade, seeing the bus already there and hoping it wouldn't leave as they approached it but she got on, the two officers making sure she left, she went to the back, not wanting to risk missing her stop and having to walk for miles back along a dark road.  She knew to look out for a certain landmark then ring the bell, it was easier though in daylight.  She put her feet carefully on the seat opposite since no-one else was there and was still annoyed she'd got moved on and that Alec had the nerve to get someone else to do it.

It had been a bit of a waste of the day, hanging around and looking for any signs of Rose and not seeing any movement until late in the afternoon which meant Rose had been shopping or staying at Alec's place, not that she knew where he lived, he'd been too careful not to tell her.

Alec had persuaded Rose that Claire would be on her way home now and got her to get ready for bed.  The next morning, Claire decided she would get in early again and do some more damage but Rose had beaten her to it as Alec had said she would be just as well trying to find out what damage Claire had done on Rose's other day off.

Sarah was going through the day's appointments and talking to Amber when Rose walked in.

"Morning," Rose greeted them, nervously.  "Have I missed anything?"

"That depends Rose," Amber told her, trying not to sound too annoyed at being asked.

"Oh, never mind Amber, she'll find out soon enough.  Claire's been telling us some interesting things Rose, such as you stealing Alec Hardy from her but we came to the conclusion she may have already dumped him before that.  Some things she said just don't add up."

Rose was relieved to hear that.  "I never stole him from her, there was no Claire and Alec Hardy, it's all in her head.  He told me he helped her once and that was it, she took it the wrong way."

"Then why is she so bothered about it then?" Tiffany asked as she came out of the staff room.

Rose was about to answer when Claire walked in, looking at the four women and thinking she was too late to do any more damage today.

"What?" Claire asked, trying to look innocent.

All except Sarah went back to the staff room and Claire went to hang up her jacket, staring at Rose.

"So, what have you been telling them then?" Claire accused Rose.

"More like what you've been telling them Claire, stop telling lies to them, they don't believe you."

"Oh, is that so then?  What do you think girls?  Rose comes along to my house then she goes out with me and steals my bloke."

"You seem to forget Claire, it was your idea to pick two blokes up that night when I didn't even want the one I got left with."

"Only because you fancied Alec."

"Because you said there was never anything between you, so Alec confirmed it."

"Very interesting Rose," Maureen called from the door at two minutes to nine.  "Can you all get ready to do some work?"

Alec had got to work and Ellie followed him into his office.

"So, how's things with Rose then?" Ellie grinned and sat opposite him.

"Claire was hanging around her apartment again last night, she had called earlier but she never told me until later."

"So what did you do?"

"I sent two uniforms to move Claire on from the shelter."

Ellie burst out laughing.  "You never!  I bet she was pleased about that."

"I did tell you that was what I would do if I saw her there."

"Are you sure it was her?"

"Come on Miller, who else would have been there watching?  The town is hardly over-run with visitors these days."

"What about her old boyfriend, I mean if she split from him, he might be trying to get her back?"

"I can tell the difference Miller, even at that distance.  Besides that, he's well out of the picture."

"Are you certain?  Rose seems to be having some doubts."

"Only because of Claire making her like that.  I'm going to ask her to stay at my place again for the weekend, until we get this thing sorted, let Claire waste her time watching Rose's empty apartment, she will soon get the message."

"Won't Rose think you're crowding her?"

"Why would she?  I'm just trying to help her Miller.  I hope she does not take it the wrong way, Claire is driving us to this, what do you expect me to do about it?"

Ellie couldn't answer him.  This Claire sounded like a real piece of work and her jealousy was only driving Hardy and Rose closer, having the opposite effect.  If it was Claire's intentions to split them up, she was going about it in the wrong way.  Alec had promised Rose that morning he wouldn't see her until Saturday night unless she got worried and called him but by lunchtime, he was on edge and getting irritable again and it showed that much, he was standing on the balcony just after twelve, waiting to see if Rose walked past to go to the catering stalls opposite.

He could hardly ring her, could he?  She would be out of work in twenty minutes or so, he could call to see if she was ok, couldn't he?  Yes, he could raise his concern, make certain Claire had not been causing any more trouble.  He was still standing there as Ellie came up behind him, wondering what he was doing then thinking he might want to be alone and be moody over his girlfriend.  At least he'd admitted to the desk sergeant Rose was his girlfriend.

The desk sergeant had remarked to Ellie as she had walked in before he left that Hardy had disturbed his otherwise quiet evening by getting him to send officers to move someone on who was bothering Hardy's girlfriend.  Ellie had to assure him Hardy did indeed have a girlfriend and word had since got around the station the grumpy detective had a life other than police work.

"Everything alright Sir?" Ellie asked him from behind as he got his phone out of his pocket, having convinced himself he should show Rose he cared enough to just check on her.

"What?  Oh, I'm fine Miller, I was just worried about Rose.  Can you talk to her for me?"

"You should call her yourself, she won't want me interfering.  I gave her my number but she's not called me yet."

"Do you think I should call her then?" he asked nervously, thumbing through the numbers in his contacts and meaning to ask someone how to put a shortcut to her number on his front screen.

Ellie actually smiled at him, he was clueless over his love life.

"Call her then, before she has chance to go elsewhere for her lunch." 

She went back inside to grab her things to go meet her family and left him to it, it was down to him, no-one could do this for him, he had to be the hero rescuing Rose from the Welsh dragon lady.

Rose was just getting her jacket when her phone rang.  She had been a few minutes late after her last client had kept her talking, asking if she had a boyfriend and getting a glare from Claire.  Rose smiled when she saw Alec's picture come up, not that he'd been aware she had even taken it last Sunday morning.

"Hi Alec, just a second will you?"

Alec waited nervously while Rose stepped out of the salon, making sure she hadn't been followed by Claire.

"Are you there Rose?" he asked, getting impatient but knowing of her need to ensure she was alone and out of Claire's way.

"Yeah, sorry, I was just going outside.  Are you ok?"

"I'm fine love, I just wondered if you were coming down to the harbour today?"

"Miss me already?"

"What kind of question is that?  Yes, I miss you already but I'm trying my best to keep my promise to you and you did say we may have the odd lunch together so I'm asking you, will you have lunch with me?"

"How can I refuse an offer like that?  Wait across the road for me then."

"Aye, I'm on my way down right now."

He put his phone away, just seeing Ellie about to leave.

"Now everything is ok?" she asked him.

Alec just nodded, went to get his jacket and followed her downstairs, arriving a few minutes before Rose.  He got up to greet her and they went to order, then as they sat at a table, he asked how things were.

"Not so bad, she's hardly spoken to me today, just glared at me."

"I was going to suggest that you come to my place for the weekend, if you agree?  Maybe go out somewhere on Sunday?"

"Yeah, that would be nice, go off and forget everything.  I'll get what I need for the weekend and come over tomorrow night and help you make dinner."

"We could go out Rose."

"We don't have to go out all the time Alec, just have a nice quiet evening in with no-one watching us dancing or making out," she smiled.

"Well, that was the idea, I was worried about you after last night.  Is this helping Rose, not seeing each other tonight?"

"I just need some time to think Alec, there's too much going on right now.  Without Claire being as she is, I may be able to cope but it's not helping.  We had an argument over it this morning but I think the staff now may be realising how much of a liar she is, she's tripping herself up now."

"Good, they will see her for what she is, a liar."

As Rose left to go back to work, he wanted to ask if he could call round later but at least he'd got to see her.  After Rose got home that evening, she pulled the curtains over, even though it was still light and if Claire thought she was going to watch all night, she was very much mistaken and was going to be disappointed.

Alec had just arrived home, getting in just before ten after the town's procession to the harbour to remind people of what had happened.  Rose had promised she would be there but under the circumstances, he could understand why she wanted to stay away.  Ellie had asked him where Rose was as Tom waited for Alec to tell him to get on his skateboard, the boy looking nervously at his mother, then at Alec.

"So, where's Rose then?" Ellie had asked him.

"We said we wouldn't see each other tonight, I think she has either forgotten about this or she's making some sort of point."

"No, I don't believe that, she probably thinks because she's new in town, people will wonder who she is, if people haven't seen her around."

"You may be right, I'll see her tomorrow night anyway, I'm trying to stick to our arrangement but it's hard to keep my promise."

Ellie actually felt sorry for him but this Claire was to blame when all said and done but what was romance without a bit of jealousy, it would only make them either more determined no-one was going to get in their way or split them when they'd only just got started.

Alec nodded to Tom to get on his skateboard and hoped Rose would still go to the hospital with him next week though it was one of her days off.

Just after ten, Rose heard a disturbance outside her apartment and glanced through a slit in the curtains to see two officers across the road and someone in the shelter.  She knew she had promised Alec she would go on the memorial walk for Danny but didn't think it was still such a good idea.  He'd not said anything at lunchtime, he'd never asked if she was still going with him and thought it would have been more appropriate last night but he'd said they thought it would be better on the Friday night so more people could attend.

Claire had decided to stay since Alec's car wasn't parked there again so he'd stashed it somewhere else, like he'd appeared to have done last night, probably at the police station.  She had planned on getting a taxi back, she knew she was getting obsessed with catching the two of them together but Rose had spoiled it earlier by pulling over the curtains.

"You were told last night Miss," the male officer was saying to Claire.

"I'm not doing anything, did Hardy send you again?"

Both officers knew it was Hardy's girlfriend the woman had a beef with.

"Jones, get on the radio and ask the sergeant what Hardy wants to do with this one."

WPC Amanda Jones got on her radio.  "Yeah, Sarge, that woman's watching Hardy's girlfriend's place again, what does he want us to do with her?"

"Hold on Jones while I call him, he won't be pleased and if he yells at me, I'll blame you."

Sergeant Peters reluctantly dialled Alec's number at ten past ten.

"DI Hardy, that woman's outside your girlfriend's apartment again, what do you want the officers on the scene to do?"

"What?  Doesn't that woman ever learn?" he muttered to himself.  Why hadn't Rose called him or had she taken his advice and pulled the curtains over?

"Take her to the station and hold her until morning then you can let her go, no charges, just a warning about sleeping rough."

"Yes Sir but can I ask, do you or your friend know her?"

"Yes, we know her, she's just jealous and is trying to scare my girlfriend.  Release her early, she has a job to go to."

"If you say so Sir, no charges then?"

"Just suspicion of stalking then, we can hold her overnight."

"Will do Sir."

Alec hung up and immediately called Rose, who was watching through the window at Claire shouting for the officers to let her go.  Rose turned and picked up her phone.

"Rose, are you ok love?"

"I'm fine.  Alec, those officers were back again, was that Claire they just walked off with?"

"Aye, they saw her in the shelter again and called me.  Do you want me to come over?"

Rose thought about it but she couldn't let Claire get her so spooked she had to run to him every five minutes.  She heard the disappointment in his voice as she said no.

"Are you sure?  You should be ok for now, they are holding her overnight."

"Just let her go Alec, please, you have no idea what she will say to everyone tomorrow, that I got you to lock her up."

"Oh very well, I'll go down to the station and give her an official warning.  Can I call and see you afterwards?  Just to assure myself you're ok?"

She could hardly deprive him of that, he was only concerned and trying to protect her and she was turning him away.

"Well ok then, I'll wait for you, just let yourself in."

"Ok sweetheart, I won't be long then."

He didn't feel like walking across the other side of the harbour late at night on his own after the walk from the High Street to the harbour so he got into his car and drove into the underground car park, which was deserted apart from a few marked cars and the transport sergeant, who let him in by raising the grill when Alec sounded his car horn.

"You're back late Sir, is everything ok?"

"Just something that needs my attention, I won't be long."

He'd already decided he was going to leave his car outside Rose's apartment, why should he hide the fact they were seeing each other?  He went up the steps and around to the front entrance, since the back was locked at night, surprising the officer on duty outside the front entrance.

"Oh, good evening Sir," he greeted Alec.

Alec nodded and went inside and approached the desk, the two officers who had brought Claire in were just talking with the desk sergeant.

"Where is she then?"

"Downstairs Sir, do you want to see her?"

"Go fetch her and put her in interview room one and one of you stay with her.  I want her to know I mean business."

Ten minutes later after Alec got some water and took his pills before he faced who was fast becoming his enemy, he was sitting across the table from Claire, who had her arms crossed indignantly.

"You, stay," he told the WPC.  "What are you playing at Claire?"

"Don't know what you mean Alec.  Are you recording this then?"

"Should I be?  I have a witness, in case you had not noticed."

"You told them I was watching Rose's place again?"

"No, they were told to watch out for you again since they moved you on last night.  Why are you even doing this?"

"You're so clever, you work it out.  I thought you were my friend Alec?"

"I thought we agreed about this?  That I brought you here to keep Lee away from you and then you go and do this?"

Claire just stared at her hands.

"I hope you're not going to waste your money Claire, I took my name off the cottage lease."

"You did not?  How can you do this to me?  I'll only just manage now, thanks a lot Alec."

"Don't mess with me Claire and leave Rose alone, she's the only reason you are not spending the night in a cell.  Now go home because the next time, she won't be able to stop me from charging you."

"How am I expected to get home?"

"You missed the last bus on purpose Claire, how were you going to get home?"

"That was before you told me I had to pay all the rent, plus there's my bus fares and food."

"You work more hours than Rose does, you'll manage."

"Yeah, how come she can afford to live on the seafront and you stick me in a cottage at the end of a lane, miles from anywhere?"

"You wanted somewhere safe, remember?  Do you think Lee won't find you on the seafront in Broadchurch?"

Claire thought about it.  "How about a ride home Alec?"

"It's late, get a taxi."

"You weren't bothered about going to meet Rose at my place last Saturday night, were you?"

"That was different, she called me because she didn't want to be left on her own, you were going to leave her there."

"She asked me to find her a bloke so I did."

He didn't believe her for a second.  "Don't lie Claire, I'm way past being tired of you."

"Not too tired to go see your girlfriend though, are you?"

"None of your business, now leave before I change my mind."

"I can't, I don't have enough for a taxi."

"Then call at the cash machine on your way out of town."

"I meant I can't afford one until payday."

"Then how were you going to get home?"

"Hitch a ride with someone?" she grinned.

Alec was tired and just wanted to see Rose, he was hoping she would take into account it was late and ask him to stay, even just to sleep in the same bed.

"Officer, call a taxi for her and charge it to me."

"Yes Sir," the WPC answered, rather amused at the banter between her boss and this woman, they clearly knew each other, maybe she as his ex and had got jealous of his new girlfriend and this Lee was her ex but it wasn't any of her business though it was more juicy gossip.  Hardy would know where it came from though, worse luck.

"Not going to escort me home personally then?  You went out late to meet Rose last Saturday night.  Was that only so you could shag her?"

Alec knew this would be the talk of the station in the morning, no sense in fuelling the flames any further.

"Just go Claire before I really do charge you with something.  Get her out of here," he told the WPC.

"This way Miss, I'll get someone to call a cab for you."

"Off to see her now are you?  Is she going to thank you for letting me go eh?"

Alec shook his head, he just wanted to crawl into bed with Rose and forget about it.

"You want to know why she asked me to just let you go?  So you would not be spreading even more lies at the salon tomorrow morning.  Do you know what you are putting her though?"

"I'm not doing anything Alec, she brought it on herself, making a move on you."

"I can't be bothered arguing with you, go while you still can."

He knew what would happen if this carried on, Rose would be getting worried where he was and end up taking him to the local hospital, if it even had an emergency department, he'd heard rumours it may be closing.

The WPC took Claire by the arm as she got up.

"Get off me, I can walk out on my own."

Alec pointed to the WPC.  "I'm holding you responsible for putting her into a cab, tell the driver to send the bill for the fare to personnel under my name."

It would be worth it to get rid of her for the night but he knew she would carry on until Rose ran away altogether.  If her device to take her back to the alternate universe suddenly sprung to life, she may use it without even saying goodbye because he had brought this to her, she hadn't asked to get caught up in Claire's illusion there had ever been anything between them, he'd been very careful on that score.

He was left in the interview room when he got a message from Rose.  He dare not look, she was probably telling him not to bother now, it was after eleven.  He dialled Rose's number and waited.

"Rose, sorry darlin', Claire was not so grateful I was letting her go.  I should go back home, I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Oh, well I'm about to go to bed but I would have waited for you, if you still want to come round?"

"Give me five minutes then, I have to move my car."

"Why don't you just leave it there?"

"Maybe because I want people to see it parked in front of your place?" he offered, a smile on his face.

"Just get round here, you can show off another time, DI Hardy.  No-one even knows it's your car."

"Well how many more will be parked there overnight with a police sign on the dashboard eh?"

"There could be any number of them."

"Very funny Rose, you are delaying me you know?"

"Can't you walk and talk at the same time?"

"Well I don't want anyone overhearing me, do I?"

Just over five minutes after he hung up, he was climbing the steps to Rose's apartment, trying to remember which key was hers as he had a similar one for his cottage's back door.  Rose seemed to know he was there and opened it for him throwing her arms around his neck and going straight for a kiss.

"Hey, steady Rose, can't I leave you for even half a day?"

"No, I just thought I wouldn't see you tonight, that's all."

He closed and locked the door behind him and pulled her for a longer kiss.

"Let's just go to bed Alec but can we just cuddle?"

"Yes Rose, anything you want love because I would have missed you as well tonight."

"I can't believe Claire is getting to me so much, can't you do something about her?"

"I'm trying love, I really am.  I told her I was no longer paying towards her cottage but now, she will use that against me.  I also told her you had asked me to let her go.  How long was she out there, why didn't you call me?"

"I pulled the curtains over when I got home, how was I to know she would follow me again?"

"You should have expected it love, she must have guessed you went to meet me at lunch time, she maybe followed you then?"

Rose thought about it as she went to the bathroom.

Claire had got home and had been furious Alec had the nerve to say Rose was the one who had got her out.  She had got something to eat and sat at the end of the pier, out of sight then gone to the shelter to find the curtains already pulled over.  Her imagination had run riot, she knew Alec had to be there with her, hiding his car again, like she didn't know what he was up to.
Chapter 13
Claire didn't want to face Rose again the next morning so she lay in bed, knowing her boss would be angry, especially after rearranging days off without asking but she really didn't care.  She had a weekly bus pass but would get a bus late afternoon and go sit at the end of the pier and hope she wouldn't get moved on again, she could just about see if Alec parked his car there and would see a light on, maybe she'd even catch Rose again as she got home, if she waited at the bottom of the stairs.  She thought she would ring the salon after lunch and claim she'd eaten something that had been off and it had made her too sick to ring earlier, then she had a better idea, for Rose's benefit.

Rose had woken up earlier, Alec with his arm around her and she disturbed him as she moved.

"Sneaking off love?" he asked, pulling her back down again for a kiss and getting his reward.

"No, it's my apartment, why should I be sneaking off?  I think I can trust you, can't I?"

"Aye darlin' you can trust me.  Get your things after work and walk round to my place or shall I come round?"

"No, I'll go the back way, she won't have figured that out yet, she'll be watching the front, if she didn't take any notice of last night."

"She had better have done, or I will keep her in the next time, no matter how much you ask me otherwise."

"I was only thinking what she would tell everyone if she gets to work before I do and there are the two Saturday juniors in today as well, an extra audience for her."

"Do you really care about what she would tell them, if the others know she's lying?"

"Well someone may have seen those officers escorting her off both nights so they may believe her about you locking her up."

"Right.  I'm off this afternoon, meet me for lunch?"

"You'll have to come and meet me, we all cut our lunch short on Saturday's, it gets busy."

"Well maybe they can make an exception this week eh?  I will wait outside at twelve thirty and never mind Claire, she will be moody from me having her carted off last night."

"Well I'm gonna get there early again, before she has two more under the illusion I stole you from her."

"Aye, you do that then love.  Now, do you have time to kiss me properly before you have to get ready?"

Just before nine, Maureen, the owner of the salon was having a crisis when there was no sign of Claire.  She didn't think there was any point in asking Rose where her senior stylist could be, given the part of the conversation she had overheard the previous morning and what Claire had been spreading on Wednesday morning while she was off for the day then pulling that stunt of swapping days off, what was she up to?

"Has anyone heard from Claire?"

Everyone shook their heads, including Rose.

Maureen shook her head and took Rose to one side.

"I wasn't getting at you Rose, I know things aren't so pleasant between the two of you these days but I had to ask everyone, what's wrong with her anyway, apart from something about you stealing her man?"

Rose was getting tired of this.  "Alec was not her boyfriend, he never has been so I don't know why she's making such a fuss about it.  Have you tried calling her?  Maybe her bus has missed or got delayed?"

"She could always have called Rose, did you know she was going to swap her days?"

"I would hardly have asked Alec to come in if I'd have known she was going to do that, would I?  I would have warned him off but I didn't think I should give him the impression I didn't want my co-workers to see me with him, we've got nothing to hide.  I don't think it made things any worse, it was mainly over what happened last Saturday night."

"Well we don't have time for this, we have customers waiting, you'll all have to keep your breaks and lunches to a minimum and I'll have to get Sarah to help out if need be."

Rose was a bit annoyed, she would barely be able to queue in the sandwich shop and eat something, let alone have time to talk to Alec but he would surely understand.

Alec was surprised Ellie was already at her desk who was a little annoyed she had missed all the fun last night, the desk sergeant had been only too happy to report that Hardy had got the stalker from the shelter locked up then let her off without even a caution.

"I hear I missed the fun last night?" she called after him as he went to make himself some tea, Alec thinking he must get Rose to buy him some decaff teabags.

"You think it was fun for me to get down here last night to sort Claire out?  Rose talked me into letting her go, that was the only reason she was not held overnight but next time, I'll forget where the key is."

He went to his office but Ellie wasn't going to let it go.

"So you saw her last night after all then?  Thought you were backing off – Sir?"

"Don't start Miller, I'm not in the mood.  I went over after I finished here, I'd just got back when I had a call to say Claire was hiding in the shelter again, why does she never get the message?"

"Don't you think you're doing exactly what Claire wants?  She wants your attention and she's getting it.  Let me deal with her for you."

"You think I can't sort out my own problems Miller?  I brought Claire here and I got Rose into this and I've let it go too far."

"Yes, you have so can I give you some advice?"

Alec looked across at her, thinking she would give him advice whether he wanted it or not. 

"Claire's the one you should be backing away from, not Rose.  Rose obviously cares a lot for you, putting up with all this so let me deal with Claire, get them both in here and find out why Claire is gunning for her.  Was she like this before you both came here, you and Claire?"

Alec did not like discussing his relationships, especially not with his annoying DS

"No, I hardly saw her until I told her I was considering getting a transfer, it was the biggest mistake I made, well apart from helping Claire in the first place but how did I know she would turn all psycho on me?"

Ellie let out a laugh.  She would have told anyone who had suggested two women were going to argue over Alec Hardy that they were off their heads but it was actually happening, brought on by Hardy meeting someone else.

"So, Claire never showed any signs she was interested in you, before you met Rose?"

"No and I'm not going to be interrogated over it either."

"You want my help or not?"

Alec sipped his tea and let her continue.

"So let me get this right, you think Claire invited both you and Rose to her cottage that Sunday afternoon on purpose?"

"Why else Miller?  She wanted to see if I would do anything, meeting a young blonde.  Claire was trying to find out if I would choose her or someone else, she mistook my bringing her here with me for something else."

"So, light the blue touchpaper and retreat to a safe distance?"

"Who, Claire or me?  Claire is just annoyed because she thought I had no other friends down here so I would want to spend some more time with her, she can't accept that I don't want to."

"Even before you met Rose?"

"Yes, that's what I've been trying to tell you Miller.  I like Rose, a lot but Claire is going to drive her away for good, maybe send her back where she came from."

"London?"

Alec nodded, he couldn't tell his DS it just wasn't the London in this universe, well not any more it wasn't.

"Well let me get them both in or separately and talk to them, find out how far they are both willing to go over this."

"Claire will just come out with all her lies again, you will be wasting your time Miller."

"Have them both meet me on Monday lunchtime and we'll have an informal chat then, see if I can get to why Claire is suddenly jealous over Rose."

Alec shook his head, why should he care if his DS wanted to waste her lunch break?

"Suit yourself, Rose may be willing to talk but I can't say the same about Claire.  I know why else Claire got me to her cottage that Sunday afternoon, she was bored and wanted to cause trouble and I gave her it."

"It won't put you off seeing Rose over the rest of the weekend, will it though?"

"No Miller, that it won't."

Rose was rather annoyed she was having to cut her lunchtime even shorter than the last few weeks she had been there and meant to call Alec during her morning break but since he didn't answer, she would have to just dash out and drag him into the takeaway and find a bench opposite or just sneak back and try and send him a message.  He wouldn't call back before she left if he had seen the missed call anyway.

Alec had been seeing the chief, who was warning him they may have to cut back their resources.

"Seriously?  How are we supposed to find the killer with less resources than we have now?"

"The case is going stale Alec, the press are putting it on the back pages, it's no longer headline news so unless you get some new leads, all the extra staff will have to go."

He got out of the CS's office and checked his phone, which he'd put on silent and cursed he'd missed Rose's call.  He went back upstairs to find Ellie had gone, thankfully.  The last thing he needed was Miller giving him girlfriend advice though Claire, he would gladly leave to her.  He left just after twelve and went to find a parking spot near the salon where Rose worked, being lucky as someone was leaving and dared the driver behind him to take the spot while he was reversing into it, just outside the newspaper office of all places.

It was just his luck that Olly Stevens was on his way out.

"DI Hardy, do you have a minute?" Olly asked hopefully.

"Not now Stevens, I have to be somewhere."

"It won't take long.  Is it true resources are being pulled from the Latimer case?"

How had he found that out, Alec wondered.

"No comment Stevens, the press office issues any statement about personnel and well you know it.  Have you been talking to your aunt again?"

Olly was not about to admit he was stringing along one of the girls in the HR department of Broadchurch Police Station, purely for professional reasons of course.

Alec went off and looked through the window blinds of the double-fronted salon, trying to spot Rose.  Olly wondered what the detective was actually doing staring into a women's hairdressers or was he going to get his hair cut?  Olly shook his head – the detective's hair looked shorter than the last time they had met, maybe he had a girlfriend who worked there?  It would be worth his while to find out, maybe Liz had something interesting to tell him later though why she'd not already told him Hardy had a girlfriend, he didn't know.

Alec was checking the time, there were over five minutes before Rose would be out but she had just finished a young boy's hair when she spotted Alec outside so taking advantage of following the boy to make sure he paid, she opened the door.

"Alec, sorry, I won't have much time today, can you go to the sandwich shop and get something and get me a coffee?"

"Sure love, busy day?"

"I'll explain later, have to go now."

So Alec went to join the short queue, getting a few looks from some of the women behind the counter as well as the customers and Rose was waiting outside, not wanting to embarrass him by going in and giving him a wet, sloppy kiss or putting her arms around him.

They went to sit in his car, since the two benches across the road were already occupied with mothers and screaming toddlers.  Alec thought all he needed now was for the annoying nephew of his just as annoying DS to come back and see them.

"Thanks Alec, sorry but Claire didn't come in to work today, are you sure you let her go?" Rose teased, putting her coffee cup on the reasonable smooth dashboard.

"Yes, I let her go, she is just trying to prove a point, that's all."

"What did you say to her anyway?"

"I told you had asked me to let her go and to leave you alone."

"That's not going to help Alec."

"I'm trying my best love, you know that.  Miller offered to talk to her, she reckons I'm giving Claire exactly what she wants, my attention."

"She could be right Alec, maybe that's been Claire's intention all along, just think about it?  You bring her down here, leave her to get on with it then she meets me, gets us both to her house on the same day and then pretends to be jealous.  She's not really, she just doesn't want your attention going elsewhere and she was trying to see who you would choose."

"Have you been talking to Miller already?"

"No, how could I have been?"

"Just joking love.  Why don't I walk up and meet you tonight, just in case Claire follows you?"

"No Alec, I can do that on my own, really, she's not going to get me any more paranoid than I already am."

"Ok love, have it your way but if you even get a hint she is following you, you call me and I'll be right over."

"Yeah, ok.  I'll get changed and come over, do you want to start dinner before I get there?"

"I'll wait for you love.  So, any word from Claire as to why she didn't show?"

Rose hadn't known that Claire had deliberately phoned Maureen when she knew Rose would be out to lunch and had claimed she had what she thought was food poisoning, putting on a weak voice then adding she wasn't sure what had caused it and planning to play on it later to get to Rose.

Rose kissed Alec's cheek and went to get out of his car. 

"Coming in for a beard trim?"

"I don't think so Rose, what with the salon being busy today, what would all those women think of me?"

"That I was a very lucky girl?" she teased, reaching back to run her fingers on his chin.

"Get back to work Rose, before you lose your job," he joked.

Rose went back into the salon with just enough time to visit the ladies room and get back onto the floor, to more spotty teenage boys who fancied their chances asking her if she had a boyfriend.  She thought she just might take a photo of Alec and herself, put it in a frame and leave it by the mirror, Mario had a photo of his boyfriend to ward other men off.

By half past four, the salon only had a few customers in and Maureen called Rose over.

"Claire claimed she had food poisoning."

Rose was hardly surprised, given what she must have been eating, spying on her and Alec.

"Am I meant to feel sorry for her?" Rose asked.

"No, I'm letting you know because come Monday, I don't want any more arguments between the two of you and dragging the others into it, do I make myself clear?"

Rose nodded, it wasn't her fault Claire was being so petty.

"I'll be talking to Claire and I'm changing my day off, I don't trust Claire to be in charge while I'm gone and since Tuesday seems to be our quietest day, you can share responsibility with Mario, he's been here the longest.  Whatever is going on between the two of you stays outside, I'll be telling Claire the same on Monday."

"Sure Maureen and I'm really sorry Claire is going on like this, she's just jealous for no reason at all and Alec's trying his best to stop her.  Last night and the night before, she was watching my apartment and Alec had to have her moved on then last night, he had her taken to the station and gave her a warning.  That's why she's not been in today."

"I see then.  Well if your detective boyfriend can't handle the problem he seems to have caused then no-one can.  I'll be having words with Claire anyway, she's venting her jealousy out on you and it’s affecting my business."

Claire had got the bus and had arrived by the harbour just before five, thinking she would grab something to eat and go sit on the end of the pier, since it was a nice sunny afternoon.  If Alec Hardy thought he was going to scare her off by locking her up then letting her go, saying Rose had persuaded him to drop it, then he had another thing coming.  Claire Ripley did not back down that easily, well not unless her family was under threat or Lee was after her for ratting on him and blaming the entire incident with Pippa onto him.  It served him right for going with Lisa behind her back.

Alec had driven up to the supermarket but by the time he'd gone round with the trolley, he had to go sit down in the café and have a rest but he was seen by the local vicar.

"DI Hardy, are you ok?" Paul Coates asked, sitting opposite him.

"I'm fine, this investigation is getting to me, it's too much like my last case."

Paul didn't like the detective very much, not after he'd asked the cleric to provide a DNA sample but Paul had an obligation to the parish to provide pastoral support and like it or not, Alec Hardy was part of the community.

"We're holding a memorial service for Danny tomorrow, you're welcome to attend."

"So you can have a dig at me?"

Paul laughed, pouring some tea into a mug.  "You are making enemies detective inspector, you're suspicious of everyone."

"It's my job to be suspicious.  I'll ask my girlfriend if she wants to come."

"I heard you'd met someone, what's her name?"

Alec supposed everyone would find out sooner or later and was slightly surprised Miller had not already told the whole town.

"She's called Rose, she's a junior hairdresser."

"I'm surprised Beth hasn't met her then."

"I'm sure there is more than one hair salon in the entire town and maybe Mrs Latimer has other things on her mind?"

Paul eventually took the hint and left Alec to finish his almost cold pot of tea and get his groceries to the car before the frozen food defrosted.  He was looking forward to spending the day out with Rose but he was obliged to inform her of the Sunday service for Danny Latimer, it was up to her if she wanted to be seen with a grumpy detective in front of the entire population of Broadchurch, well the vast majority of them anyway.  He had long since given up being religious, having been brought up to attend church with his parents until he was old enough to make his own decisions.

