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Strange lights in the night

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Rose Tyler is on her way back to London on a foggy night and sees a hotel lit up on the main road.  Alec Hardy has come back to Broadchurch after seeing his daughter and gets the last room but when Rose is offered the hotel's sofa, Alec instead offers to give her his room when she says she knows who he is.  Needless to say, he stays the night and the next morning, nature takes over.  She tells him who she is and two weeks later, Alec calls Torchwood when strange lights are seen out at sea.





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Chapter 1
Rose knew it was a big mistake, setting off home from Torquay when the forecast had predicted fog but if she stuck to the main road, she should maybe get halfway and maybe stop off in Southampton, just off the motorway for the night, anywhere away from 'Fawlty Towers' - the nightmare of a hotel her secretary had booked her into and everywhere near where the conference was had been booked up in advance.

She thought no wonder that one had reasonably priced rooms and she'd been surprised not to hear Basil shouting for Sybil every morning and she was meant to book out the next day but she'd had more than enough of only getting half power in the shower, the hairdryer had shorted out on her that morning and the wardrobe door didn't close properly.  She was going to give them a review alright – to warn people to stay away.

She passed the sign for Exeter, the visibility wasn't too bad and it wasn't quite dark, the nights were staying lighter now it was into April and according to her satnav there was a hotel on the outskirts of Dorchester.  She thought she would try her luck and stop there instead of risking going any further but while she was thinking about it, the fog came rolling in now she was nearer to the coast again, crossing the counties from Devon into Dorset.

She was cursing Mickey, who had meant to go in her place but he had wangled Brighton, fifty odd miles from London and she'd got Torquay, lucky her, that hotel would be right up Mickey's street, he'd have felt at home there.  Part of Torchwood's new strategy was to get coastal towns' police forces interested enough that if anything was spotted out at sea that the coastguard wasn't too bothered about, they would call them in and a team would investigate, that being herself, Jake, Mickey and a few others including Chrissie, Mike and Alan, who were almost identical twins.

There was no way now she was even going to make it to Dorchester, the fog was getting thicker, her fog lights were on and she could make out the car in front so she kept a reasonably safe distance, not seeing any headlights in her rear-view mirror that were noticeable and hoped it would stay that way.

As she could see on the screen of the in-built system, there were two roundabouts coming up, one went to Lyme Regis and one a few miles further down led to a place called Broadchurch, Rose recalling it from the recent news a killer had gone free after the defence walked all over the two detectives.  She'd been surprised she'd been able to stop herself from going to see the detective who bore a strange resemblance to the Doctor but she was well over thinking anyone who was remotely the same build and height was actually him.

Doubting she'd find anything in the town, she decided to risk going a few more miles to Dorchester but as she approached the next roundabout, she misjudged the turnings and realised she had gone the wrong way, passing some houses, then a large building and saw some lights in the distance.  It was getting on for nine and she'd had nothing to eat, packing as soon as she got back to that dreadful place and almost throwing her key onto the desk when there was no-one around and she'd expected Basil himself to come out of the back.  She had only stopped for a quick coffee and to use the rest room at a small diner she'd seen a sign for at the other side of Exeter.

It had taken her longer with having to reduce her speed as the car in front had gone down to forty in a fifty zone though she supposed it was only sensible but she saw a light up ahead that could be a hotel so she slowed down and pulled into the side of the road which turned out to be a lay-by outside a brightly lit empty shop with the windows blanked over.

She could just make out a lit sign opposite that said 'The Traders Hotel' so grabbing her overnight bag she'd kept separate below the passenger seat, she turned off the engine and got her purse and the bag and checked nothing was passing.  The place seemed eerie to her, there was no-one around and only one car had passed in the opposite direction since she'd pulled over.

She carefully crossed the road and went through the open doorway, finding herself in the reception area and hearing laughter coming from a room to the left.  Becca Fisher had been serving one of the locals and suddenly noticed a blonde woman standing at the desk, looking around.

"Hello there, looking for someone?" Becca asked her, then noticing the holdall on the floor.

"Hi, I was hoping I could maybe get a room for the night?  I took a wrong turn at the roundabout and found myself on the street out there, this fog is getting thicker."

Becca thought she recognised the young blonde but what would Rose Tyler be doing in Broadchurch of all places, well except getting lost in the fog.

"Oh, I'm really sorry, we're fully booked, someone arrived about an hour ago and got the last room."

"Was it a woman?" Rose asked, hoping if it was, she might be persuaded to share a twin room.

"No sorry, someone who used to stay here came back while he gets something sorted out.  Is it really bad out there?  There are a few hotels down by the harbour but I expect the fog's even thicker down there."

Rose crossed to the chair opposite and sat down wearily.

"Can I at least get something to eat and some coffee?"

"Yeah, I can rustle up a toasted sandwich or something, cheese and ham ok?"

"Mmm, that would be really great.  Maybe by the time I've eaten I might be able to make it down to the harbour, do I carry straight on?"

"Yeah, until you reach the mini roundabout then you can follow it around and there are two or three pubs down there.  Why don't you go into the lounge and I'll see what I can do?  I was out earlier, maybe someone cancelled, there are a few keys hung up."

Becca went off and Rose went into the lounge, the plush red sofa looking very inviting if there  were no rooms available but maybe it was against hotel regulations.  Becca went to check the reservations, just as two people came in, one being Alec Hardy himself, who had been to locate a cash machine and to get some bottled water from the convenience store.

"Oh, I hadn't realised you'd gone out again Alec?"

He hated anyone calling him by his first name, especially Ellie Miller.

"Just getting a few things," he indicated towards the white carrier bag they had made him pay extra for, him thinking it was only supermarkets that were allowed to charge you 5p for, which in his opinion was a rip-off and a stealth tax by the government.

He noticed a woman sitting in the lounge, staring into space and slouched in a chair.

"Another guest?" he asked, nodding to Rose as Becca checked that every key was accounted for and handing him his.

"Not exactly, she just turned up ten minutes ago, got lost from the main road in the fog."

"Aye, it's nasty out there, I only went down the road and that was bad enough, I would not like to have to drive in it."

"Yeah, I think it's Rose Tyler but I could be wrong."

"You don't say?  Are all the rooms booked?"

"Yeah, you got the last one and as much as I feel sorry for her, I'll have to turn her away.  Oh, Sally, here a minute," she called to the maid.  "Can you organise some coffee and a cheese and ham toasted sandwich for the woman in the lounge?  Have you eaten Alec?"

"Yes, I ate earlier, before I came here."

He had called at Ellie's house to see how she was getting on and she'd insisted on feeding him, which had delayed his arrival and him almost missing the last vacant room, since someone was now sat looking at him in envy.

"Have you asked who she is?"

"No, since I can't offer her a room and I can't let her sleep in the lounge, can I?  I'd get into trouble."

"Who is going to tell?" Alec asked her.  "I'm not officially on duty until next Monday, I came back early to try to get my chalet back, though it's probably already booked.  Can't you offer at least?  She may turn it down anyway."

Rose was guessing what the topic of conversation was out in the reception area.  She had instantly recognised the detective inspector and seen him look and nod in her direction twice already and she hoped some food was on the way.

After some debate, Becca gave in, against her better judgement.

"Oh, ok, as long as you don't tell on me, I’ll see what she says.  You could offer her your room," Becca joked.

"Just because I am well again does not mean I care to sleep on a sofa."

"Just joking, relax.  Why don't you come with me, if she sees the police are willing to overlook hotel regulations, she may be more likely to accept the offer."

"Why not?"

He followed her as she went to the doorway, the maid just turning up with Rose's food and coffee.

"Mmm, thanks, I'm starving," Rose told the maid as she put the tray on the small table.

"Hi again.  You're Rose Tyler, aren't you?" Becca asked her as Sally was out of earshot, just in case she was wrong.

"Yeah, I guess the game's up?  Have you found me a room?"

"No, I'm really sorry but this is DI Hardy and he suggested I offer to let you sleep on the sofa, though I wouldn't normally.  It's the best I can do besides send you back out in the fog, which he says is getting worse."

"Thanks and I'd be really grateful for you letting me, I'll pay the single room rate."

"No need, what would I put it down as?  I'll throw breakfast in, you can pay for that.  When you've eaten come out and see me."

"Yeah, I will.  Hello, so you're Alec Hardy then?"

Becca went off, leaving Alec standing in the doorway.

"How did you manage to get here?"

"I got lost in the fog, what da ya think?  I was trying to make it to Dorchester but I took a wrong turn and my satnav was telling to turn around.  There was no way I was going back and doing it again."

"Where were going at this time of night?" he asked, the detective in him taking over as he sat in the chair opposite.

"Trying to get home.  I was stupid to disregard the weather warning.  I'd just left Torquay and it wasn't that bad but by the time I got to Exeter, it was getting worse."

"Been on holiday?" he asked, indicating her holdall.

"No, a conference for my stepfather."

Alec somehow didn't believe that but let it slide for now.

"You look tired Miss Tyler."

"Call me Rose.  Yeah, not had much sleep the last two nights, I got booked in Bates Motel or Fawlty Towers, take your pick.  I'd kill right now for a decent bath or even a shower."

"Then allow me to let you use my room, it's the very least I can do for you.  I would not like you complaining to your stepfather that you received no hospitality from the town and I am the police, you can trust me."

"Yeah, I know who you are and I'm sorry that man got away, he should have been punished."

"He was, the locals took care of him and I turned a blind eye."

Ellie had told him what had happened and why she'd gone off that evening almost two weeks ago, just as he was preparing to leave to visit Daisy.  That hadn't worked out as he'd planned though, well at the beginning it had but staying in the boarding house had not been for him after having his own place and Tess wouldn't give way and help him get his old job back.

Instead, he had phoned his old boss in Broadchurch and asked if anyone had replaced him.  Ellie hadn't been lucky enough to get the promotion she'd lost when he'd taken her job, given that her husband had just walked free on a technicality, that of the defence knocking them off balance with false accusations and the fact she had beaten her husband whilst he was in custody, on his watch.

"When you've finished, bring your holdall and I'll take you upstairs, you can have a shower at least and I'll talk to Becca, maybe I can give you my room and I'll sleep down here."

"I can't let you do that, you just got over heart surgery, I read about you."

"How could you have?  I never revealed it, where did you get that information from?"

Rose realised she'd slipped up.

"Sorry, I haven't been honest with you.  I was at a conference for Torchwood, I'm an agent."

"Oh, well that explains it then, so what were you doing in Torquay, besides staying in the hotel from hell?"

"Can I tell you later, after my shower?"

"Sure, are you ready?"

Rose nodded and being so comfortable in the chair, couldn't get up so Alec held his hand out to help her.

"Allow me?"

Rose grinned at him and accepted.  "Thanks Alec, for being so kind to me."

"Think nothing of it, I would be neglecting my duty if I didn't help a woman in distress.  Just wait here while I tell Becca."

Becca was busy behind the bar and turned when Alec called her.

"You're doing what?" she asked as he pulled her into the corridor and Rose had stepped out of the lounge, smiling.

"Come on Becca, I am just going to let her use my shower, she had a hell of a time where she was just staying, which is probably why she set off in the fog."

He didn't realise Rose was standing behind him, listening to him defending her.

"Yeah, I couldn't get out of there fast enough, trust me.  Is there a problem Alec?" Rose asked.

"I don't know, is there a problem Becca?  Come on, you know who she is."

"Well ok then but you'll have to come down after the bar closes and everyone's gone to their rooms and be out of the lounge by seven, ok?"

"Fine, I will be sure to set my alarm then.  Come on Miss Tyler, let's get you sorted eh?"

"I told ya, just call me Rose.  Lead the way, I can't wait to get a proper shower."

"Your last hotel didn't have one?" Becca asked her as they began to climb the stairs.

"It only gave a trickle of water and the hairdryer was bust, some hotel that was.  What floor are you on Alec?"

"The first," he replied, wishing he'd been on that floor when he'd been ill but there again, no-one would have heard him falling on his bathroom floor that time and he may not be here now, leading Rose Tyler to his room so she could take a shower.

Arriving at his door, he let them in and Rose put her holdall on the chair.

"The bathroom is there, take your time, I will have to wait here before I go back down or face the rowdies in the bar."

"Fine, it's your room, I'll be a while.  You don't mind if I get into my pyjamas?"

Why did she think he would object, a man would need his head examining otherwise.

Once under the steady stream of water, for the first time in the last few days, she felt her normal self again, despite being tired from the intense driving through the fog.  At least she wouldn't be sleeping in the car or getting lost again and as far as anyone knew, she was still in Torquay and she intended to keep it that way, there was no sense in worrying her mother, she would have Jake set off to find her, though it may not even be foggy in London.

She was going to thank Mickey for taking the easiest location when she got back though, the weasel.  He'd had all the best places, getting Blackpool and Cumbria for almost a week while she had got East Anglia and Suffolk and Jake had got the Yorkshire coast and Lincolnshire, there was only Scotland and Wales left and local branches were taking care of them, it had all kicked off up in Scotland anyway, the mysterious lights seen for several nights off the coast of Aberdeen.

It had got Torchwood interested enough to gather the police chiefs from all coastal areas to agree to alert them if anything else was spotted though she had been the last one to complete the network and amongst the delegates, there would have been a chief from this area she was in now.  She wondered why Alec hadn't asked her what she had been doing, since he hadn't seemed to believe she was representing her stepfather and he'd not questioned her further.

While Alec was waiting, dreading now he was going to have to sleep in his suit – again, he sat on the bed thinking this would be the second time his hotel arrangements had gone sour on him and he wouldn't mind sharing with Rose Tyler rather than Miller any day but she wouldn't be the type of woman who would tell him to shut up and just make the most of it, nor warn him he'd better not snore.

It had been embarrassing to say the least to lie on the top of the bed with Miller facing away from him and him having to pretend to be asleep when she'd gone to get dressed in the bathroom and he'd hurriedly got changed before she came out.  Now, Rose Tyler was in there getting a shower and any man would give his right arm to be in there with her and he wasn't even tempted.

He was really but he knew he didn't stand a chance with her – what would she want with a police detective who couldn't even convict a child killer?  He'd redeemed himself with Sandbrook though, which was some relief and he'd have to go back at some point though Tess was taking care of the paperwork, since he was on medical leave and Miller was from another force.

He heard the bathroom door open and Rose came out rubbing her hair with a white towel.

"Does your hairdryer work Alec?"

"How would I know?  I just arrived tonight."

"Sorry, I forgot."

She went to the dressing table, not sure whether to look for it or not.

He realised he was being rude, he was not talking to Tess or Miller.

"Here, let me find it for you, can't have you going to bed with wet hair, can we now?"

"Thanks Alec, I don't know what I would have done if you'd not rescued me.  I feel really bad, about you sleeping in the lounge."

He found the hairdryer and plugged it in the socket for her and prepared himself for the noise it would make.  She didn't take long as she sat on the stool in front of the mirror, her hair down over her face.  It had been a long time since he'd seen Tess doing that.

It was almost eleven, Alec wondering how much longer to wait, Rose had taken about an hour getting herself showered and her hair dried.

"I think I will go downstairs now, everyone should have left the bar by now."

Rose sat on the edge of the bed, feeling really guilty and decided to confront him.

"Alec, don't take this the wrong way but maybe, if you slept on top of the bed, you could stay?"

"Rose, I had to share with my DS a while back, it was not my idea of fun."

"Well I'm not your DS, am I?  Was that Ellie Miller?"

"Yes, there was a mix-up with the booking when we went to question someone in Sandbrook."

"I just thought, you might be uncomfortable on that sofa, it only just looked big enough for me."

"I'll manage but I will have to come back at seven, Becca's orders."

"Yeah, I'll pay half towards the room."

"No need, honestly, it was my pleasure to help you."

Rose got up and crossed over to him, reaching for his cheek and kissing it.

"You're a real gentleman Alec Hardy, sure I can't tempt you to stay?"

Everything within him was telling him to go, that it was the decent thing to do and let her get some much needed sleep but he'd embarrassingly shared a room with Miller, what was the difference?

"Well, now you mention it, Becca did not seem pleased with the prospect.  I expect if one of the guests gets up early and finds me on the sofa, they may get a shock and report her for letting me."

"Is that why you offered to take my place?"

"Well yes, plus I was being courteous to you, what any man would do, under the same circumstances."

Rose laughed, touching his arm.

"You are kidding?  I had several male officers at the conference chatting me up."

"What were you doing at a police conference?"

"Torchwood are trying to get their co-operation if any unusual occurrences happen off the coast.  Someone from Wessex police would have been there."

"I am not a party to that, I don't start back until next week."

"Well you'll probably hear about it when you do go back.  What we're asking isn't a lot, just to be informed and given access to investigate."

"You would be conducting the investigation yourself?" he asked, noticing she still held his arm, like she was trying to delay him.

Maybe he should stay, it may just be worth his while.

"It would be me or one of the team, there are a few of us, I got lucky and got down here when I could have got Sussex, I would have been home by now, in my own bed."

"The beds are comfortable enough, I have stayed here before."

Rose wasn't sure whether to mention Becca had already told her.

"Then I'll ask you again, do you really want to sleep on that sofa?  You can stay if you promise to behave."

"Then I accept, I am just getting over heart surgery, so you kindly reminded me.  So being in Torchwood, you found out about that?"

She wasn't going to admit she had been following both his last case and Sandbrook, whatever would he think of her?

A/N:  'Fawlty Towers' is a British comedy about the hotel from hell, in case you were wondering.  The exterior was filmed at a hotel in the Torquay area and we often refer to bad hotels as such.
Chapter 2
Rose had to admit some of it though, without him thinking she was stalking him.

"Yeah, I heard about it Alec, you finding that girl recently, it must have been awful for her family?"

"Yes, all that time, not knowing and hoping she would come back but I can't discuss it with you, it's an ongoing investigation."

"Yeah, I get it, Torchwood doesn't need to know."

"Good but what about you?"

"Aw, I'm just nosy but forget it, I don't expect any special treatment. Aren't ya gonna get changed in the bathroom or are ya planning on sleeping in your suit?"

"I did so last time, there was no way I was getting undressed with Miller around, we had just been accused of having an affair during the investigation."

Rose burst out laughing, Alec raising an eyebrow at her.

"Aw come on Alec, it was a bit funny, admit it," she giggled, getting into bed and yawning. "I'll be out like a light, trust me, I wouldn't even notice if you just wore a t-shirt and shorts, go get a blanket or something, yeah?"

"Well turn your back then and no looking through the wardrobe mirror. That includes the dressing table one as well, in case you thought you would get away with that."

"Spoilsport, bet ya didn't say that to Ellie Miller?" she teased, moving onto her side and smiling, thinking it might be worth a peek.

He sat on the bed, taking his shoes and socks off and his tie that was not quite fastened, something he had in common with the Doctor, Rose had thought. He went to the drawer and got out a grey t-shirt, unbuttoning his shirt and taking it off without turning around, having a feeling Rose would be cheating, she was a young woman, he was a fairly reasonably now fit man, it was only natural.

He pulled the t-shirt over his head, hearing Rose giggling to herself quietly and chose to ignore her – so she was cheating a little, he couldn't really blame her, she was nothing like Miller. He debated going into the bathroom again to take his trousers off but who was he to spoil her entertainment, it sounded like she'd had a rough time the last few days, what with the conference and men chatting her up, not to mention the hotel she'd stayed in.

"I know you're watching Rose," he told her, spying her in the dressing table mirror.

"Guilty as charged, so arrest me," she teased, pretending she wasn't but she had been too slow turning back.

"I can't, I am not officially on duty yet. Do I have to go into the bathroom to finish getting undressed?"

"No, don't mind me, just carry on."

He thought if she wanted to play games, he was willing to go along with it as he turned back and moved out of her line of sight to lean on the back of the chair, knowing she would have to move her head to still watch him. As his trousers came down, revealing his grey cotton/polyester shorts with buttons down the front he heard her giggling again.

"Stop it Rose, what's the joke?"

"Sorry, it's been a while since I watched a fit bloke get undressed."

"I'm glad I amused you then," he told her, folding his trousers neatly and putting them on the back of the chair.

"I didn't mean it like that, I'll be quiet now and go to sleep."

"No, I'm the one who is sorry, I am quite used to women turning me down."

Well it had only been Becca Fisher, a good while back now but who was counting? Rose was on her side again as Alec went to the wardrobe and brought out the spare duvet, since the blanket looked a bit on the rough side.

"Who'd be stupid enough to turn you down?"

"You said you turned men down at the conference."

"I was there to give information, not get picked up."

"Tell me more about this scheme of yours," he asked her, sitting on the edge of the bed, Rose feeling his weight as he went to lie down after placing the duvet on, half coving Rose as he got under it.

"You're making a right mess of that," Rose observed out of the corner of her eye.

"Don't watch then," he huffed back, aware he was only about two inches from her.

She had been wearing orange pyjamas with bears on, he prided himself on his observations.

"Fine. Goodnight then Alec."

"I hate that name."

"I'm not calling you DI Hardy."

"Don't call me anything, I was glad to help you out and provide some decent accommodation for you."

"Thanks for not making me sleep on the sofa. Do you mind, if I just kiss you on the cheek, to show my appreciation?"

He knew he should say no but he'd gone this far and she would be gone in the morning.

"Be my guest."

She rolled over and touched his cheek, his beard feeling soft to her. Then he felt her lips gently kiss it and her hand pull away.

"Goodnight Rose."

The next thing he knew, his alarm was going off at six forty five, since he'd set it thinking he was sleeping on the sofa down in the lounge. He realised something was on his arm and he reached out with his other hand, just managing to silence the phone when he squinted at the screen and aimed for the red button with his thumb.

He heard an 'mmm' from whatever was lying on his arm and felt soft hair when he moved his head as Rose moved when he did. He couldn't figure out how she had rolled over and managed to find his arm but for a hotel, it was a fairly narrow double bed, compared to the last room he'd been in.

There was another soft sound as he tried to move his now dead arm and he thanked everything he could think of that he'd not woken up panicking he was drowning again and frightened her to death by jumping up and shouting 'get away from the water', she was sure to think he was completely crazy. He was crazy, for letting her go to sleep without at least kissing her cheek back but that would have lead to other things but so what?

He realised he was not going to be able to move his arm without her either being woken up and possibly being grumpy about it or stay where he was and wait for her. Still, he was in no hurry, he had nowhere in particular to go this early and it was nice to feel a woman leaning on him.

"You can move now," a sleepy voice yawned at him, moving slightly off him to allow him to get some feeling back in it, which was happening slowly.

"Morning, you are too late, I lost all feeling in it."

She took that as he didn't want to move it just yet but she had nowhere to go without causing him further discomfort. She just leaned back where she had come from as she tried to move again, making her lean into his shoulder.

"I know you are smirking Rose, how did you even get there?"

"Guess I thought you were the pillow?"

"I sincerely doubt that, there is a vast difference, which you obviously cannot tell."

"Can so I will have you know, I may just prefer your arm. Why didn't you try anything with me last night?"

"You are joking?"

"No, it's a fair enough question, this is the first time a bloke asked me to bed and slept on top of it."

"I just bet it is. I am too warm now, I seem to have doubled the duvet."

"Then ditch it and get in here, I don't bite, well not so as anyone would notice."

"Now I know you are joking. Give me my arm back then."

Rose moved again and as he got free, the duvet saved him the time by falling on the floor, leaving him with his t-shirt halfway up his stomach, making a gap. Rose was pulling the other duvet back and caught sight of him, playfully placing her hand on the gap and making him flinch.

"You could wait until I get in."

"Well stop messing about then and ditch the t-shirt, since you said you are too warm."

He was painfully aware he still had a scar from his surgery, he'd not that long since removed the bandage when it started coming off.

"I'll leave it for now."

He got beneath the duvet, pulling it over him and noticed Rose was struggling out of her pyjama bottoms.

"Yeah, it is a bit warm now you come to mention it, must be because I've got company. Sure you don't want that t-shirt off?" she hinted, taking the hem inbetween her fingers and raising it up even more then feeling his stomach again.

What was she trying to do him, give him another heart attack?

He caught her hand and put his on top of it, holding it in place and her fingers still moving slightly, edging them upwards, he was not going to have his safety net for long at this rate.

Before he knew it, she rolled over on top of him and sat on him, placing both her hands on his chest.

"Rose, you need to know I am still a bit sore from my surgery."

"Sorry, I wasn't thinking but it's no excuse to leave your t-shirt on. Need some help?"

He had no time to protest as she began pulling it up over his chest and he had to help her.

"That's better." She looked for his scar. "Aw, you can hardly see it, I'd never have noticed it."

He was glad she'd kept her underwear on under her pyjama bottoms or he really would be in trouble but when she began unbuttoning her top two buttons, he could see she'd not kept a vest top on or it was cleverly hidden – well he hoped not.

He was holding onto her arms to keep her balance but moving one hand and as she moved hers away, he unbuttoned the next one.

"Enjoying the view Alec? Oh, you told me not to call you that."

"I will let you off and yes, the view so far is stunning but there are still a few obstacles preventing me getting a better look. May I?"

Rose put her arms behind her, keeping her balance as he freed his other arm and went for the next button, running his middle finger down the gap made so far. He got to the next one, Rose with a smile on her face, tilted away and accentuating what had been revealed, which to Alec seemed like there were millions of buttons even though he was only two away from parting the garment in the middle.

Rose was getting hotter by the minute, it had been a while since she'd had any fun and he was a nice enough guy, maybe a bit too like the Doctor, she had really loved him but he wouldn't want her to mope around after him, he'd want her to get on with her life and she had really tried but she could never find anyone to replace him. It was only for one time though, in a few hours she would be on her way home and he would be going back to work.

Alec's mission accomplished, he parted the top, his eyes taking in every inch of her as one hand wandered down to the black lacy knickers that were just about on her hips as the pyjama bottoms had pulled them down.

He pulled the top away from her shoulders and raising her up slightly, tugged her underwear down one side, Rose trying to balance on one arm to try and get to his shorts.

"Never mind about those just yet, let me look at you."

Rose smiled as she leaned back again and he tried to sit up to go kiss her cleavage. Rose put one arm around his neck, he put an arm around her waist to hold her until she put her other arm around his neck and went to ruffle his hair as his hand slipped down the back of her knickers. He took that as she wanted him to kiss her there as she pulled his head down and he stared at her cleavage.

Rose murmured softly as his now neatly trimmed beard touched her skin, he'd tidied himself up somewhat after Daisy made several remarks about being seen out with a scruff and he'd shaved a bit off the morning before as a new habit whilst being in Sandbrook but he planned on growing it back now he was on his own again. Rose didn't seem to mind too much as he kissed one side then the other equally, tilting her head back as he leaned on her.

Then, he pulled her forward and pulling one sleeve off then the other, leaned back and they fell onto the pillow, Rose smiling and not saying anything as he gave her a tentative kiss to see if she was willing to kiss him back. She did so he continued, tossing her pyjama top somewhere in the direction of the headboard, he had no idea where her pyjama bottoms were and he didn't really care at this stage as she tried to free a hand to reach to the waistband of his shorts before he went and wet them as the pressure mounted, Rose ignoring the fact they had buttons on them which would have been a nuisance and take longer than actually pulling them down.

Alec in turn put his hand that wasn't on her back onto the waistband of her underwear and yanked on the other side, trying to pull them off and they both decided then it would be quicker to do their own and by mutual agreement did so as Alec almost made her lose her balance. Rose was giggling and trying desperately, wriggled out of hers, which was more difficult than earlier but as her other leg came out she felt him yank the article from her hand and he was already pressing himself into her, the shockwave going through her.

Seconds later, he was pushing her onto her back, her arms going around his slim waist, not that she cared where they were as the second shockwave hit her and the most wonderful feeling came over her, Alec making some grunting noises which covered her own murmuring as she encouraged him and he obliged until they both fell over the edge of oblivion at the same time.

Rose began to giggle again as the sensation lasted and he was trying to move away from her, making her even worse, Alec amused she thought it was worth giggling at him as he tried to disentangle himself from her legs which were now wrapped around his ass.

"What are you finding so amusing?" he finally asked as he grasped one of her legs then the other.

"Nothing, mmm, that was exceptional Alec Hardy, who doesn't like his first name."

"I am happy it pleased you, it's been a while since I actually enjoyed myself and I apologise for ignoring you last night. For one thing, I thought you were tired and another, you wouldn't be interested in me, given I was recently on death's doorstep."

"Aw, I wouldn't have turned you down if you'd asked nicely but I was tired and a bit fed-up though you would have cheered me up."

"Then I apologise once more."

Almost on his knees, he went to move her as she was in the middle of the bed and he rolled onto his side to pull her onto him then kissed her again.

"I expect you want breakfast after that?" he asked as she was slightly out of breath and now sprawled on him.

"Yeah, I didn't have much to eat yesterday, the food at the hotel was terrible so I just left before dinner. That was really amazing Alec but I have to leave after breakfast, no insult intended."

"Then I will not take it as an insult but for what it was, very pleasant and a shame you are leaving so soon."

Gathering her clothes, she had found her knickers on the headboard and scrambled into them and grabbing her holdall she then dashed to the bathroom. Alec got some clean shorts from the drawer and began to get dressed, waiting for her coming out. It was a far better experience than the time he'd had to wait for Miller coming out, not knowing if she was going to catch him in the process – Rose he wouldn't mind so much catching him pulling up his shorts as she had just experienced him.

He hadn't asked her how she rated his performance though he reckoned he should get top marks or near enough, mainly because he didn't want to embarrass her, she had been above excellent and done everything he'd prompted her to do without him actually asking, like she had been anticipating his moves. That was very rare for him, Tess had always wanted her own way and most of the time had got it so he couldn't understand why she'd wanted sex with another man, who was older than he was and seemed less fit but there again, Mark Latimer had been having a fling with Becca Fisher so it could happen to anyone.

Rose was trying to recover from the what she'd thought was a rather excellent performance, he'd had nothing to prove to her but she had wanted to respond to his moves and had found it easy, since it was what she wanted and he had more than satisfied her. She knew he was divorced, what was his stupid ex wife thinking, letting him go for another man, she must have been crazy.

Alec was almost dressed when she came out but his white shirt was unfastened, tempting Rose to go up to him and run a finger down his torso.

"Very nice Alec and for the record, you are definitely a ten."

"Really?" he asked, raising an eyebrow and taking her hand and kissing the back of it.

"Yeah, it's a shame I didn't get to kiss my way across your chest, I guess I'll never know what I was missing?"

"Then I am sorry I did not give you the chance. So, you are going back to Torchwood, to wait for calls that there are unusual sightings out at sea in the dead of night?"

Rose freed a hand and put it near his heart, making him flinch, not for the fact if was near his scar but where it had actually been placed in a rather sensitive spot. She absent-mindedly began to rub over and pinched it, causing him to nearly throw her back on the bed again, rip her jeans and underwear off and have sex with her again if she didn't quit soon.

She must have been reading his mind as she stopped – to his disappointment and lifted her hand.

"I'll wait for you, if you need the bathroom?"

"Answer my question first," he told her, leaning down to kiss her neck and making it wet.

"Yeah, we have a special number to ring, a message is passed on to the team, Jake and I sift through them and see if it's worth investigating, like we had a strange light off the coast of Aberdeen, which is why this was started but that turned out to be nothing, just some strange coral that the moonlight was catching."

It had been rather disappointing but had got their interest that not everything may be explained so easily so Pete had agreed to give it six months trial and see if anyone reported anything. If not, they just left the number and if anything did happen then all the better.

"Maybe you will be inundated with calls then? I will probably be told about it when I get back to work. I won't be long."

"Take your time, I was enjoying the view."

It was almost eight and she wanted to get an early start though maybe she should wait until the morning rush was over but Alec standing there with his shirt unfastened was too tempting a sight. She wanted to get him back on the bed, snog him senseless and kiss right where she had just been rubbing, which from his face was turning him on in a big way. Why couldn't the conference have been in Broadchurch, this week?

Now, she could almost forgive Mickey for making her go to Torquay and stay at the hotel from hell. When Alec came out, he carried her holdall downstairs for her and put it under their table in the dining room.

"Are you sure I can't pay you for breakfast?" she asked him.

They had bumped into Becca, who didn't say anything and who assumed the detective had scored a goal in the bedroom department and he'd stayed with her, since they both had that look on their faces that they'd just been shagged.

"No need Rose, really. I'll be staying a while, until I get some accommodation sorted out and get back to work. Do you have that number, for your team?"

"Yeah, you can walk me out to my car and I'll get you a card. I hope I didn't park on the pavement last night, in the fog."

"I'm sure you avoided it. You will have to move your car soon, parking restrictions started at eight and you get one hour's parking."

"Trying to get rid of me?"

"Nothing of the sort, I would hate to have to see you being issued with a ticket when I walk over with you, the traffic warden has a bit of a reputation around here for being strict, so I have been told."

"I parked outside an empty shop, just opposite."

"That was the newspaper office, they moved down to the harbour a few weeks ago, to smaller premises. Most of the reporting is done online now I expect."

Well he had seen Stevens constantly 'Tweeting' every five minutes during his uncle's trial anyway.

They finished breakfast and Alec was debating tempting her back to his room for one final time before she left but she would then get a parking fine, though he would gladly pay it for her. Instead, Rose thanked Becca for offering to let her stay and they walked out of the hotel, Alec's arm around her shoulder.

The street was now fairly busy with shoppers, shop doors were open and a car was behind hers and she was relieved she'd left some space in front or she would never get out, not that it wouldn't have pleased Alec. It was almost nine but he couldn't see either of the town's traffic wardens lurking around to pounce on those who overstayed their welcome – they were probably both down at the harbour car parks catching those who took advantage of overnight parking from six onwards and seeing who was late back, a game they seemed to enjoy.

Rose opened the passenger door and put her holdall on the floor then closed it again after going in the glove-box and getting a card and a pen. Alec led her back to the empty shop's doorway, a place he'd been in a few times when it had been occupied and Rose scribbled her mobile number on the back of the card, then she handed it to him, Alec putting it in his top pocket and standing in front of her to shield her from passers-by.

He did not want anyone seeing him kissing goodbye to the Vitex heiress, well not the way he wanted to so he'd have to make it short but memorable, which he did.

"Bye Rose, it was more than nice meeting you."

"Yeah, it was more than nice meeting you Alec. If you get any strange reports, call and ask for me, I'll call you back. I put my mobile number on the back of the card."

She didn't add it was her personal number, not her work one and he didn't ask, he assumed it was a work one, why would she give him her personal one, she was leaving, if she had wanted more, she would have stayed a few more days, wouldn't she? Then it occurred to him that if she did stay another few day, then what? She'd still leave at some point so why bother? No, it was best she went now, after the best sex of his life and before she laughed in his face and said thanks for the one morning stand and that was all she had wanted.

She was looking at him, from where she was leaning into his shoulder so no-one would recognise her. He had put the card in his pocket and probably not even look at it unless he got some reports of anything strange out at sea. Should she mention she'd scribbled her personal number on the back or was this morning all he had wanted? She couldn't just come out and ask him, he would assume it was all she wanted and leave it as it was.

No, it was best to say goodbye and pay him a compliment, then he might be flattered and decide to call her at some point though he'd not offered her his mobile number - work or personal but he could always be contacted at the police station, they would be able to find him as opposed to finding her in Torchwood Tower since she flitted all over the place and no-one could keep tabs on her.

They kissed once more.

"Bye Alec, you were really good."

Glancing behind him to make sure no-one was passing, he led her back to her car, a sporty blue one and she unlocked it again, going around to the driver's door but he grabbed her arm and pulled her back behind the car.

"I'll call you, if someone reports anything."

He kissed her cheek and let her go, Rose turning to kiss him back and him seeing Becca Fisher putting a sign on the pavement and watching them.