He put his groceries away once he reached his cottage and went to lay on the sofa, hoping he would remain calm until Rose arrived.  Claire was putting a lot of stress on both himself and his girlfriend but he thought back to what Ellie Miller had said, maybe he was actually giving Claire what she wanted, his attention so maybe it was time to just ignore what she was doing and leave the uniformed officers to it, they had been told to just keep moving her on until she finally got the message.

If she ever found out where he lived, he would have to think of something more drastic without setting himself up for a visit to the local hospital, Rose certainly didn't need that on top of everything else.

Rose got home and got changed and gathered a few things to take for the weekend and was hoping the rushed lunch with Alec hadn't made him think she had just used it as an excuse since the unplanned stopover last night.  She had needed him though, this was getting her down and she knew she had to be stronger than this but she wasn't used to playing psychological mind games with a female Norman Bates.

She'd had some basic training but most of her time she had spent trying to get back and now she was actually back, she was beginning to wish she'd never left.  She'd not even had time to think about what happened with James, Claire was the foremost on her mind, that and her enemy driving Alec away from her and then what would she do?  Alec was the one who was holding her together despite the fact this never would have happened if she'd not met him at Claire's cottage barely two weeks ago.

What had started out innocently last Friday lunchtime had changed in a matter of a few hours, she had got over her initial shock of Alec being the double of James and her Doctor and now she was caught up between him and his disturbed protected witness who obviously didn't get the whole picture there was nothing between Claire and Alec.  Well Claire was no longer being protected by Alec, he'd told Claire he wasn't guaranteeing her cottage any longer and he'd not actually said the witness protection part was over but it was pretty obvious it was but would Claire get the message?

Rose hoped so, for both herself and Alec's sakes, he didn't need all this any more than she did.  She put her things in the overnight bag and checked the curtains were closed, to keep Claire guessing should she want to risk getting locked up again though this time, no amount of persuasion would convince Alec not to keep the stalker locked up until Monday morning and she wouldn't stop him now.  Rose knew Claire had stayed off work on purpose, she'd been too embarrassed Alec had locked her up and then been released because of some intervention but Rose couldn't have faced her telling the entire salon Alec locked her up.

Claire was about to go take up in the shelter again, it was early and with a bit of luck, no-one would move her on for a few hours but she'd have to watch out for them this time.  As she approached the end of the stone pier, she was sure she could see Rose in the distance but wasn't sure it was her.  She was torn between following whom she thought was Rose or going along and seeing if Alec's car was there or if the curtains were drawn so she decided to risk it, keeping her distance and seeing the woman she thought was Rose turn down a street at the other side of the river but by the time she got to the end, whoever it was had disappeared from view but there in front of a row of cottages that was offset from the street was Alec's car.

Claire could hardly believe she had found where he lived, her gamble had paid off and there was a wall at the end of the street she could sit on until she decided how she could find out which one he lived in and wished there was a better vantage point but she could see when they went out and they wouldn't be expecting her to have discovered where he was now holed up with Rose.  This was getting better and better because the officers wouldn't be looking for her there either and when Alec got no reports she was watching Rose's place, they would let their guard down, which was exactly what she wanted.
Chapter 14
When Rose got inside Alec's cottage, she threw her arms around him.

"Hey sweetheart, what was that for?"

"Sorry about the rushed lunch, it was mad in the salon.  Tomorrow if we go out, I want you to take some photos of us for me to take to work."

"Won't that just add fuel to Claire's fire?"

"No, it's for the benefit of all the seventeen year old spotty kids who come in asking if I have a boyfriend, they may know who you are."

Alec smiled and kissed her forehead.  "Aye, I should think so as well, they have a nerve, I hope you set them right?"

"Yeah, what do ya think?"

"I'll put dinner on then?  It won't take long, I only got something quick then maybe we can go out?"

"Can we just stay in?"

"Sure love, whatever you want.  Why don't you take your things upstairs?"

"Yeah, I brought a dress to change into and that nightdress I had on Thursday night."

"Good though you won't be needing it that much, will you?"

After kissing, Rose went upstairs and left Alec to stir the ingredients he'd bought then after they had eaten, Rose went to get a CD out that she'd brought with her but Alec had picked one up at the supermarket.

"When did you get that?" Rose asked him, looking at the playlist of sixties love songs.  "You old romantic."

Alec grinned and went to put it in the CD player while Rose kicked off her shoes then went for Alec's shirt buttons, fingering them playfully.

"Don't stall Rose."

"I'm not, I just want to tease you, button by button."

Alec was lucky the first track was 'Put your head on my shoulder' so that Rose undid three buttons and left the rest, reaching up to kiss his exposed chest.  By the fifth track, Rose was hanging off his neck, her dress zip undone, Alec's shirt had been tossed on the back of the sofa and she had unzipped the new black jeans he'd bought the other day.  Alec's hands were on her back, he'd already unclasped her bra and she was pressing into him, her dress just about on her shoulders.

"I think we should take this to the sofa, don't you?" Alec asked her, nipping her neck.

She didn't need telling twice as she allowed him to half carry her the short distance then getting down first, Alec pulled her on top of him, pulling the dress off her shoulders and taking her bra with it.  Rose smiled at him as he tried to pull down his jeans whilst retaining his shorts and she wriggled out of her dress.

"I like the fact you bought some jeans Alec."

"Aye, well maybe getting my suit trousers creased was a bit of an incentive eh?"

"I should think so," was all she could say as he took her bra and tossed it on top of his shirt and struggled so her dress fell on the floor, Rose thinking it was fortunate it wasn't the kind of material that would crease easily.

Alec was wasting no time, putting his hands down the back of her cotton underwear, making her gasp as she was trying to kiss his collarbone so she moved her hand and put it under him, doing the same.

"Rose, let's just forget everything tonight eh?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry about last night, really I am."

"Shush, it's ok, come here."

She turned her head to look at him and he pulled her for a kiss and as he did, moved one hand around the front, pulling her underwear down even more then reached for his shorts.

Rose thought it was the most wonderful feeling she'd ever had lately as they made contact without him wearing anything as she called his name and things became more intense as she battled his hand to make more room.

"Rose, I'm not wearing anything darlin'."

"I know, just go a bit further, can you?"

"My pleasure love, just tell me when to stop eh?  How much longer before you can take those pills again?"

"Another week of torture then four or five days after that."

"Why not say two weeks love?  It is torture, trust me but you are worth it Rose."

Rose was already lost in the sensations and couldn't say much back until things became apparent they couldn't settle for what they were doing at present.

"Alec, I don't want to move, do you?"

"Rose, I can't, you know, control these urges for much longer love."

"I know that, just, well just be careful, that's all."

"Oh I will love, you can trust me I won't let things go too far."

He kept his promise as he lowered his shorts awkwardly but Rose really didn't care as the waves crashed over her until he suddenly started to come away from her before it went too far.  They both knew it was risky to carry on until they passed the point of no return but they had already done that once and Rose was wondering if anything was going to come of that.

Rose felt giddy as she felt him break contact, Alec smiling to himself he could still make a woman feel that way, knowing she was giggling because she was happy, not at his failure to complete the process.

"That was so much better, without you wearing anything," Rose sighed.

"Do you think I don't know that?  Maybe we can compromise, until you go back on those pills?"

"I'm more than willing to negotiate terms with you Alec," she smiled.

"I knew you would see things my way.  Shame you left it too late to start on them right away."

"I had no idea I was going to meet someone Alec, it was just with coming here, I thought it had thrown me out of balance but it hadn't and I didn't think about it.  I used to get regular injections so I was completely covered but maybe they don't do them here?"

"Maybe you had to ask?"

"I never thought of that.  I'll go to the clinic again on Monday, see what they say."

"Aye, you do that love and don't worry, nothing will have happened."

She didn't want to say something might have done last Saturday night before they had both thought about it and starting on anything now it would be too late anyway but there was no sense in worrying Alec or herself about it, only time would tell.  They eventually put their underwear back on and helped each other not fall off the sofa, Rose giggling as she almost lost her balance whilst reaching for Alec's shirt to put on to get her upstairs.

Fastening just two buttons, the shirt being far too big for her, Alec stood up and pulling up his jeans, left the zip undone and fingered the shirt buttons.

"My turn Rose?"

Rose giggled again.  "When we get upstairs, then you can claim your shirt back."

"I will love, you can safely bet on that.  Now, about those terms we were going to negotiate?"

"Well, that depends on what I can get out of them at the clinic, doesn't it?   We can talk about it after I go back but maybe when we get upstairs, you can wear something?"

"I really don't want to love, you know that.  Anyway, have you not had enough excitement for one night eh?"

"Huh?  It's you who can't handle the excitement, I hope you took your own pills earlier?"

"I'm not daft Rose, even after last night when all you wanted to do was lay in bed with me and I didn't really blame you for that, I made an agreement with you and I respect that.  You letting me stay over was just a bonus."

"Yeah, I'm sorry about that, it's just with everything else going on, then Claire going all psycho on me."

"I know love, forget about it.  I was going to ask you about tomorrow.  There is going to be a service for Danny Latimer, would you care to attend with me?"

"Our first official outing?"

"If you want?  We don't have to go, though I would be expected to attend, being the senior officer on the case."

"Yeah, I'll go with you and hold your hand.  I don't mind being seen with the town's grumpy detective."

"Less of the grumpy, Miss Scissorhands."

"Cheek, grumpy," she replied, breaking his hold on her and gathering the rest of her clothes and seeing the brand name of his shorts on the waistband.

"I'll tell Ellie Miller what brand of shorts you wear," she teased.

"Do you think she will care?  Really Rose, is that the best you can do?"

"Nope, you have no idea what I can do."

"I just bet I don't.  What have I just set myself up for?"

"Come upstairs and I'll tell you."

"I would rather have a demonstration."

"You need instructions?"

"No, I'm offended you should insinuate I need a diagram, Rose Tyler."

Rose giggled as Alec tried to grab his shirt that she was half wearing.

"I may have to insist you give me that back."

"You'll have to get it first, inspector."

"Oh I will, you can depend on that otherwise I may have to arrest you and hold you in my custody until Monday morning."

"Only until Monday morning?"

"Well, we have an agreement still, do we not?"

Rose had almost forgotten for the time being, she needed that distance between them.  She was getting nowhere with sorting out her feelings for James, Claire was destroying any chance of that because keeping Alec had become her top priority, without him, she would be totally alone.

She never replied as she made her way upstairs, Alec following her and turning off the CD player that had stopped playing a while back and turning out the lights.  After Rose came out of the bathroom and Alec went off, she got ready for bed, thinking he'd want an answer when he came back in but what could she say?

Alec walked into the bedroom in just his shorts, Rose had hung his shirt in the wardrobe.

"You spoiled my fun Rose, I was going to get my shirt back off you.  Is something wrong?"

"No.  Alec, I need those few days, you understand don't you?"

"I understand Rose but how much longer love, eh?"

"I don't know the answer to that Alec, just give me some time.  All this with Claire is just making this more difficult, I can't think straight."

"I know love, it's not easy for me either you do know that?"

Rose nodded and turned to face him as he reached to switch the lamp off.  He put his arm around her and pulled her closer, into his shoulder.

"What's holding you back Rose?  You know how I feel about you, don't you?"

He felt her nodding her head though she remained silent.

"I love you Rose, can't you get over this?"

"I want to," she mumbled.

"Then what is it?"

"I'm scared of losing you Alec, you're all I have in this world, you know that.  I'm scared of what Claire will do and I've not had time to even think about the rest."

"Rose, don't be scared of losing me, I've dealt with a lot worse than Claire Ripley, believe me.  I will put an end to it, Miller wants to meet with her on Monday."

"Are you going to let her?"

"I have no choice, Miller offered to deal with Claire, to get her to back off and I have to let her, I can't deal with her objectively and I am not setting myself up for a visit to the hospital before my appointment on Wednesday.  Miller said she would talk to both of you, if you agree?"

"I don't think it's a good idea, Claire will only tell Ellie a pack of lies."

"Miller knows, she's on your side, she just wants to help resolve the problem.  Trust me, I think she's enjoying the challenge."

"Yeah but neither of you need this, not with a killer in the town.  Alec, you don't think it was Claire's husband do you, who killed Danny?"

He hadn't thought of that.

"What?  Are you being serious Rose?  As far as I know, Ashworth is out of the country."

"Well, what if he found out that Claire had come down here, with you?  Maybe he wanted you to know he was around and poor Danny just got in the way?  You said Danny was killed in that hut we passed last Sunday so what if he was up there, Ashworth was hiding out inside and Danny surprised him?"

Alec suddenly sat up in bed, what Rose was saying was making sense.

"I can't do anything tonight but first thing tomorrow, I'll call my contact and make sure Ashworth is not back in the country then take it from there.  Why did I never think of that?"

"Because I didn't just go dimension hopping where I came from Alec, that's what I used to do, look for things out of the ordinary and you would never have suspected him, would you?  It's almost as impossible as suspecting Ellie's husband."

Alec just 'hmm'd' and settled back, snuggling up to Rose.

"Then we will see who is right because I did suspect Miller's husband."

"When were you going to tell me?"

"Not until I was sure but things are not adding up.  I make a point of not bringing my work home Rose, not after what happened with Tess.  You are not the only one scared of losing someone, I learned my lesson with Sandbrook."

"This isn't Sandbrook Alec," Rose told him, kissing his chest.

"There are people who keep reminding me of my failure there."

"Tell me who they are and I'll sort them out for you."

"I can fight my own battles Rose.  Now since you deprived me of getting my shirt back, I am going to need some compensation.  Your nightdress will do nicely."

"You'd look funny wearing my nightdress to work Alec."

"Very amusing, I was not going to wear it, was I?"

"How do I know what you get up to when I'm not here?" she giggled.

"Right, you are now in serious trouble, Rose Tyler."

"Hey," she protested as he went for the hem and began pulling it up.  "I'm not wearing anything underneath."

"Good.  Neither am I.  Let's just risk it tonight eh?  It's not like anything is really going to happen, with me under you, is it?  I really hate wearing those things."

While they had been dancing earlier then getting close to going over the line of actually having sex on the sofa, Claire had got her last coffee from a nearby stand before it closed then gone for a walk across the footbridge over the river and found herself behind the row of cottages Rose must have gone into but which one was Alec's she wondered?  Walking back over the footbridge, she came upon a shed that was empty and the door slightly opened and thought she could sleep rough for one night, no-one knew her and she always woke early anyway.

Claire went back to the wall, Rose and Alec hadn't gone out, she thought.  She went back to the boatyard where they kept the rowing boats that were for hire during the summer, looking at the row of cottages and wishing she had a clue which one she should be concentrating on.  Just after ten, it had got dark and she was sitting on an upturned rowing boat, having nipped into the pub on the corner, being prepared to say she had been sitting outside with friends if she got caught going into the ladies room.  She saw a few lights go on in what appeared to be the bathroom, since they all had frosted glass and she saw a light in one of the back bedrooms but since Alec and Rose used the front slightly bigger bedroom, unknown to Claire, she was still no closer discovering if it was theirs or not.

Fortunately, it was mild that night but Claire was glad she'd brought her thicker jacket with her and using the light from her phone, found a tarpaulin in the corner of the shed and sat down on it, trying to get comfortable and hoping in the morning, she would see them go out and then knock on a few doors pretending she was looking for them and if only one door wasn't answered before she got to the end, she had hit the jackpot but what was she going to do once she found out which one?

There was another row of cottages just across the way but someone would report her hanging around and she had been left alone all evening, Alec didn't have a clue she had been there all night since he'd not bothered going out.  Come morning, she would go and sit on the wall again, since Alec's car was facing the other way and if she sat slightly out of line so she could see his car but neither he or Rose would see her, they would be none the wiser. 

Then after a quick breakfast, she would try and find out where he lived and on Rose's days off next week, if she thought she was going to hide by leaving her apartment, she was in for a big surprise, even though it would give the game away, it would be worth it.

After breakfast the next morning, Alec made the call to DS Craig back in Sandbrook who had been keeping a check on where Lee Ashworth had got to after he'd walked free from court and reportedly, Claire's husband was somewhere in France and it was suspected Lisa had been hiding somewhere and gone with him.

"Right, OK Craig, you make sure you inform me if he does leave."

Alec turned back to Rose.  "Sorry love, as far as my contact knows, Ashworth has never left France, the passport office have an alert for him if he tries to leave and come back here, I set that up before I left.  I'm no longer bothered though, he can come back and get Claire if he wants, she'll get no protection from me."

"I'm sorry it came to this Alec, if you were just friends, what has she got against me?"

"She's just twisted Rose, I was fooled by her all this time and now, she is showing her true side.  She had more to do with Pippa's death than she told me, I know she did.  Well she can forget it, I'm no longer going to help her pay for the cottage and I'll get Miller to tell her tomorrow that I'm no longer going to assure her safety, she can fend for herself."

"It seems so cruel, leaving her to be found by him."

"She has been nothing but trouble since we met Rose and you are feeling sorry for her?  You are too soft."

"Yeah, maybe I am but travelling with the Doctor, he always gave everyone a choice, no matter what it was."

"I did give her a choice Rose, she chose to go after you despite my warning her off.  You think her being off work yesterday was because I embarrassed her?  No, she will have spent the day plotting and I would bet anything she has been evading those two officers outside your apartment all night."

"She won't have seen any lights on, would she?"

"She wouldn't have known that until it got dark and got the last bus home."

"I hope so but she'll be back on the first one this morning."

"Then just be glad we are going out for the day.  We'll go to the church first, so everyone can talk about the grumpy detective and the hairdresser, then we'll go somewhere quiet, have some lunch and get a few groceries on the way back."

"Maybe you can find somewhere out of town to solve our problem tonight?"

"Such as?  I'm not up to date with all these modern ways of taking precautions, you were lucky I remembered how to use the other things."

"I could always have drawn you a diagram," Rose giggled as she got her jacket so they could set off for the church.

"Rose, I can't even follow the instruction to put up a wardrobe from Ikea, I'm more of a 'hands on' person, I need to be shown."

"Well I hope you learn things quickly then?"

"Oh aye, on most things but when it comes to that, well I may need a few lessons before I get the gist of it."

"I'm sure you do but there are a few things you don't need lessons on and I'm not telling you what they are, it's Sunday."

"I have a very good imagination I'll have you know," he smiled, picking up his mobile and car keys.

"Yeah, I'm sure you have.  You can show me later."

"It's Sunday."

Alec pulled up by the church, just managing to find a spot because there were loads of cars belonging to reporters that Rose hadn't reckoned on being there and tried to shy away from them by grabbing Alec's arm and burying her face into it.

"Camera shy?  I thought you wanted to be seen with the grumpy detective?"

"In case you had forgotten how I got here Alec, my old friends and relatives back in London will be a bit surprised to see me on the front page, won't they?"

"Sorry, I never thought about that," he replied as they walked up the steps into the churchyard, cameras clicking all around them until someone shouted "Mark, Beth" behind them and they all dashed off.

Ellie and her family were talking to Paul Coates.

"Ah, look who's here," Ellie greeted them.  "Got through the horde of reporters?"

"Just about, Rose is camera shy aren't you love?"

Rose offered a weak smiled and held her hand out as Paul greeted her.

"Nice to meet you Rose, welcome to Broadchurch and St Bedes."

Ellie dashed off to warn the reporters to leave the Latimers alone.  As Mark, Beth and Chloe approached them, another woman stepped out from behind Paul and joined them.

"Who's that?" Rose asked Alec as he ushered Rose towards the entrance.

"Beth Latimer's mother, Danny's grandmother.  We should wait and let them go in first, their friends will already be inside."

Rose looked around and saw a tall man talking to Mark.

"That's Nigel Carter, he works with Mark," Paul informed her, looking at Alec as Nigel had also been singled out for Alec's interrogations.

Rose saw Ellie's youngest getting out of his pushchair and letting go of Alec, approached the youngster.

"Hello Fred you're awake today."

Fred looked at his dad and then at Tom.

"Hi again Tom.  This must be sad for you?"

Tom could only nod, looking also at his dad while Alec observed them.  Ellie had joined her family and the Latimers stopped as they passed by.

"Detective inspector, we weren't expecting you today," Beth told him.

Alec thought he hadn't expected himself to be here either but this was a test, to see if Rose was accepted into the community and maybe now, he would.

"Mrs Latimer, this is Rose Tyler, my girlfriend.  She wanted to show her respects."

"Mrs Latimer, nice to finally meet you."

"I know you, you work in the hairdressers, I saw you there last week," Beth's mother interrupted.

"Yeah, I remember you, you're Mrs Roper."

"We should all go inside," Paul informed them.

Rose took Alec's arm and let him lead her inside, following the Latimers and Ellie's family and then choosing to sit at the back, Rose thinking he wanted to make a rather hasty retreat.  While they had been talking, Alec had not seen Becca Fisher go past and had the misfortune to be spotted by the hotel owner helping Rose into a pew.  Becca couldn't resist turning around.

"Hello, who's your friend then?"

"Not now Becca."

Rose nudged him.  "Don't be rude Alec.  Hi, I'm Rose, Alec's girlfriend."

Alec knew that was the end of any anonymity he hoped they might have, now the town's main source of gossip had seen them but then he saw the newspaper editor plus Miller's nosy nephew and so he resigned himself to being on the front page of the local paper after all.
Chapter 15
When Rose and Alec had got into the car, Claire had been watching from her new vantage point, until a food stall holder indicated he wanted to put his chairs and tables where she was sitting so she had to move to where she had been the night before.  She noticed neither of them had turned around, Rose seemed to be laughing at something and Alec had kissed her cheek as she got into the car, then they drove off.

Thinking it was bit early to start knocking on doors, since they had only just gone out and may have be seen, she went to get some breakfast, hoping her wage had been paid into the bank and thankfully, the day she'd had off yesterday wouldn't show until next week but now Alec had withdrawn the portion he paid for the cottage, she would have to be careful as a payment would have already been taken out yesterday for a week's rent since Alec had arranged for it to be paid from her debit card.

She wished she could have conned him into putting it in his name, then she wouldn't have to worry next week.  The only advantage was, she could move whenever she wanted and stop the payments by ringing the bank and giving the reference number then leave the key with a neighbour.

Just after eleven, Claire decided to begin her search for Alec's cottage, getting no answer from the first door or the second, got a woman at No.3 who said she had only seen a man go in and out next door but had no idea who lived at No.1 so Claire thanked her and tried the next two cottages, both men saying they had no idea when she told them she was looking for a Scottish detective.

"Never spoken to anyone with a Scottish accent," the man at number 5 told her which left no answer at number six so she was no nearer eliminating other residents.

All she could do was hope the next time she saw Rose, she could walk undetected behind her and peek around the corner. 

Disappointed, she went back to sit on the wall after crossing the road to use the ladies room, then discovered the pub had opened so she could have used theirs but she wanted to keep that in reserve, if she decided to stay late but the last bus on Sundays was earlier and she really needed to go home and get some proper sleep, to face her boss in the morning. 

Maureen would be more than upset at her having Saturday off, after the days off swapping so she would have to still lay it on a bit and give the excuse she'd eaten some bad fish from one of the catering stalls.  That was not what she planned on telling Rose though and if that didn't put her off Alec, then even more drastic action would have to be taken.

Back at the church, Alec wanted to be one of the first ones out but Rose said it would be rude to just sneak off, especially when there were a horde of reporters sitting on their car hoods, just waiting for someone going out.

"We'll wait then," Alec agreed, watching Joe Miller carry his youngest son up the aisle.

"Why have you been watching him for the last hour or so?" Rose asked Alec quietly.

"Why do you think?  I don't trust a man who stays at home to look after the kids."

"I'll have to remember that."

Then he was wondering why she couldn't tell him she loved him.

"Should I add something to that?"

Rose nudged him to say she knew what he meant.  Alec just raised his eyebrows and got up, pulling Rose with him.

"Let's get out of here," he leaned back to whisper to her as Becca turned as she got up.

"Aren't you going to introduce us?" Becca asked him.

"Rose this is Becca Fisher, owner of the Trader's Hotel, Becca, this is Rose Tyler, my girlfriend."

"Hi Rose, I think I've seen you in the High Street, do you work in the hairdresser's?"

"Yeah, I've seen you outside, nice to meet you."

"Come on Rose, you two can chat another time."

Rose just shrugged her shoulders and followed him.

"Are you trying to make friends Alec?"

"I don't need any friends, especially the local hotel owner.  Did I tell you she was with Mark Latimer the night his son died?"

"No but you said you never bring your work home with you."

"Good point, shall we keep it that way?"

Outside, people were still talking, Ellie and Beth were together, Rose thinking that Beth looked like she was expecting and Alec tried to sneak past them but didn't get away with it.

"Inspector, would you and Rose like to join us all for lunch?" Beth asked him.

"We have plans but thank you all the same," Alec replied, not even asking Rose what she thought.

"Another time then?"

"Perhaps."

He didn't think it was such a good idea to be dining with his DS, let alone the family of the murder victim.  Once back at the car though, Rose told him to lighten up.

"She was only being polite Alec," Rose told him as she put her seatbelt on.

"Yes, then word gets around and they will expect special treatment.  It was already a bad idea to go to the Miller house the other night."

"You just wanted to show me off."

"Yes, if the truth were to be told, I wanted to prove I wasn't what Miller thought I was."

"What does Ellie think you are?" Rose smiled as he tried to dodge several reporters who were less interested in them and scurrying back to where the Latimers were coming down the steps.

"Don't you think you should go warn those reporters off Alec?"

"No, Miller seemed to do an adequate job earlier."

"So, what does Ellie think you are then?"

"No matter, I proved her wrong."

Rose put her hand on his knee.  She had a pretty good idea what his DS had said about him.  They drove up to the next town and finding a café, had a quick snack then went to look around the shops, Rose was worried though about him walking up the hill.  They came to a pharmacy that was open and stood outside.

"Well, are you going in?" Rose asked him slyly, nudging him with her arm.

"For what?  I have no idea what else you want me to get Rose."

"Something other than what you've already got."

"It was embarrassing enough getting those, trust me."

"Well, no-one knows you here, do they?"

Alec stood for a moment, Rose looking at him.  He was doing this as much for her as he was for himself, things would go too far after last night when neither of them would care whether he was taking responsibility or not and in the back of his mind, last Saturday night had been the exception.  He may be suffering from a bad heart but the way Rose treated him, he could survive anything.

He took her hand and they walked inside but he got cold feet as they approached the section he wanted.

"Go find yourself some nice perfume love, my treat," he told her, going into his pocket for his wallet.

Rose smiled.  "Don't you need any help?"

"No, I'll manage.  Please love, this is bad enough as it is.  Do they have a self-checkout?"

Rose was trying her best not to burst out laughing.

"Honestly Alec, you're behaving like a schoolboy, just go over and find something, I'm sure they sell loads a day, no-one will remember you."

"In case you forgot, I have been on the news," he informed her, taking a note from his wallet.  "Buy something nice love, I won't be long."

She watched him walk off, pretending he was confident but knowing full well he wasn't.  Still smiling to herself, she headed off to the perfume department, leaving Alec to get on with it but she couldn't resist glancing across the store as he looked at the shelf he wanted.  Alec was thinking how could there be so many brands of one simple item, weren't they all the same and served the same purpose?  It had been so long since he'd needed anything like that and now he'd found himself with a much younger girlfriend, it was something he'd have to put up with for a few more weeks because neither of them wanted any of the alternatives.

Eventually, after Rose going to find him, wandering around looking for her, they went off for a late lunch and Rose got him to admit no-one had actually cared when he'd gone to pay for what he had chosen.

"Aw, see, I told ya," Rose laughed as he admitted it.

"Yes, well, Miss know it all, how was I to know?"

"They only take notice of what you buy if you have a loyalty card."

"Good thing I've not got one then eh?" he smiled back as he studied the menu, his glasses perched on his nose.

"They make you look cute Alec," Rose remarked.

After lunch, Rose persuaded him to take a walk along the walkway surrounding the harbour though he made her walk on the outside, then they sat down at the end.

"It was nice to get away for a few hours Alec."

"Aye, let's hope our friend back in Broadchurch has been having as good a day, if she went back."

"I thought we were forgetting about her for today?"

"Sorry love.  She's getting in our way again, I promise Miller will sort her out."

"We shouldn't be depending on other people sorting out our problems Alec."

"Believe me, if there was another way, I would take it but Claire obviously does not want to take notice of me.  With Miller, she will have no other choice.  It has to stop one way or another."

"I'm sorry Alec, I'm sorry she's been getting in the way of other things."

"I know love, I know that's been holding you back and we will stick to our arrangement until you have time to sort things out."

"Thanks, for understanding."

She put her hand on his beard, then kissed him.  "You're a good man Alec, I wish the Doctor could have met you."

"Maybe he did."

"You would have known, remember?"

"Not if he had changed Rose.  What if I met him, what if he brought you here, to meet me?"

"I thinks that's obvious, don't you?  He never explained how he set me up with that apartment, he said it was Mickey but now I think about it, how would Mickey have known?"

"Have you only just worked that one out eh?"

"We're not all great detectives, show-off.  How did he know I was coming back though?"

"Seriously?  You found him, remember?  He could have arranged all that while he was bringing you to the right year.  Then he dropped you off, found me and made sure we met.  I got the job offer out of the blue, I just asked for a transfer, I had no idea until the last minute where I was going, it could have been anywhere."

"You could be right, it would be just like him to ruffle someone's feathers and get you the job at Ellie's expense."

"She will get over it.  There is just one flaw though, he would not have known about Claire." 

"Yeah, remind me to thank him for not knowing about that.  I hardly told him anything though, I'd been so mad at him for leaving me again, even with James but he seemed disappointed things didn't work out between us."

"Then maybe he wanted to make it up to you?"

"By bringing you to Broadchurch but how did he find you?"

"I had been in the news over Sandbrook and I did not have a beard back then."

Rose smiled, putting her arm around his neck.

"I'll take your word for that then.  I think we are right Alec, it's too much of a coincidence but it still doesn't solve my own problem.  When I came here, I had the option of going back and for the time being, I'm stuck here, just like I was when I was, well you know where."

"Oh, so you don't like being stuck here with me?"

"I never said that Alec.  If I have to be stuck somewhere, I'd rather be stuck with you.  Just no conversations about houses and mortgages though."

"A bit soon to bring that up love."

"Yeah, long story.  You've already got a place and so have I."

"Yes and until you sort out things in your mind, we will do what we did last week but you stay with me on your days off and the weekend, it will keep Claire away if she chooses not to talk to Miller tomorrow."

"Are you giving Ellie her number?"

"She already has it, Miller will call her before she starts work in the morning.  Don't worry love, I already told you, she is on your side."

"That was before we turned down lunch with her friend."

"It will make no difference, it would have been a bad idea to accept."

"So, does she want to meet both of us?  I'm not walking down with Claire."

"No, just make your way down as normal, I won't be there though, I have to leave it to Miller."

"Yeah, I get that.  I'll go, I'll leave the clinic until my day off then shall I since you found what you wanted."

"Not funny Rose," he replied, looking at the small plastic bag next to Rose's shopping bags.

They made their way back to Broadchurch but as Alec turned into the street, he thought he saw Claire sat at the end but didn't want to upset Rose.  They'd had a nice day out, forgetting everything and hopefully tonight, she might tell him that she loved him but that was about to be spoiled.

He went to the passenger door and retrieved the shopping bags then as Rose reached the pavement, he told her to take them inside.

"What's wrong Alec?"

"Nothing love, I just thought I saw Claire sitting on the wall down there."

Rose looked but couldn't see anyone.  "Leave it Alec, let's not spoil the day."

"I'll just walk to the end, it may not have even been her."

"Shall I come with you?"

"No, you go inside, I won't be long.  Go on, I'll be fine, I just want to see then I'll call the station, have them make sure she gets on the next bus."

"Well just you be careful, you don't want to go to hospital before your appointment, do you?"