"Yeah, do that Alec. I'd best go before the traffic warden beams in."

"Aye, you never know where they are going to appear next, they home in on cars that have gone over the limit."

She opened the driver's door and got in, Alec going back on the pavement and waving as she put her seat belt on. She opened the passenger window and he went up to it.

"I won't forget you Alec, thank you for a memorable stay."

"I won't forget you either, Rose Tyler, it was my pleasure making your stay memorable."

With that, she blew him a kiss and checking the road, indicated to pull out and he waved after her, realising he had just made the second biggest mistake of his life, well after marrying Tess Henchard – he had let her drive away without a promise he would call her for any other reason than Torchwood business and he was a complete ass for doing so.
Chapter 3
Alec walked down the side of the hotel and onto the esplanade towards the police station.  He had an appointment with Elaine Jenkinson but he would be early.  Ellie Miller had already got her job back, there was no reason why he wouldn't get his.  He had been hoping Sandbrook would work out and at least he'd tried but there were still too many bad feelings and people not being so forgiving plus did he really want to see Tess and that loser Dave groping each other in the break room?

Rose couldn't get the detective out of her head as she carried on towards London, making a stop about halfway there and checking her phone for messages, hoping Alec would have sent one after figuring out she'd left her personal number.  There wasn't one though, just a few from her mother asking what time she was setting off back and to remember the present for Tony, which she hadn't in her haste to escape so she had to call at the shop inside the complex and get him something.

She was disappointed that for a detective, he'd missed how she was delaying her departure but what could she do – draw him a picture?  He'd not come right out and asked her to stay, he could have done but would she have said yes?  Maybe she should have told him she would go back personally if he were to report anything but she'd said she would call him back and he had to ask for her, what more could she do?

He could have easily taken advantage of her last night and he hadn't but it seemed spontaneous on both their parts earlier that morning and it had been good and if he was anything like her, he would maybe want a repeat but since he'd not said anything, maybe he'd thought she would say no and didn't want to be rejected.

Alec's meeting had gone better than expected, the job was his pending an examination by the CMO on Monday morning, his hours were to be reduced for the first few weeks but he could live with that.  He went into the squad room, seeing Ellie sitting at her desk, though he expected her to have claimed his old desk.  He passed her and walked into the now empty office, he'd been told that a DI from Dorchester called in a few times a week and was constantly on the phone to them asking if anything was worth his attention.

Things were dying down in the town again now the trial was over, they'd tried to keep Joe Miller's identity quiet but in view of the town's junior reporter being related to him, that didn't last long plus the Latimers were keen for people to know.  Alec had sat back and stayed out of it, renting the chalet by the river and making it his temporary home, which he was going back up to the agency to see if it was free.  The place had grown on him despite stepping out on the decking and walking through half an inch of water and the ducks mistaking it for the riverbank.

It was where they had finally solved Sandbrook and where he'd collapsed again on the decking with Miller inside and him not saying anything to her.  It was also a place he'd never thought he'd want to go back to or he'd return to after going for surgery, though how he'd have made arrangements, he'd no idea except he'd left word for them to call Tess if he didn't make it.

Rose arrived home, her mother was waiting for her.

"Why didn't you answer my calls?"

"Sorry Mum, I just wanted to get away, the hotel was terrible."

"Then why didn't you come home last night?"

"It was foggy over there Mum, I didn't want to drive in it, I wouldn't have got very far."

Jackie led her into the kitchen.  "Well you'd have got nearer home.  You made good time then."

"Yeah, I left before breakfast, I wasn't missing much, trust me.  I had breakfast on the way.  Did Mickey get back?"

"Yeah, last night I think, so did it go well?"

"Yeah, very well, I think something might come of it."  Or someone maybe?

She wasn't going to mention her meeting with Alec Hardy last night, she may never see him again anyway but her curiosity got the better of her later that afternoon while she was unpacking and going through her notes.  She got out her tablet and looked up Broadchurch police station, got the number and before she lost the courage, dialled it.  She got the duty desk sergeant, who had nodded to Alec and Ellie on their way out, going their separate ways once outside.

"So, see you on Monday Hardy, about time you came to your senses."

"About what Miller?"

"Coming back to work.  You were right, no-one now believes I knew what he was doing, not even Beth."

"I should think so.  I still have to pass a medical on Monday."

"Then why are you looking so chipper this morning?  You even tidied yourself up.  You've not met a woman have you?"

"Excuse me?  Don't get so personal Miller, I never asked you if you and Claire picked up any blokes when you went to Weymouth with her."

He saw the look on her face that told him he'd hit the nail on the head but was it her, Claire or both of them?  Having sex with Rose a few hours ago had put him in a good mood.

"I met someone at the hotel last night but she's gone now, she'd got lost in the fog.  Don't make a big deal out of it Miller."

"Well I hope you took her to bed, you're well again now."

"The point being?"

Ellie shook her head – who would have known it?  Alec walked back up to the High Street and tried to get his chalet back but they'd had loads of enquiries about it and it was fully booked.  All they could offer was a two bedroom cottage just behind the pub, it came furnished and was vacant so he took it for three months, enough time to look for something else.  At least it was ready to move in to and within his budget.

Rose had spoken with the duty officer and asked for Alec.

"Sorry Miss, he just left with DS Miller, would you like to leave a message?"

"Yeah, just tell him Rose called.  When will he be back?"

"Sorry but he never said, it's the first time he's been back in a few weeks.  I'll pass it on when he does come back.  Is it urgent, I can call his mobile for you."

"No, it's not urgent, whenever he comes back."

She knew he would at some point and he did have her numbers, if he wanted to contact her.  She went back to join her mother and waited for her younger brother getting home from school, the present she had got in her hand.

Getting back to the hotel, Alec remembered the card Rose had given him and got it out of his top pocket.  He'd seen her scribble something on the card and turned it over to see a mobile number, wondering if it was her work number, she'd never have put her personal one, would she?  Should he call though?  She could have just left her team's number but she hadn't so taking a chance, he rang it but Rose had left her phone in her room and he forgot to take his off number withhold and he couldn't bring himself to leave a message.

Maybe she'd guess it was him and call the station, he could check on Monday, it was only a few days.

The two days turned into two weeks due to one thing and another.  Rose saw the missed call and the message but when she called her answer machine, there was no number so all she could do was wait for Alec to get the message she had rung.  Alec got to the station on Monday morning but the sergeant who had taken the message was off duty and the message sheet was at the bottom of a pile of other messages and had got put on the wrong one, going to another department and when it was passed back two days later, Alec had already left the station.

He finally got it on the following Thursday morning and he yelled for Ellie.

"When did this message come in?" he asked her since she had put it on his desk.

"I was given it on my way up Sir, it's got a date on it."

"Yes Miller, I can see that, it's from last Thursday."

"So, who's Rose then?  She didn't leave a number."

Now he would have to admit he already had it, well two of them.  She'd not called back and he'd only realised that morning to take the block off his phone, he'd not wanted anyone bothering him when he was away and Daisy had offered to show him how to do it.  How stupid he had been, he'd not left any message and the number was unknown so no wonder she'd not bothered calling him back, she thought he'd tried once and because he'd not called back?

"She's the woman I met last week."

"Not many women called Rose, let's see, yes, Rose Tyler?"

"Don't be stupid Miller.  Why would she be driving through Broadchurch on a foggy night?"

"So what happened?  Did you have to share a room?" Ellie laughed, remembering their uncomfortable night in Sandbrook, the day after being accused of having an affair.

"No, that only happens when you make the booking Miller.  Do you think I am going to admit to you if I spent some time with her?"

"Oh come on Hardy, you're only human and to answer your question from last week, yes, Claire picked up two blokes for us, it was the worst time of my life, I hope she had better luck  with hers."

Alec cracked half a smile, he'd certainly had luck with Rose and a week later, he was wishing she would come back this way but the only possibility was if someone were to discover strange goings-on out off the Dorset coast.  Torchwood wouldn't thank him for leaving personal messages for her and maybe the mobile number was a work one she never answered but why would she give him that?  He would give her another week to try and call him again and if he didn't hear from her, it was clear she didn't really want to see him again.

Rose was thinking almost the same when he'd left a missed call and no number and the police station wouldn't be pleased if she left messages every day but why hadn't he tried again, without the blocked number?  She could get Mickey to find out in five minutes but she'd then have to admit she'd stopped off in Broadchurch and had a liaison with Alec Hardy when she'd told everyone she came straight home from Torquay.

Now, she had to admit it, he would have tried again to contact her, he'd only been prepared to try once and assumed she hadn't wanted to take things further but she gave in and tried the station again to be told he'd already left for the day.  Then she remembered he'd said he might  be on reduced hours but he'd get the message in the morning, surely?

Maybe she should ask for Ellie Miller but what would she say to the DS?  Something like she had spent the night with him and she couldn't get hold of him?  The woman would be sure to start asking him questions and he may not want anyone to know plus the fact there was a chance she might put two and two together if she said it was Rose calling.

Alec didn't get to the office the following morning until late, he and Ellie had a callout to some break-ins on the estate just on the edge of the town and the desk sergeant never saw them go back in so Rose was pacing her office like a caged bear.  Should she just get in her car and drive down in the morning and find him?  Then what?  Have him say thanks for the visit but you had your chance?  No, she'd wait a few more days and even if she had to make something up, she would go down and tell him Torchwood were investigating and he'd missed it.

Jake knew there was something going on with his best friend, she'd been wandering around making everyone nervous by asking if any strange reports had come in, out at sea or anywhere else and by the following Wednesday, he'd had enough and caught her in her office.

"Out with it Rose, what's wrong with you?  Got a new boyfriend you're hiding from your mother?"

"I wish.  Can you keep quiet about something?"

He nodded.  "You know me, who would I tell?"

"That hotel in Torquay, it was so bad I left the night before, on the Wednesday night but it was foggy and I got lost, made a wrong turn at a roundabout and ended up in Broadchurch."

"No way Rosie, you met him, didn't you?"

"Yeah, at the hotel.  He'd been away and just got back, he'd got the last room and the hotel owner was gonna let me sleep in the lounge, mainly because of who I am and Alec Hardy intervening.  He offered to let me use his room to get a shower then he said he'd go down and sleep on the sofa.  I felt guilty and told him he could sleep on top of the bed, which he did."

"Then why are you so edgy?  Did something happen?  He didn't force himself on you did he?"

"Hell no Jake, he was a perfect gentleman but I was laid on his arm when we woke up and one thing led to another."

"Way to go Rose, so what's the problem?  Have you called him, has he called you?"

"I've left messages for him, he left me a missed call, we just can't seem to catch each other."

"What about his mobile?"

"The number was blocked, he must have forgotten about it."

"Then why didn't you ask me?"

"I didn't like to.  Why what can you do?"

Jake held his hand out for her phone and dialled the customer services, since he was in charge of the accounts.  Most employees only had work phones provided by Torchwood but Rose, Pete, Jackie and he and Mickey all had personal ones.  He grinned as he waited – he could hack into the account if he wanted but he liked bossing them around, as head of security it was his job to keep the family safe from all threats, including unsolicited calls whether the number was revealed or not.

He told the woman who answered he would follow it up to find out who had called Miss Rose Tyler and handed her phone back with a smug look on his face.

"I still can't call him Jake."

"What?  Stop being a prat about it Rose, call him, he may wonder why you didn't ring him back, maybe he didn't realise it was blocked?"

"I left messages for him at the police station – he never even offered his number."

"You're such a dunce Rose, he must have realised and tried to call.  I'm not gonna stop nagging ya until you do."

Rose sat back in her chair, eyeing her friend and knowing he meant it.  She fingered the phone then put it on the desk.

"I'm not calling until you leave."

"Yes you are, I'm not leaving until I hear you saying hello Alec and you'd best put it on the speaker, I want to hear a Scottish accent answer at the other end."

"You're such a pain Jake."

"I know, where my best friend's concerned.  Oh hang on a second, Pete's calling.  Hi Pete?"

"Are you with Rose?"

"Yeah, do ya want to talk to her?"

"No, just both of you come to my office, I'll tell you why when you get here, Rose has some explaining to do."

Rose could hear that bit, had he found out she'd stopped the night with Alec Hardy?  She'd told both him and her mother she was over chasing anyone who resembled the Doctor and had assured Pete if they were to go investigate anything, especially in Broadchurch, it wouldn't affect her work.

That was before she'd spent the night with a man she couldn't get out of her head despite not being able to contact him and now Jake had given her the means to do so and she still couldn't do it because she feared he didn't want to see her again.  Jake was looking at her.

"Guess the call will have to wait?  What have you got to explain to your stepfather?  You never even told him you stopped overnight in Broadchurch?"

"Yeah, like I was just gonna announce it, in front of my mother that I shagged Alec Hardy the morning I set off back home, she was asking all kinds of question like how I'd got back so quickly from Torquay, I had to tell her I skipped breakfast."

Jake let out a laugh as they set off to Pete's office, Rose leaving her mobile on her desk and just missed another call from Alec, who having dared called the team number Rose had given him after a few people actually did see lights out at sea, wasn't satisfied when the operator matter-of-factly informed him the details would be passed on to the relevant person.

"I was told to ask for Rose Tyler," he'd huffed.

"I'm sorry, messages are just passed on to the team leader on duty."

"Well is that her?" he asked, running out of patience now he actually had a legitimate reason for calling the number he'd been on the verge of calling since the morning she'd left him.

Miller was getting tired of him going back to how he'd been when he'd first arrived in town last July and now it was almost into April, he never expected to survive this long let alone rent a cottage after he came back.

"I'm sorry Sir, all I can do is pass on the details.  Someone will contact you shortly."

"Well inform the person you pass the details on to I would prefer she called me back."

With that he slammed he phone down so hard Ellie heard it.  She shook her head and decided to leave him to it.  She'd seen the video that he'd got hold of, taken from the top of Briar Cliff the day before and now another two had been sent and he'd mentioned something about forgetting informing the coastguard and he had a number to call.

She now presumed since he'd just slammed his desk phone down he'd not got very far with them.  She'd not pushed him on his chance encounter with a mysterious woman called Rose, she'd even tried to get Becca to reveal who it was but Becca said no-one with that name had been registered that night which meant one of two things.

He'd imagined whoever he'd obviously spent the night with or she didn't want to be found out, which implied to Ellie that she'd guessed right the first time and Rose Tyler had passed through the town on her way from somewhere and he'd offered to share his bed.  Why was he so grumpy with it though?  He'd seemed like a teenager the morning after but that had turned sour after a few days.

Was she avoiding his calls?  Ellie was about to find out as he called for her.

"I'm not talking to you Hardy if you don't stop being such a grump," she told him, sitting opposite him.

The look on his face told her everything she needed to know.  Whoever it was, he was missing her badly and not been able to contact her or she'd just hung up on him, either was a safe bet.

"Be serious Miller.  Those sightings, I've contacted someone about them."

"This Rose you're pining after?"

Alec huffed again.  "No, I can tell you now, it's Torchwood."

"You're not serious Hardy?  Why would they be interested?"

"You've not read the memo that was doing the rounds?" he smirked, knowing Elaine had passed it to him that any strange sightings off the coast were to be reported to Torchwood, directly.

He'd also been instructed to inform the other more senior officers but he didn't want to chance it, just in case they actually did get something reported.  Needless to say, he'd stuffed the memo in his drawer, he didn't need the number because it had been etched into his retinas as soon as he'd remembered the card in his top pocket.

"What memo are you talking about?  I know we got those two weird calls yesterday morning and some more today.  So you've contacted them already?  How did you get their number?"

He wanted to say but that would give him away.  "From the memo Miller, where else?  I'm surprised you did not get a copy."

"So, they agreed to send someone?  This Rose perhaps?"

"How would I know they are going to send Miller?  Just be prepared for Torchwood to come to town, we have to accommodate them and assist where necessary."

Ellie smirked.  "Does that include overnight accommodation?"

"Stop it Miller, they will probably send a male operative."

Pleased she'd got one up on her boss, who now looked a bit less gruff, she went off to look up Torchwood and see if this Rose was actually an agent, not that he'd ever admit anything.  Alec was also buzzing with anticipation, would Rose get to know he'd called and if so, would she choose to ring him back?  He picked up his mobile and pressed the call list, he'd already put 'Rose' by the number but all it did was ring and go to her answer phone.

"Rose, this is Alec Hardy, please call me back on this number."

There, he had done it and if someone else were to call him back, he would insist he only dealt with her because the way he felt after two weeks was he wasn't taking no for an answer – he'd get her to come back one way or another.

Rose and Jake were waiting for the lift to take them up to Pete's office on the top floor, which had been cleared of the levers and the equipment that had been left in a hurry and apart from his receptionist's desk, the rest of the floor was his office and a smaller more private one.

"You're not getting out of calling him Rose."

"Fine, when we've had our meeting.  What's Pete expecting me to explain?"

"How do I know?  Maybe you were spotted leaving Broadchurch?  Better explaining that to him than your mother?"

"Don't remind me," she managed to say as they got out on the top floor.  "Did he really have to put his office up here?  It gives me the creeps."

She could still see the Daleks and Cybermen floating past her and letting go of the lever, even all these years later.

Pete had received a call twenty minutes earlier from the operator who had been given the task of taking any calls relating to their latest venture but he'd never really expected to get any so when he did, he had plenty of question, first for the girl who said she had received a call from the police down in Dorset, namely Broadchurch.

"So, he actually asked for Rose?"

"Well Sir, not at first until I informed him that the details would be passed on.  Then he said he'd been told to ask for her."

Pete had insisted every team member who had gone to give information out never told anyone to ask for them personally, especially Rose so he had every right to ask his stepdaughter to explain why she had disobeyed him, after he asked who had called.

"It was a DI Alec Hardy, Mr Tyler, he insisted I made sure she knew he had called."

"Ok Sandra, I'll deal with it but from now on, if any other calls come in, let Jake know."

Everyone knew if they ever received a call that mentioned Rose, they were not to let her know until he'd found out who it was but she'd not been assigned to go to Broadchurch, unless the detective had been at the conference and he'd kept a close watch on the detective, due to Rose's aptness to go chasing after Doctor look-alikes, much to his annoyance.

Rose and Jake were told to go right in, the blinds were already pulled across the glass partition and Rose knew she'd slipped up somewhere about leaving Broadchurch or that Alec must have got really desperate and contacted the team's number.

"Sit down both of you.  Jake, has Rose said anything to you, about when she was in Torquay?"

He looked at Rose, then back to Jake.

"About what Pete?  She said there had been a lot of interest, why?"

"Don't lie for her Jake.  Rose, anything you want to tell me?  Did you tell anyone there to call you personally should anything be discovered?"

Rose shook her head, what she told him got back to her mother, no question.

"Then please explain to me why Alec Hardy from Broadchurch police called and asked for you personally?"

It just slipped out without her thinking.  "Oh.  What did he want?"

"So you know him then?  Did he attend the conference?  Well?"

She couldn't tell if he was being serious and telling her off or what.  Was he amused she had met the detective and managed not to tell her mother or that she had compromised herself, Alec had heard she was there and decided to try his luck, which was mainly why she was discouraged in the first place.

"Promise not to tell mum?"

Pete knew it, despite her promise she was over the Doctor, she hadn't been able to resist stopping off in Broadchurch on the way back and meeting him.  Maybe that was why she'd told her mother she'd set off early on the morning of her return, she had set off from Broadchurch, not Torquay and he cursed Mickey now for insisting he went to Brighton because Martha from medical was down visiting her parents.
Chapter 4
Pete was still waiting for Rose to tell him why Alec Hardy, of all people was asking for her personally.

"I'm listening."

Now Rose wished she'd not already told Jake.  So explaining how awful the hotel in Torquay had been and that she'd not heeded the weather warning for severe fog on the south-west coast, she tried to make it out as innocent, which was working up until the point something had happened when they'd woken up, Rose not wanting to go into the finer details but Jake was hanging on every word.

"Rose, I thought you'd know better than that?  You kept this from me and your mother for two weeks?"

"What was I supposed to say?  I didn't plan on it, he was a perfect gentleman, he slept on top of the bed."

Jake was waiting to hear her confess the rest of it but she was most unlikely to admit there hadn't been a problem until they had woken up.

"So instead of turning you away and back into the fog, the hotel owner agreed?"

"No, not at first, Alec persuaded her to let me sleep on the sofa but after he offered to let me use his room to get a shower, I felt guilty.  He asked what I was doing in the town, he'd have found out from his boss anyway.  When I was leaving, he asked for my number and he asked me if something happened, would I get to know about it.  I never expected him to actually call, honestly.  So, has something happened?"

Pete shook his head, knowing she was missing something out.  He passed his pad over to Rose, Alec had only left brief details that several people had seen lights off the coast late at night and had insisted he would only talk to her.  Underneath was his mobile number, which Jake had just got for her and she'd gone and left her mobile on her desk.

"Well, find out what he wants then or do you want Jake to do it?"

Rose didn't need to be told twice.  Jake stayed behind, having a feeling Pete had more to say.

"You knew about this?" Pete asked him after she had left.

"She'd just told me before you sent for us and yes, I think she can handle this, since she's already met him and she's been ok for the last two week."

"Has she though?  Did you know she's been going around asking if there have been any reports?  She's got everyone so nervous that she knows something is going to happen before it's even been reported."

Jake let out a laugh.  "I tried to smooth things over Pete, I just made excuses for her that she was keen to get the latest project off the ground.  She seemed keen on it, the first time since you shut the other project down.  Maybe this is just what she needs?"

"Great Jake, she swaps one Doctor finding project for another, this will take some explaining to her mother.  You really think she can handle it?"

Rose had hurried back to her office and grabbed her phone to see she had a voicemail and pressed the button to play it, hearing Alec's voice for the first time in two weeks.  She had to admit it was good to hear it and had begun to wonder if she ever would, what with him not leaving his number, her messages obviously not getting to him or he'd not known whether to respond to them or not.

She waited anxiously as she dialled the number Jake had got for her and wishing now she'd asked him sooner.  Alec was in his office, wondering if someone other than Rose was going to call him back so when her number came up, he tried to remain calm, answering just 'Hardy' in case it was someone else, which it had better not be, not after two weeks of thinking he'd never see her or hear from her again.

"Hi Alec, I just got your message, sorry, I was called to a meeting.  How are you?"

"Rose?  Hello, long time no hear?  We seem to keep missing each other, a bit like me and my daughter, she's either at school or – well never mind that, I'm fine, how are you?"

"I'm sorry I kept missing you, you didn't seem to get the messages I left and you never left your number."

"I know and I apologise, I was a total ass and forgot to take the number withhold off, you can blame Daisy for that and I did get your messages, the first one took me a week to get and when I got the second one, well I did not think you would still want to hear from me."

"Yeah, I guess things were just plotting against us?  Anyway, care to tell me about these sightings?  Not making them up are you, to get me to go back?"

"If I said yes, would you send someone else?" he asked.

"No, you called, Torchwood takes every piece of information seriously.  Is that the only reason you called?"

"Listen, Rose, I am sorry I never gave you my number that morning and I realise now I should have done but even with the blocked number, I thought maybe you would know who it was?"

"I did and I had some explaining to do when you rang that number and asked for me, we're not supposed to do that, I made an exception for you."

"I had no idea, I thought you gave the number to everyone?"

"Not my personal mobile one or did you think it was my work one?"

"The thought did cross my mind.  So, you want to know what's going on down here?"

"That was the idea."

"Oh and I thought you had called because you missed me?"

"I did but I can't just take off, give me a reason to come down Alec."

"I miss you Rose, is that not reason enough?"

Rose went quiet, Alec thinking she'd hung up.

"Are you still there Rose?  I said I missed you."

"I miss you too Alec, I'll be down there tomorrow.  Are you still at the hotel?"

"No, I moved out, I have a cottage by the harbour, I will text you the address, don't bother with the hotel."

"I'll have to book into the hotel, I'm supposed to be there on Torchwood business.  I'll go there first then come and find you at the station."

"Tomorrow?"

"Yeah, I have to get it arranged and book out the equipment I'll need and then I have to pack."

"Ok, I get it, then I will see you when you settle in the hotel.  Before we discuss what I am calling you for, we have to talk."

"Yeah, I know Alec but I have to tell my stepfather why I'm going down there."

"Because strange lights have been reported, out at sea two nights in a row."

"Ah, sounds like my kind of assignment, I'll see you tomorrow."

Rose called Pete then Jake and after checking out the equipment, Jake telling her she should get it tomorrow before she left, she told him why.

"So you're driving down there tonight?" Jake asked her.  "Something you didn't tell me?"

"Nope, I told you, nothing happened until the next morning but afterwards, I tried to delay leaving, hoping he'd say something like ask me to stay or go back but he didn't so I gave him my number, hoping he'd get the message I wanted to see him again."

"You were gonna give up when you couldn't contact him?"

"Hell no Jake, I was gonna fake a sighting and go down there, whatcha think?"

"That's my Rosie, now get out of here and never mind going down tomorrow, get yourself there tonight and surprise him."

"Don't worry Jake, that was the idea.  I'll call ya when I find out something."

Jake shook his head and walked her down to the underground car park.

"What are you gonna tell your mum?"

"That I'm going on a mission to the south coast, she needn't know where it is."

"You know she'll get it out of you, why not just tell her?"

"Yeah, that's a great idea Jake, thanks.  She'll have me certified or stop Pete from letting me take the lead.  I'll get down there tonight, see what information they have and Friday, get a boat out to the area.  I expect Alec's DS will know about it and arrange to get me out there.  Maybe tonight I can get him to take me up on top of the cliff where the sightings were."

"How romantic a reunion Rose, I thought you'd have other things on your mind?"

"What?  Your mind, Jake Simmonds is in the gutter.  Besides, what's not romantic about standing on top of a cliff in the moonlight and looking out to sea?"

"Ok, I see your point.  Now get on home and pack or it'll be tomorrow when ya get there."

After giving Jake a brotherly hug, he watched her drive off and wondered if the detective himself wasn't making the whole thing up in a ploy to get her to go back, she had been on the verge of doing the very same, why wouldn't he?  He shook his head and went to find Mickey to give him the news that Rose had admitted she'd found herself a new bloke and had kept it quiet for two weeks.

Getting home, Rose tried to get to her room without her mother seeing her but she swore Jackie Tyler had hidden cameras everywhere and was caught on her way upstairs.

"What are you doing home so early?  It's only just gone lunch time."

"I came to pack, I'm off to investigate something."

"On your own?"

"For now, just a report we had in earlier, no need to send a team yet, I can just see what's going on.  I'm gonna set off now and avoid the traffic."

"Well can't you wait and say goodbye to Tony?  You know he gets upset when you just go off like that."

That would make it almost four before she set off and would mean sitting in endless traffic on the motorway.  So much for that then.  Reluctantly, she agreed and just went to pack, hoping she would get away with explaining why she was going away so soon but that wasn't to be and the boy demanded to know why she was leaving.

"It's just work Tony, a week at most."

"Then where are you going?"

"Yes Rose, where are you going in such a hurry?" her mother wanted to know.

"Just down to the south coast."

"To the seaside?  You just got back Rose," Tony laughed.  "Is it where uncle Mickey went?"

"No, a bit further away than where he was but not as far as where I went before."

Her mother was suspicious her daughter wasn't admitting where exactly that was.

"Then tell us where you're going?" Tony asked, going to the dresser and getting out his atlas.  He had a circle around the places Rose, Jake and Mickey had been, in different colours.

Rose found the page of the area and pointed to it, well the general area.

"It has to be exactly right Rose," Tony told her as he got his red crayon out of the packet.

Rose could see her mother was paying close attention.

"There," Rose pointed quickly and hoped Tony would just circle it quickly but Tony never did anything quickly enough for Rose's liking as he looked where her finger was and went to circle it.  Rose hoped he wouldn't have to go repeating it but knowing he would, she prepared herself.

"B r o a d c h u r c h," he spelt out slowly.  "Bro ad chur ch," he tried again.

"You mean Broadchurch?  What ya going there for Rose?" her mother asked, looking as Tony smiled and put the circle around it proudly.

"Because it's to do with why we went to those meetings," Rose told her.

"Well why is Pete sending you?  You know what's there."

"Have you been before Rose?" Tony asked innocently.

"Well, answer him Rose, have you been there before?  Tony, take the atlas to your room and find nanny."

"Ok Mum, is Rose in trouble?" he grinned, not wanting to miss anything.

"But Mum," Tony protested as she ushered him out of the room and into the arms of a passing maid, whom Jackie instructed to take him to his playroom.

"Well, have you been there before Rose?" her mother demanded to know, her arms folded.

"I passed through, ok?"

"From Torquay?  How can you go through Broadchurch to get home from there then?"

"I sort of got lost.  That hotel was terrible Mum, I left the night before, it got foggy so I accidentally turned into Broadchurch and stopped at another hotel."

"That Alec Hardy was there then?"

"Yeah, we met, so what?"

"Don't give me that Rose Tyler, don't go telling me you just 'met' him?"

"Sort of, yeah, it's no big deal Mum.  With him being in the police, I told him what I was doing down there and if anything came up, to call.  He just has so I'm going down to see what it is."

"Why's Pete not sending Jake or Mickey then?"

"Because he asked for me.  I must have given a good impression.  I'm off to say bye to Tony then grab my things and set off, I know I'll get caught in traffic but I'll just pull over and wait it out, at least I'll get a bit nearer."

"You've booked a hotel then?"

She wasn't going to tell her mother she had – from the following night but she may not be staying there, only for it to look like she was and if things didn't work out with Alec after all.  She found Tony, gave him a big hug and got one of the staff to help her with her case and her laptop bag then set off after setting her satnav.  She had told her secretary to book her a room at The Traders from Thursday night but she expected Pete would have something to say, just as long as he didn't let on to her mother.

She had barely got onto the motorway when she could see the traffic queuing ahead so ninety minutes after setting off, seeing a sign for services at the next exit, she waited in turn using the inside lane until she could cheat and pull off and wait an hour or so until it cleared.  When she could see out of the windows that the traffic was moving again, she finished her second latte and went back to her car, debating to call Alec or not but he'd sounded disappointed earlier when she'd said she wouldn't be there until the next day.

Planning on surprising him, she started the car and hoped he'd be at home but why wouldn't he be?  Ellie had noticed the change in him after he'd got off the phone when Rose had called him back.

"What happened to you?  Had a personality change?"

"Excuse me?" he asked, putting a file on his desk and taking off his specs he hated wearing.

"Out with it.  So what are you doing about those reports then?"

"It's been taken care of Miller, someone will be here tomorrow and I expect your full co-operation."

"So, Rose maybe?"

"I told you, they may send a male operative.  This had better not go any further until we establish these were not hoaxes Miller, anyone can fake a video."

"Maybe but they're pretty convincing and there's been no full moon the last two nights so it can't be that.  How much to you know about this project Torchwood have?"

"Only what was in the memo," he replied, leaning back with his hands behind his head.

"Which I didn't get, how convenient.  So, what did they say?"

"I already told you, they just took the details and someone rang me back."

Ellie was determined she was going to get the truth out of him if it was the last thing she did and according to Torchwood, there was only one Rose but Hardy and the Vitex heiress?  She seemed way out of his league but there again – the vicar and the hotel owner, who'd had an affair with a dead boy's father?  Nothing much surprised her any more, not the least her sister managing to keep a job at the newspaper office situated next door to the amusement arcade.

"Oh come on Hardy, just come out and admit it, you called the woman you met two weeks ago because if you hadn't, you wouldn't have that stupid look all over your face like you had the morning she left."

"That obvious?  Just don't spread the word around, she may not even want to see me again."

"Come off it Hardy, she's coming back isn't she?  Why tomorrow?"

"She has to get some equipment and pack.  Besides, like I said, I may have left it too late to contact her."

"Those messages you were late getting?"

"What's wrong with these people around here that it takes a week to get a message?"

"It was just one of those things, you could have rung her."

"I did."

"She never called back?"

Alec shook his head.  "Maybe because I never left a message, or my number."

Ellie picked a paper-clip up and threw it at him.  "You're such a knob Hardy, no wonder, she probably thought you didn't want to see her again - men."

Alec was about to wave her out of his office when she got up.

"Come round tonight, I'll order some Chinese."

"What for?"

"Aren't you tired of eating on your own?  Besides, Tom's been a bit down again, I think he's still having a rough time at school so maybe he'd talk to you?"

"Great idea Miller, I arrested his dad.  Ok, what time?"

"Seven, when I've put Fred down for the night.  Why don't you call at that takeaway near you?"

"I have to go the other way."

"It's at the end of your street."

"So it is.  You invite me and I have to pay?"

"Miseryguts, you wouldn't say that if it was for Rose."

"Stop it Miller or I'll hand you the bill for the food."

As Alec was getting the food, Rose was about an hour away from him, not bothering to make another stop.  She just concentrated on getting there to surprise him, he must have missed her as much as she'd missed him and they'd both gone the wrong way about contacting each other.  When she got almost to the end of the road leading to the harbour, her satnav indicated for her to turn right and showed a row of cottages about halfway up.

She pulled in, seeing a 'Residents parking only' sign, she had no idea where else she could park and she was supposed to be staying there.  She never even knew if Alec had a car or not so technically, she was using his space and hope he'd sort it out for her tomorrow.  She tapped on the door of the second cottage and waited a few minutes.

Up at the Miller house, food had been eaten and Tom was reluctantly telling Alec some of the boys still bothered him who had been friends with Danny.

"Maybe I could come and talk to your class?" Alec offered, it not being the teenager's fault his dad had chosen that path.

"Thanks Mr Hardy, it might help.  Is my mum mad because I was meeting Mr Latimer?"

"It was maybe not one of your best ideas eh?  Now you may understand how Danny got caught up with meeting your dad, it can be innocent throughout but others may not see it that way.  Then other times, it can get out of control, like with what happened to Danny.  He probably began to realise it was wrong and your dad lost his temper.  I am not saying that would have happened with you but no-one can ever be certain.  You needed someone to talk to, it was a bad choice, you should have come to me."

"Mum said you were ill, I didn't want to bother you."

"I could have still given you some advice and you were hiding away from your mother.  That was quite a speech I heard she gave you, shame I missed it."

Tom smiled, remembering it well.  Just then, Alec's phone rang and he fished it out of his pocket to see 'Rose' with a heart on the side.

"Excuse me Tom, I have to take this."

Going out into the kitchen, he answered it.  "Hello Rose, I did not expect you to call until tomorrow."

After five minutes outside his door, she had gone to sit in her car, not wanting any of the neighbours to report she was acting suspiciously.

"Hi Alec, where are you?"

Wondering why she was asking such a question, he was honest with her.

"At Miller's house, her son was having trouble at school.  Is there a reason you are asking?  Still in London?"

"No, I'm parked outside your cottage."

"Really?" he beamed, grateful Ellie wasn't there to see him.  "How long have you been there?"

"About five minutes, I'm parked in a resident's only zone, do you have a car?"

"Yes, I have a permit but stay right where you are, I'll be there as soon as I can and I'll show you where you can park."

"Great, I'm starvin' now, can we get some food?"

"I just ate but I can make you something or the Chinese is just at the bottom of the street."

"Then I might just take a walk when you get here."

Tom had gone into the front room.

"Everything ok Tom?" Ellie asked him.  "Where's Hardy?"

"He got a phone call."

Ellie smiled – maybe Rose was in a hurry to see him and hadn't wanted to wait until tomorrow.  She tried to contain herself as he popped his head around the door.

"Have to go Miller, see you tomorrow."

"Hot date with a blonde?" Ellie asked, Tom sniggering behind a cushion.

Alec chose to ignore her remark.  He was home within ten minutes, pulling in just behind Rose, who was out of her car instantly.