Alec smiled.  "No love, I'll be fine, I had enough of her the other night, remember?"

Alec locked the car and walked off down the street, Rose debating whether to follow him or not but went up the short path instead.  She was about to unlock the door when the woman next door came out.

"Oh, hello dearie, someone was asking about the man who lives there earlier, said she was a friend of his."

"Did she have a Welsh accent by any chance?" Rose asked the woman.

"Yes, she did but she seemed a bit dodgy to me so I said I didn't know who lived there, he's always out anyway.  He hasn't lived here that long, are you his girlfriend?"

"Yeah, I'm Rose, don't you recognise him?"

"Should I?"

"Never mind then, thanks for telling me, I'll let him know."

"Is she a friend of yours?"

"No, not exactly, she works with me, that's all."

"I thought she was a bit pushy.  Nice to meet you Rose, I'm Phyllis.  Who is he then?"

Since Alec hadn't been there long and was a bit of a recluse, she saw no harm in saying.

"He's the detective in charge of the investigation into that young boy's death on the beach."

"Oh, is that him?  He's Scottish isn't he?  Like I said, I've never talked to him."

Rose smiled and said goodbye.  Down at the end of the street, there was no sign of Claire, Alec looking across the road and across the other side of the river that came to an end at the road bridge and continued behind the row of cottages.

Claire had seen him get out of the car and look in her direction and had crossed the road and disappeared into the catering area.  She intended getting something to eat by now anyway so she hid out of sight and went to order some food, hoping he wouldn't go up that far but she was opposite the police station and hoped the two officers who knew her were not on duty yet.

Alec could do nothing but walk back to the cottage since he'd lost sight of her.  There was no point in calling the station yet since he had no idea where she had gone, he would call later and if the two same officers were on duty tonight, he would make sure they checked the end of the street as well as the shelter.

Rose was getting worried until she heard the door opening.

"Did you find her?"

"No, she disappeared across the road somewhere, I'll call the station later."

"Alec, she must have followed me last night, she must have been lucky and seen me by the caravan park."

"Aye, that's the only way she would have found out.  Don't blame yourself love, she would have found out sooner or later.  After tomorrow when Miller's talked to her, things should ease off."

"What if she takes no notice?"

"Then Miller won't mess around with her, Claire will be given a final warning to stay away or charges will be brought against her."

"I hope it doesn't come to that, will I have to file a complaint against her?"

"Yes, if it was you she followed, I don't really think she would try to follow me."

"Your next door neighbour said Claire had been asking about you this morning, she must have seen us going out."

"Damn, she must have got here early then, maybe she found somewhere to sleep rough, she would not have paid for a taxi, you should have heard her on Friday night, claiming she barely had enough money to pay the rent now, then she has the nerve to take the next day off."

Rose patted his shoulder.  "Forget about her Alec, she's no match for Ellie."

"I hope you are right.  Did you buy anything nice when you went off?"

"Just that perfume, I'll save it for if we go out."

"Then Wednesday night, after my appointment, we will go somewhere out of town."

Claire had come out of her hiding place and gone back to sit on the wall, hoping they weren't going out but would Alec have already told those officer where she had been sitting?

Just after eight, Alec called the station, after he and Rose had done some serious kissing on the sofa and he'd got her down to her underwear, Rose insisting they waited until they went to bed for anything else.

"So you are willing to let me try what I bought earlier then?" he asked, helping her put her top back on and trying to fasten his shirt.

"Yeah, I will go to the clinic, see what I can do but they may not be very helpful, I already got something but I can't use them yet."

"Yes, you already told me love.  We have to talk though because I need to know how you feel about me, you've kept very quiet about it."

"I know and I'm sorry Alec, really I am.  All this with Claire, well since I met you, I've not had time to decide, if I want to go back when my device starts to work again or not."

"I know your family are back there, I understand you are anxious to see them again but it may not have been that long for them, maybe only a few days."

"I could never work it out but yeah, it won't have been a week for them just yet, it's longer for me that's all.  I never stayed anywhere this long.  When my device starts to work, I'll have a better idea though James sent me to the wrong year but I'm sure that was unintentional and I'll go back to just after I left."

"Yes and what happens then eh?  Will you come back again and if you do, to the right year, to me?"

Rose knew it was bothering him though he'd not said anything about it since she had told him.

"If you'd asked me that the other night, I would have given you an answer, yes, I would have gone back but return again?  To Claire doing this to us?"

"Then she would have won, that is exactly what she wants Rose, for you to disappear.  Where does that leave me eh?"

"I was gonna say I changed my mind since then, she can't win, I can't let her.  Once she backs off, for good, I can sort the rest out.  How long do I wait though, until I go back?  I left in hurry Alec, I just wanted to put as much distance between myself and James as I could and get some answers but I never got any answers, how could I have asked the Doctor when he'd changed?"

"He is still James's brother Rose or is he his twin, clone, whatever.  He grew out of severed hand Rose, what does it make him?"

"Enough to be exactly the same in every detail, he remembered everything we did together, even before he changed on me the first time and he also remembered everything up until I went back to find him.  James described himself as a duplicate, it was better than what he wanted to call himself, an anomaly.  He said there had never been a metacrisis before and it was hardly likely there would be another one.  I don't know why the Doctor wouldn't tell me how he'd changed though, did anything happen here in the last few years?"

"You mean aside from planets in the sky and that crazy Christmas everyone thought they were someone else?"

"What?  Why did you never tell me Alec?"

"Because you had enough to deal with and it's over."

"Then tell me what happened."

"Another planet appeared in the sky, after everyone was affected by some kind of illusion, I forget the details.  Some say the old Prime Minister came back but he's been dead for years, his wife went mad and shot him, apparently, there was never a public trial but she was locked up, in Broadfell Women's Prison and funnily enough, it was destroyed by an explosion, just before that red planet appeared in the sky."

"Did you say a red planet?"

"Why, do you know which one?  Some say it was Mars for some strange reason."

"Alec, did it look like it was on fire?"

"I never saw it, you can look it up online but Daisy said something about it."

"It was Gallifrey, the Timelords came back for some reason but they can't have done, they were lost, in the Time War."

"Well some must have got away but how can a planet appear in the sky?"

"Well you had 26 of them before.  Still, James wouldn't have known about that, maybe that's why the Doctor kept quiet, he more or less threw me out of the Tardis, he seemed in a hurry.  I wanted to ask him so much but one look at him and I knew my Doctor had gone.  I was lucky the first time but he thought I'd be happy with James."

"You can't blame him love, you went looking for him and you got to keep a part of him.  It maybe never occurred to him you wanted the real thing."

"Yeah, he maybe genuinely thought we'd be happy and we were, once we got over a few things."

"Those things are still holding you back Rose, I know you still need time but just for tonight, let me show you how I feel about you.  What do you say?"

Rose leaned over and touched his beard.  "Don't ever get rid of that completely, will you?"

"For you love, no, I'll keep it."

"It makes you look dead cute and sexy."

He raised his eyebrows, questioning her judgement.

"I don't know about either of those attributes Rose, don't think you are getting away with not telling me what you really feel."

Claire had been trying to dodge the two officers, who had been told she had been seen hanging around on the wall at the side of the pub on the corner after Alec rang the station.  She knew they would catch up with her and she needed to go home, well it wouldn't be her home much longer, what was the point in keeping it now?

No, she would keep it until the end of next week and pack up and leave, not that she had much to take with her anyway, just a few belongings and her most treasured one that she kept on her all the time for fear Lee would discover where she lived and turned the cottage upside down looking for it.

The two officers caught up with her just before the last bus turned up.

"Don't worry, I'm leaving," she told them as she saw the bus come around the corner.

"Then we'll stay until it leaves Miss Ripley."

Claire was annoyed they now knew her name after Friday night when Alec had given her a warning.

"Suit yourselves, have you got nothing better to do than be Alec Hardy's personal lackeys?" she smirked, fishing her bus pass out of her jacket pocket.

"You were told to stay away Miss, you were seen watching Miss Tyler earlier."

"Can't I sit on a wall drinking coffee now?"

The bus door opened and a few people got off so Claire just gave them a grin and got on, thankfully it was reasonably light so she wouldn't nearly miss her stop as she had rung the bell just in time the other night.  Sitting at the back again, she began plotting how to get Alec back and how to wear Rose down and already had a few ideas that wouldn't take too much effort.  Now she had to step up her plans if she was going to be leaving at the weekend and she would take Rose Tyler down before she left – that would destroy Alec at the same time for bringing her to that awful cottage and abandoning her.
Chapter 16
Monday morning, it was back to reality after a rather passionate night for Rose and Alec, Rose saying he was never going back to wearing anything though still not saying she loved him but Alec knew it was only a matter of time before she did, he could wait.  Claire had just caught the bus, she couldn't afford to have another day off and since her boss hadn't called to say she was fired, assumed she still had a job.  She heard her phone start ringing, not recognising the number and wondered if it was Alec using his work number to try to fool her.

"I know it's you Alec, don't think I don't."

"Oh no, it's not DI Hardy, this is DS Ellie Miller, Broadchurch police.  I assume you're Claire then?"

"What did you want?"

"I need to speak with you, can you meet me during your lunch break, across from the police station?"

"I have better things to do in my lunch break, is it compulsory?"

"If you want to make it so but at the moment, it's just an informal chat, me, you and Rose Tyler."

"I'm not meeting with her, she stole Alec away from me did he tell you that?"

"I'm neutral in all this, I'm just trying to keep the peace.  So, I'll be waiting across from the station after twelve thirty, don't make me have someone fetch you."

"You said it was voluntary."

"It is, I'm letting you make your own way there.  I'll be honest with you Claire, the only reason I'm getting involved is because in case you haven't been following the news, the town is at the centre of a murder investigation and you getting Hardy caught up with your personal grudge against his new girlfriend is not helping so, we talk it out and see if we can resolve it."

"Then tell his new girlfriend it’s her own fault and I'm not dragging Alec into it, she is."

Ellie didn't have time for this right now, her youngest son was throwing a tantrum and she had to set off for work. 

Rose was kissing Alec goodbye outside her apartment.

"So, you will meet with Miller?" he asked her.

"Yeah I'll give it a go just for you."

"Then I will see you on Wednesday evening, come round to my place and we'll make dinner."

"How about lunch tomorrow?  I did agree to the odd lunch date."

Alec smiled and leaned down to kiss her cheek.  "Aye, you did.  Until tomorrow then?" he asked, kissing the back of her hand.  "I love you Rose, last night was the best time we've had."

"Yeah, it was kinda special.  Don't you want me to come to the hospital with you?"

"Oh, yes I almost forgot.  I will have to say I have some leads to follow.  Meet me at my place at one?"

"Sure Alec, I hope you get some good news."

"So do I love, now, I had best go, I have to tell Miller about Claire's latest attempt."

Claire was not happy as she got off the bus in the High Street and seeing Rose cross the road and heading for the salon.  It had seemed longer than a week since her so-called friend had betrayed her, just because she'd made a mistake and invited Rose to her cottage after forgetting Alec had said he may call in.  Now she was paying for it in more ways than one and so would Rose.  She had no intention of going willingly to this 'informal' chat with Alec's DS, she had better things to do at lunchtime.

Rose had gone into the staffroom and tried to ignore Claire as she more or less followed her in but Maureen saw Claire and called her over.

"Claire, I take it you're well enough to work?"

"Yeah, ate something on my way home on Friday night, it must have been off."

"Yes, well, I already spoke to Rose on Saturday so I'm telling you now, whatever is going on between the two of you with this falling out, it has to stop.  The girls are getting tired of it and I've heard both sides of the story.  To me, it seems you just can't accept that Rose is seeing someone you claim you used to go out with but I've seen no real evidence that was the case, Rose says you and Alec Hardy were just friends."

"Yeah, well she would say that, wouldn't she?  Fine, I'll keep it out of the salon then."

"Good, now you'd better get ready and I know you called me but try not to get ill on a Saturday, everyone has to cover if someone is off.  You're lucky we're not as busy as we normally are during the summer, with this murder investigation going on."

Alec had beaten Ellie to the station and motioned her into his office as she arrived.

"Have you spoken the Claire?" he asked her as she sat down.

"Yeah, just before I set off, she didn't seem very happy.  I don't think she'll show up, even if Rose does."

"Well Rose is willing to meet with you though things changed since I told you to go ahead.  Claire found out where I live, more or less but not which number, thankfully.  She was sitting on the wall at the end of the street as we got back yesterday."

"She doesn't give up, does she?  Did she follow you or Rose?"

Alec raised his eyebrows.  "Who do you think Miller?  She must have got lucky and seen Rose walk the other way to my place and followed her."

"I'll say that was lucky for her then.  So, do you want me to pick them up?"

"Just Claire, I see no point in getting them both to meet with you, I'll leave Rose a message and tell her not to bother."

"Suit yourself but I'm making it my personal mission to make Claire see sense, you need to concentrate on this investigation, Sir."

"Yes, I agree with you but it's not doing Rose any good either, she's already messed up as it is."

"That's your department, I've only agreed to deal with Claire on the condition you take your mind off it and catch Danny's killer."

Alec almost had a mind to say he had someone at the top of his list of suspects.  Instead, he let Ellie get to work and sent a text for Rose not to bother meeting Ellie and said for her not to show any interest when she left the salon if Claire was being picked up, preferably in a squad car.

Rose had to smile at break time, pouring hot water into the cup and then adding milk to the coffee.  Amber had her break at the same time.

"From your boyfriend?"

"Yeah.  I owe you all an apology for getting you caught up in our squabbles."

"Nah, it's quite amusing but Maureen isn't so pleased."

"I know, she told me before I left on Saturday.  Claire shouldn't bring it to work with her, it's between me and her though why she's acting like that, I've no idea."

"Well if it's any consolation, we don't believe what she's coming out with, we all saw how you and Alec Hardy behaved around each other last Tuesday, we all thought you were gonna snog his face off when you were trimming his beard."

Rose laughed as she got up to rinse her cup.  "So did I, it was very tempting, I'd best not ask him in again."

Just before Rose was due to go to lunch, she could see Claire was getting edgy and knew she was getting nervous about meeting with Ellie.  She had been prepared to go along but if Alec thought there was no longer any need, she would stay away though after what had happened last night, she was tempted to have lunch with him and a repeat tonight but it wouldn't solve any of her problems. 

She thought about just going with her instincts, that somehow it had been arranged she would meet Alec, he needed her and she needed him, that much was apparent but it wasn't that simple, she had left her family behind, left James in a fit of temper for breaking his promise but she had only done what he had – gone off to find the other Doctor to get an explanation and was no nearer finding out.

Should she just call him and tell him she wanted to see him tonight?  No, she would give herself a bit more time to think about it, providing Ellie could successfully get Claire off their backs and give her a chance.

Ellie had decided to go personally to meet Claire, having been given a description and being told Claire had a strong Welsh accent.  Since Alec had said there was very little chance Claire would go voluntarily and Ellie wanted to get this over and done with, she was prepared to make the extra effort so just before twelve thirty, she had parked outside the newspaper office and walked the short distance to the salon.

As Claire came out, she had no idea the woman in the bright orange coat was waiting for her but as Ellie approached, she had an idea it was the detective sergeant whom had called her earlier.

"Are you Claire Ripley?" Ellie asked, seeing Rose come out behind her but not showing her any sign of recognition, which was fine with Rose.

"Don't tell me, you didn't trust me to make my own way down to meet you then?"

Ellie thought it was more like Hardy who didn't trust her to make her own way down and after meeting her, couldn't really blame him.

"Shall we go to the café a few doors down instead?" Ellie asked her.

"Suit yourself, I don't have a lot of money for eating in posh cafés though."

Ellie thought that was really her own fault, Alec had told her he'd stopped paying towards Claire's rent and she'd skipped work last Saturday.

"Fine, we'll go down to one of the food stalls then."

She indicated for Claire to get in the car and Rose crossed the road, going down to her usual place and seeing if Alec was standing on the balcony, which she half hoped he was but he'd take it the wrong way and think she was on her way to making her mind up about him.

Ellie parked in the car park outside the pub and she and Claire walked over to one of the food stalls, Claire just ordering a bottle of Coke and some chips and they sat at one of the tables, Claire deciding she was going to let Ellie do all the talking.

"So Claire, what's all this about then?  I've heard Alec Hardy's and Rose's versions so what's your story?"

"Did he tell you he's hiding me from my husband?"

"Yes, he also told me there has never been anything between the two of you and up until you introduced him to Rose, things were somewhat different.  Did you introduce them on purpose or did you never intend for them to meet and it backfired on you?"

Claire sipped from her bottle.  "I forgot Alec was coming to visit the day Rose was at my place, now I'm paying for it.  He's cut me off Ellie, I can call you that?"

"Yeah, it's fine, better than he calls me, by my surname all the time.  He told me he got you that cottage but all these problems you've been causing him, you can't blame him for wanting to distance himself from you.  Have you thought how it's affecting him and Rose?  What don't you get Claire?"

"Huh?  I get everything, that he brought me to that awful cottage and just dumped me down there and left me to get on with it."

"Most people would do that Claire, just get on with it."

"I lost everything, gave up my husband because Alec told me he knew he was guilty.  Now he's after me, for turning on him and Alec promised to look after me."

"That's not my concern Claire and it's no excuse for starting all this with Rose, she has nothing to do with it."

"She has everything to do with it, I never see Alec now."

"Yes and you know why, stalking his girlfriend.  Look Claire, if you weren't interested in him before, why wait until he starts seeing Rose?"

Claire couldn't answer.

"Take my advice Claire, apologise to both of them and I'm sure they will still want to be friends with you."

Claire didn't want that, not any more, she had tried to get Alec interested in her at one point but had failed and had to be content with him being her friend but the green-eyed monster had emerged through one simple mistake and now she couldn't let it go.  She had to try and fool Ellie though.

"Ok, I get it, I won't keep trying to break them up but I'm still not happy.  When Alec brought me here and I got that job, I thought I had a friend in Rose and she left me to go with Alec."

"They don't see each other every day, you could still be friends with Rose, if you wanted?  Just stop following her and making her nervous and making up stories about you and Alec Hardy."

"How do you know they're stories?"

"Come on Claire, they were just for Rose's benefit and they have to stop."

"Ok, you win, I'll back off."

Ellie just hoped she would keep her word.

As Rose had ordered her lunch, Alec had been standing at the door leading onto the balcony so he could see her but he didn't think she would be able to see him over the top of the panel from where she was.  He was having second thoughts about just going down and joining her, they were having lunch tomorrow anyway and despite them spending most of the last week together, he knew in a normal relationship there were some days they wouldn't see each other but what was normal about theirs?

He went back inside and was about to sneak out of the rear exit when he got a message: 'Bet you're standing on the balcony watching me?'

Alec had to smile.  He just replied with 'Lucky guess, I'll be over in five'

After he had greeted Rose with a kiss on the cheek, having lunch and not mentioning Claire, he walked to the path where she walked back to work, Alec thinking she didn't have a long enough lunch break for his liking, since twenty minutes were spent with her walking up and down but she refused a ride in case Claire had got back.

"So, I will see you tomorrow lunchtime or did we meet today instead?"

"That was spur of the moment, I'm entitled to be spontaneous," Rose smiled, reaching to kiss his cheek.  "Your beard's growing back."

"Yes, well after you left this morning, I did not have time for a shave and I did not expect to be seeing you."

"I'll let you off then and yes, I'll meet you tomorrow at the same time.  Bye Alec."

"Bye love, take care and don't let Claire in if she happens to call at your place on her way home and pull the curtains over."

"I will, don't worry.  Now I'll be late back if I don't go now."

"Go on then, you can always blame me.  I love you Rose."

Rose smiled and let go of his hand.  How much longer would he wait and keep telling her that?  How long would he be prepared to let her decide how she felt about him?  Claire had gone back to work and was sulking in the staffroom when Rose walked in with a minute to spare.  It wasn't easy rushing up that path by the hotel even though she was reasonably fit.

Claire got up and brushed past her.

"Thanks for that – mate," Claire hissed, bumping Rose's elbow.

Amber was just approaching them and saw what had happened as Claire rushed past her.

"Are you ok Rose?  What was that about?"

Rose just shook her head.  "Don't get involved Amber, it's nothing, something else must have disagreed with her."

When it came to home-time, Rose decided she would walk the long way home and cut along the back road to her apartment, she didn't fancy a confrontation with Claire on the path down to the esplanade but as she reached Claire's bus stop, she heard her behind calling her name.

"Don't think you got away with that," Claire called as her bus approached.

Rose didn't deem to answer, Alec had already told her at lunchtime not to get into a provoked confrontation with Claire, he'd said it wasn't worth it and Rose knew he was right, she was already upset and things wouldn't improve until she started to ignore all the snide remarks that would be thrown in her direction.  As the bus passed, she saw Claire staring out of the window at her, which didn't help so she went into a café that was still open and ordered a latte, in case Claire decided to get off when the bus reached the harbour.

Alec had been worried all afternoon as he felt Ellie had failed in her mission.  She had gone into his office on her return from her meeting with Claire and told him what had happened.

"So you think she will take no notice then?" Alec had asked Ellie.

"Personally, no, she's a real piece of work and I don't want to seem rude but why the hell have you been helping her?"

"It was a long time ago Miller and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I wanted her to confess her part in the youngest girl's murder and turn in her husband in return for leniency."

"So you think she played a major part, not an innocent bystander?"

"Oh yes Miller but not at first but over time, she had to be more involved than she claimed, which was first she was out all night then she'd returned home and found Ashworth cleaning the house.  I need you to do something else for me."

"No way Sir, I'm not getting involved in your little love triangle, thanks very much.  If she still follows Rose, I'll warn her again but that's it, the rest is up to you."

"Shush Miller, it's not a love triangle, there is and never was a me and Claire Ripley, she's deluded on that score.  No, I want you to ask her, if you see her again what really happened that night."

"She won't talk to me over that, not after I warned her to leave Rose alone."

"That's exactly why she will talk to you, she will trip herself up and when she does, I want you there to catch her.  Look Miller, you have no interest in Sandbrook and she knows it, she will make more mistakes, trust me."

"Well if she goes after Rose again, I'll give her a formal warning or do you want me to caution her?"

"That's up to you to decide, do whatever is necessary to keep her away from Rose.  I met her for lunch today and we had agreed we would leave it as it was."

"That's good then, do you think she's starting to come around?"

"Maybe but it was just lunch.  I thought she would call tomorrow off but she still wants to meet."

"Well then, you'd best not blow it – Sir," Ellie smiled, getting up.

"No, I'd best not, had I?  By the way, I have somewhere to go on Wednesday afternoon."

"Sir, we still have loads to go through."

"You think I don't know that?  It's something that can't wait and it is partly concerning the investigation."

Well it wasn't far from the truth, without the consultation and a date for the surgery, he had little chance of surviving until he brought in the killer.  He hadn't wanted to alarm Rose to the fact he felt the pills were not doing a good enough job, especially after last night but on that score, there was no going back for either of them even though she couldn't tell him she loved him in return, that would come all in good time but did he have the time to wait for her to say it?

Nothing much had happened, he'd not felt any pains again, not like before he'd come to the town and met Rose then had come to his senses and taken the medication when he was supposed to, not when he felt like it.  Rose had made a big difference in his life and he knew it and now it was down to him to get himself sorted and risk the surgery but he was still afraid the odds were not going to be in his favour but what was the alternative?

A few more months – if he was lucky and that depended how calm he kept himself and between his feelings for Rose and the investigation which of them would finish him off first?  He didn't want to think about it, he wanted Rose so badly now and he also wanted the killer and he was now so close to having both that he wouldn't let his failing heart get in the way.  So if it meant sneaking off to the appointment with the specialist and then not long after for the surgery, then that was what he would do and hopefully, he'd achieve both and if Miller didn't find out who he thought the killer was or the fact he was having life-saving surgery the next time he sneaked off then all the better.

As long as he didn't do anything stupid and Rose was gentle with him, knowing what his limit was, then he could survive a bit longer.  Rose wouldn't let him do anything stupid and he had Miller to do all the chasing if it became necessary, he could claim he was out of condition but she wouldn't believe that now he was pursuing Rose.

Rose had reached home, going behind the police station to her apartment and wishing now she'd just gone the other way after she'd seen Claire on the bus instead but there was no sign of Alec's car anywhere so she reached the steps and looked around to make sure Claire hadn't changed her mind and got off the bus at the harbour.

The rest of the evening, Rose was beginning to regret not seeing Alec but she did need this time, she'd given in that lunchtime and Friday night, spent the weekend with him so if this was going to work, she had to keep to her resolve and also not mess him around.  Why was he putting up with her?  The times they had spent together were special, she wasn't hesitating so what was really holding her back from committing herself to Alec?

Then it slowly dawned on her – the reason wasn't she missed her family, which she did and it wasn't even the fact she'd been with James for over three years and had thought they were happy but they never would have been truly happy.  She knew that now and so had James because they had been thrown together out of a misguided sense of the Doctor giving him to her to make up for leaving her in the first place and thinking that was what she wanted.

She had to find the Doctor again and get the real answer she wanted but he wasn't the same any more, he'd changed so much this time.  He'd wanted to get her to leave the moment he saw her in the Tardis and they had both known it so maybe his latest attempt to make it up to her was Alec because although he looked like her Doctor and James, he was nowhere near as alike as those two had been and now her Doctor was gone for good, well except for James in the other universe, he was trying to make it up to her again by making sure Alec came to Broadchurch.

Was she going to just accept it this time?  That was what she now had to work out because she couldn't go back to James now, she knew that, it was well and truly over.  She had done her part, tried to keep her love for the Doctor alive and well and had accepted James without question because she thought she had been truly destined to spend forever with him and she should have loved him the way she had the original but Alec, he was truly different in so many ways yet so much like them.

She had found herself in a dilemma that only she could get out of – settle for Alec or go back to James, when her device started working again, if it ever did.  She could go find Mickey, see if his device, if he still had one was working or get him to repair hers but then what?  Would she even get back to the right time or even the right universe?  She could be years off and she had said she may not go back for a long time and right now, she was completely cut off anyway, no-one could even come after her until the two universes were back in alignment with each other.  She had two choices, be on her own again or tell Alec how she felt about him then find the Doctor for some answers and this time, he wouldn't fob her off because she would take Alec with her.
Chapter 17
Rose was tossing and turning most of the night as Alec did the same back in his bedroom, the one he'd spent Sunday night really being with Rose since that Saturday night when if he'd had an attack and died on the spot it would have been more than worth it but to have survived it twice was a miracle in his books.

It was after one when Rose finally gave up, she would be in no fit state to work and share the responsibilities in the morning at this rate.  One week spent with Alec had made a big impact on her, taking her mind off being stuck here and forgetting James to the point it had suddenly crept up on her and now she still couldn't make her mind up one way or the other so what was she to do?

She got out of bed and fished for her mobile after putting on her robe and brought up Alec's number, hoping he wouldn't be mad at her for waking him.  He wasn't as he answered on the third ring.

He'd been awake half an hour, glancing at the clock/radio and wishing Rose was with him when suddenly, his phone lit up and started to ring.  He didn't need his glasses to see who it was.

"Did I wake you Alec?"

"You are making this a habit Rose."

"I know, I'm sorry.  I couldn't sleep."

"So you thought you would wake me eh?"

Rose didn't know how to take that.  "Sorry, I'll call you back in the morning then."

Before Alec could stop her she hung up.  She was driving him away at an alarming speed and she would lose him altogether if she wasn't careful.  Why was she still holding back from him?  He'd been supportive throughout but he had his limitations.

A few seconds later, her phone rang but she ignored it then got a message: 'I'm awake now so talk to me Rose'

When she didn't reply, he turned out the bedside lamp he'd put on to find his glasses as he wasn't even going to attempt to send her a message when he was half asleep without wearing them.  If he went round, he would just make things even worse, he just had to give her the time she needed, there was nothing else he could do but she was beginning to cave in and call him when they weren't meant to be seeing each other which was a good sign, even in the early hours of the morning and he knew he shouldn't have made it sound the way it had come out – like he was annoyed with her, which he wasn't.

The next morning, Rose looked at the message again – should she call and apologise?  No, she would go down to the harbour at lunchtime and see if he was around, staring over the balcony of the police station and probably feeling as bad as she was, well not quite, she'd woken feeling a bit 'off' but since she'd not slept well, put it down to that.  She had a bad case of missing him but to get through this and sort her feelings out, she had to stick to the plan and not give in on a whim.

Thankfully, Claire didn't make an appearance at work, she was at home plotting what to do next and wondering if she could take advantage of this Ellie Miller taking an interest in interfering between her and Alec's new love life.  Maybe the next time, if there was one, she could get Alec's DS to listen to her side of the story that she was making up as she went along and it was far from finished.

Alec had got to his office early since he wasn't outside Rose's apartment delaying as much as he could.  He'd woken up cursing himself for being stroppy with her over waking him up, why the hell had he come out with that?  That was a good way of getting her to tell him she loved him and if he continued, he'd get to see her even less, maybe drive her into going back where she'd come from as soon as her device started working and as for her getting over the Doctor and James, he really wasn't helping her.

He decided he would set off for lunch five minutes early and be waiting for her but events were going to put paid to that as Ellie came into his office just after twelve.

"Sir, there have been reporters outside the harbour newsagents, Bob just called it in and Jack Marshall has been on the phone demanding we do something about it."

"Is this all over us bringing him in for questioning yesterday?"

The local newsagent had been to the Latimer house on Sunday, claiming he'd found Danny's phone in the bottom of a delivery bag and handed it to Danny's father but Ellie had been there despite Alec and Rose declining the invitation and had brought it to the station and logged it in as evidence and Jack Marshall had been questioned over it.

Alec had been told on his arrival that morning there had been a scuffle outside the sea scout hut last night and Olly Stevens had been involved, which didn't really surprise him and now the newsagent was besieged by reporters.  He knew it was only going to get worse.  So they walked across the harbour and around the back of the shop, Alec banging on the door and Jack Marshall letting them in.

"What are you going to do about that lot?" Jack asked Alec as the blinds were pulled down and they could see the outlines of reporters scrambling to get a look inside.

"You should have been honest with us yesterday, DS Miller here found out you'd already had a conviction for offences in North Yorkshire."

"They were nothing to do with anyone, I served my time and it was nothing to do with boys, it was a girl, we had an affair and her father found out a month before she came of the age of consent so they made an example out of me."

"What happened then?" Ellie asked, Alec just wanting to get out of there and go see if Rose had ventured down to their usual meeting place.

"We got married when I got out of prison.  What has this to do with Danny's death?"

"Everything, it all connects," Alec told him as he heard the shouts of the press outside.

"Get them cleared off, I have a business to run," Jack insisted.

"Not today, go home and it will have died down by morning, they'll get tired of waiting.  I'll have an officer go round the back and escort you home and another to stop the press following you."

As they walked back along the harbour, it was already after one, Miller wanting to know all the details had delayed them and Rose would be leaving to walk back up to the salon but he thought he may have time to see her for ten minutes or so or would she be mad at him?

Rose had sat down at what was becoming 'their' table when it was vacant and looking across to the station's first floor balcony but the door wasn't open and there was no sign of Alec.  She thought he may have had to go out somewhere with Ellie, well that or he was mad she didn't answer his call or reply to his text at one in the morning but she was confused as to him asking that if she was awake she thought he should be as well but that wasn't why she had called him.

She had rung to say sorry and wanted him to come round and forget about only seeing each other weekends and her days off because she was going to have to make her mind up before it was too late and if it didn't work out then it wouldn't be her fault but she had lost her nerve and her telling him she didn't want to be on her own and wanting to break the arrangement now, he would think she was doing it because she thought he'd been mad at her for waking him.

Alec was about to walk up the steps to the station when Ellie nudged him.

"Go see her," she told him as she looked over to see Rose at a table, her head buried in her phone.

"Leave it Miller, she has to leave soon to go back to work."

"Then stop messing around – Sir, go to her."

"You said you would not get involved – Miller," he replied as they reached the top step.