"Hi, surprise!"

"You could say that," he replied, putting his arms around her and kissing her cheek.

Rose was expecting a bit more than that but considering they were standing in the street she let him off.

"Let's get your things inside then I will take your car to the car park in front of the hotel and get you some food."

Managing her things between them, Alec closed the door, putting her case and her equipment case down as Rose turned around.  He walked calmly up to her and put his arms around her, brushing the palm of his hand on her cheek then ran his thumb along it.

"I missed you Rose, I should have not let you just go like that, watching you drive off without saying something."

Before she could answer him, he leaned down to kiss her.  Breathless, Rose smiled up at him, running her fingers through his growing beard.

"Are you trying to tell me I need to shave?"  Rose nodded.  "I had no-one to impress, I did not know if you were ever coming back Rose."

She reached up and brushed his lips.  "You only had to call me Alec, I gave you my number."

"I know, I had a feeling it was your work one, don't ask me why.  You never said you wanted to see me again."

"Huh?  Call yourself a detective when you can't see a girl's interested in you?"

He observed her, raising one eyebrow.

"I'm just messin' with ya Alec.  I really need something to eat, maybe a chow mien?"

"They will think I am being greedy, I was in there earlier."

"Then I'll come with you, can I trust you to drive my car?"

He knew she was playing with him.  "Yes, I am quite capable of driving your car.  It will need moving by nine in the morning, the traffic wardens will be on the prowl, they do the harbour car parks first thing.  I can see if I can get a permit for you.  Are you going to book into the hotel?"

"Nah, don't think I'll bother, it's too much messing around.  I would have done if I'd come down tomorrow and besides, my stepfather knows we met before, since I wasn't supposed to tell anyone to ask for me if they rang, he tore me out for that."

"Then I am sorry but you did say.  So, hand me your car keys and I will take your car around then go get you some food, anything else you can get tomorrow, since you are not going to the hotel.  My DS suspects something."

"Yeah, so does my mother – they'd get on well together."
Chapter 5
Rose went to unpack her things while Alec went to move her car and go back to the takeaway and as she sat on the bed, she thought back to how they had been a pair of idiots for thinking the other had just wanted to walk away.  Alec was sat in the takeaway again, the Chinese woman behind the counter giving him a funny look every now and then.

How could he have been so stupid to think one night, well morning had been all she wanted and now he thought about it, she had tried to delay her departure and he'd been the one to tell her she needed to move her car, she must have thought he was trying to get rid of her.  He was roused from his thoughts by the woman shouting his order was ready so giving her a sheepish half smile that said this wasn't for him, he walked the short distance back to his cottage, where Rose was still upstairs.

"Rose, come and get your food," he called, setting it on the table and going to get her a plate and a fork.

Had she done the right thing, coming down right away instead of just waiting until tomorrow?  Realising how hungry she was, she left the rest of her clothes that wouldn't crease and followed the smell of food.  Alec sat and watched while she twirled the food around her fork.

"What?" she grinned as she ate.

"This was a complete surprise you know, I was not expecting you until tomorrow."

"You said you missed me."

"Aye, that I did and I was not making it all up.  First though, we have to talk.  I never should have let you drive off like that without telling you I wanted to see you again.  There, I admit it."

"Alec, I was just as bad for not saying.  That night, watching you get undressed, well it started out as a bit of fun, just a lark but by morning, waking up and finding myself leaning on your arm, it was nice."

"So you were teasing me eh?"

"I wasn't gonna pass on watching you, you did expect me to cheat?"

"I had an idea you would not be able to resist.  Are we over all this now?"

"Yeah, we're good.  I'm here aren't I?"

"Yes, now we both know neither of us wanted to part that morning."

"I guess we were both afraid that was all the other wanted?  So tomorrow, fill me in on the details of these sightings and tomorrow night, you can take me on top of the cliff so I can see for myself.  Will you be able to arrange for a boat to take me out there?"

"I expect so, I will leave that to Miller, she knows everyone around here."

"Great.  I'd best go finish my unpacking, you only have a small wardrobe."

"There's one in the other bedroom, if you need more space.  Don't think about moving my things."

Rose smiled.  That's what he thought.  They had plenty to make up for that night which started with kissing on the sofa, Rose getting Alec's shirt off and him getting her pink t-shirt off and the straps of her bra over her shoulders, Rose getting her turn at kissing across his chest, making him smile when she began doing what she had that morning when he was trying to get dressed.  He'd thought about nothing else other than getting her back to continue.

When they got to the bedroom, Alec decided it was his turn to watch her getting undressed and Rose duly obliged, slipping a thin nightdress on with matching knickers and Alec opting for shorts without buttons.  They continued the kissing until they just decided it was time to get to the serious stuff as he eased her underwear off one side at a time and she went for his shorts, yanking them down.

"I missed you too Alec, I was going to come back, if you didn't contact me."

"I was going to say I'd seen lights off the coast but someone saved me the bother."

"I was gonna come down and say you missed something, I'm sorry I left it so long."

"So am I now, Miller said I am just as bad as when I first arrived here."

Rose sat up on him, her hands on his bare chest.  "Maybe she'll notice a change in the morning?"

He pulled her towards him then flipped her over onto her back, hovering above her then kissing above the top of her nightdress.

"This is going to have to come off," he declared.

After bringing each other over the edge, Rose fell asleep contented and Alec wondered what he'd done to deserve her coming back.  It had been a fluke that the reports had come in and normally he would take them with a pinch of salt and file them away but it had given him the excuse he'd needed to call the woman now sleeping on him.

He knew he should have called the day before but he wasn't entirely sure the video was genuine or someone just messing around but when the others had come in that morning, he'd taken the plunge and hoped someone at Torchwood wouldn't deny they had a team to deal with such things.  Then when they'd refused to even acknowledge they would pass the message to her, it had got him annoyed enough to try her mobile number again and it had worked.

Waking up to an alarm the next morning, Rose shifted slightly, Alec moving her hair out of his face, thinking he'd better start getting used to it.

"Hi, what time is it?" Rose asked, moving onto her side.

"Not time for you to move, come back here."  Rose giggled and shifted half onto him, Alec grabbing her waist.  "Not thinking of sneaking off again were you?"

"To where?  If this is getting up to go to work, I'm all for it.  Morning lover."

Alec raised his eyebrow and supposed now he was just that.  What had been a pleasant night and early hours of the next morning with a woman who was about to disappear from his life as fast as she'd entered it had turned out for the better.  The prospect of spending at least the next few mornings with her until it was clear there had been something to report was seeming more likely.  He would have to set about getting her to stick around which could go either way but judging by the way she had put her leg over his hip to slide onto him and taking off the nightdress she'd put back on before falling asleep, his luck had changed for the better.

Taking the offending item from her, he steadied her as she went for the other item, Rose grinning and holding them on the end of her finger.

"Be careful, I may keep these beautiful."

Rose smiled.  "Not your colour maybe?  Time for a little romance before breakfast?"

"Since you are not going away for the next few days and it only takes me five minutes to walk to work," he replied, running his hand on her leg then pulling her down whilst trying to rid himself of his shorts.

After Rose moved away, still with a grin on her face, they got dressed and Alec made some breakfast for them.

"Do you want me to come to the station with you?" Rose asked while finishing her toast.

"Best not, Miller already thinks we have something going, I would not want to prove her right, not yet.  I am not suggesting we keep quiet about our relationship but we have to keep it separate from this investigation."

"Agreed, we keep this outside the office but when we're out, I'm not gonna hide unless it's to do with the investigation."

"I do know what you mean Rose, just be sure you can keep your hands off me eh?"

"Anything you say lover."

He looked at her as he put his jacket on and checked his pockets, then spying his mobile on the table.

"You don't want to forget that," Rose teased, handing it to him and Alec hoping she wouldn't pull up the call history and see what he'd put beside her name, something Daisy had taught him about texting that he'd figured applied just as much to names in contact list.

"Come to the station at ten, I have to brief my boss."

"Does she know you called us?"

"She was away yesterday but she got the memo."

"What are her views on working relationships?"

"I never had to find out and I am not going to ask her."

Rose went up to him and put her arms around him.  "Don't worry, I won't go showing you up lover."

"Well you can make a start by not calling me that in front of her or Miller."

"OK, I get the message, grumpy."

He shook his head – it was marginally better than what people used to call him he supposed and her calling him that in front of Miller was preferable to the term 'lover' since he'd not exactly admitted he had anything with Rose on her last visit to the town.  Kissing her goodbye,  he set off for work to go through the videos and reports with the chief.

Ellie was already at her desk when he got there and she decided to have some fun with him as she followed him into his office.

"Morning Sir, how did things go last night then?"

He gave her a puzzled look.  "What do you mean by that?"

"Come on, admit it, she didn't wait did she, she's here?"

"Is that a question or a statement Miller?"

"Well Tom said you got a call last night and you couldn't get out fast enough.  Do I get to meet her?"

"A Torchwood agent will be here shortly, I have to go brief Jenkinson so if I am not back, get them to wait in my office."

Ellie looked at him.  Then he remembered Rose didn't want to hide but Miller would find out sooner or later, he didn't like the smirk on her face.

As he sat in Elaine's office, she asked him what she had missed.

"So you think these videos are genuine?" Elaine asked, stopping the last one she'd been sent a copy of.

"Well that's for Torchwood to decide, one of their agents will be here soon.  You said to give them our full co-operation."

"Well yes, the young woman who made the presentation was very efficient."

"So you were there, at the meeting?"

"I would have sent you if you'd not still been on medical leave.  How are you anyway?  Ready to come back full time?"

"I feel fine now I can assure you."

"Good, you can baby-sit the agent when he or she arrives, keep me up to date with what they're doing but don't let it interfere with your other duties.  I expect they will want access to a boat in order to get out there?"

Alec was about to reply no, they would swim out there.

Elaine continued.  "I'll agree to this as long as there is no cost to the police, any boats will have to be paid by them, the director will have to pay whoever you find.  Do you know much about them?"

"As much as anyone else.  No-one quite forgave them over the Cybermen incident though in my mind, they did us a favour getting rid of the menaces."

"Yes, well, we won't get into that.  If they want to go investigating offshore, that's down to them, they have the money and the resources to do so.  I will give you a warning though, the woman who was taking the meeting was Rose Tyler herself, I don't expect her to show up here."

He was about to say it should have been someone else but that would imply he already knew Rose and he wanted to keep that from his boss for as long as possible.

Rose was just setting off, after paying for a day ticket in the car park and wishing she'd got someone to just drive her down instead but in her haste, she didn't want to wait for anyone.  Walking through the front door, she approached the desk.

"Hi, I've got a meeting with Alec Hardy."

"Take a seat Miss."

Rose assumed he knew who she was as he picked up the desk phone but it was unfortunate Ellie answered it when Alec wasn't back.

"Are you kidding me?" Ellie laughed back to the desk sergeant.

He looked over at Rose.  "No DS Miller, she's here I tell you, walked in and asked for Hardy.  Do you know why?"

"I've got a good idea, have someone bring her up, he told me he was expecting someone."

The desk sergeant turned back to a young WPC he was training.  "Here, Fields, take Miss Tyler up to Hardy's office."

"That's really her?"

"Last time I checked, go on, she won't bite."

The young WPC wasn't so sure when she was nudged forward.

"Miss Tyler, this way please," the WPC managed to say.

Ellie was waiting in Alec's office, since he wasn't back yet and greeted Rose.

"Can I get you anything?"

"No, I'm good thanks.  Nice to meet you Ellie.  Will he be long?"

"He's giving our chief a briefing on the reports that came in."

"Have you seen them?"

"Yeah, they seem genuine enough.  I expect you'll want to take a look tonight, I'm sure he'll want to take you himself, him being in charge."

Rose knew when she was being interrogated to see if she was involved with a man or not, her mother was an expert at it.

"Right.  I heard what happened, sorry."

"Thanks, the thing is, Hardy told me to stay away from Sandbrook but it was what I needed to vent my anger on what my husband had done.  None of us reckoned on finding Lisa like that."

"Well at least her family has some closure now."

"Why were you following the case, if you don't mind me asking?"

"I wasn't, until Lisa couldn't be found and that man walked free.  How are you holding up anyway, your husband getting off?"

"He's been dealt with, town justice."

Ellie looked up to see Alec making his way to the office and got up as he opened the door.

"Just entertaining your visitor as you requested Sir," Ellie grinned as he looked at Rose.  "Are introductions needed?"

"That will be all Miller, everyone knows who Miss Tyler is and I'm sure she knows who I am.  I'll call you if I need you."

Ellie was waiting for him to shake the other woman's hand or kiss her, some indication they already knew each other but who else could it have been that he'd met two weeks ago and been like a bear with a sore head ever since?  She went off begrudgingly and cursed that her chair faced away from his office window but she noticed him pulling the blinds over.  What she didn't see was Alec greeting Rose with a kiss on the cheek.

"So, down to business then?" Rose asked, sitting opposite him.  "Ellie Miller was fishing."

"Did she catch anything?" he asked, handing her the folder.

"Nah, the fish weren't biting, I'm a fully trained Torchwood agent, I know how to avoid getting caught."

Rose read the reports and then Alec turned his screen around to show her the videos, which looked genuine enough.

"So there were no boats out, the moon wasn't full and it was cloudy?" Rose asked.

He shook his head and pulled his specs off, Rose thinking he'd looked cute in them.

"We contacted the coastguard to see if anything had shown on radar, nothing came of it.  I'll get Miller to make arrangements to find you a boat owner willing to take you out there, at Torchwood's expense."

"Wouldn't expect to get a free ride, Torchwood pays its way but I can't say why I'm going out there.  Will you go with me?"

He shivered at the thought.  "I can't go on boats Rose, I was the one who found Pippa in the river."

"Sorry, guess I didn't follow the case that closely.  Will Ellie go with me?"

Alec thought she would jump at the chance for two reasons, one to tell him he was being a girl about going on a boat and two to find out about how well Rose knew him and women did like to talk.  That was what he was worried about, how much would Rose be willing to divulge?

The briefing over, Alec asked if she wanted to meet for lunch.

"Meet me across the way at twelve thirty.  What did you do with your car?"

"Paid for a day ticket though I wish I'd never brought it with me now, if I'd known you had one.  I might get someone down to take it back for me tomorrow, unless I'm gonna need it?"

"Are you planning on going exploring on your own?"

"Nope, I was hoping you'd show me around?"

"It would be my pleasure to do so but how will you get back?"

"Well if I have to get a team down, I can get a ride back with them or?"

"Or what?"

"Maybe you could take me back to pick up some more clothes, if I'm invited to stay?"

"You are invited to stay, I'll not make that mistake again.  Let's get this sightings business out of the way first eh?"

"Absolutely.  I'll take a look out to sea tonight, go out there tomorrow and send my reports tomorrow night, then they'll decide and come down on Sunday and go take some more readings.  We'll have to hire our own boat and whoever takes me tomorrow will have to be told the minimum.  Is there anyone you can trust?"

"Mark Latimer may be willing to take you, maybe Miller knows someone else."

"Fine, I'll ask her over lunch."

"The invite was only for you."

"Oh, I'd best ask her before I leave then?"

Alec got up and opened the door, calling for Ellie, who grinned and wondered why they'd taken so long.

"Miller, can you arrange to get Miss Tyler out to the area of those sightings tomorrow?"

"Yeah, I can ask around or do you want to take the harbour master's boat?"

"No, don't involve them just yet.  What about Mark Latimer?"

"I can ask, now they're talking to me again."

"Well try and arrange it and let me know, then I can in turn inform Miss Tyler."

Ellie was sure he was dying to say something but she left it for now, he'd slip up sooner or later, she was going to keep a very close eye on the way they reacted around each other.  She would watch for signs this wasn't the first time they had met because he was already acting out of character and even though he'd admitted he'd met someone, he'd not admitted Rose Tyler and whoever it had been were the same person but she was determined to find out.

Alec walked out to the lift with her, feeling all eyes in the squad room following him, which was nothing new since he used to stumble in and out when he'd been ill and they'd probably been taking bets how long he'd last.

He was leaning against the wall, pressing the call button again.  Rose was smiling at him.

"Told you she already knows."

"She is just fishing for information so keep away from the bait."

"You don't have to tell me Alec.  She's gonna ask all kinds of questions tomorrow you know?  I told you, I don't want to hide."

The lift finally arrived.  "We will figure it out over lunch."

He kissed the back of her hand and Rose got into the lift as the door opened, giving him a wave but as he looked, Elaine Jenkinson was standing at the back and he hoped she'd not seen the grin on his face.  Elaine had immediately recognised Rose and the moment they reached the ground floor, she caught up with her.

"Miss Tyler?  "I'm CS Jenkinson."

"Oh, hello, nice to meet you."

"It's a pleasure to have you in our town, I trust you learned everything you needed to know from DI Hardy?"

"Yeah, thanks, he was most helpful.  I know he's not been back at work very long but do you think he can be my liaison with the police?"

"It's been taken care of, anything you need to know, just ask him.  You seemed to have made a good impression on him so far, I noticed he'd escorted you to the lift."

"Yeah, he's been really good about it, considering Torchwood are about to step on everyone's toes."

"We don't look at it like that, the police are always happy to work with your organisation.  May I ask who came up with this idea?"

"Me, I wanted to do something useful when a project I was in charge of got closed down.  I was at a loose end so my stepfather wanted me to come up with something to keep me occupied though when I got back the last time, I was so keen for something to actually happen, I was spooking the entire staff."

Elaine let out a laugh.  "I can imagine.  Well don't let me keep you, you have our full co-operation.  Will there be anyone else joining you?"

"That depends on what I find tonight and out at sea tomorrow, DI Hardy's taking me to the cliff top tonight, where the videos were taken."

Elaine could just imagine he would volunteer to take the Vitex heiress on a moonlight jaunt on top of a cliff when he'd just gone and got himself fixed.  She would have to keep an eye out, she wouldn't want him to go taking advantage of the young woman, considering who she was and the fact DS Miller's nephew was the nosey town reporter.  A bit of juicy gossip about the local back from the brink of death DI and someone like Rose Tyler was just what the town needed to cheer everyone up but her stepfather would not be too pleased were it to hit the tabloids.