Rose just happened to look up and saw the two of them had stopped so she picked up her shoulder bag and got up, debating whether to run across the road and catch them but Ellie turned around and waved so she had no chance of just creeping away now anyway.  She crossed the road and Alec came down the steps and Ellie knew she wasn't wanted and went back inside the station, shaking her head at the two of them as anyone could see how they felt about each other but they were behaving like a couple of kids.

"Hi Alec."

"Rose, I wanted to apologise for snapping at you earlier this morning."

"I know what you're like, I shouldn't have hung up, sorry.  Walk back with me?"

"You still want to be seen with me then?"

Rose smiled, the first time all morning despite her stomach feeling like it was churning.

"What do you think, DI grumpy boots?"

"Hey, less of the grumpy if you don't mind," he smiled back as she took the arm he offered and walked off around the corner to walk back up to the High Street.

They hardly said a word on the way back up until they were across the road from the salon, Rose having a few minutes to spare.

"I'm sorry Rose, I never meant it the way it sounded."

"I know you daft thing, I was stupid to call you at that time."

"You called me late that Saturday night, for me to rescue you.  You wanted me to rescue you again?"

"Yeah, what da ya think?" she asked as they crossed the road.

"I'm out of practice love."

"I know.  Can we talk later?  Come round and I'll make dinner then if we can't sort this out, you can leave."

"Why won't we talk it out Rose?  I know you have to go now but whatever is still bothering you, we can get over it.  Now you'd best not be late."

He leaned down to kiss her cheek, not caring anyone could see them, especially Olly Stevens coming out of the newspaper office a few doors down and Becca Fisher altering the menu board outside the hotel who both saw each other, Olly shrugging his shoulder that the whole town would just have to get used to the fact the disagreeable detective had a young blonde girlfriend and didn't care if he showed himself up with her.

Rose felt slightly better as Alec said he would be around as soon as he could get out and would call and get her something to say 'sorry' and they could make up.

Claire had decided to get a bus into Broadchurch just after four and had perched herself on the wall near Alec's cottage, no-one would bother her until early evening and if either Rose or Alec spotted her, she would just move again like she'd done on Sunday.  She had been annoyed Rose had forced her to get on the bus last night, she could have got off at the harbour but knowing Alec, officers would have swooped on her as she got off.

When she had seen neither of them by six, she decided to go take a walk to the harbour stores and get a sandwich and a drink since it was cheaper than going to one of the food stalls and she noticed the newsagents next door was closed early but as she went to sit on the wall, suddenly, car after car pulled in a bit further up by the small hut in the corner and loads of men got out of them, all heading for it.  There was a policeman there who was already on his radio for re-enforcements Claire thought as she turned to get a better look, seeing a tall man with a shaved head take the lead and begin shouting at the man outside the hut.

Not wanting to get involved, Claire stayed where she was then saw another car pull up and two men get out, one making his way through the mob as it became apparent they were out for blood as they began shouting they were going to get the man who was talking to the ringleader.

Alec had already left the station by now, not bothering to move his car as he'd got a nice box of chocolates for Rose on his way back to the station and had got him a look from Ellie when she'd seen him trying to sneak them past her.  She had remarked on it when he was leaving.

"What?" Alec had asked as she stopped him.

"What did you do now?" she smiled.

"Nothing, what makes you think I've done something?"

"Maybe the way you'd been snapping at everyone all day and not being bothered about Jack Marshall?"

"What do you want me to do about Jack Marshall?  We left a officer with him and for your information, I am going round right now to apologise to Rose."

"Well I didn't think they were for Jack Marshall.  What did you do to upset her?"

"Very amusing Miller.  I may have been a bit off with her when she called me around one this morning."

"No wonder but why was she calling at that time?"

"She missed me."

"And you were off with her?  You need your head examined – Sir so stop being such an ass with her.  You went to see her that Saturday night and you said you got woken then."

"I'd been asleep on the sofa, that was different and she needed a friend."

"She doesn't need one now?"

Alec frowned at her.  "She was the one who wanted space, not me, I'm trying to give her it but it's not easy.  I think she's changing her mind though."

"Well in that case you'd best not stuff it up – had you?  Sir."

"Thanks for the advice Miller, you said you were staying out of it."

"I am but I'll give you that for free, just don't make me go after Claire again."

"I think you would be perfect going after Claire though maybe when all this is over?"

"Forget it, when this is over I'm going to need another vacation though one that when I come back no-one has taken my job."

"Well I am not apologising for that, if I had not come here, Rose and I would never have met."

"Well there is that I suppose so you'd best treat her right and I might forgive you, she's doing you some good, we wouldn't have been talking like this two weeks ago."

"Two weeks ago you were threatening me with fish and chips in paper, amongst other things."

"Two weeks ago, I meant the other thing.  Am I keeping you?" Ellie nodded to the chocolates under his arm.

Rose had got home and started making a meal for Alec, trying not to change her mind about this but they would have to go easy tonight, she was still feeling queasy and she'd have to tell him so.  "Some way of making up," she thought as she stirred the contents of saucepan.  Why did she feel so off?  It was well over a week to her monthly so it wasn't that and she wished now she'd done something about it when she'd got back to this world but hadn't intended getting involved with anyone so soon after leaving James behind.

She heard the door opening and Alec calling her.  He hadn't been sure about using his key after snapping at her earlier but he had been given it so he may as well use it.  She stopped what she was doing and stepped out of the kitchen as he took his overcoat off, Rose wondering why he wore one in the warmer weather.

"Hey sweetheart, something smells good."

"Hi.  It's not much, I wasn't expecting you."

"These are for you love, to say sorry for being an ass this morning."

"No Alec, that was entirely me and you were right, I shouldn't have woken you because I couldn't sleep, you need yours more than I do."

He put the chocolates down and went to put his arms around her, Rose doing the same and burying her head into his chest.

"I'm so sorry Alec, you don't need all this and I don't want to stick to our arrangement, not any more."

"Hey, it's ok love, whatever makes you happy.  I was only doing as you asked."

She let go and he followed her into the kitchen and getting a glass of water, took his pills, something he was now getting used to.

"I have to work in the morning, I told Miller I had to go somewhere in the afternoon so why don't you wait for me at my place?"

"Yeah, I'll make my way over there, you never said when your appointment is."

Picking up the stirring spoon, Alec tested the contents of the pan.

"It's at two so we leave at one."

"You'll need to find a parking spot."

"Do I look like I care where I park?" he smiled.

"After the last time?"

"Only if you have some change this time love."

After they had eaten and Alec had pulled the curtains, they lay on the sofa.

"What's wrong Rose?" he asked as he kissed her neck and seeing she wasn't as enthusiastic as she'd been on Sunday night.

"Nothing, I felt a bit off when I woke up, it's probably nothing."

"You should have said when you called, instead of hanging up."

"Yeah, I get that from my mother, sorry.  I was ok then, it was when I got up, I must have got out of bed too fast or something."

"You always get out of bed fast Rose," he smiled, unfastening the buttons on her pink top.

"So do you, I never get a good look at your ass when you go scurrying off to put your shorts on."

"Well, you take your time and I'll take mine, deal?"

"Yeah, deal but I'm not really fit for much tonight, I should have told you that earlier."

"No love, I never expected to come around tonight, it was a nice surprise, just like Friday night."

Rose had finished unbuttoning his shirt, running her finger down the gap until he grabbed her hand.

"Rose, whatever I am told tomorrow, I am going to risk the surgery, before I leave it too late."

"Alec, I know you're taking a risk and I'm sorry I'm just making things worse for you."

"Shush love, you are not making things any worse, don't say that.  I'm going to need someone to keep me out of trouble, before and after the surgery, know anyone?"

"You interviewed anyone for the job yet?" she asked, parting his shirt and kissing just near his heart.

"Do I really need to?"

"No, consider the position filled."

Meanwhile, Claire had deduced neither Rose or Alec were going to his place and if she sat in the shelter, she would only get moved on again so she got the next bus home and decided that would be the last time and come Friday, she would pack and leave but not before she got her revenge on Rose.

Alec was woken just before five, his phone buzzing on the bedside table and Rose sprawled across him after they had compromised and they had both fallen asleep, content they seemed to have resolved at least one of their problems.

He grabbed his phone and moved Rose gently and since she had insisted he put his shorts back on before going to sleep, he grabbed his shirt and answered the phone as he went into the living room.  He scowled when he saw 'Miller' on the display.

"You do know the time Miller?"

"Yes, do you think I like being woken at this time – Sir?  We've been called to the Harbour Cliff Beach, there's been another incident."

"Not another child?"

"No, Jack Marshall was found by an early morning dog walker half an hour ago.  Looks like he took his own life, I'm down there now."

"Send a car for me, I'm at Rose's apartment, I'll be ready in five minutes."

Ellie agreed and smiled to herself, at least he admitted it and they'd made up.  Rose had just woken up and was propping herself up on one arm as Alec came back in and took his trousers from the back of the chair.

"What's wrong Alec?"

"Nothing love, I've been called to an incident, a car is coming for me."

He had told Ellie where he was and she'd mumbled something about not being lazy and walking over.

"Is there anything I can do?"

"Yes, go back to sleep love, you don't look well."

"I always look like this when I wake up," she yawned and flopped back on the pillow Alec had been laid on, it was still warm.

He leaned over to kiss her forehead, which felt clammy so he touched it gently.

"You should go see a doctor, you are not well."

"I'll be fine," she mumbled, closing her eyes.

Alec had to let it go as he pulled the curtain back to see a marked car turning around just past where he was.

"I'll see you later love, just take it easy."

He got no answer as he quietly closed the door and let himself out.  While Ellie had been waiting and the ambulance was standing by to take the body of the newsagent away, she thought about what Alec had said, that he was admitting he had spent the night with Rose and she hoped now he would be far less disagreeable considering he'd kissed Rose outside the salon yesterday lunchtime, well according to her nephew he had although Olly did tend to over-exaggerate sometimes.  She was all for it if the grumpy detective got his act together and got Rose to move in with him or he with her.

Rose woke with a start, realising Alec had gone out earlier when he wasn't there and she wasn't lying on top of him.  She squinted at the clock, half past ten and she was meant to meet Alec at one but really didn't want to get out of bed.  Making the extra effort, she crawled out of bed to get her robe and put her feet into her fluffy slippers and went into the bathroom, looking at herself in the mirror and thinking she was glad Alec couldn't see her but what had he thought when he'd gone out at whatever time it had been?

Did he know what he was letting himself in for?  James used to make fun of her if she got up after him, which was most of the time since he still didn't need that much sleep but this was new to Alec, he had no idea what she could be like but would he get used to it?  She was about to head for the kitchen when she felt sickly though nothing happened when she held her head over the sink so she went back to the bedroom and threw herself back on the bed.

Alec was just finishing his report from that morning and was twenty minutes away from leaving, providing nothing else needed his attention and he'd already warned Ellie if something else came up, she was going to have to deal with it.

"So you're putting me in charge for the rest of the day?"

"Come on Miller, you've wanted to be in charge since I got here.  Now is your chance or are you not ready?"

Ellie was going to show him if she was ready or not, she wasn't going to grace him with an answer to that.  Alec was thinking she may be in charge permanently if things didn't go well later that day.  He'd tried to call Rose, twice but had got no answer but considering she'd felt really hot and feverish when he had left, he assumed she'd taken his advice and was trying to sleep it off.  He decided he would go see her first before going back for his car and going to the hospital.

He left five minutes later, he needed the extra time to go check on Rose as he'd already told Ellie she hadn't been well when he'd left.

"Are you going to check on her?" Ellie asked, trying to forget what he'd just said about her not being ready to take charge, even if it was only for the afternoon and he was being secretive about where he was going.  Maybe it was personal and to do with his new girlfriend?

"She was all hot and clammy earlier, she may have just eaten something that disagreed with her."

"Tell her I hope she feels better soon."

Alec just nodded and left, waiting for the lift downstairs, he'd had enough just being out earlier and getting woken at 5am on the morning you were seeing a cardiologist about a pacemaker was not good.  He let himself into Rose's apartment, calling her name and seeing the living room door open and Rose not sitting there, went into the bedroom to see her in her robe on top of the bedclothes.

He sat beside her and touched her shoulder, gently, putting the duvet over her as he moved.

"Rose, sweetheart, come on, wake up for me."

Rose seemed delirious.  "James, is that you?"

"No love, it's me, Alec.  Rose, come on, you know me."

"Alec?  What time's it?"

"Almost time for me to go to the hospital love, you should stay here."

"Is there something wrong with you?"

"Sweetheart, I have an appointment in an hour and I have no idea where I am going when I get to the hospital.  Go back to sleep love, I'll be as quick as I can then I'll come back and we'll get a doctor's appointment for you."

"You can't get the Doctor, he's gone."

Alec knew he would barely get to his appointment at this rate, since he had to find the hospital let alone the right ward.  He got his phone out and called for a cab, asking if the driver would know where the hospital was and being assured they went there on a regular basis and his cab would be there in five minutes.  He knew he'd been stupid to think an hour would be enough time to find his way there on his own and fortunately, he'd had the letter on him since it had arrived in the post on Monday morning.

"Rose, I have to go now love, just stay in bed until I get back."

"James, you're very bad."

Alec shook his head then leaned down to kiss her cheek as Rose's eyes closed again.  He had no choice but to leave her but he didn't want to, not like this.  He could have months to wait for another appointment and he may not survive that long, not with this case being no nearer being solved and he had no real evidence he was right about Miller's husband.  He heard a car horn and went to the window, waving to the cab driver and leaving Rose, he let himself out and locked the door behind him and prayed she would be feeling better when he got back because he hated seeing her like this.

As he got into the front seat of the cab, the driver confirmed his destination, Alec saying what department he wanted and glancing up at Rose's bedroom window.  She had called him James, twice but she had been well out of it, how did he feel about it though?  Would it change his mind once he got to his appointment and he told the specialist to forget the whole thing?  Who was he doing this for, himself or Rose?
Chapter 18
Alec arrived with time to spare, finding the department he wanted when he enquired at the desk and handing in his letter.  He never thought he would be doing this, he had resigned himself to probably dying on the job, he wasn't going to stop working so it may as well account for something but he'd surely get found out sooner or later.  Miller would start to suspect, she didn't miss much, he couldn't even sneak a box of chocolates past her.

No, now he had someone to get himself fixed for despite Rose not feeling well last night and this morning and when he got back, he would get the number of the health centre she had registered herself at and take her there himself in the morning if she was no better.  On the way to the hospital, he had decided he wasn't going to say anything to her about calling him James, she was obviously missing him and understandably after all the time she'd spent trying to find the Doctor and then three years with James.

At least they had got past her wanting to be on her own though he wouldn't crowd her, if she still wanted time, he would give it to her.  He looked around the waiting room, stretching out his long legs and wishing Rose was with him, she would have been had she been able.  His name was called and he was led to the consultants office, seeing all the diplomas on the wall.

"Mr Hardy, have a seat.  I see you've been putting this off for quite a while?  Any particular reason?"

"No, except I was busy working."

"What made you change your mind?"

"My new girlfriend."

"Ah, well if that isn't a reason then nothing is," she smiled, making a few notes.

She got up to examine him, shaking her head.  Alec didn't think it was a very good sign but after checking other vitals, she sat back down.

"Are you taking your medication?"

"Yes but it may not be working as well as it should be, I've been getting out of breath climbing stairs and the other morning I had to avoid my girlfriend seeing me feeling dizzy.  She thinks I'm sneaking off on her."

"Yes, well, the medication is only there to keep your symptoms under control but if you've only just started taking them on a regular basis, then you will be getting less benefit from them.  Fortunately for you, I have an opening to fit you in on Friday afternoon."

"For what?  Another consultation?"

The consultant shook her head and smiled.  "No Mr Hardy, for the procedure.  I know you have only just be referred here and I don't want you thinking you're jumping the queue but some of the patients here have not been putting it off for as long as you have."

"Friday?  So soon?"

"How long were you expecting to wait?"

"I have no idea but my girlfriend was hoping it would be sooner rather than later.  We had decided if I had a long time to wait, I would opt to go private."

"Well that won't get you in any sooner so save your money.  There are a few things, you'll have to sign a form before we can go ahead and you should get your affairs in order but since you seem to be calm at the moment, providing you don't do anything untoward, you have a fairly good chance."

"That will please her then.  So, where do I report to?"

When he got out, he felt like calling Rose to tell her the good news but it would wait until he got back.  He'd been given all the details, no food or drink for an hour before he was to be admitted at 15.00 and he'd been told it would depend on how long it took him to come round before he could be allowed home, under supervision otherwise he'd have to stay overnight.

He was glad Rose had said she wanted the job of looking after him, if she herself felt better.  He called a cab and made his way back home, getting dropped at the pub and wondering if he should get something for Rose while he was ordering some food but decided she would probably throw up, even though it was only a baked potato with tuna and salad.  He stopped in front of his cottage and decided he'd eat there, in case Rose was already out of bed, he'd not been as long at his appointment as he thought he would have been.

Twenty minutes later, he was walking to the station to retrieve his car, hoping Miller wouldn't see him or his car behind Rose's apartment.  He walked slowly up the steps, not rushing like he'd done earlier, which had been a bit stupid before his appointment, he admitted and let himself in to see Rose coming out of the bathroom, still in her robe.

She had woken up about twenty minutes earlier and run into the bathroom, throwing up and had just washed her face, feeling slightly better but Alec knew she wasn't right and was glad he eaten at his place.  She did at least seem to know who he was now as she gave him a weak smile.

"Hi, I'm so sorry I couldn't go with you Alec."

He went up to her, opening his arms as she reached for him, still a bit out of it.

"No, love, don't worry about it, feeling better?"

"No, I just threw up, I think I ate something that was off."

"Let me make you some tea and some toast, settle your stomach eh?"

Rose nodded as he led her to the living room, pulling back the curtains since he knew Claire would be at work.  He knew in the light of recent events he should get Miller to call the salon and ask the owner to let her know if Claire failed to show up for work but so far, he had no grounds to do so and Miller was not that keen on meeting with her again.  Who could blame her?

As he brought a plate of toast and two mugs of tea in on a tray, Rose moved her legs to let him sit down and asked how he'd got on.

"Fine love, I have to go back on Friday afternoon."

"For another consultation?" she asked, trying not to pull a face at the toast and hoping she could keep it down.

She had a nasty suspicion what was causing it, she'd eaten nothing that could have caused the sickness and she would know for certain next week.  She couldn't say anything to Alec just yet, he had enough to worry about.

"No love, for the procedure."

"Already?  How come?"

"They assumed since I'd kept missing appointments and delaying it, they'd caught me and they were not letting me get away with it any longer," he mused.  "I expect they will get a nice fat bonus for being the ones who did not let me escape."

"Sounds more like there was a price on your head," Rose smiled weakly, relieved the toast seemed to have stayed where it was, for now.

"Aye, you could look at it that way I suppose."

"Are you sure you're ready for it?"

He stroked her leg absent-mindedly, she'd put a clean vest top on and a pair of black leggings while he'd been preparing the tea and toast though he wished she was still bare-legged.

"I have to be love, I never wanted to worry you but the medication may not be doing as well as it should."

Rose handed him the mug to put down and moved around, snuggling up to him and curling her legs behind her.  Alec put his arm around her after putting the mug on the coffee table and kissed her forehead.

"Who are you doing this for Alec?  Me or you?"

"For both of us now love, I never expected it to be so soon though but I have to do this now.  Can you get time off to go with me, if you feel better?"

"It's probably just a 24 hr bug, I'll be fine.  I'll ask Maureen, I'll call her tomorrow and say you need someone with you for an appointment."

"You can't tell her."

"I won't so how about a trip to the dentist?"

"Really Rose, that's a bit lame."

"Well, you’re the genius around here, you come up with something better."

She took his silence as he couldn't.

"You said you'd look after me," he reminded her as she moved to lay in his arms, unfastening her robe and seeing the gap down her pink vest top and being sorely tempted to do something about it.  Instead he put his other hand under the hem, Rose flinching but not moving it.

"Yeah, I did.  I meant it."

"Then move in with me?"

"Alec, I have to give a week's notice."

"So?  Well go give it then, why have two places?"

"Well Friday, I won't get the chance and Saturday's are mad at work, I'll have to go tomorrow or it will be another week."

"Then do it, I mean it Rose.  I know it's not certain I'll get through the surgery but I've made plans.  I went to personnel and made you my beneficiary for all my benefits.  If something happens to me, you will get the rent paid and an allowance every month.  I should go see a solicitor though and leave everything else to Daisy, not that there's much but the last few years, I've managed to save a bit and I have an insurance policy made out in her name, enough to get her through college.  There is also a funeral plan paid for by the police, they will make all the arrangements.  Don't let my ex take charge, will you?"

Rose felt bad enough but he was making her feel worse.  Rose agreed she would take a walk to the agency in the morning and give her notice, he was right though she would miss the sea view which was why she had settled so easily and knew the Doctor had chosen it well but it wasn't practical to keep two places going but if the worse was to happen on Friday, would she want to stay in his cottage?  She could easily get her apartment back, the notice wouldn't start until Monday, she could withdraw it, if she was in a fit state to do so.

All that day while Rose had been feeling sick and Alec had been to the hospital, Claire had gone into work to see what the atmosphere was like and she had got a stony reception.  There was no way she could stay there now so she would make this her last day, pack her rucksack and leave the key with a neighbour, the agency would come round when she cancelled the rent payment at lunchtime.

She would leave in the morning, no, lunchtime and make her way to Broadchurch, make sure Rose was in her apartment and get her revenge once and for all that neither Rose or Alec would forget in a hurry and if it got violent then so be it, she would be long gone before Alec got to find out, she would disappear amongst the few holidaymakers and catch the first bus towards Exeter.

She would get two days pay so she would just have to live on that and as for her just walking out of her job, she wasn't that worried looking for another, that was one of the advantages of working for yourself in the past, you could claim you were tired of working on your own and wanted some company, it had worked the last time.

As for Rose, well she would get what she deserved, Alec being her boyfriend or not.  She would tell Rose why she stayed off last Saturday, say she'd been to the clinic and show her the proof, the altered report she'd got from when she'd been in when Lee had got arrested with the dates obscured.  She would bluff her way into Rose's apartment by saying she would go to the newspaper with her story, it was all Alec needed in the middle of a murder investigation, he couldn't afford a scandal – that of getting the wife of a suspect in a failed case pregnant and abandoning her in a strange town then going off with another woman.

By the time she left, she was quite pleased with herself and told everyone she'd see them tomorrow but she had no intentions of ever going back.  Claire didn't waste her time watching Rose or Alec's place, Rose would be at one of them on her own tomorrow anyway and she had a feeling she would get caught hanging around tonight, someone would be waiting for her.

Alec stayed the night, Rose just wanting to snuggle up to him, which was fine with him since he should try not to get over-excited but as they just kissed, Rose was settling down and still feeling a bit off, he told her he loved her again.

Even though she didn't feel that good, she had to give him some sign she was going to stick by him, even if it was all over on Friday afternoon but the Doctor wouldn't do that to her, would he?  He wouldn't let her meet Alec and then have him taken away from her, not after she'd told him things hadn't worked out with James, he'd have felt guilty for getting them together in the first place so he was trying yet again to get things right.

Alec suddenly lay Rose on her back, lifted her flimsy silky floral nightdress and began kissing across her tummy and despite still feeling a bit queasy, it felt good as she ruffled his hair with one hand and her other on his back, lifting the t-shirt he'd put on, one he had left there on her insistence.  He helped her pull it over his head as he lifted the nightdress higher and without putting too much weight on her, skin touched skin until Rose moved so both her hands were on his back, one going down the back of his shorts.

"Alec, I'm really sorry about not feeling well."

"Shush love, no matter, I'm just glad you are feeling a little bit better."

"Yeah, it's probably nothing but there's something else I'm sorry about.  For not telling you something and you still want me to move in with you."

"What's that love?" he asked as he kissed higher up and Rose's hand going lower down the back of his shorts.

He looked up, seeing her face in the light coming from outside, the moon had been reflecting on the sea.

"Alec, just that I should have told you – I love you."

"Rose, I already know that but to hear you say that means a lot to me, with my surgery coming up so soon.  I  love you too sweetheart and I am going to get through it, I told the consultant when she asked why I had changed my mind suddenly, I said I was doing it for you.  If I don't make it, you made me happy you could finally tell me."

The next morning, Rose feeling slightly better, Alec kissed her goodbye and said he'd see her at his place and for her to bring what she needed for the following day and he would take her up to work.

"Take it easy today love."

"Yeah, I'll just go up to the agency and give my notice on my apartment but I'll have to pay another week's rent."

"No matter love, just pay it and Sunday, we will move your things out."

"Hey, you won't be able to drive right away."

"No matter, we can walk or get a taxi but tonight, we have to talk about if I don't make it tomorrow."

"Well if you insist though it will be for nothing Alec, you are going to make it.  Won't they be able to revive you, if the pacemaker doesn't work?"

"I have no idea what might happen."

"You should have asked," she smiled, putting her arms around his neck and Alec getting a good view of her cleavage as he angled his face to kiss her again.

"I will, before they take me in.  Don't forget to call your boss."

"No, I'll do it when the salon opens, maybe I won't have to use the dentist's excuse, I can tell her I'm not well and may have to go to the heath centre."

"That may be more believable love.  Now, I have to go.  I love you sweetheart."

"I love you too and I'm sorry for calling you James."

"No worries, it happens, I'm not mad with you."

To prove it, he wrapped his arms tight around her and they were both breathless when they broke the kiss.

"I'll bring some food back tonight shall I?" he asked as he walked to the door, Rose just behind him.

"I'll see how I feel first, do you want to meet for lunch?"

"Yes but I may have Miller with me.  Did you hear what happened to the newsagent, why I had to leave early yesterday morning?"

Rose shook her head, she had been well out of it at the time and hadn't asked him last night.  Rose was horrified when he told her and he hated leaving her after telling her how the newsagent was driven into taking his own life.

"I have that to deal with today, find out who was behind it, forensics found his car windscreen smashed and graffiti on his boat.  My first stop is the local newspaper office, the reporter there started an argument with him a few nights ago."

"Ellie's nephew?  I can't see him being behind it."

"He may have seen someone hanging around at the time.  This is all we need, another death on our hands and no clues."

"I thought you had a suspect for Danny's death?"

"I do but no proof, just my suspicious mind."

As he closed the door, Sandbrook was still on his mind, this was far too similar to that case, having a strong suspicion he was right in pursuing Ashworth but him getting away and he sincerely hoped it wouldn't turn out the same way.

Rose got herself dressed in a loose t-shirt and some slacks, her stomach feeling a bit tight after leaning over the sink again but nothing happening this time, she'd not told Alec she'd been sick earlier.  She thought she would walk the long way to the High Street, since the rental agency was at the bottom end, then she would do a bit of shopping and go meet Alec for lunch.  As she set off, she was relieved she'd finally been able to tell him that she loved him.

The agency was a little surprised Rose wanted to give up the apartment in such a prominent place but she said if she changed her mind, she would be back on Monday, that covered her to see what happened tomorrow.  When she got out, she found herself outside the pharmacy, wondering if she should get something to settle her stomach.  As she went up to the counter, she wasn't sure what to ask for.

"What are your symptoms?" the woman asked her.

"Feeling sick for almost 48 hrs but I've only been sick a couple of times."

"In the mornings?" the woman smiled.

"Yeah, now you mention it."  Then it slowly dawned on her but it hadn't been two weeks since she had first slept with Alec but they hadn't taken any precautions that night. 

The woman turned around and brought some tablets out.  "You can try these dear, you can take them during pregnancy, if that's what's causing it although I recommend you go see your doctor if you take them for more than three days."

"Yeah, I'll give them a try, what testing kits do you have?" 

As she came out, she thought "Better safe than sorry", she could be wrong about it and didn't want to worry Alec but she couldn't use it for a few more days so she would have to tell him before he went under the anaesthetic tomorrow, he deserved to know.  It would give him another reason to fight his way through it.  She tried not to show any signs she was still feeling off as she made her way to the harbour to wait for Alec's arrival, with or without Ellie.

Ellie had noticed Alec seemed in a good mood, despite him being absent yesterday afternoon and the demise of the local newsagent.

"What's with you today?  Did you stay with Rose again?"

Alec would normally have politely told her to go away and mind her own business but being with Rose had changed him.

"What if I did?  So, what happened while I was away?"

She was about to leave after filling in him with the details when she asked him how Rose was.  He saw it as his chance to skip off work the following afternoon.

"A little better though I think she should still get herself checked out.  I'm meeting her at lunchtime, you can come with me, if you want?"

"I'll call Joe, have him meet me down there, Rose wanted to see Fred when he wasn't asleep."

"Fine, do that then."

When she'd gone back to her desk, Alec wondered briefly if that was what was wrong with Rose but they had only been together once or twice without protection and the first time wasn't even two weeks ago then it wasn't very likely, not in his condition but the way Rose was with him, anything was possible.  She had been honest with him although afterwards and she had attempted to do something so he'd been more than happy to take the responsibility on himself until then.

He would just have to wait and see, next weekend but she may not be aware what was wrong with her but he intended asking her before he went for his surgery.  Since he and Miller had to go out, they were back just in time to see Rose talking to Joe Miller and his youngest son, Rose making a fuss over the young boy.

"Hi Fred, you're awake to today huh?"

"He's just woken up, he fell asleep while we were walking down here," his dad told her.  "He's still a bit cranky."

"Aw, he'll soon wake up, won't you Fred?"

She was still missing Tony, Fred was reminding her of him.  The last few days she'd not even checked her device to see if it had started working, she could have missed it but would she risk going back now?  Maybe before she had told Alec last night that she loved him and before she had started feeling sick, there were a few more days before she could rule out pregnancy, she knew it wasn't safe to use the device if she was.  She saw Alec and Ellie cross the road and turn towards the outdoor catering area.

"Hi sweetheart, made a new friend?" Alec asked, kissing her cheek and nodding towards young Fred as he was showing her his police car and chattering away.

"Oh yeah, me and Fred are ok."

Alec knew she was missing her stepbrother and if she was pregnant, it would help lessen the impact but what if he didn't make it tomorrow?  He didn't want to think that way any longer, he was going to get through it.  After they had eaten, Rose managing a plain baked potato with some salad, he walked her back to her apartment and stopped at the bottom of the steps.

"Call the health centre and get an appointment love, please?"

"I got something that might help while I was out, if I'm no better in the morning, I'll call them, I promise."

"Good, I'll see you later then, at my place though we should start calling it our home.  You do like it there?"

"Yeah, it's nice but I'll miss the sea view, it reminds me so much of that beach in Norway."

"You need to put that behind you love, I can help you do that, if you let me?"

"We'll talk tonight Alec, we both have things we need to say to each other before tomorrow afternoon.  I still need to call my boss."

They kissed goodbye, neither of them noticing Claire sat at the far end of the stone pier but she had seen them walk past.  She decided to wait a little longer then go and confront Rose once and for all and teach her and Alec for making her like this - alone.

Rose was packing a few things after tidying up and putting the testing kit on the bathroom sink, meaning to move it before she went out, when she could think of an excuse to use it.  It was just after three and Claire had decided enough was enough and was walking up the steps.  Rose was startled by the loud knocking on her door and thinking Claire would be at work, never expected to see her standing there as she'd stood to one side so Rose wouldn't see her through the frosted glass panel in the door.

"Go away Claire before I call the police."

"You mean Alec?  Fine, call him and I go tell the local newspaper what he did to me."

"Leave you here on your own?  They'll be all broken up over it when I tell them you've been stalking me."

"No, where I went last Saturday, don't you want to know?"

"I'm not interested in your lies Claire."

"Let me in or I tell them he got me pregnant again and I went to get rid of it.  Just think of the scandal, a failed case and another murder he can't solve."

Claire put her foot in the door and barged her way inside, seeing the bag packed by the door.

"Going somewhere?  Off to stay with Alec are you?  You don't still want him after he got me pregnant twice and left me to it do you?"