Still, Elaine thought to herself, they were both adults, Hardy was divorced but just been accused of a non-existent affair and as far as she knew, there were no rules that said their professional and personal lives should never cross.

Rose walked back to the cottage and called Jake to let him know she'd had her meeting.

"So, the videos weren't faked?" he asked.

"Don't think so and it was cloudy so it wasn't the moon.  I'll know more tonight and tomorrow, I'll send you a report tomorrow afternoon."

"I'll look forward to it.  So, how did you escape your mother yesterday?"

"Very carefully?"

Jake laughed.  "You should have heard Mickey when I told him you'd been hiding the fact you'd met Alec Hardy from her for two weeks.  He wanted to know how you'd done it.  He thought you'd be mad at him for swapping at the last minute."

"I was but he did me a favour, I'll let him off the hook.  How's he getting on with Martha?"

"OK, I think they're getting serious."

"Good, it will keep him interfering with my social life, hopefully."

Just before twelve thirty, Rose made her way across the other side of the road to the outdoor catering area and waited for Alec, who had got caught by Ellie on his way out.

"Meeting someone?" Ellie asked him as he passed her desk.

"I invited Miss Tyler for lunch."

She got up and followed him to the door.  "So this Rose you met two weeks ago, she won't mind?"

"What are you getting at?  Are you asking me to confirm they are the same person?"

"Well are they?"

"Work it out Miller, I'm going to be late."

There, he'd admitted something without incriminating himself, whatever she thought she knew was neither confirmed or denied.  Tomorrow, she would be bound to see how they behaved when he went to see them off on their boat trip, then the proverbial cat would be out of the bag because Rose would give the game away and call him 'lover' in front of her.

He got away and once downstairs, crossed the road and saw Rose waiting at a table, a tray already there.

He leaned down to kiss her cheek, hoping Miller wasn't watching from the balcony but so what if she was, he really didn't care when all said and done.  Over lunch, Alec saying they should have met somewhere indoors as it wasn't that warm for April, Rose told him about her chat with his boss.

"So did she say anything else?" he asked.

"Nah, I played the innocent card, what about Ellie Miller?"

"She thinks she knows so let her work it out herself.  If I deny it, she will just be even worse."

"Yeah, let her have some fun guessing?  Do ya think she's watching from over there?" Rose asked, nodding to the balcony.

"Oh yes Rose, she will most certainly be watching, you can count on that."

"Then make it look good when you leave."

He did as they got up and he led the way and stopped by a low wall.

"What time should we go up to the cliff?" Rose asked him, straightening his jacket collar, not that it really needed it but Rose wanted this to look good.

"I'd say around eight thirty, we can eat first though you will need to go to the store or the supermarket, I was not expecting company."

"Then I may get some use out of my car after all, even if it's just to get some groceries."

They hugged then Rose kissed his cheek.  "See ya later lover."

"You will and I don't suppose I can persuade you to not call me that out in public?"

Rose shook her head.  "No chance."
Chapter 6
Ellie had missed being able to look out over the balcony and had she known they were going to put on a display for her, she wouldn't have agreed to meet her sister over by the newspaper office.

"Ell, you won't believe who I saw this morning passing on the other side of the road," Lucy told her excitedly as she tried to eat her sandwich before the seagulls gathered.

"Lady Gaga?" Ellie scoffed, remembering saying that to Hardy when he'd followed the local vicar.

"Stop it Ell.  No, I swear Rose Tyler walked past, in the direction of the police station."

"Was Olly in the office, have you told him?"

"No, 'course not, what would she be doing here?  Maybe she's just passing through or something?"

Ellie would have believed that herself two weeks ago but she came back, to take up with Hardy because he called her over some strange lights out at sea.  Torchwood could have sent anyone but no, he would have insisted they only sent her and of course, she must have been just as keen to come back all this way.

Now Hardy would be acting like a goofy teenager on his first date.  It was a shame Rose Tyler hadn't turned up during the trial, then she herself wouldn't have been accused of having an affair with him.

"What do you think Ellie?" Lucy was asking her.  "Could it have been her?  Wouldn't the police have been informed?"

"Why would we?  Sure you don't want your eyes testing Luce?"

"Ha, ha, you'll be sorry if it is her and Olly gets to know, he might try and get an interview with her and scoop all the other papers, that'd be a feather in his cap."

"As opposed to reporting on his uncle getting away with murder?" Ellie scoffed back, not needing to be reminded of how quickly her own nephew could switch sides when he wanted to.

"He was only doing his job, reporting the facts."

Then Lucy reminded herself she'd chastised her son for doing just that not so long ago.

"Well, I'm not confirming anything but if you see her again, do her a favour and don't tell your son, you know as well as I do everyone needs a bit of privacy now and then, there must be a reason if she's keeping a low profile."

Ellie knew full well why Rose Tyler was keeping a low profile, getting herself tangled up with the detective who only a few weeks previously had almost died.  Then he'd had the nerve to send her a text message saying he'd gone for his pacemaker and when she'd gone to see him, she had taken some seeded grapes with her but as Tess walked in, she'd not been able to go through with giving them to him.

That man had put her and her family through hell and dragged her into being his driver and solving the case that had plagued him and the laughable part was they were still talking and as for being accused of having an affair – hell, not even if he was the last single male on the planet would that ever happen.

She decided not to say anything but on her way back, there were the two of them stood by the wall opposite the station, Rose with her hand on his lapels and looking a bit more cosy then if they'd only met a few hours ago.  She smiled to herself as neither of them were taking any notice as she crossed the road though there were a crowd of people around the catering stalls.

Alec went back to work and Rose thought she would venture into the mini-market she'd noticed earlier then tomorrow go find the supermarket.  Alec avoided Ellie's stares as he set about reading a few more reports that had come in concerning lights out at sea, no videos though and he thought it a shame they'd not got up on the cliff last night but they'd had more important things to worry about.

He was about to leave for the day when Ellie tapped on his door.

"So you're taking her up on the cliff tonight?"

"She wants to see for herself, have you arranged that boat yet?"

"Yeah, Mark will meet us down at the harbour at eleven in the morning, I had to tell him an incident had been reported and we'd called in an outside consultant when he asked why the coastguard wasn't involved.  He'll recognise her though.  Oh, my sister told me she saw Rose walking around the harbour – sorry."

"Well it was bound to happen sooner or later, just keep your nephew away from her."

"That's easy for you to say, he takes less notice of me these days than he does of you.  If he sees the two of you walking around together he'll jump to all kinds of conclusions.  Why don't you give a statement or something to say she's just on holiday?"

"She can handle herself with the press I expect or have a PR team get onto it if it gets too much, he won't dare print anything he can't back up if he wants to keep his job."

Ellie shrugged her shoulders and went to finish up so she could get home at a decent hour after reminding him he'd promised to visit Tom's school.

He was just leaving when he put a folder on her desk.

"Have fun then, on the cliff top tonight," Ellie smiled.

A few others looked in their direction, some of them half believing something had been going on between the two of them during the Latimer case.

Alec just huffed and walked out to the lift, it was only one floor down but experience had taught him that being on his own in out of the way places wasn't a good thing, even though he was a lot better than he had been the last time he'd been isolated.  He wondered what Rose was making for dinner, that was something he could get used to again, someone waiting for him at the end of the day without all the arguments over one thing or another, a friendly greeting of a kiss and maybe a bit more when he walked through the door and hoped he wouldn't be disappointed.

Rose was making a simple meal of pasta and sauce and leaving it on a low light on the stove.  She'd bought a bottle of red wine and some candles even though it wasn't dark but the table was away from the window and if they closed the curtains, it would set the scene even if it was early evening.  She heard the key in the door, Alec having given her the spare one before he'd left that morning and she stopped what she was doing.

"Something smells nice," he remarked, closing the door and seeing Rose walking towards him.

"Hey, I may live in a house where everything's done for me but it wasn't always like that.  How was the rest of your day?"

"Fine, some more reports came in, more people saying they had been out and noticed the lights offshore, a little further down than before but it could be from the same location."

"Yeah, we'll eat then you can drive us up there.  I think I'll keep my car tomorrow, if I need to get a team down, Jake can get a ride here then he can use it to get around and take it back with him.  I've got enough things with me for now.  Dinner won't be long, want a drink?"

"Not if I am driving, maybe when we come back eh?" he asked having taken off his jacket and  was about to slip his arms around her waist.

"Never thought about that though maybe we can save it for another time?  I got some tonic water, we can have that?"

"Fine, I will go get cleaned up, after I get a proper greeting from you maybe?"

"Happy to oblige, this is nice, me cooking and you coming home.  Do you think it's a bit soon, to get all domestic?"

It was taking some getting used to, with the Doctor being so against it.

"If you are uncomfortable with the situation, you only have to say, do you think it is too soon?"

"Nah, like I said, it's nice to have someone to cook for.  I hope when we go up to that cliff there aren't loads of sightseers hoping to catch a glimpse of what others have seen?"

"I think the word may be spreading, considering we had more calls today but no more videos came in.  Now, less of the talking and maybe more of the kissing?"

"Right, more kissing coming up then."

After they'd eaten, Alec drove them to Briar Cliff, not far from the hut Danny had been killed in and Rose saw it in the distance, Alec not wanting to mention it.  They sat in the car after Rose had gone as near to the edge as safe to do so and had brought out her special binoculars that switched from normal to night vision though the night vision was almost as clear as day, alien technology they'd come across.

"Seen anything?" he'd asked as he leaned on the hood of the SUV type car.

Rose shook her head.  "Best wait until it gets dark."

"Can you see anything in the dark with those things?" he gestured towards the equipment case she'd brought with her.

"Yeah, you'd be surprised, want a look?"

"Rose, there is nothing to see out there," he replied, waving them away.

Rose put them back to her eyes, if only he knew.  So they'd gone to sit in the car facing the edge of the cliff, Alec had chosen that spot because it was part of a caravan park and sightseers would be less likely to follow and if he got questioned, he would wave his ID and say it was police business, which it was.  He wondered what tale Miller and Rose would come up with tomorrow to justify getting the local plumber to take them out to sea.

He was so annoyed now that his fear of the water would prevent him from going out with her instead of his DS, the two would surely talk and if Rose didn't already know about the completely fabricated affair ploy by Joe Miller's defence barrister, then Miller herself would bring it up just to see how serious Rose was about him.

Rose leaned her head on his shoulder so he put his arm around her as it was starting to get a little darker but with being on the coast, not quite dark enough for lights to be appearing.

"Mmm, this is nice," she told him, taking his hand from around her neck and kissing it.

Alec kissed her forehead and they sat and waited until it got a bit darker, then Rose got out of the car and he did the same.  Rose switched the binoculars over to night mode and looked at the display above the field of vision, giving her the distance and co-ordinates so she'd have some idea where she wanted to be in the morning.

Alec sat back on the car hood and watched her while she seemed to be studying something.  Who would have known that just two weeks ago, she would come back and take over his latest investigation and a few months ago he wouldn't have even let her do that or even come into his lonely life.  Was this the reason he'd beaten all the odds and survived?

"So, what do you think?" he asked, breaking the silence of the last ten minutes or so.

She handed him the binoculars.  "Now tell me there's nothing to see."

Alec squinted and put the glasses up to his eyes, taking in the lit display with figures and charts.  He could see quite clearly what looked like some marine life, dolphins by the looks of them then looking further out, a strange glow on the horizon and it wasn't the sun setting or the moon rising.

"I expect you know what all this means, the display?"

"Yeah, whatcha think?  It's not making you ill, looking at the water?"

"As long as I'm not in it or on it, I'll live.  So there is something out there?  Can these things see under water then?"

Rose laughed.  "Don't be daft Alec, that's what the other equipment's for, to probe under water, I can't explain it but it's like an underwater camera of sorts, it picks up all kinds of readings."

"Alien technology or left over from the Cybermen?"

"Alien, a whole load of stuff was found by the Cardiff team, they've still got similar stuff."

"So aliens landed in Cardiff?"

"That would be telling.  No, there's a rift in space and things get deposited there, which is why we're surprised they've not had any sightings there yet.  You'd never believe the things that come through but sometimes, things get taken as well."

Alec looked serious but Rose could hardly tell in the dim light.  "You mean people?  Mysterious disappearances, is that what happens?"

"Yeah, sorry but we can't make it public knowledge, it would cause panic.  The police in Cardiff are kept in the loop, that's why we knew we'd get the rest of the police forces interested in working with us, monitoring the coast is just the first step, we hope to expand that to other strange things the public report."

"And do they report things in Cardiff?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Oh yeah because they don't get treated like they're completely mad."

"You never answered my question Rose, are there aliens in Cardiff?"

"Not just in Cardiff, I've come across more than my fair share I can tell you.  I'm not just talking about Cybermen though they technically weren't aliens, just a deluded man's invention."

"Were you with Torchwood then Rose?"

"Not exactly but I got roped in somehow though I'm not allowed to talk about it, Pete's orders."

"Even to the police?"

"Sorry Alec, it's all hushed up for my protection, Torchwood had a lot of enemies after they let them escape.  If you want to know more, you'll have to come back to London with me and talk to my stepfather, he won't discuss it with you on the phone and he'll have to clear you."

"Then you don't mind if I call him and ask him, when you decide to go home?"

"No, 'course not, if we are going to be involved but my stepfather is the least of your problems once my mother finds out."

"I dare say I can handle someone's mother Rose."

"We'll see, won't we?  I've got enough readings for now, let's go home."

Alec reached his hand out, happy she had decided to call his cottage 'home'.  Rose took it and let him help her put the equipment in the back of the car.  He was also happy later on when Rose decided to just wear a vest top and skimpy underwear when they got to bed.  Now he knew she was settling down with him and it had been worth taking the gamble of getting himself fixed.

The next morning, they agreed they would meet across the harbour, Alec would take his car to the police parking area when he wasn't using it and Rose would use his permit until it was decided if a team was going to be called in.  After kissing goodbye, Alec went off to secure a parking space and then drive around to the far end of the harbour but then he thought he'd try and get a police sign for his car from the front desk so Rose wouldn't have to drive him around if he left his car behind the station.

Rose decided to walk across the harbour, it wasn't far and she would need the case she had with her so there was no sense in her driving the short distance and was soon at the arranged meeting place, finding a bench to sit on and watching the road for a black car making it's way around but Alec had conned Ellie into driving them around.

"I thought you'd got you own car?" Ellie protested as he climbed into the passenger seat.  "Mine's not been the same since you crashed the gears when you were out looking for Claire."

"I only drive automatics Miller."

"Well you should have said before taking mine.  Is that her there?" she pointed as she found a parking spot as close as she could.

Rose saw them and got up as Alec was getting out.  He walked across and had to stop himself kissing her cheek so instead, he took her hand and held it briefly, then took the handle of the case.

"Need all this?" he asked as Ellie caught up with them.

"Hello Rose, you look like you mean business," Ellie greeted her as their hands parted.  "Don't mind me."

"Stop it Miller.  So where's this boat then?" he asked, looking around for Mark Latimer then seeing him get out of his blue van and Nigel Carter driving off.

"Ellie," Mark called to her as he approached.  "Hello, you must be Rose then?"

"Yeah, hi, nice to meet you.  You had a new baby recently?"

"Yeah, Lizzie.  Maybe Ellie could bring you round to meet her sometime?"

"I'd like that, thanks.  Has she told you why I want to go out there?"

"Something about studying the tides, you a marine biologist or something?"

Rose shook her head, watching Alec roll his eyes.

"Not exactly but I can't tell you until we get out there.  I have exact co-ordinates of where I want to be."

She handed him a piece of paper from her pocket.  Mark looked at it, Alec hoping the man could understand the latitude and longitude readings.

"Sure, let's get off then if you're ready?" Mark asked, nodding to some workers.

Alec was relieved to see he had moved his boat, since he himself had to take one out to examine it last year.  Ellie climbed down after Mark, then Rose turned to get her equipment case from Alec.

"See you soon lover," she teased him, touching his cheek then kissing it, since Ellie was pre-occupied.

Alec kissed hers back.  "You be careful out there Rose, if there is something."

"Yeah but maybe they only come out at night?"

"Don't joke about it Rose, just watch yourself eh?"

"I'll be back before you know it."

"I doubt that, I just wish I could go with you but I can't."

"No worries, see ya when we get back."

She turned around to climb down and reached for her case, then handed it to Ellie, who wished she'd seen them saying goodbye but she was too low down and they had been stood back.  Mark was checking his charts and they were waiting for someone to cast them off, Alec standing back then waving to Rose.  He stood on the side until they cleared the entrance to the harbour then decided he would walk back rather than call for a car.  He knew he wouldn't be happy until she came back but maybe she was out chasing nothing, some strange reflection from the little light that there had been.

As Mark was concentrating on where they were going, Ellie watched Rose check her equipment case.

"Done this before?" she asked Rose.

"Not exactly but I've had training how to use this stuff, so don't worry."

"So what's with you and Hardy then?"

"Why don't you ask him?" Rose replied, checking something then getting the binoculars out.

"He won't tell me.  Did you come through here two weeks ago then?  Only he admitted he met someone back then, with the same name as you."

"I know when someone's fishing Ellie, let's just get this over with, I have enough with the press trying to find out who I'm seeing."

"Sorry but my nephew's the reporter around here and my sister's already spotted you, you won't stay invisible for long, he'll be asking questions."

"Guess I'll have to get a press release put out then?  I'm just here to investigate Ellie, if I'm involved with Alec or not, it will not affect me doing the job I was sent here to do."

"I never meant to imply it would, he's just so annoying when he won't tell you anything.  Are you trying to keep it quiet?"

"That was the idea but people will begin to notice so we won't hide the fact."

"So you got lost in the fog the other week?"

"Yeah, it was my own stupid fault, I was trying to get away from the hotel from hell in Torquay."