"Stop lying Claire, I believe him when he says he's never even slept with you."

"Didn't he?  He even took me to that clinic the first time, he said he couldn't afford for his wife to find out about us having an affair."

"It's all in your mind Claire, you're just sick.  Now you'd better go before I do call him, I'm not listening to your lies any more."

"Suit yourself, I'm still going to the newspaper, I reckon I'll get a good bit for my story, I hear he's not too popular as it is in the town."

"Yes he is, since he's been with me, his DS says he's changed, for the better."

"You sent her after me, I won't forgive you for that," Claire said, looking around.

"That was your own doing, get out Claire."

"I hope you'll enjoy reading tomorrow's headlines?"

"You go to the paper and see what happens.  How Alec had you hauled in and locked up for stalking and I was the one who talked him into letting you go and how many times you've been escorted out of town.  So it's stalemate Claire."

Claire huffed and thought about it, it would serve no real purpose if she also ended up on the front page.

"I'm leaving this dead-end town anyway, I hate it here.  I need to use your bathroom."

"You have a real nerve Claire."

"This way is it?" Claire asked, heading for the bathroom, Rose forgetting what she had left on the sink until Claire closed the door behind her.  If she saw it, Rose didn't know how she would react.

Claire of course noticed it when she went to wash her hands, picking it up.  Rose had taken it out of the packaging but Claire couldn't tell if it had been used or not but decided to use it to her advantage but as she came out, Rose had a worried look on her face.

"Thought I wouldn't see this?"

"Mind your own business Claire, now get out.  Just because Alec has never been interested in you except in your twisted mind."

"No, you don't get this Rose, you don't get to have been with him and get yourself pregnant."

"So it was all lies?"

Claire knew she had been caught out.  She was still holding the plastic testing kit in one hand and suddenly, she felt her temper rising even more.

"Give that back Claire."

"You've not told him yet have you?  See what he says when he finds out you never told him you didn't take anything."

With that, Claire lost it and threw the item in Rose's direction, hitting her just above her left eye.

Rose cried out and put her hand to the cut.

"You bitch, just you wait.  Get out, now.  Alec will send the whole of the police force after you now, you won't be able to hide."

She pulled her fingers away from the cut, blood on them and knew she should get it treated.  Claire looked like she about to leave but instead, turned around and grabbed Rose by her hair, yanking her head back and dragging her into the living room, Rose praying someone would be walking past and look up.

"You don't get away that easy," Claire told her as Rose was saying "Ouch!" at her hair being pulled.

Suddenly, she felt a blow in her ribs as Claire's fist connected with them and Rose doubled over, Claire letting go of her hair but hitting her again to make sure she wasn't followed as Rose slumped onto the floor.  Rose heard the door slamming, trying to sit up next to the sofa, grabbing for her mobile and dialling the emergency number.

"Emergency, which service do you require?"

"I need an ambulance, I've just been attacked in my apartment and I think I might be pregnant."

Rose gave her name and address, wincing at the pain now coming from her side.

"Are you able to let the ambulance crew in Miss Tyler?"

"The door's not locked, my attacker just left, I know who it was."

"Do you require the police to meet the ambulance?"

"No, my boyfriend's a detective, I'll call him from the hospital.  The woman who attacked me, she works with me."

Before Rose knew it, there was a tap on the door and a female attendant was calling her name.

"No, don't get up, let me check you over first.  That's a nasty cut, we'll get that fixed in the ambulance."

A few minutes later, the attendant had handed Rose her shoulder bag and dropped her mobile into it and they were helping her up, gently.  The male attendant locked Rose's door behind him after putting it on the latch when she assured him she had her key and if she hadn't, her boyfriend had one.  As they laid her down on the stretcher, Rose wondered why Alec hadn't heard the ambulance go past and come down to see, considering she'd been feeling ill.

Alec and Ellie had been out again so he had no idea what had happened but he was soon going to find out when he got back to an empty cottage.
Chapter 19
Rose was glad the ambulance driver didn't put the siren on as they headed to the same hospital Alec had been to.  She was holding her side as the female attendant cleaned her head wound and put a bandage on it.

"Rose, can you answer a few questions for me?"

"Yeah, my side really hurts."

"Let's get you to the hospital and they'll sort you out.  Can you tell me what happened?"

"Yeah, someone I work with, she's been trying to split me and my boyfriend up and to cut a long story short, she got jealous and told me loads of lies about him but when she saw a pregnancy testing kit in my bathroom, she flipped and attacked me."

"So she threw something at you?"

"Yeah, the kit and while I was holding my hand to my forehead, she was about to leave when she grabbed me by my hair and punched me, twice in my side."

The attendant touched where Rose indicated, carefully when she pulled a face.

"Well luckily, if you are pregnant, your friend was a rotten shot, she missed anything vital, she may have caught a rib though, the hospital will have to do an x-ray but they'll have to determine if you are pregnant or not first.  You should call the police and report it."

"My boyfriend is the police, I should let him know."

The ambulance driver was backing up to the emergency admissions entrance and got out to open the doors.

"Can you walk Rose?" the female attendant asked, helping her carefully off the stretcher.

"I don't know, the pain's getting worse."

"We'll get you a chair then.  Let's get you booked in."

Rose managed to thank them both for their help as a nurse came to attend to her even though there were a few people waiting, the attendants had said Rose may be pregnant and they needed to make sure.

"I'm just going to give you a blood test and can you just lay back for me while I check you out?"

"Can I have something for the pain?  I feel sick as well, since Tuesday night."

"We need to know what we can give you first, I won't take long.  Is there someone you should contact?"

"My boyfriend, what’s the time?"

"Just a little before five.  Lie still Rose, I need to just take some blood then the doctor will come in and examine you."

"Can I get my phone?"

"You won't get a signal in here, it's a bad reception area.  I'll see if I can get someone to call your boyfriend."

Suddenly Rose let out a yelp as she moved and almost passed out from the pain.  When Alec got to find out, he would go crazy and launch a full-scale hunt for Claire, she wouldn't be able to hide anywhere.  What the hell had come over her?  Had she been that jealous or was it the fact she thought Rose was pregnant?  As she laid on the examination couch, Alec and Ellie had just got back to the station and the desk sergeant was handing him a pile of messages.

"Sir, you really should get yourselves organised up there."

Ellie gave the sergeant a scowl, as if Hardy wasn't already in a bad mood as it was.  She hoped she wasn't going to have to work overtime again, her youngest son would soon be forgetting what she looked like.  As they waited for the lift, she was going to find out.

"Are you seeing Rose tonight then?" she asked as quietly as she could, just in case he wanted to keep his personal life out of the station.

"Yes, she's no longer keeping to our agreement and it is Thursday, her day off.  I should call her, see if she has got to my place.  I asked her to move in with me."

"Really?" Ellie asked as they got into the lift, wondering why Hardy didn't want to take the stairs but they had been out for a while, she was feeling lazy herself.

"No more trouble from Claire then?"

"Not so far but she will be lurking around somewhere.  Rose seemed a little better earlier but I think I will insist she still goes to the health centre tomorrow, just to make sure."

"So is she going back to work tomorrow?"

"She said she was, I'll see how she is tonight.  Finish your paperwork then go see your boys.  I need to speak with Tom, he should have another adult with him."

"What?  Why do you want to see Tom?"

"He was Danny's friend, it's time to have a him talk about it.  So, when's Jack Marshall's funeral?"

"I've not heard yet why?  Are you going?"

"Rose may want to go, I'll go if she does."

"Wow, she's really turned you around hasn't she?"

"She may have done me some good, aye.  I should call her and tell her I won't be late home, she may not feel like eating much yet, she just about managed her lunch."

Ellie went to her desk, wondering why for a detective, Hardy had not yet surmised what was wrong with his girlfriend but it was a bit quick wasn't it?  That meant they'd got together the night he went to collect her when Rose and Claire had their first falling out which to her mind had been the start of Claire's jealousy.  She wasn't going to let on though, see how good he really was and see if he could work it out for himself but Rose may not know yet, it was a bit early to do a test, they were very inaccurate at such an early stage, even the expensive ones.  If Claire was to find out Rose may be pregnant, goodness knew how she would react and she just hoped Hardy was there when and if Claire did find out.

As he watched Ellie gather her things, Alec thought about Rose, hoping she was feeling better than she'd looked earlier but she'd seemed to be able to keep her lunch down so that was a good sign.  He may get away with having the following afternoon off by saying he was taking her to find out what was causing her to feel ill.  He wondered if she'd managed to call her boss or if she was waiting until she knew for certain if she would be going in to work just for the morning.

Back at the hospital, the nurse had come back and said it was too early to tell if Rose was pregnant or not but they would proceed with caution over the x-ray and medication until it was ruled out.

"We’re going to keep you in overnight Rose, we'll send you for a scan in the morning and we need to monitor you but you'll get something for the pain once you're on the ward."

Rose was in no state to argue with the nurse as she waited for a porter to come with a chair, since she didn't want to be wheeled on a bed.

"Can someone call my boyfriend when I get to the ward?"

"I'm sure they will Rose, don't worry, they'll sort you out."

"So this scan, what is it?"

"Just to make sure you have no internal injuries and it was only your ribs, you may have pulled a rib muscle as you were hit.  The doctor didn't find any indication they were broken, luckily."

"Will you come to the ward with me?"

"Sorry, I have other patients here but you'll be fine, they'll look after you."

The female porter arrived and smiled at Rose, getting her charts from the nurse.

"Hello Rose, where are you going then?"

Rose just smiled back saying for her to ask the nurse.  As they got in the patient only lift, Rose remained quiet, she was feeling sick again and hoped she would get something for it once she'd got settled.  She had to wait by the desk but was soon wheeled to a side ward with six beds, three were occupied by older woman, one a woman around her own age and two empty ones as Rose was taken to the far corner near the window, which suited her just fine.

She'd already got undressed in the emergency room, wearing a gown that just tied at the back and another one over it so she was covered and if someone would finally call Alec, he could bring her own for her.  As she got settled into bed, being careful as she got in and her things were put into the locker next to her, she asked for her shoulder bag.

"Can you get me something for the pain now?"

"Yes, let's get you settled first then I'll come back.  Have you eaten?"

"No but I feel sick, can I just have a cup of tea?"

"After your medication.  Do you want us to call anyone?"

Rose thought at last.  "Will my mobile work here?" she asked, looking out at the gardens, being relieved she wasn't facing a wall or another building.

"Sometimes, it depends who you're with but if you give me a number, I can let someone know where you are, your mother perhaps?"

"My mum's away at my cousin's, I need to let my boyfriend know, I'll give you the number."

Having recited Alec's number, the nurse went off and she wondered if her phone network was one that would work as she carefully reached for her shoulder bag and got her mobile out but seeing 'No Service' on the screen when she pressed for it to light up, seeing Alec's picture on it and smiling.

The two women opposite were watching her.  Just let them try nicking her mobile during the night, they had no idea who her boyfriend was.

"Hello, what's your name then?" the woman opposite her asked.

"I'm Rose, hi.  Guess my mobile won't work here, fat lot of good that is, I won't be able to talk to my boyfriend all night but that's probably why they cut off the signal."

She thought she may as well have a bit of fun with them while she was there, Alec didn't look much like a detective and she could get him to keep quiet about it, depending how long they kept her in.

"Well, I'm Ivy and this is Carol."

Rose noticed the other woman had disappeared and the younger woman in the next bed but one had her earphones in.

"Visiting isn't until seven dear," Ivy informed her as she looked at her phone again.

The nurse came back in with some painkillers.  It was after six and Rose knew Alec would be wondering where she was.

"Here you are Rose, you can take two of these now but they may knock you out.  The orderly will bring you some tea in a minute, would you like to try to eat something, if I can find you a sandwich?"

"Well maybe if you have a tuna one?"

The nurse smiled as Rose took the two tablets and the water from her.

"I'll see what I can do, Nurse Daniels is just calling your boyfriend."

"Thanks but if these knock me out, I may not know he's here."

Alec had left just after six, pulling up in the street but having noted Claire's absence, maybe she'd finally got the message.  As he locked the car and walked to his cottage he was now hoping would become Rose's home as well, he opened the door and called her name.

"Rose, sweetheart, I'm back."

He saw immediately she wasn't downstairs and wondered if she'd gone to lie down when she'd got there.  He went up to their bedroom but it was empty and the bathroom door was open so he got out his phone but there was no answer, it just rang and he knew she'd not put an answerphone on, she preferred missed calls so she would see when he'd called her while she was at work.

He went back downstairs and thought she may just have stayed at her place and decided he'd take a walk down, he didn't really need his car and he would tell Rose in case he didn't make it tomorrow to make sure someone collected it.  He had to think positive now, he had Rose to think about and wondered if he was right, about her feeling sick but it was a bit soon, it wasn't even two weeks. If she was, he had to get through his surgery tomorrow, she had no-one else in the whole world, quite literally.

He let himself into Rose's apartment and he knew right away she wasn't there but there were signs something was wrong, the bag by the door that looked like it had been kicked out of the way and when he looked on the floor, a plastic tube that he knew straight off what it was, she had either got it and used it or thrown it on the floor and run away and maybe now, he'd lost her.  He knew better than to pick it up without using gloves, just in case something untoward had happened but maybe she had seen the results, found her device working and used it.

He felt sick himself at the thought of losing her, he needed her as much as she needed him, she wouldn't just go without saying anything, would she?  Was she so upset she'd just take off after they'd just resolved things?  A million things were running through his mind as he stumbled into the kitchen to get some water to take his pills, he could feel the tightening in his chest already and he had to calm himself down or it would be all over and he'd never find out if she had gone or not.  He took the two pills and pulled a chair out before he fell down. 

Five minutes later, he felt a bit more calm and got his phone out to call Ellie, just in case Rose had rung her to leave a message for him if she couldn't face doing it herself.  He squinted at the screen, Rose's smiling face looking back at him – he loved her and he might never see her again and he couldn't bear to think about getting through the surgery and her not being there.  Would she go back to James?

As he was running his fingers through his hair and thinking he liked it better when Rose did it to him, he jumped as his phone rang with an unknown number.

"Hardy."

"Is that Alec Hardy?" Nurse Daniels asked as her colleague was asking if she was calling Rose Tyler's boyfriend.

"Yes, who is this?"

"Nurse Daniels from Dorchester hospital, I was asked to call you."

"Don't tell me, you've been given the job of cancelling my surgery tomorrow, I knew it was too good to be true, getting in so early."

"Sorry, no, nothing about surgery.  I'm calling from ward 12, I believe you know a Rose Tyler?"

"What?" he asked, panicking again when he just been calming himself down.  "Rose, is she ok?"

"She was admitted just over an hour ago with some injuries, she can't use her mobile, we don't get very good reception here.  I'm just calling to tell you we're keeping her overnight, you can come and see her, visiting is seven until eight.

"Ward 12 you say?  What ward is that?"

"The general women's ward, she's in bed 12, just ask at the desk.  She mentioned when she was admitted you're in the police?"

"Yes, I am why?"

"She was assaulted from the report I received, she was asked if she wanted to report it but she said no."

Alec knew right away who had assaulted her, it could only be Claire.  That was it, he was locking her up and throwing away the key because she had just made a very big mistake.

"How is she?" he managed to ask.

"We're keeping her under observation overnight, we'll send her for a scan in the morning but we can discuss that, if you're coming to visit?"

It was almost six thirty but he could be there in half an hour but he was in no fit state to drive.

"Tell her I'm on my way will you?  Should I bring her anything?"

"No, she was just anxious we called you, I'm sure she just wants to see you."

Alec hung up, relieved she was at least ok and communicating.  He called for a cab to pick him up in five minutes and called Ellie, who frowned when she saw his name.

"I'm not coming back to work so forget it – Sir.  I thought you'd gone home to your girlfriend?"

"I need you to do something for me."

"No Sir, I need time with my family," she told him, wiping the tomato sauce from her youngest son's face.

"Not even for Rose?"

"What?  Is there something serious?"

"Claire attacked her, she's in the hospital, in Dorchester.  I want a warrant out for Claire Ripley, for assault and I want her locking up until morning, Rose won't get her out this time."

"I'll get right on it, are you going to see Rose?"

"My taxi just pulled up, I left my car at home and I need to get there right away."

"Why didn't she report it?"

"I expect she just thought about getting help and the hospital just called me, there's no mobile signal down there."

He'd never noticed when he'd been there, he'd been outside when he'd called for a cab to take him home, he must have been in a good spot to get a signal.

"I'll call Frank to get units out, give me Claire's address."

He had just reached the bottom step and waved through the gap under the stairs to the driver before he drove off.

"I'll text it to you but I doubt she'll be there, she will know Rose will have called me."

He hung up as he got into the cab, telling the driver which ward he wanted at the hospital, hoping he wouldn't be kept in himself as he knew the medication he'd just taken wouldn't be enough, he just hoped he would calm down by the time he got there or he'd be taken to see her on a stretcher.

He could see the driver eyeing him through the mirror as they drove down the A35 towards Dorchester and approached the roundabout, Alec having been that way the day before.  He could feel himself settling down so hopefully, if he walked in, he'd make it under his own steam.  He paid the driver and went though the same door as yesterday, looking at the signs and spotting ward 12, spying the lift even though it was the next floor.

He got out with several other people, all going in the same direction and looking out of the window, noticed that despite going up one level there was a path and a garden out there,  he followed the others, who all went off to different side wards and he stopped at the desk.

"I'm looking for Rose Tyler?"

"Yes, second room on the left, the bed near the window, she has the curtain round, I think she fell asleep."

Alec nodded and went off where he was directed, passing the first ward then going into the next and seeing a curtain pulled over, walked towards it, getting him a look from another young woman talking to a man and three other woman talking to their visitors.

While Rose had been waiting for Alec, she'd drunk her tea and eaten half her sandwich and laying back on the pillow, had falling asleep fifteen minutes ago.  He pulled the curtain from the side nearest the window, let himself through and pulled it all the way round, getting a stare from the three women opposite, not that he cared.  He pulled the chair around so he was facing her, getting as close as he could and touched her cheek.  Rose stirred slightly as he then kissed her lightly on the lips.

"Hey Sweetheart."

"Alec?  Where have you been?"

She tried to sit up but cringed and lay back on the pillows, Alec's arm now supporting her.  He saw the bandage on her forehead.

"Did Claire do this to you?"

"Yeah, she forced her way in Alec, I couldn't stop her."

"Why did she attack you?  Did you start it?" he smiled as Rose touched his tie.

"Very funny Alec, you told me not to, remember?  She said if I didn't let her in, she would go to the local paper and tell them how you abandoned her when she was, you know what."

"She tried that again?  Then what happened?"

She quickly told him up until Claire went into the bathroom.

"So, what did she do then?  She threw something at you?"

"Yeah and while I was holding my hand to my forehead, I thought she was leaving but she turned and grabbed me by my hair and dragged me into the living room, then she punched me, twice in my side.  I slumped to the floor and I heard the door slam.  I managed to reach my phone on the coffee table and called an ambulance, I didn't know what else to do, my side hurt."

"It's ok love, I have officers out looking for her, I put Miller in charge.  So, what did she throw at you eh?  It wasn't something small and plastic was it?"

Rose blushed at the thought where the testing kit had landed, she'd not been taking much notice.

"Did you use it?" he asked, taking her hand and rubbing the back of it as she held it to her side.

"No.  I looked at it but the instructions said from two weeks."

"I hate to ask you this love, really I do but is it possible it was from when you were with James?"

"No, it's months ago now and I was getting injections back then, you're the only one I've been with Alec, I told you, I never expected to meet anyone when I got to Broadchurch."

"I'm sorry Rose, I had to ask you.  Did they not do a test here?  Did you tell them?"

"Yes but it was inconclusive.  They're treating me as if I were though, just in case but the painkillers knocked me out.  Will I have to give a statement to Ellie?"

"I'll get her down here in the morning, it concerns me so it's best she conducts the investigation."

"You both have enough to do without me bothering you."

"Don't think that Rose, you are just as important.  We are not the only ones on the Latimer case.  Can you sit up?"

He moved to sit on the edge of the bed and she moved forward until he was holding her.

"I'm sorry it went this far love but you were the one who said for me to let her go," he smiled, kissing where there was no bandage.

"She said some horrible things Alec, she said she'd been to the clinic when she was off last Saturday but it was a lie, she couldn't have known that quickly when I didn't, she threatened to tell the papers.  When she saw the testing kit, she lost it and said I didn't get to have that with you so I knew it was all lies."

"Shush, everything will be taken care of, we'll find her and now I've got her for assault, I had nothing on her before, thanks to you I have now.  I would have preferred her not to have hurt you though but you have to press charges against her."

"I know but you didn't need this, not now."

"Well at least I have a reason to be here tomorrow," he grinned as she looked up at him.

They were interrupted a while later by someone trying to get past the curtain as they kissed, stopping just in time but Alec still sitting on the bed, which got them a frown from the staff nurse.

"You got hold of your boyfriend then?"

Alec thought that was rather obvious but moved back to the chair.

"How are you feeling now Rose?  We've arranged for a CT scan in the morning to make sure you have no internal injuries since you shouldn't have a x-ray until we rule out pregnancy.  Once we get the results, we'll give you some medication and you'll be able to go home.  You should report the incident."

"She already has, I have my DS working on it, I'm DI Hardy from Broadchurch Police.  We'll need to come back in the morning and get a formal statement and we'll need a report of her injuries," Alec told her.

"Of course, we'll co-operate fully with you.  Visiting is over in ten minutes, if you want to stay, it will have to be in an official capacity but not for too long, it disrupts the others and it is a female ward."

"It's ok, I'll walk out with him, I'm gonna need the bathroom."

The nurse left and Alec resume his place on the bed.

"I'll be back first thing with Miller, then I'll tell her I'm staying until you get released, which could take most of the day, don't you think?"

"Yeah, it could take a while.  Help me out of bed will ya?"

"Take it easy love."

He helped her sit on the edge.  "You could have brought me a few things, where were you when they called you?"

"At your place, I was wondering where you could be.  I thought you'd left."

"Left for where?" she asked, looking at him.  "Oh, you mean as in not just left Broadchurch?"

Alec avoid her stare.  "The thought did cross my mind when I saw the test."

"Alec, I'd never do that to you, I wouldn't just go without saying goodbye.  Did you panic?"

"I may have done but when I got the call, I was more angry with Claire, I knew it could have only been her that put you in here and she will regret it, trust me.  She had better hope Miller finds her before I do.  Come on then you can walk me out, slowly."

He helped her up and then kissed her, the curtain not quite pulled around so the woman opposite caught a glimpse as she'd been seeing her own visitors out.  Alec pulled the curtain further back, Rose holding onto his arm.

"Take your time Rose, don't rush," he told her, for his benefit as well as hers, the other women staring. 

Rose was going to get some stick when she returned.  He'd eaten the remainder of her tuna sandwich but he was still hungry and he had to keep all his strength for tomorrow.

"I'll call the salon in the morning, tell them you won't be back until Monday, don't even think about working on Saturday."

"Claire will have left town, she had a bag with her."

"I suspected that, I told Miller she would have left the cottage.  Saturday, no arguments, you move in with me if it all goes well tomorrow."

"It has to, I need you Alec."

They had reached the corridor, some seats just opposite the ward and Alec sat her down.

"We needed to talk tonight love but never mind, you know I love you, I'll do everything I can to get through tomorrow, I have to call Tess, she'll want to come but I'll try and keep her away"

"Let her come Alec, we need to meet, I can handle her, she can't be half as bad as Claire."

"Don't bet on that love.  I'm happy you could finally tell me, if I don't make it, we've had this time together, it was more than I hoped for when I met you that day."

"We'll have plenty of time.  Just keep calm tonight, promise?"

"Aye, I'll try my best but you promised to look after me."

"I will, when you get out but I don't know if they'll discharge me before you go for your surgery.  Someone will just have to take me down 'cos I'm gonna be there when you wake up."

They were about to kiss when the ward door swung open and the staff nurse had her arms folded.

"You should get back to your bed Rose," she informed the two of them.

Rose just smiled and kissed Alec's cheek.

"Gotta go, come and rescue me tomorrow."

"I will love, as soon as I can get Miller to bring me."

The staff nurse went back inside and Alec kissed Rose properly.

"Bye love, don't worry about me, I got a taxi here, I'd left my car at home and I'd walked to your apartment.  We have some serious talking to do before I go for my surgery.  I've left all my benefits to you, the police will take care of everything."

"They'll be no need of that for a long time.  You thought I'd gone back home but I promise you Alec, I'm never going back without you.  I love you."

"I love you too sweetheart, now back to your bed before they think I've aided you in escaping eh?"
Chapter 20
After Alec left, saying he'd be back first thing with Ellie, who would have to get a statement from her, Rose made the slow walk back to her bed after visiting the bathroom, getting a look from the other women.  Had she been in the mood she would have wound them up a bit but all she wanted was to get out of there the next day in time for Alec's surgery.  She hoped the other occupants of the small side ward had not been listening to their conversation especially when Alec had said how they were going to make up – providing he recovered tomorrow, she knew he'd wanted them to talk properly about it but not much could be said in a hospital.

He had said he'd provided for her and Daisy and hopefully, the two of them would meet if Alec got through it but she was dreading his ex being there though there was very little she could do to stop her pacing the corridor like she hoped to be doing.  She hoped there were no broken bones but when Alec caught Claire, she had a good mind to ask him to leave them alone and she would have retaliated had Claire not been holding her by her hair.


Rose had learned to defend herself since her arrival on the other world, something the Doctor wouldn't be proud of but he had been the one who could talk anyone out of anything, not her and now she was having to forget she was a Torchwood agent because as far as she knew, there was no Torchwood here any more although there had when the Daleks had tried to steal the 27 planets.  She'd never even thought of asking Alec to find out if part of it had survived though but judging by what they had talked about, a few odd occurrences where there had been no intervention by the Doctor, if Torchwood had survived, it now no longer  existed.

She wondered what had happened to Jack when Martha and Mickey had gone off with him, James had told her to find them but she hadn't wanted to interfere but if the Doctor had seen them again, Mickey would have tried to contact her.  One of the staff came round with drinks and Rose managed some hot chocolate without feeling sick and she settled down for the night, wishing her phone would work so she could at least send texts to Alec.

She was woken just after six thirty the next morning by the nurse pulling her curtain back and offering some more painkillers.

"Good morning Rose, how are you feeling today?" the nurse asked cheerily, too cheerily for Rose's liking at such an early hour when it wasn't Alec.

"A bit better though I still feel a bit sick.  Do you know what time I'm going for this scan you wanted?"

"Around ten I think so just take it easy until then.  Once you've been, we'll have a better idea of when you can go home.  Do you have someone to collect you?"

The nurse was new to Rose so she obviously had not seen Alec last night.

"Well I won't exactly be going home right away.  My boyfriend will be coming early, he's in the police and I have to give a statement to his DS about what happened to me then don't say anything to her but he's got surgery later on today.  He doesn't want her to know about it."

"Is it something serious?"

"Nah, he'll be in and out in a couple of hours, it's embarrassing, he's not told anyone about it," Rose grinned as she swallowed the painkillers

"I'll keep quiet then.  I just read what happened to you and you might be pregnant.  Did they give you a test when you were admitted?"

"Just a blood test in emergency, I was told it was too soon to tell."

The nurse smiled at her.  "I'll see what I can do later when I have a bit more time, I'll bring you a sample bottle and just slip it to me before you go for your scan."

"Thanks, I think my boyfriend will be just as glad to find out, it was a bit of a shock when I told him my attacker threw the testing kit at me but he'd found it on the floor in my apartment.  I never told him I was going to buy one."

"I bet that was a shock," the nurse smiled.  "I'm Jenny by the way, I'll be back later with that bottle, I'll get it rushed through for you.  Why did your attacker throw it at you?"

"A long story but she was his friend and she got a bit jealous when we started dating."

"Was she his girlfriend?"

"No, that's what's so annoying, I could understand it if she was but she went all psycho on us, she was even stalking me then both of us."

"Well if the police are onto her, they'll soon catch up with her."

"I hope so but she left where she was staying and she's probably quit her job.  I'll have to get my boyfriend to call work for me, my boss will be so annoyed there are two of us missing."

"Well at least you have an excuse, more than your friend.  You both worked together?"

"Yeah, we're hairdressers in Broadchurch."

"Oh, where that poor boy was killed?"

"Yeah, my boyfriend's the lead detective on the case.  That's why he doesn't want anyone to know he's got surgery later."

"I can understand that.  Well, I'd best go wake everyone else, do you want your curtain leaving open?"

"No thanks, it's a bit too bright outside for me just yet," Rose grinned.

Alec woke up just after seven, almost forgetting where Rose was as he realised he was alone.  When he'd got back last night, he'd called Ellie and she was taking him down to the hospital to interview Rose when he said he was going to stay until she was discharged so they'd get a taxi back.  He hated having to deceive his DS but he didn't really have much of a choice but perhaps he might relent and send her a message before he was admitted, if he could get a signal on his phone.

He got up, made himself some tea and toast and looked around.  If he survived this afternoon, they could make some real plans and go get her things to make the start of moving her in.  He'd never taken things so fast with Tess, they had danced around each other for months and still hadn't moved in together until a month before they'd got married.  Looking back, he wondered why they'd even got on with each other, it hadn't taken much for her head to be turned, had it?  What had she expected when they'd been in the middle of a case with two missing girls?  He shook his head and looked at the time, Tess would be up by now, seven thirty and he had to tell her about the surgery.

Tess was trying to rouse her daughter to get ready for school when her phone rang.

"Daisy Hardy, I swear if you don't make a move, I'm telling your father and he'll send you no more presents or money," she told the teenager when she'd glanced at the screen, wondering why her ex husband was calling so early.

"Alec, it's a bit early for you, what do you want?" Tess asked as she headed back downstairs to the kitchen.

"Hello to you as well Tess.  A few things but first, how's Daisy?"

"What?  I could tell you if you've got a couple of hours to spare but yes, she's fine.  Why do you ask?"

"I have something important to tell you and you have to tell Daisy."

"Just get on with it Alec, you don't normally beat around the bush."

"I have to go for surgery today, for a pacemaker."

The phone went silent at Tess's end.  "Crikey Alec, that's serious, why the hell did you never say anything?"

"Would it have made a difference?  Would you still be with Dave?"

"That's besides the point Alec.  You expect me to tell Daisy ?"

"Tell me what Mum?" the teenager asked as she walked into the kitchen, yawning.

"Here, you talk to your dad, I need coffee," Tess told her, holding out the phone to Daisy.

"Dad, what have you got to tell me?"

"Listen Daisy, I didn't want to leave this until the last minute but well, I have to go have a pacemaker fitted later today, I just wanted you to know that in case it goes wrong.  I've made provisions for you, to get you through college."

"Crikey Dad, you should have said before.  What are your chances?"

Tess was listening with interest, he would tell his daughter more than he would tell her.

"Slim but listen, I was told a few days ago that if I don't get it, I won't get any better so it's now or never so please, don't get upset about it.  Now put your mum back on and she can tell you the rest later."

Daisy reluctantly handed the phone back to her mother, looking pale.

"Mum, did you know?"

"I just found out myself.  Alec, you'd better tell me you've made provisions, if it goes wrong."

"My savings and an insurance policy, made out to Daisy when she's seventeen, to get her though college."

"What about your other benefits, from the police?"

"Ah, that's what else I have to tell you.  I met someone a few weeks ago and we've been together, she's going to be moving in with me, if I get through this.  Her name is Rose, she's a hairdresser and she was introduced to me by Claire Ripley."

"What?  Got yourself a young girlfriend or is she older?  How does she know Claire Ripley?"

"They worked together, Claire came to Broadchurch with me, Ashworth was likely to find her, she felt threatened but I don't have time to explain this right now.  Claire got jealous of Rose and attacked her and Rose is in the hospital, the same one I'm having the surgery at, down in Dorchester.  It's not serious but they kept her overnight and she'll be out before I go in, hopefully."

"You've been hiding Claire from Ashworth?  That's a laugh Alec.  So you got caught up with a woman who worked with Claire but why did she get jealous?  You told me there was nothing going on with the two of you."

"There wasn't, Claire just got jealous because when we came here, I got caught up in the Latimer case and when I started paying attention to Rose, it set her off.  Besides, she lived about five miles or so away from where I am and I hardly saw her, Rose was at her place when I went to check on her a few weeks ago."

"So you took a liking to this Rose and she's moving in with you?"

She turned to see Daisy, who had a pair of earphones in her ears and was fiddling with her mobile phone.

"If I survive and so my benefits will go to her, I had them put in her name because she gave up her apartment, she's only working part time now, business is slow with what's going on in the town," Alec explained.

Alec thought he'd best not mention Rose had a magic bank account but that could dry up at a moment's notice if it was actually discovered.

"Well like it not Alec, I'm coming to the hospital, what time?"

"I go in at three but don't you start any trouble with Rose, she's been through enough, Claire has been stalking her and telling lies about me to her."

"What kind of lies?"

"Does it even matter Tess?  If you must know, her imagination has been getting the better of her, she was under the illusion I wanted to be more than her friend.  If she arrives in Sandbrook, I have a warrant out for her arrest."

Tess had to laugh, Claire had got jealous he'd actually got himself a new girlfriend and it wasn't her but best of all, she'd introduced them.  She now had to meet this Rose, who had caused all this commotion and wish her luck – she was going to need it if Alec survived and Claire wasn't caught.

"Why are you telling me all this?  Don't you think you'll survive?"

"I don't know but I have someone else apart from Daisy to get through this for now.  I may as well tell you, Rose might be pregnant."

That stunned Tess, he'd never shown any interest in having any more kids after Daisy had been born but neither had she when she thought about it.

"That was a bit quick Alec, how long did you say you've known her?"

"I didn't but what's so surprising Tess?  You got yourself someone else."

"Yes, I did and I'm not justifying myself to you over it and I didn't get myself pregnant after a few weeks, did I?" Tess scoffed back, hoping Daisy was paying more attention to her music than her parents still arguing after all that time, over the phone.

"I don't want Daisy to meet her, not yet, I want to meet with her on my own, to tell her, if I get through the surgery," Alec told her, looking at the time.

He wanted to be at the hospital just after nine, since he didn't know when Rose was going for the scan.  He hoped someone at the hospital would give her another pregnancy test, he wanted to know, if it was going to be all over later on.  At least if he knew, he could go peacefully but leaving Rose on her own, after all they'd been through and she was stranded here, it was so unfair.

"I should think so Alec.  I'll be there before three, I'll find out where you are."

He had no doubt she would as well.  He got ready for work and walked the short distance to the station, he should have taken the car but the yard and garage were mad at that time in the morning.  Ellie was already at her desk just after eight as he walked in, beckoning her to join him in his office.

"Sir, have you heard from Rose this morning?"

"No, since we are about to go down and interview her, well you are, I can't do it, she's my girlfriend.  There's something to add to that now, Rose might be pregnant."

"Wow, that was a bit quick."

"Don't you go starting, I just had enough with my ex.  I had to call her first thing so she wouldn't hear any rumours, you know what people are like around here, it will be just the sort of thing your nephew would love to get his grubby little hands on."

"They have enough with the murder investigation but since you're involved, Olly might make an exception, not that he'll hear it from me."

"I hope not Miller.  Right, we'll get off, Rose is having a scan and I don't know what time then she'll have to wait around for the results I expect."

"How long will you be staying there?" Ellie asked as they waited for the lift, noticing he was getting very lazy these days and it was rubbing off on her, worse luck.

He shook his head, how could he possibly say he might never be getting out, without being carried out?

"As long as it takes, maybe someone will check to see if she is or not?"

"Didn't they test her when she was admitted?" Ellie asked as the lift arrived.

"It was inconclusive but knowing Rose, she'll ask for it done again.  She'd bought a testing kit but never used it, that was what Claire had thrown at her before hitting her."

"Poor Rose, no wonder she's been feeling sick, I wondered if that was what was wrong with her but I didn't want to say anything, you'd just have been in a worse mood that before you met her."

Alec just ignored her as they arrived on the ground floor and went around to the car park behind the station.  He stayed silent on the ride there, Ellie glancing at him and thinking he had it bad for his new girlfriend and was worried about her.  How would he react when Rose did get the results?  Ellie used her police sign to park and they made their way to ward 12 after Ellie stopped to call Rose's boss, who wasn't too happy.  Alec was hoping Rose was feeling better.

The nurse had got back to Rose and she had handed the sample bottle back and was waiting for Alec and Ellie's arrival.  She smiled when she could hear Alec's voice out at the nurse's station, where the ward sister was put out that they were wanting to disturb the patients.

I'm DI Hardy, this is DS Miller, from Broadchurch police and we're here to see Rose Tyler."

"That's all very well but she's waiting to go for a scan."

"Yes, I'm aware of that but she has to give us her statement of what happened to her," Ellie insisted.

The nurse, Jenny, had just come back after sneaking off to see her friend to get Rose's test results and after waiting, had to give up and come back  and was hoping she'd get chance to go back without being missed.

"I'll take them to see Rose," Jenny offered, thinking the tall man must be Rose's boyfriend and remembering seeing him on TV a week or two back.  Lucky Rose.

"I know where she is," Alec informed the ward sister.  "I was told last night we would get your full co-operation."

"You were here last night?" the sister asked.  "I was told she didn't report it."

"Not officially, that's why we're here now," Ellie told her, thinking Hardy would be getting impatient to see Rose.

"I see.  Very well but try and keep your voices down, some of the other patients may be trying to rest.  She'll be able to be discharged once she's got her scan results back."

"She's already been?" Alec asked.

"No, it will be around ten when someone comes for her."

"Then we have time to interview her.  Miller, she is in the second side ward, by the window, she may have the curtain around," Alec told her.  "I'll catch up."

Ellie went off to find Rose, Alec remaining.

"When Rose came in yesterday, she told admittance she may be pregnant, have you done another test?"

"I was told it was too early, nothing showed up in her blood test," the sister told him.

Jenny was hoping she could now justify going back to get the results.

"I can take care of that Ma'am."

"Oh very well, after the detectives have finished talking to her but don't let it interrupt your other duties."

Jenny thought she may be a trainee nurse but she was always showing how keen she was to learn and please her superiors.  Ellie had found Rose, walking to her bed where the curtain was pulled around, Rose listening to some music having turned on the radio and wishing she'd had her own earphones to listen to the music on her phone.  She looked up when she saw the curtain being pulled back, the hands not looking like Alec's.

"Ellie, hi.  Where's Alec?"

"He'll be here soon, he's talking to the ward sister.  Do you want to tell me what happened yesterday?" Ellie asked, taking the chair and getting her notebook out.

Alec was satisfied that he may find out before Rose got discharged and he went off for his surgery.  He thought though he would give her a bit of time to talk without him being there, it was Miller's investigation, he could be no part of it.

Rose had finished going through the events again of what had happened, wishing Alec had written it down last night and passed it on.

"Is there anything else Rose?" Ellie asked her, putting her notebook down.

"No, I don't think so.  She wasn't at her cottage, was she?"

"No, a neighbour said she'd left the key with her yesterday afternoon, saying she'd handed her notice in but I doubt that.  I called your boss before we came down, I explained what had happened to you.  I asked if Claire was there and she said she hadn't turned up for work again.  I said you would probably be back on Monday."

"I should go in tomorrow, it was bad enough last Saturday when Claire was off."

"You’re in no fit state to go back to work tomorrow Rose.  They'll just have to manage without you."

"Well Maureen might get her niece to help out, since there'll be two of us missing.  Can you go find Alec?"

"Rose, he told me you might be pregnant, he's probably asking if they've given you another test.  Can you tell me what Claire was wearing yesterday?"

Ellie picked up her notebook again.

"Yeah, a black jacket, a purple top and black trousers and she had a black backpack with her.  Oh, the jacket had a red lining and there was something sticking out of the pocket, like a plastic bag, I couldn't really see."

Alec had just heard her as he pulled the curtain back.

"Alec!  Hi, where have you been?"

"What did you just tell Miller?"

"About Claire?  Just she had something in her jacket pocket, I didn't really get a good look." 

Alec sat on the edge of the bed, leaning over to kiss Rose's cheek, despite Ellie being there.

"It could have been nothing Alec, we were arguing."

"I always suspected Claire had more to do with Sandbrook than she would admit.  Rose, could it have been a police evidence bag?"

"Excuse me, Sir but you're just grasping at straws," Ellie scoffed.  "That was a good while ago and it was said you took the blame but it came out it was a member of your team."

"It was my ex wife Miller and don't you dare tell your nephew.  I was cleared of any wrongdoing but I accepted the blame because I was responsible for my team."

"What happened Alec?  I wasn't here, remember?" Rose asked him.

Neither Rose or Alec had yet told Ellie where Rose had come from – it was a bit much and she'd never believe it anyway.

"Not now love, later eh?  If that was the missing evidence bag, it means she has the pendant and Ashworth was responsible for at least Pippa Gillespie's death.  I'll have to call Tess again later, maybe Claire will head back there?"

"Well I'll be off now to file my report and find out how the search for Claire is going.  I hope you feel better soon Rose, I'll see you when you get home, come into the station."

"I have to collect all my stuff tomorrow, I'm moving in with Alec."

"So he said.  At least you two have stopped messing around and come to your senses though why you'd want to move in with him?" Ellie half joked.

"Hey, watch it Miller," Alec protested, hoping she was just joking.  "Haven't you got a report to file?" he mumbled, taking Rose's hand.

"I'm going already.  If you need help moving Rose, call me, no doubt he'll be working and leave you to it.  You're not even thinking of leaving her are you – Sir?"

"Don't be so daft Miller and I probably won't be in for the rest of today, goodness knows when they'll let her out, she could be waiting around for hours after her scan."

He was hoping she'd be discharged in time to go down where the operation was taking place, in the surgical unit without her being wheeled down there.

It was just after ten and as Ellie was leaving, she saw a porter enquiring at the desk for Rose.

"Did you call Tess earlier Alec?" Rose asked him as he leaned over to kiss her.

"Yes love, she insisted on coming here this afternoon and I had to tell her about us.  I asked about you having another pregnancy test, one of the nurses should be here soon."

Rose smiled.  "You mean Jenny?  She already sneaked me one, I'm waiting for her to come back.  Maybe she had to go back for it?"

"You are very sneaky Rose, do you know that?"

"Aw, that's why you love me," Rose smiled, wagging her finger at him for another kiss.

They were interrupted as Alec saw the curtain move.

"Rose Tyler?  I've come to take you for a CT scan."

"Oh, yeah.  You brought me up here last night.  My boyfriend's coming with me but can you walk slowly?  He has to take it easy."

"Sure.  Here, take one of your blankets to cover yourself, we have to go upstairs, they built this hospital upside down if you ask me."

"I'll say, I came up one floor and there is a garden out there," Alec remarked as the porter helped Rose out of bed, him not wanting to be responsible for taking the woman's job.

The porter kept at a steady pace out to the lift and they went up two floors, passing the x-ray and MIR and the entrance to the CT scanner was next to it but Rose was put just opposite which was just as well Alec thought, putting her outside the MIR was not such a good idea.  He took a seat next to her and smiled over at her.

"I'll be right out here love, you'll be fine."

"Are you getting nervous about this afternoon?"

"Honestly?  Yes but I can't back down now, I have you to think about."

"Yes and your daughter.  Did you talk to her?"

"Yes but I left her mother to do the explaining.  Listen Rose, we don't have much time to talk about if I don't make it.  You have to promise me as soon as you can, you'll go back."

"Alec, how can I?  Besides if I'm pregnant then I'll have to wait until the baby is old enough to go with me.  I'll try and find Mickey and the Doctor, he might be even able to get back now after all this time."

"You have to go back Rose, you need help, to bring up the baby if I'm not there."

"You will be there, I know you will.  If you're not, I'm staying here and whatever it takes, I'll get a message though and let someone come to me to tell my mum I'm ok.  If I'm not pregnant, well I'll have to think about it."

"There won't be anything to keep you here, if I'm gone," Alec mused as the door to the CT opened and someone was wheeled out on a bed.

"Your memory Alec, you made being stranded here worthwhile and I'm so sorry I never told you until the other night that I love you."

"It's fine Rose, I knew.  I think it's your turn now."

A woman came out of the room opposite and looked at the back of Rose's chair.

"Rose Tyler?  Let's get this done and get you back to the ward.  Have you had one of these before?" the technician asked, wheeling her in and closing the door.

Rose said no, she hadn't.

"Don't worry, it will be over before you know it, can you get up on the table?"

Alec was waiting outside, looking around.  He was seeing too much of hospitals lately for his liking and the sooner Rose got out, the better but to what?  Facing her new life without him, on her own and maybe pregnant?  He had to get through it, no matter what, it was no longer a matter of giving in to the inevitable and he was now regretting not seeking help before and for what?  He'd done well at hiding his condition but it was catching up with him rapidly and when he'd had that call about Rose last night, he'd almost panicked and thought his surgery had been cancelled then where would that have left either of them?
Chapter 21
Rose was soon out, interrupting Alec's thoughts, which was just as well since he was dwelling too much on something going wrong with his surgery, that or it being cancelled or he left Daisy and Rose behind and maybe the child Rose could be carrying.

"Hey, Alec, I hope that nurse got back with my results, then I can get discharged.  I really don't want to go with you dressed like this."

"You look fine Rose, don't fuss about your appearance."

"I wouldn't want to meet your ex in a hospital gown though," she mused, taking his hand.

"I'll be the one wearing a hospital gown if anything.  Where's the porter to take you back?"

A man in blue approached them after he parked another wheelchair outside the x-ray department.

"Right, where are you going then?" he asked as he took Rose's chart.

Rose thought that was a standard greeting.  Alec asked for the man to slow down as he took off towards the exit and Rose smiled.  She knew he hated being like that, not been able to do any physical exertion and they'd had to tone down their love life, well apart from that first night and she wondered how he'd managed to survive.

Once back at the ward, Nurse Jenny was waiting for Rose so settling her in the armchair, Alec pulling the other one around, the news was broken to her.

"I had to get my friend to rush it through and it might not be that accurate but yes, you are around two weeks or so, it's a bit early for an ultrasound, I'll ask the sister if you can be given a follow-up appointment in around another six weeks or so."

"Thanks Jenny.  Will you come and tell me when my other results come back?"

Jenny nodded and left them, pulling the curtain back after her but the nosy women opposite were otherwise occupied with a new arrival in the bed next to Rose's.

Alec pulled his chair forward, taking her hands.

"Well, so now we know but when you meet Tess, don't tell her unless I don't survive.  I will have to try and tell her Claire may have the missing evidence, if I can use my phone."

"I'll tell her, it will give us something to talk about while you're in surgery.  She can tell me what happened."

"Don't believe everything she says, it was her who had her car broken into, she was meeting someone.  She wasn't there when I pulled Pippa out of the river either, then I found out where she had been."

"I'm sorry Alec, that you had to find the girl like that, I can't imagine what it must have been like for you.  So you never found her cousin?"

"No but I won't give up and now Claire has made a big mistake.  She was supposed to be lying low but she's now back in the spotlight.  If Tess thinks Claire has the missing evidence, South Mercia police will get involved and she will re-open the case.  Rose, I'm sorry love, for getting you into this mess."

"Rubbish, I'm always getting into trouble, James used to say I was jeopardy friendly."

Alec smiled and leaned forward.  "I just bet you were.  Are you getting back into bed eh?"

"Is that an invitation?"

"Now Rose, remember where you are eh?"

By midday, Rose had heard nothing else and the orderly was taking lunch orders.

"I'll go find the café, see if I can get a phone signal and call Miller then Tess," Alec told her as Rose was asked if she wanted fish or an omelette, thinking she would be safer with the fish.

"OK, come right back won't you?"

"Aye, if I don't have anything now, it will be too late before I go for my surgery, I was told nothing an hour before.  I hope you will be ready to go when I come back."

"So do I."

On his arrival at the café, Alec was pleased to see there was some signal on his phone as he pressed Ellie's number.

"How's Rose?" Ellie asked as she was about to head out, with another DS.

"Still waiting for the test results but she got the other one, it's confirmed, she's around two weeks."

"Blimey, you've not even known each other for two weeks, you were debating whether to ask her to my place for dinner."

"Don't remind me.  She's going to keep it, she is moving in with me you know and I accept full responsibility, we both knew what we were doing.  She was alone and Claire had pulled a nasty trick on her, it just happened."

"So she wasn't taking anything then?" Ellie asked, amused the grumpy detective had it in him to get a woman pregnant.

"What do you think?  When she left home, she wasn't thinking of getting involved with anyone, it was just one of those things.  When I set off to go get her, that was not the foremost on my mind.  I'll see you Monday morning, unless Rose calls you for anything.  Any news on Claire?"

"Fine but I've got to go explain to Beth why you're not with me.  Patrols are on the lookout for Claire, she must be heading back where she came from."

"I'm sure you'll think of something to tell the Latimers Miller."

"When did you want to see Tom?"

"Make it Monday morning, first thing."

That was if there was a Monday morning for him but now he had a baby to think about.  He reluctantly called Tess again but only got her voicemail, maybe she was already on her way to the hospital so Rose would have to tell her about Claire, he wanted to spend his last few minutes alone with her, what he had to say was not for Tess to hear.

Rose had just finished her lunch when the ward sister pulled the curtain all the way back.

"Good news Rose, you can go home.  You just have some bruising and a pulled muscle but the painkillers will help with that.  Did you get your other result?"

"Yeah, the nurse said I'd get a follow-up appointment."

"We need your address first, we don't seem to have it."

"I didn't give it, I'm just about to move."

"Well leave it at the desk, you'll get your discharge papers sent to your doctor's surgery.  Is your boyfriend coming back?"

"Yeah, he's just gone to the café.  I'll get dressed then and thanks for looking after me."

"Well you take care and we'll get that ultrasound booked for you then you'll be booked in.  Is this the nearest hospital?"

"So I was told, I've only been in Broadchurch a few weeks."

"There is a community hospital there but I don't know about a maternity unit, there have been some departments closed.  They may have no emergency department either or maybe the ambulance driver thought it best to bring you here under the circumstances."

Rose got dressed and waited for Alec coming back and wondered where he'd got to.  He was outside getting some fresh air after being there all morning and there was more to come.  Rose was getting worried about him as she waited by the desk after getting everything she needed.  She saw Jenny, who was surprised Rose was still there.

"Not gone yet?"

"I'm waiting for my boyfriend, he should have been back by now."

"Maybe he was scared off, with the result of that other test?"

"No, he wouldn't do that.  Can you call him for me?  Is there a phone signal in the café?"

"Yeah, there is.  Give me the number."

Alec felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, seeing an 'Unknown Number' but as he was about to ignore it, he thought it could be the ward Rose was in or about his surgery.

"Hardy," he answered as he found a bench to sit on.

"Oh, I'm calling for Rose, she wondered where you were, it's Jenny."

"Can she get out of there?"

"Yes, can you come and get her?"

"Aye, tell her I'll be right up."

He waited for the lift, he was so close to getting himself fixed now, nothing was going to spoil it.  Rose was still talking to the nurse.

"Ready to go love?" Alec asked her as Rose got up carefully.

"Good luck later," the nurse called after them.

"What did she mean?  She meant with the baby?  Rose, you did not tell her I was here to have my pacemaker fitted, did you?"

"Quit with the questions Alec.  I didn't want her saying anything in front of Ellie."

"Why would she say something in front of Miller?" he asked as the lift arrived, him letting two people get out and allowing Rose in first.

"She asked if I had someone to take me home and I said you had to stay."

"What exactly for?" he asked, forgetting she'd told him to stop asking questions.

They arrived on the ground floor and he led her outside.  If this was going to be his last few hours with Rose, he sure wasn't going to spend any more of them inside that building than he had to.

"I told her it was something embarrassing and you didn't want to tell anyone."

"Thanks a lot Rose, what is she going to think?"

"Aw come on, I was just playing, in case those nosy women were listening."

"They have to do something to pass the time."

"Yeah, they could read a magazine or do some knitting and stick their earphones in."

"Is your mother like you?" Alec mused, seeing a whole new side to his girlfriend.

Rose dug her elbow into his side.  "Well, we've got a couple of hours before you have to go back inside, what do you want to do?"

"Seriously?  Well, I've no car so we can't go park somewhere so no-one can see us and you just got attacked anyway.  How's the pain now?"

"Manageable as long as I don't move suddenly or bend down.  Seriously, we have to talk.  I'm not having this baby without you so get any ideas of not surviving out of that scruffy head of yours."

"Excuse me, I am not 'Scruffy' as you so kindly put it.  I tidied up before I came out, did you not notice?" he asked, taking her hand and running it on his chin.

"I was being affectionate you know?  I can't do this on my own."

"I know love, that's why you have to find your friends, promise me?"

"Ok, I'll try."

"Go to Miller, she will help you and tell her, well tell her I didn't want anyone to know about me."

"I will but you can tell her yourself when we get back.  They will let you home tonight?"

"If there are no complications, I expect so.  If I have to stay in, let Tess take you back to Broadchurch."

"No way, I'm staying with you, on a chair if I have to.'

"You need to rest and not in a chair."

"For one night Alec, I'm not leaving you."

"Then get a hotel room nearby and come back first thing.  Will you at least agree to that?"

"Yeah, ok then.  I'd better look some up while I can still get a phone signal."

"You would think they could sort something out, a place like this?" Alec nodded towards the entrance.

"Where I came from, if there was no signal, they used the wi-fi that was free in most places, even on the tube.  It was so weird at first, seeing everyone talking on their phones while trains were whizzing past and even once you got on."

"You should suggest it to the phone companies," Alec moaned as he got his out of his pocket to see a missed call from Tess, she must have rung while he'd been collecting Rose, typical.

"I'm not allowed Alec, I can't do anything to interfere with the natural progression now I'm back, it was like where I was, they didn't have certain things and Pete forbade me to even suggest anything.  Me and Mickey could have made an absolute fortune of our own."

"That would have been wrong, your stepfather was right, it could have done a lot of harm."

"Not songs or stories though but Torchwood kept us pretty busy."

"That's different I suppose, you would have been helping entertain people but inventions?"

"Let's not get into that shall we?  We'll take a walk and find a secluded spot and do some serious snogging?"

"I'm all for that.  Why don't we go find you a hotel, well us, then if I get out, we can stay overnight and go back tomorrow?"

They looked quickly on Alec's phone, finding a place not far from the hospital and were there ten minutes later, booking a double room and Rose asking if they served early breakfast for hospital visitors.  They still had well over an hour before they had to set off back to give them time to get to the surgical unit.

Alec left his phone on silent as he lay Rose carefully on the bed and tried not to touch the side that hurt as he kissed his way across her tummy, Rose ruffling his hair.  As Rose lay on the opposite side to her injury, Alec coaxed her out of her jeans and underwear as they carefully showed their love for each other.  With fifteen minutes to spare, Alec helped her up and leaned down to help her with her jeans.

"I wish we had more time Rose, all the things I want you to experience, just in case."

"We'll have plenty of chances Alec.  Look, I'm gonna call Ellie and ask her to find Mickey for me and he might know where the Doctor is."

"What can he do Rose, is he a heart surgeon?"

"No but you've no idea what's in the Tardis infirmary, there could be something to help you."

"Now's the time to tell me Rose.  I still have to go ahead though, if you don't manage to find him."

"Yeah, I know but Mickey should know I'm here, I've left it long enough."

"Yes and I'm sure he'll be only too happy to see you love.  Now, one more kiss and we have to go."

"Did Tess call?"

"I tried earlier and she called me back while I was collecting you."

"You should try again."

"Ah, she'll be already here knowing her, sat drinking coffee no doubt.  We'll go by the café on the way in shall we?"

Tess had arrived over half an hour ago, even after she'd got caught in traffic and since Alec hadn't called her back, she decided she'd just wait for him – unless he'd backed out but there was no chance now he'd got a new girlfriend who may be in the family way, trust him.  Maybe she would know by now, being in hospital herself, they will have had to eliminate the fact to treat her injuries.  She turned around and saw her ex husband standing further away with a young blonde as they were looking in her direction.  She half waved and seeing her, Alec took Rose's arm and led her across, leaning over the trellis and the potted plants.

"I thought you would have already been here Alec.  Hello, you must be Rose then?"

"Yeah, that's me, hello.  I thought your daughter might have been here?"

"No, she goes off to her gran's house before I go to work.  With Ashworth still on the loose somewhere, I don't like to leave her in the house all day on her own, goodness knows who she'd invite in."

"We taught her better than that Tess but never mind it's the right thing to do.  Right, let's get this over with."

Tess followed them down a corridor where it indicated the surgical unit was, Alec stopping by a doorway.

"Tess, I'll say this now, Rose comes in with me, on her own and to recovery, should I be fortunate enough to be taken there afterwards."

"For goodness sake Alec, I can see you're in love with the girl, I'll not interfere, I didn't want you thinking I didn't care at all that I never took the time.  I have to tell Daisy, should you not recover, in case you forgot.  Is there anyone else?"

"My solicitor will take care of everything.  Rose, you have nothing to do, the police will take care of any funeral arrangements.  Tess, promise me if I don't get through this, you'll take Rose back to Broadchurch?  Tell Daisy I'm sorry for not being there for her as well."

"Oh rubbish Alec, you'll be going home with Rose tonight, you're too stubborn to give up a new girlfriend.  Well Rose, are you pregnant or not then?" Tess asked her as Alec went up to the desk.

"They did a test this morning and yeah, though it's a bit early to really tell, all the signs have been there."

"Trust him, right when he was considering surgery, without even telling anyone."

Tess crossed to a row of seats, Rose following as Alec turned around.  He'd been told someone would call him shortly and only one person could go with him.  He knew who that was as he sat beside Rose, taking her hand and kissing the back of it.

"She must be doing something right Alec, you look a lot tidier than the last time I saw you."

Alec nudged Rose.  "See, even she does not think I'm scruffy."

"I was just joking, I was the one who cut your hair, remember?"

"Yes and you enjoyed showing off to everyone as well."

"So you worked with Claire Ripley then?"

"Yeah, what a mistake that turned out to be, she went all psycho on me when Alec asked me out.  She must have got the wrong idea about why he took her to Broadchurch."

"Yes Alec, why did you take Claire to Broadchurch?  Did you get her that job?"

"I vouched for her, she let me down – end of story.  I don't have time for this now.  Tess, has she been sighted in your area?"

"No, not yet, I've got a description out on her for her to be picked up on assault charges."

"Well that may not be all, Rose has some information for you."

"Really?  Did she confess her role in killing one girl and kidnapping another?  If she did, I'm interested but not in the squabbles over my ex husband, thanks."

Rose smiled.  "Well you may be interested about yesterday when she forced her way into my apartment and attacked me."

"Why did she attack you anyway?"

"Is this an interview?  What rank are you anyway?"

"I'm a DS and I kept my maiden name so there weren't two DS Hardy's.  I'm glad I kept it now.  Can't see how he got a promotion when I didn't."

"So am I and I worked harder than she did," Alec whispered in Rose's ear.

He put his arm around her, glad he wasn't on the side that hurt as she leaned her head on his shoulder.  A door opened and a nurse came out and picked up a folder.  Rose squeezed his hand.

"Alec Hardy."

Alec got up, bringing Rose with him.  They followed her down a corridor and the nurse pointed to a small ward.

"In there please and put the gown on, you can keep your underwear on, there's a basket for your clothes if your girlfriend wants to look after them or I can put them in a locker for you."

"No, it's fine, I'll take them," Rose told her as Alec began pulling the curtain around, something he was making a habit of.  Rose wasn't sure if he wanted her there or not and sat on one of the chairs as he disappeared.  He opened the curtain a crack, handing her a neatly folded set of clothes, minus his shorts, Rose noted.  She put them in the basket and left it on the chair and went through the gap to see him sitting on the bed.  He patted the space next to him and Rose sat down.

"Too late now Alec, to back out."

"Well I am not backing out, this is it, my chance to prove I love you.  Tell Tess that I never decided to go ahead until I met you."

"Yeah, like she'll believe that.  She'd better believe that I may have seen the missing evidence bag though I'm not certain it was that."

"Just tell her, it's then up to her."

"Won't she be mad if I'm wrong?"

"That depends if I survive or not but don't worry, I'm not giving up that easily.  Now, come here."

They had just parted when the curtain was moved back and a nurse and a porter were standing there.

"Time to go Alec."

"Can I walk with him?"

"Sure, we're not going far.  We'll come and find you when it's over."

Before she knew it, they were wheeling him into the theatre after she insisted she gave him one last kiss, the nurse taking pity on her.  She had whispered she loved him and said she would be out in the waiting area which turned out to be just through the door opposite, seeing Tess looking at her phone.  Rose thought there must at least be a signal in that part of the building as Tess appeared to be texting.  She looked up as Rose approached and put the basket on the seat where Alec had been sitting.

"He didn't back out then?"

"Nope, they said they'd come and find us, when he gets out.  Why did you come Tess?"

Tess put her phone in her jacket pocket.

"Truthfully?  How could I face our daughter if I'd let him die on his own?"

"He has me now, he wouldn't be on his own but I can understand.  I had someone, back home and we were separated, no way back but he had a twin and we found each other and we knew that was what he wanted for us."

"Then what happened?"

"James broke his promise to me and went to find him and I couldn't forgive him.  We both said we'd never try but he wanted some answers."

"Didn't you?" Tess asked as her message tone went.  "It's from Daisy, she's upset and her gran said she should have come with me.  She's right, I should have brought her with me."

"For what?  She's going through enough back home, she wouldn't have felt any better being here, trust me.  Alec said I had something to tell you."

"He did start to mention it.  Is it about Claire then?"

"Yeah, when she was confronting me, I saw something in her jacket pocket, like a plastic bag with one of those zip-lock things."

"Like a police evidence bag?" Tess asked, her face lighting up.

"Maybe, like I told Alec and his DS, it was only for a second.  When I told Alec he said he always suspected Claire was more involved than she told him."

"Did he tell you why he took her to Broadchurch?"

"Hiding her from her husband, she felt threatened when Alec said he was getting transferred.  Why did you let him take the blame for what you did?  It almost killed him Tess."

Tess got up suddenly and walked to the drinks machine, fishing for some coins in her pocket and making her selection.

"Want some?" she called over.  Rose shook her head.

Tess walked back, still looking slightly angry.

"You have a nerve, asking me that when you hardly know him Rose.  Do you think I never felt guilty about it?  He chose to do it, I never asked him to cover up for me.  That was the night he found out, about me and Dave and he still took the blame because he didn't want Daisy to know.  I hid Dave from her for months, then she found out on her own and because she thought her father had left her, she wanted nothing to do with him.  I swear Rose, I never knew there was anything wrong with him."

"Maybe you should have taken notice?"

"Maybe I should.  Have you told your mother yet?  About Alec getting you pregnant?"

"You make it sound horrible Tess.  I chose to be with Alec that night, Claire dragged me down to Weymouth, tried to set me up with a complete moron and was going to leave me there with no money to get back.  I called Alec, he'd given me his number the day before, after we'd met at Claire's place and he said if I had any trouble with her, to call him."

"So you did?  It's still no reason to jump into bed with him."

"Jealous?  Look Tess, this is why he didn't want you here and as for my mum, she's gone to stay with her cousin in the peak district, I've no idea if she's coming back or not.  At this present moment Alec is all I have."

Tess got up to throw her empty paper cup into the trash can and looked like she was debating whether to just leave or not but sat back down, looking at the basket containing Alec's clothes.  Rose had put his wallet, watch and mobiles, after turning them off, into her shoulder bag, knowing she had to return his work one to the station and have someone collect his car.  He had told her he'd come down with Ellie, using the excuse he didn't know how long he would be waiting.  She got her own phone out and retrieve Ellie's number, thinking she at least deserved to know, if it was bad news.
Chapter 22
"Calling your mother?" Tess asked.