Ellie laughed.  "We stayed in one there before Tom was born, it was terrible.  I asked Becca though and she said you weren't registered that night."

"Being a detective were you?"

"He wouldn't tell me anything."

"I asked her to keep it quiet, my mum thinks I went straight back home from Torquay, I didn't want her to know I'd met anyone, she goes on about it when I bring someone home with me even once."

"Yeah, I can relate to that."

Mark came out from under the canopy.  "We'll be where you wanted in about five minutes, everything ok?"

"Yeah, great, thanks Mark.  Whatever you charge, send the bill to DI Hardy, he'll sort it out for you."

"Oh, so Vitex isn't paying then?"

"Well you can send it directly but I'm doing this with his co-operation, being who I am and all.  This isn't marine research Mr Latimer."

"Call me Mark.  So what is it then?"

"I've been called in as a consultant, people have been reporting lights coming from out here at night and it's sort of a hobby of mine.  Keep it quiet though will ya?  I don't want anyone getting spooked."

"Is that true Ell?"

"Yeah, you know these rich people, her stepfather wants us to baby-sit her though I'm leaving that for Hardy to do.  The chief wants us to co-operate so we are doing.  Are we here then?"

Mark went back under the shelter and stopped the motor as Rose got some equipment out that looked like a box with something attached to it that Rose unhooked and lowered into the water.  She got no readings so she asked Mark to circle around in a mile radius.  Mark shook his head, swearing he was where she'd indicated she'd wanted to be and did as asked.  He'd had to go earlier and fill up the tank before the trip so he hoped they wouldn't be long reimbursing him for the cost.

Rose was trailing the attachment behind them as Mark went slowly round in a circle, Ellie hoping no-one would pass by and see them.  She suddenly started getting some readings and shouted for him to stop the boat and make a note of their position.  So either her readings were out last night or whatever it was had moved.

Twenty minutes later, Rose was satisfied she had the right place and something to report to Jake and said they could set off back where Alec was anxiously awaiting her return, the thought of her going out there on her own getting to him.  How had he got like this in a few days?  He couldn't imagine what he'd be like if she didn't come back or even suddenly decided to go back to London so until she was back on dry land again, he was unable to concentrate on what he was supposed to be doing so he put his jacket on and getting a carton of tea from across the road, sat where he would see any boats approaching the harbour.

If Rose got out of the boat before he could walk round, she would call him or wait there, Miller would wait with her.  He wondered if the two of them had been talking about him, they probably had though, knowing women.

Rose was quiet on the way back, making notes on her tablet to send once they got back on land then she'd have to make a report for Jake to decide if it was worth coming down but he'd probably come even if it was only to see her with Alec, having seen her with the Doctor that time opposite Battersea Power Station.  She was convinced that had been the reason Mickey had stayed behind though he'd never come out and admitted it directly.

Ellie was watching her work, the young woman seemed to know what she was doing and if Rose was involved with Hardy, he'd get a run for his money with her.  Rose knew she was being watched, pushing her sunglasses further on her nose as she looked at the screen, not taking notice they were approaching the harbour and Alec had been alerted when he'd seen a small boat heading that way so he was standing waiting for them to dock.

Rose put her tablet into her shoulder bag as two workers caught the rope Mark threw in their direction and Rose waved to Alec, who gave a little wave back, aware Ellie had a big grin on her face.  He stood back as Ellie climbed up first, a worker helping her then taking Rose's case as she prepared to climb up but Alec stepped up as she reached the top, making the workers move away.

"Welcome back," Alec told her as he steadied her, noting Miller was taking notice now.  "I trust your journey was productive?"

"Yeah, you could say that.  Have you eaten yet?"

He was about to say how could he when he was worried sick about her being miles out at sea?  Just because he himself had a fear of the water, it didn't mean Rose or anyone else had.  No, she'd been perfectly safe, he knew where she would be and if she'd not returned, the rescue services would have been there in thirty minutes.

"Do you want to go to the café?" he gestured to the building at the side of them.

"Yeah, will you join us Ellie?"

That wasn't quite what Alec had in mind.
Chapter 7
Ellie could tell she wasn't wanted when they'd put Rose's case in the back of her car and gone inside to order a late lunch.  They sat at a round table by the counter, Alec next to Rose and going to the counter to order for them all.

"Take my advice Rose, if you want to keep this quiet, don't be so obvious around each other," Ellie advised her.

"It's that bad?" Rose smiled.

Ellie nodded as Alec turned back to the table.

"The game's up Hardy, Rose gave you away.  I already told her my sister knows she's in town and Olly will soon get to know so you two need to come up with a believable story."

"Oh, by the way Alec, I told Mark Latimer to send the bill for my trip to you, just give it to me  when you get it," Rose informed him as he sat down next to her.

"I will remember to do so as soon as it arrives.  Are you going to send for a team now?"

"Yeah, I got some very interesting readings.  Once I've sent them off, I'm sure they'll want to come and investigate further.  Just what you need, more Torchwood agents in town."

"We know we can't deal with whatever is causing those lights and how do we explain it to the coastguard?  Will you notify them you will be searching out there?"

"Yeah, we'll deal with them and come up with a story why we need to hire a boat.  Don't worry, we do this kind of thing all the time."

"Yes, I'm sure you do."

"Right, if I can get my case Ellie, I'll get back and make my report," Rose asked after they'd eaten.

"Sure.  Can I drop you anywhere?"

Alec almost said something.  "I'll make sure she gets back to where she's staying Miller, you get back to the station."

"Oh, so she's staying with you then?"

Rose patted his arm.  "She's too good for us Alec, she meant the whole game is up.  You won't tell anyone, will you?"

Ellie shook her head as they all got up and walked to her car, Alec getting the case out of the back.  When they got back to the cottage, Alec went to put his arms around her.

"I was worried about you being out there."

"I was fine Alec, don't fuss.  What are you gonna be like when I have to go out maybe three or four times next week?"

"A nervous wreck?" he asked, going to kiss her.

He led her to the sofa after pulling the blinds over, going for the buttons on her blue shirt.

"Aren't you meant to go back to work?" Rose asked as the last one came unbuttoned and he went to kiss her exposed skin, ruffling his hair as he pushed her onto the cushion then went for the zip of her trousers.

"I was told to give you my full co-operation, I am just following orders."

Rose giggled as he began to fumble with the clasp of her bra.  It wasn't long before she had his shirt off and they made out without either of them actually losing their underwear though it came pretty close, Rose's trousers halfway down her legs and Alec's zipper undone and his trousers hanging loose.

"Mmm, this is very nice Alec but won't you be missed soon?"

"I can put the blame on you beautiful, the spoiled little Vitex heiress wanting some attention."

She was about to answer when his mobile started to ring, Alec guessing Miller was checking up on him.  He reached over to the coffee table, seeing he was right and shushed a giggling Rose.

"Where are you Hardy?"

"Busy, what did you want Miller?" he asked, aware his trousers were still open as he stood facing Rose.

"You have a pile of reports to go through, more came in about the lights while we were out."

"I'll be there soon, start going through them.  Are you sure the ones who first reported them are not just spreading the word?"

"Just get here then and help me find out, what's so important anyway?  Oh, on second thoughts, maybe I don't want to know so stop screwing around and get back to work – Sir."

Annoyed he'd been found out, he hung up and turned his attention back to Rose.

"I have to go love and you have a report to send."

"Yeah, someone was distracting me, lover."

"You did not seem to mind, was that not a pleasant way of spending some time?"

"More than pleasant now get out of here and let me send my report."

Alec grinned as he zipped his trousers and Rose was scrambling behind her back trying to fasten her bra.

"Don't you trust me enough to ask me to do that for you?"

"I can manage thanks," she smiled as he stopped what he was doing and went for it, getting his hand slapped.

"Go on before she calls you again, you won't get away with telling her you're busy for much longer.  I'm gonna do my report then go find the supermarket, is it the one with the sign up on the main road?"

"Yes, go straight ahead when you get to the roundabout.  Maybe I can take you out tonight?"

"That would be nice Alec, wanting to show me off?"

"People had best get used to seeing us together, had they not?"

"I suppose so.  How come you were waiting at the dock for me when we came back?  Didn't you go back to work?"

"Aye, for all of ten minutes, I was worried about you."

"Aw, I was fine, I had my life jacket on all the time.  There is something out there Alec, it may have moved slightly which explains why people saw it a bit further up the coast though what it is, I don't know, the team will have to bring more equipment with them."

"Then when they arrive, let them go out."

"I can't do that Alec, I'm part of it, it's what I do but there will be three or four of us plus a backup and if there is something, which I'm sure there is, we can handle it."

"Then let them handle it Rose."

He put his arms around her shoulders, pulling her close and kissing her forehead.

"I know you were worried Alec but you insisted I came down here, Pete really chewed me out over that but he still let me come despite that."

"I know I did but that was before I had to watch you go off it that flimsy boat of Mark Latimer's.  When I get back later, I will tell you what happened the day I found that girl in the river."

"You have nightmares about it?" Rose asked sympathetically, putting her arms up his back.

"Aye and you being here last night and the night before stopped them, I don't want them to start again of seeing you going out there and not coming back."

"Is that what this is about?  You think I'll go out there and not come back?  Alec, it may be nothing but coral or something else under the water, you're worrying about nothing."

"Aye, maybe, we will see but I don't want to scare you off by being over-protective of you."

"You're being daft Alec, you won't scare me off and it's really sweet of you to worry but I'll have the best team with me when I go out again."

Alec knew that still wouldn't stop him from worrying, wishing now she'd actually found something he'd not bothered but it had brought her back to him, for how long, he still didn't know.  It hadn't sounded like she would be gone once the investigation was over so if he got too possessive of her, she might think twice and go back with the rest of the team.

Alec went off half-heartedly back to the station, ignoring the look on his DS's face as he passed, as if to say she knew exactly why it had taken him an hour to see Rose back, probably to his cottage.

Ellie watched him for any signs that might give him away and as for Rose's explanation of the night she'd stopped off in the town in the fog of her asking Becca Fisher to keep it quiet, well that didn't wash with her.  Hardy had probably offered to let her share his room and since they thought she wouldn't be back that way, had done the deed so to speak and later found out they wanted a repeat, though why it had taken him two weeks to get her back was anyone's guess.

Alec was a bit surprised more people were starting to report the lights at sea and it wouldn't be long before Stevens would be asking him for the details, if the annoying reporter had not already made something up and put it on the paper's 'blog' or social media account.  He was surprised the paper was still going, what with Miller's sister working there and he'd heard the editor and the town's barrister had taken up with each other after re-kindling a 'friendship' from years before.

While Alec was having a staring contest with the reports that had come in, Rose had called Jake, who should have had enough time to read her report and pass on the readings she had sent.

"I'll get a team together and we'll come down on Sunday.  Where are you staying?" Jake asked her.

"With Alec but don't go telling my mum.  There's a hotel near us, see if you can get some rooms there.  Who are you bringing down?  Don't let Mickey come will you?"

"What are you so worried about?  Think he'll come out and tell Alec who he looks like?"

"What do you think Jake?  That's exactly what he would do.  Bring Mike, Alan and Chrissie with you and come with them, you can use my car, it's stuck out in the street or car park all day."

"Well you wouldn't wait for someone to take you, would you?  Has Alec been asking any questions?"

"Some but I can't tell him much.  He wants to talk to Pete, to ask him about my involvement with Torchwood and how I started working there."

"You know what that involves, Pete will most likely refuse to tell him anything."

"He will, once he's checked Alec out and asks me how serious this is.  What were the chances I'd take a wrong turn in the fog and ended up where he was staying?"

"Only you could have argued with your satnav Rose," Jake laughed.  "Then you end up in bed with Alec Hardy and neither of you could say you wanted to see each other again."

"Well how was I to know that wasn't all he wanted?" Rose protested.

"I give up with you Rose Tyler.  I'll call you when we get there, we'll meet up for a drink or something, I'll warn Chrissie shall I?"

"Don't know whatcha mean Jake."

She said goodbye then called Pete.

"So Jake's taking it seriously?  How are you getting on with Alec Hardy then?"

"We're fine and yes, I am staying with him, I cancelled the hotel, there was no point, I'm not gonna be using the room.  Has mum said anything?"

"She keeps asking me if I know anything, I can't keep fending her off Rose, you'll have to tell her something."

"I know and I will, I just don't know how she'll take it when she finds out I'm staying with him."

Pete laughed.  "You're on your own with that.  You told her you knew him?"

"Yeah, it came out when Tony was trying to find out where I was going but I never told her anything else."

"You know she'll find out, best get it over with eh?"

Putting it off further, she went to the car to go find the supermarket, not being able to resist getting a decent latte from the café and got what they would need for the next few days because come Monday, she would be out most of the day and she didn't know how Alec would take it.  She'd only been gone a few hours that morning and he was acting like a nervous wreck.

Maybe Monday, she'd let the team go out and act as backup, just to appease him but then he'd want her to stay behind the other times and she couldn't do that, not that Chrissie would object, getting some action.  Rose was just worried that if Alec remained on the harbourside, her friend would start chatting him up.

Once back from the supermarket, Rose put the groceries away and went to find something in the wardrobe to wear if Alec was taking her out and was thankful she'd brought a couple of dresses with her, not knowing how long she would be staying.  Alec was getting ready to leave when Ellie was watching him.

"What?" he asked as he stood by her desk.

"Why don't you invite her over to my place one evening?"

"For me to bring takeaway again?  I can stay home and do that."

"No, I can cook something, maybe next week?"

"I will ask."

"What have you got planned for the weekend?"

"Rose will probably want to look around the area, I don't know if she will be going on her own or not."

"You are such a dunce Hardy, show her around you idiot.  You're not planning on leaving her alone are you?  Stop with the pretence, it won't work."

Alec shrugged his shoulders – why was he still trying to hide the fact they knew each other more than he was willing to let on?  Maybe because he had worked with Tess and look how that had ended?  Maybe it was because he was afraid things would end the same if he admitted to just one person they were already involved.

He'd given Miller the run-around, first admitting nothing about Rose and the woman he'd met two weeks ago were the same person and then more or less telling her they were and if Miller wasn't confused, he certainly was.  He made his mind up that from Monday morning, whether Rose was going back out to the area of the lights or not, as long as she could maintain her position about the job in hand, he was not going to deny anything was going on between them.

Back at Torchwood, Jake had been getting the team organized to drive down to Broadchurch on Sunday afternoon and Mickey wanted to know why he had been excluded.

"Thought you'd want to spend the weekend with Martha?" Jake asked him

"No, I should be part of it Jake, doesn't she want me there?  Has it to do with this bloke she met?"

Jake had not yet told him who she'd been hiding from her mother for the past two weeks.

"You'll just go opening your big mouth Mickey, that's why Rose doesn't want you there mate."

"Why?  What's she hiding Jake?  Who is this new bloke she went chasing off after?"

"Alec Hardy, that detective in Broadchurch."

"Please tell me she's not serious?"

"She is so stay away from it Micks, don't ruin it for her and if by some remote chance he comes up here with her, keep your mouth shut about him looking like you know who.  Rose has to tell him on her own, if he takes the truth of where she comes from.  It's not up to you or me to tell him, got it?"

"Yeah, I get it, I hope she knows what she's doing Jake, you never saw her when she came back from Norway.  She shut herself away for weeks."

"I know about that Mickey.  Maybe he's just what she needs right now?"

Rose was anxiously waiting for Alec to get home, wearing a black wide-strapped dress that became white pleats lower down and complimented by black strappy sandals.

"Rose, I'm back," Alec called as he opened the door.  "I made a reservation at a new restaurant up in the town."

Rose was standing behind the door, by the window as he turned and whistled.

"You look really great, got a kiss for me?"

"Hi, thanks and yes, come here."

A while later, Alec went to change his shirt and Rose was checking her emails.

"What time did you book a table for?" Rose asked as he came back downstairs, having taken a bit more off his beard.

"What do you think?" he asked, running his fingers on his chin.

"That you should keep it just like that, you look good Alec."

"Really?  Well we have half an hour before we need to set off, I can think of a few ways of passing the time."

"I'm sure you can but don't go creasing my dress."

They got to the restaurant with just minutes to spare, Alec paying her a lot of attention throughout their meal and getting stared at by the few people who recognized him.  It was the first time they'd been out properly in public so a few stares were in order he supposed.

The weekend went all too quickly for them, Rose wanting to go down to Weymouth to do some shopping on Saturday, having realised she only had two dresses to go out in and Sunday morning, they went up to the next seaside town and took a walk on the beach and had some lunch, until Rose got a message from Jake to say they had arrived in Broadchurch.

Jake was in the bar of the pub that backed onto the street the cottage was on and was waiting for Rose and Alec's arrival.  Jake was curious to meet the man who had caught Rose's attention at last, despite him being on the news and in the papers, Rose had chosen to ignore him but one incident of getting lost in the fog had changed all that.  He didn't need any introductions when they walked in, arm in arm and neither did Olly when he saw the pair of them walk in.

Olly had got his mother to admit she had seen the Vitex heiress a few days ago when he'd heard people talking she had been in the town's newest restaurant and he'd not believed who she had been with.  Now he could see it for himself as she walked towards Jake, who got up from the bar stool and greeted them.

"Hi Rosie, how's things?"

"Great.  Alec, this is Jake, say hi."

The two of them shook hands and Jake went to get some drinks, Alec leading Rose to a corner table.

"We should have a proper meeting at the station tomorrow Rose," Alec told her.

"Yeah, I know that, this was just to catch up and for you two to meet.  You can meet the others at the harbour."

Jake came back with the drinks.  "I'll go over tomorrow and see where we can hire a boat big enough for the four of us.  Someone there will know who has one for hire.  That means we won't get out there until Tuesday so tonight, I'll go up to the cliff and see if the lights are still there.  You said I could use your car?"

"Sure, just come over and get the keys, Alec can get his parking permit back."

"I'd best tell the staff here I'll be using their car park then?" Jake mused, watching as the two of them held hands.