"Nope, Alec's DS, just in case.  She brought him down here this morning, she took my statement and that's when I remembered about the plastic bag.  Are you going to do anything about it?"

"When I get back, she'll be found eventually.  So, Alec finally has something on her then, assaulting you."

"Yeah, I've got the scars and the hospital report to prove it and I am pressing charges.  He locked her up one night, for stalking me and I made him let her go 'cos I didn't want her telling the people I work with I had my new boyfriend arrest her."

"You should have left her then, she'd have known Alec meant business."

"You don't like her then?"

"Not exactly, Alec was the one who dealt with her back then, I really thought he was taken with her but I learned he was just trying to lure her into giving up her husband.  When she did, he got trapped didn't he?  Did he tell you anything else?"

"You'll have to ask him, it's not down to me to tell you that, he'd never forgive me if he survives and like I said, he's all I have."

"What will you do Rose, if he doesn't?"

"I have some friends in London, I'll contact them and call my mum.  I'm having this baby, with or without him Tess."

"I've no doubt you will, you seem determined.  He said he'd signed his benefits over to you, you'll be looked after."

"Yeah and I have some money I had left to me, I'll manage.  Nothing is gonna make me give up the baby."

They sat in silence for the best part of an hour until a nurse came through the double doors and looked around.

"Are you with Alec Hardy?"

"Yeah, have you some news about him?"

"You should come with me."

Both women got up, Rose grabbing the handle of the plastic basket.

"Just one of you."

Rose handed the basket to Tess, who just nodded.  It must be bad.

"Go Rose, he needs you more than he does me now."

Rose followed the nurse to a seating area opposite where they had taken Alec earlier.

"Are you Rose?" the nurse asked.

"Yeah, what aren't you telling me?"

"The surgeon will be out as soon as he can.  I can tell you this though, before Alec went under, he said tell Rose I love her."

With that, she went back inside, leaving Rose in tears.  She hadn't wanted to break down in front of Tess, she was a Tyler, she didn't do things like that.  What seemed like an age passed by, Rose listening for any signs they were coming out, wheeling Alec on a bed but maybe they had another way to the recovery room, she had no idea.  She could hear machines beeping away inside but that meant nothing and there was another theatre, it could have been coming from either of them.

She looked up when she heard footsteps as the door she had come through opened and Tess stood at the side of her, putting the basket down.

"Why did she say only one of us?  They're not exactly over-crowded, are they?"

"I expect it's just what they do."

"Well what if there are other people waiting for someone?"

"They probably don't want kids sliding up and down the polished floor," Rose tried to smile, not bothering her eyes were still damp with tears.

Tess sat down at the other side of her.

"I'm sorry Rose, can we be friends?  He wouldn't want us fighting over him, he's not that kind of man.  I don't want him back Rose, I made my choice, he tried, trust me, before he went to Broadchurch but it's over and he found you."

"Thanks Tess, I'm gonna need a friend when this baby comes.  I'd like to meet Daisy."

"You can meet her with Alec, he's tough, he won't let this beat him."

"He did it for me Tess, I lied to you, about my mum.  She's not in the peak district, she's gone."

"She died?"

"No, worse, she, my stepfather, my stepbrother and my ex boyfriend, they're all living somewhere else."

"There are such things as planes Rose," Tess tried to laugh, seeing the tears on Rose's face.

"It's not that simple Tess."

"Did you fall out, did they all disown you?  You said your ex tried to find his brother, did it start a family feud and they took his side?"

It would be so easy to go with that idea Rose thought, better than saying she'd left them in another universe with no current way back.

"Something like that, yeah.  When I found out James had gone to find his brother, I was furious and my mum tried to tell me I would have done the same, in his situation but I couldn't forgive him and I left, saying I was never going back."

"Then where are they, in London?"

"You could say that I suppose, just not the London you might know."

"London in Ontario Canada?"

"A bit further than that.  Did you hear about the battle of Canary Wharf?"

"Some, that these metal androids or whatever were taking over and the army couldn't defeat them, then suddenly, they all disappeared, it was all hushed up and it was put down to a massive full-scale exercise by the government in case of alien invasion.  Some say it was all the same as those other incidents, that Harold Saxon was behind it all and he went mad in the end.  No-one could stop him, no-one saw what he was planning and he had the president-elect of the United States assassinated."

James had told her about The Master, she wished she'd have been there with him.

"I was there, so was James's brother, we got caught up in it.  It was a cover-up Tess, I swear it was, the truth, about those ghosts?  They were called Cybermen and they crossed over from an alternate universe."

"Really Rose, is that the best you can come up with?"

She knew it was no good, Tess would never believe her the way Alec had done.  There was no alternative except to make up her own cover story.

"James's brother, he was called John or as he liked to be called, The Doctor, he got us into Canary Wharf, where there was an organisation called Torchwood, they were behind it all and something happened."

"Go on, not that I'm taking this seriously.  Why are they taking so long coming out, why fetch you to keep you waiting?  I've heard of Torchwood, they were responsible for a lot more than that, trust me."

"There was a gap, between this world and an alternate one, the Cybermen were real and they'd escaped, the ghosts were them, trying to get through.  A group came after them, to stop them and we got caught up in it.  My mum and me got taken to that other world, James followed after leaving John to close the gap and we were supposed to go back when the Cybermen had been trapped between the two worlds but the gap closed."

"Is that the truth Rose?"

"Yeah, it's the truth.  James and I tried to make a go of it but he got restless, tried to find a way back after we'd agreed it was too dangerous, he could end up anywhere, that world ran ahead of this one."

"How was he planning on doing that, if these Cybermen were trapped?"

"He developed a device, we had our own Torchwood there and he got it working without telling me and when he got back, I couldn't forgive him so I took it and left."

"What about your friend, James's brother?"

"He'd left, I honestly have no idea where he is, when I met Alec, well I thought it was him, they look so much alike."

"Did Alec know that?"

"Yeah, he accepted it and where I'd just come from.  It was too soon, I know that, after arriving here and leaving James behind but I wanted to forget and Alec helped me do that.  I never told him I loved him until a few days ago, my device no longer works, I can't get back Tess."

"I'm sorry Rose, I want to believe you and if Alec does, that's so him but I'm a bit more sceptical than he is."

"I can prove it, look up Rose and Jackie Tyler, we were listed as missing after people got caught up with it.  Find Mickey Smith, he'll tell you or Jack Harkness, he ran Torchwood in Cardiff."

"Cardiff Bay got blown apart a few years back, they said Torchwood was responsible.  Did Alec tell you that?"

"He told me some things, yeah but we had Claire to worry about.  You're right not to believe me Tess and why are they taking so long?"

As if on cue, the door where the nurse had gone back through finally opened and a man in green scrubs, a white mask covering his face came out.

"Which one of you is Rose?" he asked, uncovering his mouth.

Tess thought he was going to ask why there were two women there and had an answer ready for him.

"That's me, is Alec going to be ok?" Rose asked, getting up.

"I'll be honest with you, we're still trying to get his heart beating again, we have him on life-support and we're doing everything we can."

Rose stumbled backwards onto the chair, Tess catching her before she fell off.

"How long can you keep trying?" Tess asked.

"Not much longer, we're doing everything possible.  We inserted the pacemaker, that's doing it's job but until his heart starts again, the machine is keeping him alive but he won't give up, he's a stubborn man.  I'll come back out and let you know, one way or the other, I'm sorry."

"Please, don't give up on him," Rose pleaded.  "If he doesn't wake up, then I'll have to accept it but he's hanging on, I know he is because I just found out I'm pregnant."

"Then that's why he's holding on, don't give up on him, we won't as long as there's a chance."

He was about to turn when another nurse came out and whispered into his ear.  He followed her without saying anything and Rose knew it was all over, that she was telling him they couldn't revive Alec.  She sank back into the chair, Tess still holding her arm and sobbed into Tess's shoulder.

"Don't give up Rose, Alec wouldn't want you to and he's got everything to live for now, you and the baby."

Tess let Rose cry, thinking a few years ago, before the divorce, that would have been her.  Would she have gone with Dave if she'd known how ill Alec was?

Rose fished into her pocket for her phone, lighting up the screen with Ellie's number ready to dial.  She had to find Mickey, he might know where the Doctor was.  She looked up when the door they'd come through suddenly opened and a man with greyish hair and a black old-fashioned suit stood nearby.

"Rose Tyler," the man with a Scottish accent said, approaching her.  "I figured I would find you here, I owe you something.  Who's this then?"

Tess got up.  "I'm DS Henchard, who the hell are you?"

"I'm the Doctor who is going to save Alec Hardy's life.  Rose, it's a long story, I came back in time because, well I felt bad with what happened and yes, I know my number one rule, not to go back in someone's timeline but you know what?  That was rubbish."

"Hello Doctor, you changed again then.  So, Alec dies in there?"

"Not if I have anything to do with it, I found out where they went wrong so if you'll excuse me a moment?"

He went to knock loudly on the door until someone came out.  He had his psychic paper already held out to the startled theatre attendant.

"I'm Doctor James McCrimmon, university of Edinburgh, you have Alec Hardy in there.  He was under me before he came here and I have something important the surgeon should know about him."

Rose could only stare at this new Doctor and the news Alec was about to die in there if something wasn't done soon and there would be no third chance, the Doctor had learned his lesson when they'd gone back to see her real father.  The attendant went back inside and the man who had come to speak to Rose put his head around the door.  Rose couldn't hear as the Doctor whispered something to him.  The surgeon nodded and went back inside.

The doctor walked back to Rose and Tess. 

"No hug then?"

"Sorry, I was just a bit surprised, I saw you a few weeks ago."

"Yes and I just told you, I've come back, to save Alec, I know what happened to you and, well I'd best not spoil the surprise.  You didn't find Mickey the idiot then?"

"Not yet, do you know where he is?"

Tess was taking it all in, what was going on?  Then she realised.

"It was true, wasn't it Rose, that stuff about the Cybermen.  Is this your James?"

"Hell no woman, that would be my twin, I was just telling those people in there so they would listen to me.  You didn't go back Rose, you couldn't, your device never started working and you were so upset about Alec, you never attempted to find Mickey and Martha.  I did some checking, found out what happened but I got caught up in something, what doesn't matter."

"Alec knows about you, he told me to find Mickey, I wanted to find you but I didn't know how.  You came back to save Alec."

"Yes, it's what I always do Rose, jump in and save someone at the last minute but sometimes it goes wrong.  I felt bad for you, being on your own.  After I left you the last time, I promised myself I would check up on you from time to time but after I changed again, I was a bit scrambled but Clara told me I should at least make the effort."

"What happened to Amy and Rory?"

"Living happily in the past, I think."

Tess shook her head, if he was from the other universe, they could keep it.

Rose sat back down again, grabbing Tess's arm. 

"He's gonna be ok now Tess."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, the Doctor gave me his word and that's good enough for me.  What did you tell them?"

"Spoilers Rose Tyler, you should know better than to ask that.  You just found out you were pregnant?"

"A few hours ago, I would have waited but Alec deserved to know before his surgery."

"Yes he did, he's a good man and he looks exactly like I used to."

Tess thought this was getting weird but maybe this man in his younger days once looked like her ex husband.  There was a rational explanation for everything but after Harold Saxon, no-one was that sure any longer.  Things had been weird for the last few years to say the least, people that Christmas thinking they looked like the old prime minister, planets in the sky and Daisy and her school all chanting something in the playground and in the middle of the supermarket.

The door opposite opened up and two men dressed in green came out, shaking hands, the one who the Doctor had spoken to came over.

"Thank you for the advice Doctor McCrimmon, it worked, Alec is breathing on his own and his heart is beating, we're finishing off and he'll be taken to recovery.  How did you know?"

"I told you, he was my patient before he came here."

"There was nothing on his records about you."

"I was just his consultant, my name was not recorded but I heard about it, after Rose contacted my secretary."

He couldn't say how he'd really found out, especially not to Rose and that was the real reason he'd gone back to save the man Rose now loved.  He had loved her himself, left her with his twin, which neither of them had wanted, then when she'd got back, he'd dumped her in Broadchurch of all places.  Yes, he owed her and now the debt was paid.  He'd made absolutely certain there would be no consequences to his actions this time.

The door opened again about twenty minutes later, Rose and Tess were arm in arm and the Doctor was leaning at the side of the door as a man came out backwards, followed by the trolley Alec was lying on.  Rose was up in an instant as the trolley was steered across the corridor to the room they had been sitting at the side of.

"Can you just hang on a second?" Rose asked.

"It's ok, you can go in with him when we settle him.  We have to hook him to the heart rate monitor for a short time."

Rose let them continue as Tess caught her arm.

"Let them do their job Rose."

She nodded and turned around to find the Doctor had gone.  She rushed to the double door back out to the waiting area but there was no sign of him then she heard a familiar sound.

"Who was that Rose?" Tess asked, shaking her head at what had taken place.

"Tess, you didn't believe where I have just spent the last several years, you'd never believe who he really is."

Five minutes later, the nurse came back out.

"You can go in now, both of you if you want?"

"No, you go Rose, I'm going to head back home, he won't want me here when he comes round and I have to get back to Daisy."

"If that's what you want Tess."

"I have to get my head around what just happened and don't worry, I won't say a word, I'll get locked up.  Tell Alec I'm glad he's ok and I'll call him tomorrow."

"Here, take my number, if they want to keep him overnight."

"No fear of that, good luck and I'm glad you've been there for him."

Rose nodded and took the basket that Tess held out to her, then she followed the nurse.  She felt herself dozing off and over an hour later, felt someone squeezing her hand.

"I can't believe I made it, I'm alive.  Rose, sweetheart, wake up."

"Alec, you're ok, the Doctor came."

"I would imagine a few did," he replied, indicating he wanted to sit up to the nurse who had come to check on him.

"How are you feeling Alec?  You had everyone worried," the nurse told him.

"Yeah, even Tess," Rose cut in.

"I must have been dying then," he managed to smile, taking Rose's hand.

Rose looked at the nurse, hoping she wouldn't say anything.  How could she tell him?

"When can I go home?"

"Now Alec, we have to make sure we can let you go, like I said, it was touch and go for a while.  Have you far to travel?"

"We booked a hotel about five minutes walk away, just in case," Rose told her.  She didn't say the other reason they had booked it for earlier.

"I'll see what I can do but I'm sure your surgeon would like to keep you."

"What if I promise to check back with you in the morning?"

The nurse smiled.  "Let me see what he says.  I know one thing though, if your old consultant hadn't turned up when he did, well things might have been different."

She left Alec with a puzzled look on his face.

"Care to explain Rose?"

"I tried to.  Alec, the Doctor came, here to the hospital.  He was the one who saved you, he told the surgeon what to do."

"So he's an expert then?"

"He doesn't like to brag about it, he left when they wheeled you in here."

"Rose, how did he know to come here, at this time?  I know you are hiding something."

"He came from the future, he didn't say how long but it must have been a few years.  He said he felt bad about what had happened today."

"I died."

"The surgeon told us your heart wouldn't start, they were keeping you on life-support.  They would have given up eventually.  Alec, he found out and broke his own rules and travelled back through our personal timelines.  He didn't give details but I guess he saw me raising our child on my own and felt guilty.  I shouldn't be telling you all this."

"Yes, you should and I'm grateful to him.  He did what he thought was right, he probably felt guilty for your mother raising you on her own and not wanted you to have to do the same."

"You don't get it Alec, there is someone alive in this world who shouldn't be, I told you what happened when I tried to save my real dad."

"Rose, that was why he waited, don't you see that?"

"That's not how it works Alec, I waited 20 years to see my dad and he still had to die and he knew it but you know what he said to me?"

Alec shook his head, hardly believing all this.

"It was worth getting a few extra hours to see me all grown up, then he took matters into his own hands and chose to face his destiny to save everyone."

"Then the Doctor must have waited, to make sure the same would not happen to you again.  That is some friend you have there.  Now help me out of this bed will you?  Where are my clothes?"

"Let them take the monitor off first or you'll set off all the alarms."

Less than two hours later, Alec had insisted on walking slowly out with Rose propping him on her good side after she'd persuaded him to get discharged properly and they got into a taxi that had just dropped someone off, even though they didn't have far to go.  They were still in time to be served in the dining room, both just opting for soup and a pot of tea then they went to their room.

"I never thought I would be coming back here with you tonight love."

"I know, I think I'd have stayed at the hospital all night, thinking they were wrong."

"He knew that Rose, he must have found out everything but you said he told the surgeon where the problem was, they must have found out afterwards.  Don't you see love?  He was not risking any consequences for me surviving, he just got the information of how to save me, it is completely different than your father being run over by a car."

"No it isn't, how is it?  I saved him by pushing him out of the way and I had to watch as The Reapers took people one by one, including The Doctor."

"Rose, maybe we should just leave this eh?  I'm here, you are here, the baby is going to know me and nothing has happened, he must have known it was safe or he would not of done it.  Now, how about an early night eh?  You were keen earlier when I asked if you getting back into bed."

The next morning, Alec kept his promise and they got a taxi back to the hospital.  He was given the all-clear, the surgeon saying he should really have stayed overnight but Alec assured him he felt better than he'd been in a long time.  They got a  taxi back to Broadchurch, Rose saying she would take a walk down to her apartment and get a few things.

"We need groceries Rose, neither of us are in a fit state to go the supermarket."

"Then I'll call at the mini-market on my way back.  I'm not calling Ellie, she will ask questions."

"Exactly, I don't want her to see me like this.  Just get what you need, we can go back tomorrow."

"Ok, will you be alright until I get back?"

"Don't fuss love, I'll be just fine and don't you go after that Doctor if he comes looking for you either."

"Don't be daft Alec.  First thing Monday, I'm gonna hand in my notice at the salon then I'm gonna find Mickey and Martha."

"Good, you need friends beside me and Miller.  You never said how you got on with Tess."

"Like a house on fire."

"Very funny, I know her better than that Rose, believe me, if she was being friendly with you, she had an ulterior motive."

"I don't think that was the case though she tried to find out more about why Claire should get jealous all of a sudden."

"I hope you never told her?"

"Never, don't worry.  Right, I'm off then, guess I wasted my money on that pregnancy test?"

"Yes and I wasted money on those things you made me buy."

"Aw, you can still use them if you want," she joked.

"Don't even think about it, you agreed it was so much better."

"I was kidding Alec, geez, lighten up."

He got up and put his arms around her, whispering in her ear, "I know love and trust me, it is so much better.  Now I can show you how much I really love you."

"I look forward to it, when my injury heals."

"I'm beginning to think Claire attacking you was not a coincidence, that somehow she knew I was getting my pacemaker and she wanted to make sure you would be out of commission."

"How could she possibly know?" Rose asked as he kissed her neck, right where she liked it.

"You tell me, maybe she knows someone at the hospital?"

"I doubt it, she complained she doesn't know anyone."

"She accused me of taking you away from her, that you were her friend before I came to rescue you that night."

"Well she introduced us and like you said, maybe she never reckoned on what would happen?"

"That much is certain love.  Now, you go get what we need and be careful, don't carry too much at once eh?"
Chapter 23
Rose took her time walking over the river and decided to cut behind her apartment instead of going the long way round but as she was cutting through behind the police station, Ellie saw her.

"Rose, sweetheart, what are you doing?  Where's Hardy?"

"Alec's at home, he was tired, hanging around all day yesterday waiting for me.  I'm just getting a few things from my apartment."

"I'll come with you then and give you a ride back."

"I have to call at the store on the way back, for essentials.  I don't have that far to go.  Any news on Claire?"

"No, none.  Did Hardy tell his ex about her maybe having that evidence bag?" Ellie asked as they came to Rose's block.

They walked up the steps, slowly and Rose got her key out.

"Are you here to make sure Claire's not lurking around Ellie?"

"Yes and no, I always wanted to have a look in one of these.  You're really moving out?"

"Yeah, I don't want to be on my own and Alec doesn't want to move but I'll miss the view."

Ellie crossed to the window.

"Can't really say I blame you though he doesn't seem to like water."

"There's a reason for that, you'll have to ask him, it's not my place to tell you."

"You're his girlfriend, you have to keep his secrets I suppose.  You should have seen him when we had to examine Mark Latimer's boat, I thought he was going to throw up."

"Yeah, he told me about it, he questioned why you couldn't have just climbed over other boats instead of going the long way around, he was really pissed off about it."

Ellie smiled, anything to get on his bad side.

"Are you going to Jack Marshall's funeral?" Ellie asked her as she stood in Rose's bedroom doorway.

"Was that his name, sorry.  I expect Alec will be showing his face.  There's been so much going on, with Claire, I feel guilty."

"What for?"

"Distracting him from his job, for starters."

"Listen Rose, don't go thinking you are less important than finding Danny's killer.  You had a serious problem that required police intervention and look where it all ended?  You could have been seriously injured and lost your baby, Claire needs stopping.  I don't know much about that other case but it's obvious she's hiding something and the only reason Hardy got involved with her was to find out what it was.  Thanks to you, his suspicions have been confirmed, he has the proof now.  Maybe she hit you because she thought you'd seen it and would tell him?"

"Alec thought it was something else, why she hit me.  I can't say what it was but the lies she told me, about him, she wanted something with him Ellie and she went all loco when Alec and I hit it off.  Alec said he suspected things between her and her husband weren't going that well, that he had some sort of hold over her.  Maybe her stealing the evidence he killed that girl was her way of getting revenge."

"Well I'm not getting involved in that part of it, it will all come out, once she's been caught.  The only question is, who gets to keep her, South Mercia or us."

"I expect the charges against me will be added, once she's been caught.  Do you think she'll be stupid enough to go back there?"

"She's a piece of work Rose, she'll be arrogant enough to do just that if she thinks she can get away with it and if she knows there's no love lost between Hardy and his ex wife."

"Yeah, she probably thought no-one would look for her there.  Right, I'm done, Alec told me not to carry too much."

"Rubbish, get what you need, I'll carry the rest."

Rose didn't know how to refuse or tell her Alec didn't want his DS to see him lying on the sofa, which he'd better be when she got back.  She filled a small case she'd picked up and went into the bathroom, Ellie picking up the testing kit that had been left on the floor and Rose blushing.

"I've seen one before Rose," Ellie grinned as she handed it over.

"Wasted my money on that, didn't I?  Can you pick that holdall up for me, I'd packed a few things on Thursday."

"To stay over?" Ellie grinned.

"Never got there, did I?"

Ellie carried two bags downstairs then went back for the small case, telling Rose not to dare lift it.

"Have you given notice then?"

"Yeah, I'd gone on Thursday morning, I never get chance to do anything on Saturday now.  I have to call my boss and apologise."

"For what?  Her employing a psycho?"

"Well she wasn't to know, was she?  Maybe Claire would have been different if I'd never met Alec."

"No Rose, he was right, she was hiding something and you caught her out.  Who's to say she wouldn't have tried it with someone else?"

Ellie waited outside the mini-market while Rose went to get the groceries and they walked back across the river and turned into the street, Rose half expecting to see Claire lurking around somewhere.

Ellie noticed Rose's looked worried.

"Nervous Rose?"

"Yeah, it's just that the other day, Alec saw her sitting on that wall we just passed and she was watching my apartment before that.  She must have followed me to find out where he lived."

"Some officers moved her on again, I don't know why she came back Rose, maybe because he had her hauled to the station?"

"I told him to let her go, didn't he say anything to you about it?"

They had reached the path to the cottage and Rose thought she should give Ellie the option to leave, Alec wouldn't thank her for bringing his DS back with her.  Ellie just waited though, not knowing where her boss now lived, he'd kept it very quiet.

Rose took the lead and knocked on the second door and waited.

"Not got a key then?" Ellie asked.

Rose didn't want her new friend to know but thought it would seem a bit odd that she didn't already have one.

"Yeah but I think I left it when I came out."

She wanted to give Alec some warning and hoped he'd forgive her for letting Ellie help her back.

When Rose had gone out, Alec had laid on the sofa and tried to relax but Tess had rung.

"Alec, are you home yet?"

"Yes, why?"

"Rose said you were staying at a hotel near the hospital."

"It was convenient, in case they wanted to keep me in but I said since I wasn't going that far, that Rose could take me there.  I went back earlier."

"Well I'm surprised they let you out so soon, after what happened."

"Rose told me it was touch and go."

"That's just putting it mildly and if it hadn't been for that strange man, claiming he was your doctor, it would have been over for you.  Did she tell you?"

"Yes, he was her ex boyfriend's brother."

"Don't give me that Alec, Rose told me he looked like you.  Did he have a facelift or something?  He did look older though."

"I'd never met him Tess, how would I know?  What are you calling for?"

"To tell you Daisy wants to see you, when you're fit to travel.  How about next Saturday?  You could come up and stay overnight."

"I'll be bringing Rose with me, while Claire is still on the loose."

"Well she's not staying with us.  You could have slept on the sofa."

"We'll find a place, don't worry about that though I will meet with Daisy on my own for a while, see if she wants to meet Rose."

"I've not told Daisy Rose is pregnant, you can explain that to her Alec, that's down to you entirely.  Don't expect Daisy to welcome your new girlfriend so easily."

"Why not?  She gets on with Dave, does she not?"

"No really, she pulls faces at him behind his back and no, he's not moved in yet."

"Well, we know why, don't we?"

"I'm not discussing this with you Alec, you almost died yesterday and you're acting like nothing even happened.  That's just like you."

"You care?" he asked, wondering where this was leading.

"Of course I do Alec, we were married, it counts for something.  Rose said some very strange things yesterday."

"Tess, she had been through a lot and she was on painkillers."

"She seemed perfectly fine to me, considering, well apart from her crying before that doctor turned up.  He said he was from Edinburgh but you were fine before you left Scotland, weren't you?  How did Rose know to contact him anyway?"

"Tess, just leave it eh?  Rose was just worried for me."

"He said he'd come back, to save you and you don't know who he was?"

"Some things can't be explained.  Rose had another life before she arrived in Broadchurch."

"She said she was from another world."

"No, she went to live in another world, she came back recently, when she broke up with someone."

"This doctor's twin?  She said he looked like you, were they identical twins?"

He knew he was never going to hear the end of this now.

"I don't know, she said her ex looked like me, she never mentioned his brother.  She was confused and upset Tess, cut her some slack eh?"

So when a while later he heard a knock on the door when he knew Rose had a key, he suspected she'd brought someone with her, hopefully not Claire.

Rose stood there with her best smile on her face.

"Hi.  Look who I found?  She helped me back with my things so I brought more than I was going to."

"Thanks for helping her Miller," Alec responded, taking a holdall from Ellie and she thinking she'd been invited to follow.

"You look like crap – Sir."

"I'll take that as a compliment.  You want the truth?"

"Rose said you were tired from yesterday."

Alec thought since Rose had told the nurse he was having minor surgery, he may as well take advantage of it, she would back him up.

"I stayed at the hospital Miller, I had minor surgery, for a mole removing from my back, I was not going to tell the whole bloody station about it."

Rose almost couldn't stop from bursting out laughing, that was better than she was going to come up with.

Ellie wasn't so bothered about hiding her amusement.

"Seriously?  Well I can see it was a bit embarrassing.  So it turned out Rose being in hospital saved you making an excuse to have time off?"

"Yes and don't you go telling anyone either, if I hear people sniggering on Monday morning, you'll be doing the school crossing patrol."

Rose put her arm in his after putting the groceries away and switching on the kettle.

"Want a drink Ellie?"

"No, I better get home, I was just checking any reports on Claire."

"Well she never turned up in Sandbrook, Tess called me a while a go.  I have some good news Rose, Daisy wants to meet."

"Alec, that's great."  She saw the look on Ellie's face.  "She's Alec's teenage daughter, I've not met her yet."

"Aye but she doesn't know about us yet."

"That should be fun.  Right, I'll leave you two and if you want to talk Rose, you know where to find me."

"Yeah, thanks for coming back with me.  Maybe we can have lunch again?  Bring that cute little boy of yours with you."

Rose went to let Ellie out, Alec behind her as she closed the door so she almost bumped into him.  He raised his hand above her head, leaning over to kiss her neck, sending a shiver down her back as his hand wandered up the front of her t-shirt or rather his t-shirt she had borrowed that she'd tucked into her jeans and he'd pulled out in a second.

"Alec, you're supposed to be taking it easy and I'm not supposed to make any sudden moves."

"Then don't make any sudden moves love and I am taking it easy.  This is me, taking it easy."

He pulled the t-shirt up and began kissing above her bra, making Rose melt and since she couldn't reach her arms around his back due to her side still hurting had placed them on his rear instead, making him smile and resulting in them making out for what seemed like ages to both of them.

They stayed in the rest of the weekend, Alec phoned for takeaway later on Saturday night but venturing across the street to the pub for a late Sunday lunch.  By early Monday morning, they were both feeling much better and Alec was already showing signs he wanted to take things further as Rose woke up to her alarm.

"Hey babe, you been awake long?"

"Yes, you sleep forever Rose.  Mornin' darlin' feeling better?"

He reached over, putting one hand on the mattress and avoiding her still slightly hurting side and kissed above her sleep top, working his way across and then up to her neck.

"I guess you are babe but I have to go back to work and so do you.  You won't get any sympathy from Ellie."

"Good, I don't want any but you had better get some from the people you work with.  You are giving your notice in?"

"Yeah.  If you have time, can you look up Mickey Smith?"

"Rose, do you know how many Mickey Smith's there might be love?"

"Then look for Dr Martha Jones, she used to work with UNIT.  James told me."

"I've heard of them, it should be easier to find her then.  Leave it with me eh?"

"Yeah, 'course I will.  Now, I have to go and get ready for work, do you need the bathroom first?"

"No love, you take your time, I have only a few minutes walk to work, I'm not going to drive just yet though, best be on the safe side eh?"

"I've still got time for a snog though."

Rose took her time walking up to the salon, she would only be doing it for the rest of the week which she was glad about, the others would have loads of questions about Claire but she'd already decided she wasn't going to go into details.  She wondered if she'd ever see the Doctor again, in whatever form and what he'd meant, was her device never going to work again or did he mean not in the next few years?  If Alec had died in that timeline, she would have taken the child and gone back to face everyone, her mother deserved to know she had a grandchild.  Maybe now, things had changed.

She half expected to see Claire when she opened the salon door but the other three women were sat in the staffroom and all looked up when the bell rang.

Amber was the one to speak.  "Rose, are you ok?  Maureen said something had happened to you."

"Yeah, I'm fine now, got a bit of a headache and a sore side, I'll live.  Is she in her office?"

Amber nodded and Rose left them, no doubt to talk about her and Claire finally coming to blows, since she still had a plaster on her forehead, Alec had put a clean one on, with great care before he had left.

Maureen looked up.

"Feeling better?  I had a call from DS Miller, she said you'd been attacked.  It was Claire, wasn't it?"

Rose nodded as Maureen indicated for her to sit down.

"I'm sorry Rose, I should have known it would come to that, I never should have taken her on but your boyfriend vouched for her.  I never realised it was him at first then I didn't want to say anything to you."

"It's ok but I'm sorry for the trouble we caused you, I know Saturday's are the best day of the week.  I have to give my notice though, Alec doesn't want me to work, I'm moving in with him."

"Oh, well I know Claire won't be back, just let her try.  I'll have to advertise for someone else and someone part-time.  Do you want to do two days a week by any chance?  Then I'll only need one full-time stylist."

"I'll see what he says but if it's no, I'll need to finish on Saturday.  You won't be seeing Claire, she left her cottage, DS Miller told me.  Alec's put a warrant out for her arrest, for assaulting me."

"I don't blame him, she's been a load of trouble, he should have never brought her here.  Why did he?"

"I can't tell you that but I can tell you this much, she claimed her husband was after her, for some trouble he got into where Alec used to work, he thought by bringing her here, she could have a fresh start and maybe she would have, if she'd not introduced us.  Now she's on her own.  Alec even called his old station, in case she went back there."

"Well, if you can work two days, my day off and Saturday, it will stop you getting bored at home."

"I'll have to give up in around six months anyway, I'm pregnant."

"That's great Rose, congratulations.  Look if you want the part-time job, I'll get the other girls to do the sweeping up and you can use the chair that's adjustable, to save you leaning down or stretching up, it was Claire's anyway and on the days you work, whoever I get in her place will be told."

"OK, I'll tell Alec, I'm sure he'll agree to that."

While Rose had been discussing that, the girls and Carlos had been discussing Rose and Claire.

"Do you think they had a real fight?" Amber wondered.

"Oh, it looked like it girls, shame we missed it," Carlos chuckled as he arranged his combs and scissors the way he liked them.  "I don't think Claire will be back, I never liked her anyway, she was a bit too catty for my liking."

"Yeah and her face when Rose's new boyfriend came in that time, I wish we'd been allowed our phones.  Mind you, Rose seemed a bit embarrassed when he came in, she clearly wasn't expecting Claire to be here though I was surprised she didn't snog his face off."

"Ooh, I'd loved to have seen them, he's a bit of alright," Carlos smiled.

"I think it would have been you and Rose fighting, she's clearly got him where she wants him."

Maureen choose that moment to leave the office when Rose went to hang up her jacket.

"Nothing to do?"

They all scurried to start as two women came in the salon.

Alec had arrived early to catch up with the report Ellie had put in about Rose and was reading through her statement but the part about what may or may not have been in Claire's jacket pocket had been left out.  When Ellie arrived, Alec called her into his office.

"You alright now Sir?"

"Never felt better Miller, it's Rose I'm worried about."

"She's tougher than she looks.  Has she gone back to work?"

"Yes.  Did she tell you she was giving up her apartment?"

"She mentioned it on Saturday, a daft idea if you ask me.  I hope she knows what she's doing.  You read Rose's statement?  I left that other piece of information out, it's not relevant."

"I know, I'm pleased you left it out." 

"So, if South Mercia catch her, who gets her?"

"They do, Rose's assault is lesser charges, if they get the missing evidence, the Gillespie case gets re-opened and maybe they find the other missing girl.  It's been going on too long but do you know what Miller?"

Ellie just shook her head.

"I've got new hope now, thanks to Rose but I never intended for her to get hurt in the process."

"She knows that, you didn't know what Claire would do.  She's unstable and now she knows everyone's looking for her, she'll hole up somewhere until she thinks it's all blown over."

"Well, I'm not giving up this time, if that's what she thinks.  My ex reckons I should have left her locked up that night, so Rose told me."

"It would have saved all that trouble.  Hang on though, didn't Claire get searched that night?"

"No, she was never charged.  Hell, if I'd had her searched, we would have found whatever was in her pocket."

"You weren't to know."

"I should have done Miller, damn.  If I'd charged her with stalking, she would have got a court order to stay away from Rose."

"Yes, then she would have used that to her advantage and gone after you, to get back at Rose plus tell everyone you did it, that you locked her up for going after your girlfriend, the press would have been overjoyed with that bit of news.  You wanted to stay out of the papers, remember?  You and Rose should go public, be seen together."

"We went to that church service together."

"Yes and you turned down a social gathering at the Latimer house."

"That would have been wrong to accept, the Latimers should be distancing themselves from those investigating their son's death."

"Excuse me, I'm not ending my friendship with them over this, I can't desert Beth now."

Alec thought about it.  "Fine, stay friends with her but I'm not making friends with them.  Introduce Rose to Mrs Latimer then, if you must."

"Rose needs all the friends she can get now, with a baby on the way.  I just found out Beth's expecting ."

"Tell her congratulations then, she and Rose will have plenty in common, they can go to the clinic together."

"When does she have a scan?"

"They will send for her, she'll have to go to Dorchester."

"No, she can go to the local hospital, Beth's going there.  It's one of the departments they kept open."

"Then I will tell her but I give you fair warning Miller, I will be going to the appointments with her."

"I'd expect nothing less.  If you'd said she could go on her own, I would have strangled you."

"Well talking of her making friends, you can do something for me."

He handed her a piece of paper with Jack's, Martha and Mickey's names.

"What am I supposed to do with this?"

"Find them.  An address, a phone number.  Rose lost contact with them before she came here, Doctor Jones should be easy to find, she worked for UNIT at one time."

"Do you want me to find her ex while I'm at it?  Are you sure that baby is yours?"

"Stop it Miller, yes, it is.  You know she's only two weeks.  Did she tell you about Claire almost stranding her in Weymouth?"

"No, when was that?" 

"Two weeks ago last Saturday.  Remember I met Rose for lunch on the Friday?"

Ellie nodded, hoping she was going to get something juicy out of this.

"I gave her my phone number and told her if she had any trouble with Claire to call me so when Claire dragged her down to Weymouth and tried to set her up with a bloke, she called me.  I set off to go get her but Rose managed to get in the taxi with Claire so I was waiting for them but Claire got mad and locked Rose out of her cottage so I took her home and she invited me to stay."

"You took advantage of her."

"No Miller, she wanted to forget her old life and nothing happened until the next morning, not that you need to know that."

She did but it didn't look like he was going to tell her much more.

"Well I'll try and get the information, since it's for Rose but you haven't forgotten we're in the middle of a murder investigation – have you, Sir?"

"No Miller, I have not forgotten.  Have you heard when the newsagent's funeral is?  Rose said I should attend and since you seem to think I should be seen out in public with her?"

"Yes but at social gatherings, not church services, what is it with you?"

Alec thought he didn't need a social skills lesson from his irritating DS but she did have a point, he and Rose had hardly been at the centre of the town's attention in their albeit short relationship, opting to stay in or just go to the pub.  She had told him of her reasonably glamorous life where she had just come from, she must be finding him boring.  He'd arranged to meet her as usual but wasn't sure she should be climbing up that cliff path back to work afterwards.   He was about to leave to meet her when Ellie handed him the piece of paper back he'd given her earlier.

"The information you wanted.  This Martha Jones no longer works for UNIT but I managed to track her down.  It seems they were independent trouble-shooters but gave up, they have a young baby now."

"Thanks Miller, I'll give it to Rose.  What about that Jack Harkness?"

"It seems he's vanished off the face of the earth, so to speak.  There's nothing after that incident a few years back with the school kids.  Did your daughter get caught up in that?  We were terrified for Tom and thankfully, we didn't have Fred at the time."

"Yes, it scared the hell out of me and Tess, must have been something to do with that mad Saxon bloke, even though no-one knew what happened to him."

"Some say his wife shot him, she disappeared as well but you remember a few years back, well just before everyone thought they were him, that women's prison got blown up?"

"No but go on."

"There were rumours her trial was held in secret and some of his supporters were trying to get her out of there and blew the place up in the process."

"Rumours Miller though after that incident, it did all go quiet.  Right, I'd best go meet Rose, this will cheer her up."

He picked up the piece of paper after putting his coat on.  Ellie wondered if he even realised he never went anywhere without it.

The morning had passed quickly for Rose, the first time for over a week she'd not worried about Claire glaring at her and telling lies.  She hoped Alec would agree to let her work Thursday and Saturday, now Maureen was going back to her original day off since Claire was no longer a problem.  Alec was waiting for her and though that pleased her, she missed not looking over at the balcony to see if he was watching out for her.

"Hey sweetheart," he greeted her as he got up to pull a chair out for her.  "Hungry?"

After ordering, he got the folded piece of paper out of his pocket.

"A number for you."

"You found Mickey and Martha?  What about Jack?"

"Sorry love, he's nowhere to be found, not for a good few years.  You missed a lot, being away."

Their food arrived but Alec was interrupted by his phone ringing, wishing now he'd turned it off.  It was Tess.

"Alec, I've had a report Claire was seen in Southampton."

"Really?  She said she'd had a salon there before she met Ashworth.  Was she not picked up?"

"No, Southampton police didn't know she was wanted, we just sent them word, she was picked up for sleeping by the river but they let her go.  If they see her again, they'll pick her up and I'll send someone to get her.  Are you still coming up on Saturday?  Daisy's looking forward to it."

"Yes, we are both coming up.  If Claire gets transferred to you, let me know, I'll send you the report on Rose and you can find out if she has that evidence or not.  If she has, you get priority, get the chief to contact my boss."

"Right, I'll do that but does your boss know about your involvement with Rose?"

That was a very good question.
Chapter 24
Rose was delighted Alec had at least managed to find Mickey but she was still apprehensive about calling him.  What would Martha think?  The Doctor had said Mickey had made provisions for her return, just in case but had he just been saying that?

"Are you going to call your friends?" Alec asked after finishing the call with Tess.

"Yeah.  I don't know about meeting with them though.  What did Tess want?  Have they found Claire?"

"She is being picked up in Southampton, they let her go but Tess is making another call.  If she has that evidence, Tess will hold her and add the charges against you to the list."

"Well you need to catch her husband, find out if they killed those girls."

"They will but we may have to go up there, feel like a trip maybe?"

"Yeah, 'course, as long as I don't keep throwing up all the way there.  I think I'll call Mickey when I get home, I have to go back to work now.  I forgot to tell you, Maureen offered me two days a week, her day off and Saturday and I'll get special treatment."

"If that's what you want love but I hoped we'd get weekends together?"

"We will when I give up altogether, you work Saturday mornings for now so let's wait until this case is over, then I can maybe do another day instead?"

"Aye, well do that then.  Come on, if you have finished I'll take you back to work eh?"

"You shouldn't be driving yet Alec."

"Who said I was driving love?"

After work, Rose decided to call in at her apartment and clear out the kitchen, putting tinned food and fresh food that was still in date into carrier bags.  She got the phone number Alec had handed her and sat down at the kitchen table.  Maybe she should do this in front of Alec, she wanted no secrets from him now, she'd held back enough over not telling him how she felt about him.

She dialled the number and waited.

In the Smith household in a London suburb not far from where Martha had been a medical student, Mickey was trying to feed his young son, named after Jack and who wanted to throw his baby rice onto the high chair.

"Come on Jack, your mum will be home soon, let's show her I can feed you, yeah?"

The nine month old wasn't going to play ball.  Mickey's phone rang, an unrecognised number and he was hoping it wasn't UNIT telling him there were more Sontarans on the planet.  If there were, they would have to deal with them.  Martha had just gone back to a posting at UNIT HQ and nothing was going to spoil their new family life.

"This is Mickey Smith, please leave a message after the tone.  Beep."

"Mickey, stop mucking about, I know you're there."

He picked his phone back off the table and pressed the answer button.  He'd know that voice anywhere.

"Rose!  Is that really you?"

"Last time I checked.  Long time no see.  How's married life?"

"You know?"

"I saw the Doctor a while back, he's changed, told me you'd gone off with Martha.  Was it you that set me up in Broadchurch?"

"Broadchurch?  Why would I set you up there?  Is that where that boy's been killed?  What the hell are you doing there?"

"Well the Doctor told me it was entirely your idea but he was obviously covering something up."

"What happened Rose, why are you back?"

"It didn't work out, with me and the Doctor's clone, whatever you want to call him."

"Did he tell you where to find me?"

"No, I have friends in the police here, well one is more than a friend.  Anyway, I have a lot to tell you and apart from him, I have no-one.  Can we meet?"

"I'll talk to Martha when she gets home then, can you come up here?"

"Not yet, Alec's in the middle of that murder investigation."

"Did you say Alec?  Not that Alec Hardy down there?  Seriously?  He's the Doctor's twin.  Are you sure you didn't bring him with you?  What happened anyway, you two were literally made for each other."

"Yeah, so we thought until he let me down and tried to come back, on his own without even telling me."

"So now you're here, is that any different?"

"'spose not, I left him, we promised each other we wouldn't try to find him.  When he got back, I left him but he made the cannon stable, well apart from it being a year out but now, the other world's out of alignment and I can't get back."

"You want to go back?"

"I want the option to go back or at least for someone to come here, to let my mum know I'm ok.   I can't go back, I'm pregnant."

"The Doctor?"

"No, Alec Hardy, I want you to meet him."

"Well we've got young Jack now, he's nine months but I suppose we could come down for the weekend.  Can I call you back?"

"Sure, yeah.  There are things I can't tell you on the phone anyway.  Talk to Martha, see what she thinks but you at least know who Alec looks like.  I met him through someone I used to work with, until she went all psycho on me and put me in the hospital."

"Geez Rose, are you ok?  I'll tell Martha then but has the woman been locked up?"

"Alec's ex is after her, she's wanted in connection with an old case.  She may have stolen the evidence needed to put her husband away."

"Sounds like fun then.  I'll call you back, Jack's got rice all over the place."

"Ha, sounds like he takes after his namesake."

"He does, trust me.  I'll call you soon."

Rose had just hung up when Alec rang.

"Where are you Rose?"

"Oh, down at my apartment, I had to clear the fridge.  You coming down?"

"I will take a walk then, I was just leaving the station."

Rose greeted him with a kiss when he arrived and told him of her phone conversation with Mickey.

"So, I get to meet him then?"

"Yeah, he's heard of you but he said he never set me up here.  Alec, I'm beginning to think that James lied to me, that he set it all up, while he was here."

"How could he Rose?"

"Well the Doctor was a bit vague, he said it was Mickey but what if James found him and they set it up between them?  James knew I'd be mad when he got back but I have no idea why he even had to come here in the first place, we were ok."

Alec stepped up to her and put his arms around her shoulders, going for her neck.
"Were you?  You might have but what about him?"

"You think he was doing it for me?  Why?"

"You said the Doctor felt bad, for you being stranded there and from what you told me, his clone was created accidentally but what if he wasn't?  You tried to explain to me and really love, I can't get my head around it but maybe all this was planned, you said time does not run in a straight line."

"Yeah, now I think about it, maybe he thought I wasn't happy but I was Alec and I don't want to sound like I'm tryin' to put you off."

"You are not putting me off Rose, you are with me now, we are having a baby, remember?"

"Yeah and maybe that's why that other Doctor came to save you?"

"Then I will be forever grateful to him.  He said he had seen a timeline where I died, he must have figured he at least owed you that."

"Yeah, I'll talk to Mickey and Martha about it, then you won't think I'm certifiable."

"I think so such thing love.  Now, shall we go home?"

"Home, yeah, I feel like I'm home now.  I told Mickey I couldn't get back, maybe he'll be able to figure my device out?"

He let go of her, his arms falling to his side.  Why did she always have to ruin the moment?  Rose noticed.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to get back, I meant so maybe someone can come here, maybe Jake."

"Or maybe James, then what?  Why would he come, to get you back?"

"You've not been paying attention Alec, if he was the one who set all this up.  Mind you, he could have left Claire out of it."

"How could have known about her?  She was my problem and you are giving me a headache thinking about all this.  So you mean if your device begins to work and you don't return, we can expect a visitor?"

Rose nodded and took his hands.

"I'm going nowhere Alec, I told you, I can't."

He took one of her hands and kissed the back of it.

"Then I am glad to hear it love and I was paying attention, I do think he set all this up."

"Maybe we weren't meant to work it out?"

"Well the more we dwell on it, the more of a mystery it will become and the day we know everything?  We might as well give up love."

"He used to say that – James's twin.  You should have seen Tess, tryin' to work out how the older Doctor was the twin brother of James.  Mind you, I can see her point, he's completely different and he had a Scottish accent though my first Doctor had a northern accent."

"Now you are confusing me.  We were going home, remember?"

"Yeah, let's go get some chips on the way back – you're paying."

The rest of the week went by reasonably normally, Rose's pregnancy was showing all the signs that it was for real despite the fairly inaccurate testing and she decided to get a proper diagnosis in a few weeks time from the health centre and just put up with it in the meantime.  The arrangements were made for Mickey and Martha to travel down from London that weekend, they were all meeting at the harbour after Alec collected Rose on her last day at work, she had decided to turn down the job offer and thanked everyone for the leaving present as she went to meet Alec outside the newspaper office.

"Leaving present love?" he asked as he took the silver gift bag from her.

He looked inside to see a grey fluffy teddy bear.

"Cute, I expected they thought it was a neutral colour?"

"Yeah, there's a card as well.  Maureen was a bit disappointed I didn't take her up on her offer but once the baby starts showing, all the young boys will stop asking for me anyway."

"I should think so as well.  Where did your friends say they would be?"

"Just on the jetty, they'll be looking at the boats with baby Jack, I'm dying to see him.  Mickey always used to look out for me when we were younger, did I tell you?"

"Yes love, you did tell me.  No wonder the two of you never worked out, if you grew up together."

"Well, I had my head turned plus the offer to go travel in a time machine."

Alec smiled.  Maybe if she had never stepped in that time machine, she would never had ended up here.  There again, maybe he would never have come here either, the strands had all come together to complete a very complex pattern and it made him dizzy thinking about it.

Martha and Mickey had been talking on the way down, wondering how Rose had managed to hook up with yet another version of the Doctor.

"I wonder why he never tried to contact us again Mickey, after he changed?"

"Rose said he did that sometimes.  She said she was lucky the last time, that he wanted her to stay with him but he had no reason, did he?  Not this time.  We were happy, Rose was in the other world with his identical twin though I'm surprised that never worked out for them."

"Maybe it was him – not Rose.  I mean, if he came back without telling her, things can't have been settled between them, can they?"

"Leave it Martha, maybe she doesn't want to talk about it, not in front of the new man in her life."

"Yeah, it's going to take some restraint not calling him Doctor."

They were waiting for Rose and Alec just at the start of the harbour walkway, baby Jack fastened in his stroller and gurgling away at the boats.

Rose let go of Alec's hand and rushed towards them, nearly knocking poor Martha over as she grabbed the two of them.

"Martha, Mickey, am I glad to see you two!"  She let them go and looked to the side of Martha, crouching down slightly.  "Then this must be Jack.  Hi there little man, it's nice to see you too, how old is he?" she asked Martha, taking his tiny hand.

"Nine months, almost ten.  So how have you been Rose?  Mickey's told me everything now, I'm sorry it never worked out."  She looked across at Alec, who was keeping his distance.

"Hi, you must be Alec then?  I'm Martha."

"Nice to meet you Martha, I was half expecting you to call me something else.  So, did you know James then?"

They all sat in a semi-circle on the stone seating, Rose still making a fuss of the baby.

"Hardly, only for a short time when we landed, we were all too busy celebrating we'd got the earth back and saying goodbye.  Mickey, tell them, about why you came after me."

"I don't think they want to hear."

"Yeah, I do Mickey 'cos you just told my mum goodbye and never explained it to me."

"Leave him Rose, if he does not want to explain it," Alec told her.

"It's ok Alec, I just didn't think you'd want to hear," Mickey replied.

"I know all about Rose's past life.  You expected her to go off with his twin, everyone did but maybe it was never meant to be eh?"

"Leave it Alec, that's not why they are here.  Come over to our cottage and we can talk, I have something to show you Mickey."

Leaving their car in the pub car park where they were staying the night, Mickey and Martha followed them to the cottage, leaving the stroller outside the door.

Rose went to retrieve her device from it's new hiding place, handing it to Mickey.

"The new improved version?" Mickey laughed, turning it around in his fingers.  "This has the Doctor written all over it.  You mentioned you were a year out?"

"I got here a year early, James was tryin' to keep me three years behind where I'd come from.  I found the other Doctor and he brought me here."

"His driving must have improved then," Martha smiled as Jack decided he wanted to take a look at Alec, who let the infant crawl onto his lap from his place on the floor.

Alec thought if he and Rose would soon be having one of their own, he needed the practice.

"Well that's it then Rose, don't you see?  You've come forward a year, it's never gonna work, is it?  Well maybe next year but it depends how he calculated it.  You said it was just out of sync?"

"Well yeah, he said the worlds would keep doing that.  So it won't ever line them up again?"

"Who knows?"

"Fat lot of good you are," Martha told him as Alec squirmed at the boy grabbing his jacket button and trying to stuff it into his mouth.  She offered to take her son back but Alec shook his head. 

"I know you thought I could figure it out but this is completely different to the ones we developed.  Martha, did you bring it with you?"

Martha went into the bag containing Jack's things and brought out Mickey's original device.  Rose recognised it instantly.

"Does it work?"

"No, not since I last used it to get here.  We landed in front of Sarah-Jane, your mother used hers to avoid the testing aboard the Dalek ship.  I've never tried though, maybe it does work?"

Alec didn't want to know.  Rose had told him some of it but she'd feared it would make him worse when he was ill.  Maybe now, he would ask her.

"Yeah, well he's not risking it, not now," Martha insisted.

"Martha, I would never even ask him to.  Now I know it may not be the device isn't working, maybe someone will come looking for me but they will be a year out, they'll never find me."

"That's not completely true, if they arrived a year in the past, maybe someone's already here?"

"You mean someone has been waiting for me to arrive?  Then why haven't they found me?"

Alec looked up from watching the youngster, who was now rubbing his eyes.  He didn't decline Mickey's offer to take Jack, since he now had several wet buttons.  That was what he'd been afraid of, that someone was already here, looking for her.

Mickey just laughed though, handing Jack to Martha.

"In Broadchurch?  Seriously right in the middle of a murder investigation?  Mind you, Alec should have attracted their attention."

"Yeah, he would but maybe it was someone who didn't actually know they were looking for James's twin?"

"Such as?  Didn't everyone know him?"

Rose looked over at Alec.  "Not if it was James himself but he promised he wouldn't come after me."

"You believed him?  He broke his promise once Rose, would he not do it again?" Alec asked her, getting up to take off his jacket, wishing he'd done it earlier but he would just have wet shirt buttons instead.

"Alec, if he was here and he's seen me with you, he may have just gone back?"

He went to fill the kettle with water, he did not want to think about this.  Rose saw the look on his face but he'd known why her friends were coming here today, to talk about this.

"So, the Doctor arranged all this then?" Mickey asked.  "I mean bringing you to Broadchurch, getting you somewhere to live and a job and brought Alec here?"

"Someone did, or something, who knows?  It could have all been Dalek Caan, he was insane," Rose stated as she went to join Alec in the kitchen area, giving him a hug.

She knew this was upsetting him, which was why she'd left it alone before today.

"Well one thing is certain," Alec joined in.  "Whoever or whatever brought Rose here, I will be forever grateful but if they try to take her back, they will answer to me."

"Aw, I love it when you get all protective Alec.  I'm not going anywhere, even if someone shows up with a new, working device.  Why would I want to leave you?"

"To see your mother again, for one."

"I was prepared for that once before, this is no different Alec.  I got extra time with her, that's all, she knows.'

"Does she?  Are any of them certain you got back here, safely?"

"He's got a point Rose," Mickey agreed.

"Stop it, both of you.  James thought of that, they would have been alerted if I'd landed somewhere else and pulled me back, they know where I am.  James wouldn't come himself, trust me, he knew how mad I was at him."

"Maybe something changed Rose?" Alec asked her, making the drinks.

"It would have to have been a hell of a change, bad news.  I don't want to think about this and besides, he would have found me by now."

"Would he Rose?  Not if he saw me.  He would not have known his new self had set you up with me, would he?"

"That's true but forget it, he's not here, trust me."

They all agreed they would meet for lunch the next day and Mickey and Martha took their sleeping son back to the hotel but Rose knew Alec was unsettled about this.

He tried to change the subject though.  "I never got the chance to tell you, Claire was picked up last night, Tess has her in custody, with the pendant."

Rose threw her arms around him.

"Why didn't you say so?  That's great news.  So, we have to go there?"

"Tess will call, if you are needed but she's also been charged with your assault, Tess will send for the hospital records.  So, you won't have to deal with her again."

"That's a relief, now you can finally close the case that's been haunting you Alec, are you pleased?"

"Yes, I am, I thought it would never be solved before I gave in to the inevitable.  Now, we can get on with our lives, can't we?"

"Yeah.  I love you Alec, now you can put that behind you and now I know my device won't ever work, you don't have to worry about that either."

"Don't I?  What if someone did come here, never found you and went back to make the adjustments?"

"Forget it Alec, we'll face that together.  We are having a baby, remember?  You have all those appointments to look forward to with me."

"Yes, I do love.  Do you want to go out to eat or do you want chips again?  That baby will be addicted to them."

Six months later

They had decided the cottage was going to be big enough for a small baby but they were looking for something bigger if they both found something they liked.  Rose would go out every lunch time to meet Alec across from the station but she was still upset Ellie had decided to move away after they had discovered Alec had been right about her husband, not that he'd wanted to be right, Rose had lost her best friend.  Ellie had shut herself off completely, they hadn't even seen her at Christmas but the trial was approaching and Rose was looking forward to seeing her again.

She had tried to contact the Doctor, any of them but despite her attempts he never appeared but one afternoon after her lunch with her now fiancé, Alec having proposed to her on New Year's Eve when they had gone to see Mickey and Martha, who were now expecting their second child, there was a knock on the door.

She got up and opened in cautiously, she still hadn't got over Claire forcing her way in but she was now locked up, along with the other two responsible for killing the two girls.  It had not been easy for Rose, facing Claire and having to recall how she had been attacked in her apartment but they'd managed to keep the fact back that Claire had lost it when she'd seen the pregnancy testing kit.

Rose gasped as she opened the door – there stood the older Doctor who had saved Alec's life.

"Hello Rose, nice to see you again.  How far on are you now?"

She let him in and he closed the door behind him.

"Six months.  I tried to find you."

"I would imagine you did but I've come back again, to see how your husband is."

"We're not married yet, just engaged a few weeks ago.  I never got to thank you properly, for saving him."

"Ah, think nothing of it, how could I stand by and see you being miserable?  I had to wait for the right time."

"Then why didn't the other one just appear?"

"Really Rose, did I teach you nothing about time travel?"

"So, what did you say to that surgeon then?  Not that I'm ungrateful for Alec being here or anything."

"I know you're not.  I thought you would maybe want him to meet me?"

"Well yeah, you're not gonna disappear on me if I do?"

"No, be my guest, we can have tea while we wait.  Oh, I forgot, Clara will be here in a minute, she insisted on getting you something for the baby."

Rose got her phone out and called Alec.

"What is it sweetheart?  Are you feeling unwell?"

"Nah, we have visitors."

"You never said Mickey and Martha were visiting."

"It's not them Alec, it's the man who saved your life."

"I will be right there, don't let him leave."

Alec's new DS, Sarah Thompson looked as he got up.

"Do you want me to come with you Sir?"

"I'm only calling home for a while, Rose wants something."

Sarah didn't like his fiancée very much, not that she was jealous of her or anything, they just didn't hit it off.  Rose thought she reminded her of Claire, not that the DS had been told that.

Meanwhile, Clara had arrived and carefully given Rose a big hug.

"Well it's really nice to finally meet you Rose, though he doesn't talk about you much, only about the time he stepped in and saved Alec.  So, have you told her yet Doctor?"

"Told me what?" Rose asked.

The Doctor just sipped on his tea, stalling for time, which was quite a feat for him.

"You tell her your news Clara."

"I met your Doctor Rose, we foiled a plot by the Zygons.  You met them?"

"Didn't I just?  Yuck.  How was he?"

The Doctor frowned at both of them.  "She can't tell you, she had to twist my arm for me to let her tell you that.  You know better than to ask about my past self Rose.  I made this exception because you deserved to know and you deserved a chance for your baby to grow up with a father.  Ah, sounds like the man himself is home."

Alec let himself in, seeing Clara first, who got up.  She thought she was seeing a ghost, since Alec's beard was now neatly trimmed and hardly there, mainly because Rose was fond of trimming it, which frequently made him almost late for work as they made out.

"Hello Alec, nice to meet you.  I'm Clara and that is the Doctor."

The Doctor got up to shake Alec's hand, unable to resist the urge to compare his latest body with his old one, well sort of.

"Nice to see you up and around Alec.  No doubt being a detective you have a lot of questions?"

"Well yes but there is one burning question – why did you come back and save me?"

"That's a good one and one you deserve an answer to but first, I have one for you.  What do you remember?"

"What kind of a question is that?  Rose, tell me he is not being serious?"

"Let me explain Alec.  You took a job here, to get away from a now solved case and hide a possible witness?  Yes?  Oh and Rose, I apologise you got caught up in all that, that you got hurt, Clara is still mad at me over it.  It was not my intention when the other me you met set all this up, with some help."

"Yeah, it wasn't Mickey though, was it?"

"No, it was who you named James."

"He did lie to me then, he said he never found you."

"Not lied, exactly, he did not find his twin, technically, he found the version of me you met and I think he deliberately sent you a year out, so your device would never work."

"Mickey explained it would never catch the other universe, not to take me back where I'd left from, it would have been out."

"Yes, it would and someone did come looking for you but never found you, then Alec died and you were left with no way back and a baby and Clara made me see I owed you and said I should make it up to you.  So I did, by telling the surgeon where they went wrong."

"Are you going to tell me what that was?" Alec asked, sitting beside Rose.

"Nothing mysterious, you don't have two hearts Alec, if that's what you think?"

Clara looked at him and Rose knew there was something funny going on, then it dawned on her – the Doctor didn't want Alec to know, whatever it was.

"I simply told him a few things which fortunately for you, he was able to correct."

"How did you know?" Alec asked him.

"I'm a time-traveller Alec, I learned afterwards and before you ask no – I can't tell you how I found out.  There were laws Alec, laws of my people and I've broken enough of them.  You are worried my twin will come back?"

"Yes, it has always worried me but not as much since Rose agreed to marry me."

"Oh, I've not seen your ring Rose, can I see it?" Clara asked, getting up.

Rose enjoyed showing it off, something she'd never got out of James but that was partly her fault, she'd never dropped any hints and more surprisingly, neither had her mother.

"There is no fear he will come back again, we had an agreement that if Rose got mad at him and came back, he wouldn't follow because he gave me a challenge – to find his double."

"Then James had you find Alec for me?  Why?"

"He knew when he got back things would never be the same, he just wanted you to be happy but he gave me a challenge – to find you someone who needed your help Rose, he knew how you helped so many people and Alec qualified.  You really don't remember me Alec?"

"Well you are not from the university of Edinburgh, since I never went there and I never followed up when I found out what was wrong with me."

"Why did you never do anything Alec?" Clara asked.

"I had no reason until I met Rose."

"I have just proved my point, that is what Rose does."

"I learned from the best, Doctor."

"No, you had it in you before you ever met me, it has always been there, since you were born."

"I thought Dalek Caan had something to do with it."

"He was responsible for a lot of things Rose but not this.  He may have known about it but that's as far as it goes.  Alec, if you don't remember me, then good, it's as it should be."

"So you went further into the past then?" Rose mused, knowing she was getting nothing more out of him.

"Once, very briefly, it was my last regeneration that set this whole thing up and I let everyone down, I had to make the whole thing kick off."

"You allowed me to get ill and risk dying?" Alec asked.

"I told you, I did things that went wrong, I'm sorry but sometimes, I cannot interfere, Rose has seen the consequences.  I had to be certain that with you, there were no such consequences.  That was why Rose had to find you and it was a big risk because she might never had decided to come back."

"What if I had never met her?  Would you have saved me then?"

"Stop it Alec, don't even go there.  I did find you, James knew I'd be mad with him and leave, so get that idea out of your head.  You paid me back Doctor, thanks for saving Alec but we can't know any more."

"Ah, you still have some sense?  Come on Clara, time to leave.  I'll be around, somewhere, if you need me."

"I told you I tried to find you."

"I'll only be there if you really do need me, why do you think I came at the last minutes to save Alec?"

They all said goodbye and Alec was about to go back to work.

"Just one thing Rose, if no-one comes looking for you again, what about your family?"

"Who knows Alec?  He's been wrong before and like you said, the day we know everything, we may as well give up."

Alec kissed her goodbye, saying he'd see her later but Rose's mind wouldn't rest, there were still a lot of unanswered questions but remembering her own advice, picked up a magazine and tried to rest, one hand on her growing baby bump but she was silently thanking whichever Doctor had arranged for her and Alec to meet here that they had done just that and whatever the Doctor was holding back, it was best they never knew.  She couldn't help but wonder though and would never tell Alec that maybe, just maybe, he was actually James.  It would certainly explain a few things.

The End!

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