"Excuse me, I need the ladies room, I won't be long."

Alec got up to help her out, wondering if she was doing it on purpose to see how the two men got on.  Olly saw her get up and thought now was his chance so he followed her through the door and called after her.

"Miss Tyler?  Olly Stevens, Broadchurch Echo.  Can I get a statement from you as to why you're in town?"

It was not widely known that she was a team leader at Torchwood so she would have to go with the story that she was just having a few days relaxation, though that wouldn't explain Jake or the rest of the team.

"Olly is it?  You're Ellie's nephew?  She told me about you, didn't she say anything to you?"

"Such as?"

"That my visit here is private, just me and a few friends who've just joined me to enjoy some time going out on a boat we're hiring.  I told the police I was going to be here and DI Hardy kindly agreed to keep me company until they got here."

"So he'll be stepping aside now they're here?"

"Well not exactly, can I trust you Olly?"

"Sure Miss Tyler."

"I asked him to stick around, my stepfather is very protective of me, even with my friends around so while I'm here, you might see us together a lot, you won't go printing anything about me will you?  I'm always in the papers, reporters jump to conclusion all the time just because I speak to a man and when I leave, if I have anything to tell you, I'll make sure you get the scoop."

"Sounds fair to me.  Will you be in the town long?"

"Another week maybe.  I can get my stepfather to issue a statement to the press in general but that means everyone will know I'm here and you lose the edge."

Olly thought about it for all of ten seconds.  It could be worth his while sitting on the story for a week, observe the two of them getting cosy and maybe get a few pictures of them, with her permission then he'd get the exclusive.

"Agreed, if you both let me interview you, should you stay in the town and maybe get a few pictures."

"Fine, if we remain friends and I stay and if not, well you can report I was in town with my friends, supporting the local economy but you leave him out of it."

Olly nodded and left her to go to the ladies room, Alec wondering where she'd got to until he looked around and saw Olly come back in from the direction she'd left.

"Who's that?" Jake asked, seeing Alec looked a bit cagey.

"The local press."

"Don't worry, Rose can hold her own with them."

Alec nodded and sat back though it didn't help.  He stood up as she came back to join him.

"Had a run-in with the nosey town's reporter?" Alec asked as she sat down.

"We came to an understanding.  I said he'd get the exclusive if he left us alone for a week."

"Are you always so sneaky?"

Jake smiled.  "Alec, you have no idea what you are letting yourself in for, has he Rose?"

Rose just nodded and smiled.  When they got back home Alec wanted to know how she'd got Olly to back off so easily.

"He wasn't going to pass up an exclusive, was he?"

"That's what you promised him?"

"Yeah, what's wrong with that?  He'll leave you alone at least and when I stay behind when everyone else leaves, I promised him an interview and a photo, I do it all the time to get the press to back off, trust me."

"So there will be something worth reporting?"

"I hope so Alec but it's better a small town reporter does it than the tabloids, don't you think?"

"Marginally I suppose, you seem to forget it was a tabloid who ran with the story I was the worst cop in Britain."

"Well now's the chance to redeem yourself, I can see the headlines now – 'The Vitex Heiress dating the worst cop in Britain?'"

"Yes Rose, I can see that is going to help.  Don't drag yourself down with me."

"Alec, you are not the worst cop in Britain, you never were.  No-one believes what The Herald prints.  What happened to the reporter?"

"Probably flew off on her broomstick into journalistic oblivion."

Rose ruffled his hair as she leaned on his shoulder, Alec propped against a cushion.

"Don't be such a grizzly bear."

"I am not being a grizzly bear as you so kindly put it.  Why don't we open that wine you got last week?"

"Yeah and I'll make us some snacks or do you want to go out for something?"

"No, I would rather stay here with you, since next week, your friends will be around."

"I'll only be with them during the day Alec, not at night.  Besides, you'll be meeting them."

"You won't want to get together with them after you get back?"

"No, I have you to come back to.  Don't worry about it Alec, they won't come between us.  A word of warning though, watch out for Chrissie."

"Why do you say that?"

"She'll be our backup and if you are gonna pace around the harbour while I'm out there, she'll be watching your every move."

"So you are trying to tell me to stay in my office?"

"Yep, safest place for you, trust me.  She won't mean anything, it's just her way, I'll try and warn her off."

"I expect I can wait in my office or pace the balcony waiting for you to come back."

"Don't worry so much lover, I'll be fine out there, we're all trained.  Tomorrow, Jake will join us for a meeting and we'll go through our plan with you."

Alec got up and went to get the bottle of wine.

"Rose, the only plan I want to hear is you either letting them go out without you or that when your friend goes to take a look tonight from the top of the cliff he comes back and says the lights have gone.  I am worried about you going out there."

"It's what I do Alec, you have to accept that."

"I know that but it does not mean I have to like it."
Chapter 8
Rose knew he was worried about her, after he'd told her exactly what had happened that day when he'd pulled Pippa out of the river and she really couldn't blame him and no amount of reassurance from her was going to make it any easier on him.  She had to make him realise this was what she did, even before she had become part of Torchwood, she and the Doctor had helped people and got into all kinds of scrapes and that would never change.

For the first time, she had to make a decision to appease the man she was falling in love with and sometimes you had to make sacrifices.  This however was not going to be one of them  - she had started this, Pete had set it up at her request because she was at a loss what to do and any disturbances either out at sea or on land meant that there was a slight possibility if something could get through, then the Doctor could also try and get through.

Now though, she had found Alec, an almost carbon copy of the Doctor she had been seeking but that wasn't the reason she'd stayed with him that night, at least that's what she had told herself.  He hadn't said anything else after she didn't answer him and they had got ready for bed in silence but getting into bed, Rose leaned across to him.

"Are you mad at me Alec?"

"Should I be?  If you can't tell me you will stay away from this, then there is nothing I can do about it, is there?  I know you started this project, I get that you want to follow it through, you are a Torchwood agent above anything else."

"Yeah, I am so why can't we come to a compromise on this?"

"Such as?" he asked, finding himself softening up slightly and putting his hand on the gap made between her vest top and the shorts she'd put on.

"I'll go out every other day, would that satisfy you?"

"Somewhat I suppose, how long were you planning on going out there?"

"Three or four days, the first will be just taking readings and sending a proper camera down to determine how much of an area we need to cover.  After that, Alan and Mike will take their diving gear and go see for themselves, if the camera picks anything up."

"What if there is something down there?  Will you try and move it?"

"No, we'll monitor whatever it is, leave a remote camera."

"You never said if you thought it was alive, what if it is an alien ship or something?"

"Really Alec, you watch too much TV, it could still be nothing, some sort of coral."

"Like you said it turned out to be in Scotland?  Rose, what if it is the same coral as was in Scottish waters, what if it has moved and it wasn't coral?"

"Ever thought about joining Torchwood?  Are you trying to say that the coral is sentient and has moved to the south coast?"

"Warmer waters?  You have to consider the possibility but it does not change my views on you going out there.  I agree it makes me feel better if you go out on alternate days and when the others go diving, it does not sound like your expertise will be required."

"No, I suppose not.  So, are we gonna forget this for now?"

"Aye, we can and tomorrow will be just a meeting and your friends hiring a boat.  I can live with that.  Now, come here and tell me your theories on aliens."

"Some of my best friends were aliens."

"If you say so beautiful."

They had arranged to meet Jake at the station the next morning, the others were going to get local information such as tides and studying the videos Alec was forwarding to Jake when he got to his office.  The meeting was taking place at ten so Rose decided she would go meet with  the team before going to it.  Chrissie greeted her with a pat on the back.

"So, who's this Alec Hardy then?  Is he any good in bed?"

"Straight to the point as always?  Yes he is and he's spoken for so go find your own.  You'll be getting some action anyway, we'll share this mission."

"Wow, he must be something then?  Wanting to spend more time with him?"

"Not just that Chrissie, if there's something out there, do you want to miss out?"

"Nah, suppose not then, thanks sis.  You off to your meeting?"

"Yeah, best go and find Jake then, Alec came up with an interesting theory last night."

"Thought he would have had other things on his mind?" Chrissie laughed.

"You're as bad as Jake."

After finding Jake, the two of them walked across the harbour, Jake asking if Alec had taken her out on the river yet.

"He can't, he doesn't like the water.  He was the one who dragged that girl out of the river."

"Oh, sorry, I never knew that.  Maybe you can get him over it?"

"Yeah, maybe.  Anyway, he came up with a theory last night that I want you to seriously consider."

"How much did you tell him?"

"Just about the false alarm in Scotland but he doesn't think that it was a false alarm."

"Doesn't he now?  That's interesting, I'll listen to what he thinks," Jake told her as they went up the station steps.

"Back again Miss Tyler?" the desk sergeant greeted her, passing two visitor badges and the visitors book, then picking up his desk phone.  "DI Hardy, your visitors are here."

"I'll be right down, take them to the conference room."

"Right you are Sir.  Fields, escort the visitors to the conference room will you and ask them if they want a drink."

Rose and Jake followed the young WPC along the corridor, Jake remarking the place only looked small from the outside.

"It's not a Tardis Jake, it's just deceiving.  Alec says there's an underground garage and parking area above it, he kept his car there."

"Can I get anything for you?" the WPC asked as she opened the door to what looked like a more comfortable interview room.

"No, I'm good thanks," Rose told her as Jake shook his head.

Upstairs, Alec was gathering his folders and making sure he had his glasses with him.  Then he called Ellie on his way out.

"Come on Miller, you may as well sit in on this."

Alec knew she was never going to believe what his theory was, he could hardly believe it himself, subscribing to the theory an alien ship was creeping along the bottom of the ocean from a Scottish port down to the south west coast but was it going to move any further or stay where it was?  He had to admit it was a bit far-fetched even for his imagination but he'd not spent all those hours as a boy reading comics for nothing, now was the time to prove how real they had been and how much he had learned.

"Is this going to get spooky Hardy?" Ellie grinned on the way downstairs.  "I mean if Torchwood's involved."

"What do you even know about them Miller?"

"I've been doing some reading up about them, you'd be surprised."

"Not as surprised as when you hear what I think is off the coast of Broadchurch."

"Did you get the results of the test Rose did?"

"No, I get them today, she will have got them back this morning.  I'll let her explain it to you."

"Then I can hardly wait.  I can't see you believing these alien conspiracy theories."

"There's no conspiracy Miller, it's maybe an alien ship that has been stranded."

"Stop going all X-Files on me Hardy.  What's Rose been filling your head with?"

"Nothing that I did not read when I was younger."

"I'd love to have seen you reading comics."

"Very amusing Miller."

Rose got to her feet when Alec entered behind Ellie and he gestured for her not to rush up to him and kiss him, well not just yet.

"Jake, this is Ellie Miller.  Ellie this is Jake Simmonds, assistant director of Torchwood, head of security and team leader of the coastal project."

"Sounds more important than it is, nice to meet you Ellie."

Ellie was shaking his hand without realising and Alec wasn't about to tell her she was barking up the wrong tree, she'd been on her own for too long he reckoned.

"Stop it Miller, let's get down to business?"

"Rose told me your theory Alec, you could be on to something but we'll know more when we do some more investigating.  If you're right though, it could move off again soon enough but why travel underwater from Scotland down here without being detected elsewhere?"

"Maybe they can move fast underwater?" Alec suggested.

"That could explain it.  Maybe the lights mean are they are trying to mend their systems but when we investigated off the coast of Aberdeen, there was just coral."

"Maybe they were using it as a cover, have the Scottish agents go back to the area, see if the coral is still there," Rose told Jake.

"Good idea Rose, I'll get right on it after this meeting.  I'm still waiting for the results coming back of your scans of the area but no doubt they will show more coral."

"So let me get this right, I'm guessing this is not normal coral?" Alec asked Jake.

"I doubt it, they didn't take a close look, which they should have done.  Maybe it's only detectable at night when they are trying at different intervals to get the ship repaired.  They could have got some things working but it may have been too cold for them up there."

"I wonder how long they've been here?  We've had no reports of ships crashing, have we?" Rose asked.

"No but they could have been here before Torchwood was even founded.  Not everything moves at our pace."

Ellie was taking it all in, talk of alien ships hiding under some sort of alien coral.

"So these reports of it moving slightly, they could be making some kind of progress?" she finally asked.

"Well yeah, I suppose so," Rose told her, thinking poor Ellie was out of her depth here.

"It only took a few weeks for them to get from Aberdeen and down the east coast then around to here," Jake told her.

"Maybe they got something fixed and it gave out again?" Alec suggested, knowing now he'd not wasted all his spending money.

"Yeah, I think Alec's right and now, whatever it was is being tested again.  How many more times are they gonna keep going around the coast?"

"Rose, they could have been going around a long time for all we know," Jake told her.  "Just because no-one saw lights until recently doesn't mean they haven't been this way before.  Maybe they had no power when they landed here and have just got it back.  It could only be a short while in their time and hundreds of years for us.  They may have no idea they've been detected."

"Is it wise to investigate further then?" Alec asked, aimed more at Rose than anyone else.

"That's what we do Alec," Rose told him, knowing it was directed at her.  She'd justified her decision to Chrissie, she didn't want Jake to know why.

"Rose is right Alec, it's what we do, maybe if they know someone is watching them, they'll work faster."

"So are you going to leave them there?" Ellie asked.

"As long as they don't interfere with the shipping lanes, which is why they are where they are, out of the way."

"Aberdeen is a busy shipping port Rose," Alec interrupted.

"They were too far away from the shipping lanes Alec, now we've had chance to study where the lights were seen and now they're off the main shipping lanes down here, I think they will stay more or less where they are for now."

"So when they get it fixed, they'll just fly off?" Ellie mused.

"Don't be daft Miller, you or I may never see it, it could take hundreds of years before they can do that," Alec quipped back.

Jake answered him.  "That's right Alec, all we can do is monitor them, we don't interfere if they're not hostile.  We'll take more readings and try and identify what craft it is then it's up to the director what we do, he'll go by our recommendations.  Now I'm not so sure about sending divers down, it could look like hostile actions on our part."

"Yeah but so could sending cameras down Jake," Rose told him.

"Better a camera Rose, let's just get out there and confirm there's actually something there first."

"Agreed," Alec told him.  "Anything you need from us just say, Miller will be your liaison."

"Thanks for that Hardy, I thought you'd want to do that?"

Both Rose and Jake smiled.

"I will be assisting whoever is back-up, which will be Rose some days and who was the other team member?"

"Chrissie and trust me, she needs no assisting," Rose laughed.

"Then I will be sifting through any more reports that come through and relay them to her."

"I won't ask what you'll be doing if Rose is on back-up," Ellie scoffed.

Rose huffed her annoyance of the insinuation they would be doing other things.

"I'll be doing the same as Chrissie, coordinating the signals that are sent back and sending them for analysis, whatcha think I'll be doing Ellie?"

"From that distance?" Alec asked, knowing he was going to be having words with his DS later for suggesting they wouldn't be actually working.

"The equipment they brought with them is more powerful and works in a twenty mile radius, it sends signals to the receiver in the back of the van.  Me or Chrissie will relay them back to London."

"I thought you'd be wanting to be where the action is Rose?" Ellie smiled.

"This is our first real mission on this project, it wouldn't be fair to hog it all, Chrissie deserves to get some of it."

Alec was giving Ellie a warning look, what was it with her?  Just because her love life had turned sour recently.

Jake saw where this was going.  "Well I'm off back to the hotel to see if the results have come back and by the way Alec, the lights were still there last night, sorry to disappoint you if you'd hoped they'd gone."

"I expected as much or we would not be here discussing this.  Let me know what your findings are."

"Will do Alec.  Coming Rose?"

"Yeah, I'll catch you up Jake.  Ellie, don't worry about me doing my job just because I'm involved with Alec."

"I didn't mean anything Rose," Ellie insisted.

Alec wasn't so sure.  "Never mind that Miller, you can get back to work now."

Ellie knew that wasn't a request and he was going to chew her out later.  Perhaps she had over-stepped the boundaries they had built up during Joe's trial and solving Sandbrook because now, Hardy was protecting his new girlfriend and all previous bets they were just about friends were off.

Alec and Rose stayed behind, Alec moving over to sit next to her.

"Let's get out of here Alec, I need a decent coffee."

"Were you not offered one when you came in?"

"Yeah but station coffee?" Rose smiled, doing that thing with her tongue Alec found drove him mad.

"Then allow me to take you next door, unless you have to go join the rest of the team?"

"Nah, they'll be trying to hire us a boat and checking the equipment.  Jake will be waiting for the results, they have to be checked and double-checked though I thought we'd have them by now."

"So are you going out tomorrow, even though we are fairly certain something is there?"

"I have to Alec, let's not go through that again?"

"Fine, we won't then, you can't blame me for trying to persuade you not to go, now I know what may be out there."

"You think they're gonna leap out of the water at us?"

"It's not funny Rose.  They could have taken your probe as hostile action last week and they could be watching out for something else."

"Oh come Alec, that's only in comic books.  If they've no power, how can they be watching us?"

"Just because they can't move far does not mean they have no power at all.  Are we even talking humanoids?"

"Don't ask me, not all aliens are alien-looking, some can pass as humans."

"You said you'd met some."

"Yeah, one was my best friend."

"Seriously?  Don't wind me up Rose, I know what I read in comics was made up but that's what Torchwood does.  So there are human looking aliens out there?"

"Those that were stranded with no place else to go, we don't lock them up and see what they're made of, well not yet but if my stepfather ever gives up, it could easily change.  I can't tell you any more Alec, sorry."

"Not even about your friend?"

Rose smiled and took his hand as he pulled her up.  "Especially not about my friend, I told you, you'll have to speak to my stepfather."

"Why are you so secretive Rose?"

"Ever since my mum met Pete, everyone wants to know who I am, that's why I have to get sneaky with the press.  It's something to do with her looking like his first wife, all the theories come out that she plotted to meet him and take her place, it's all connected.  You know where this is going?"

"Yes, I get it, that she married him for the status and his money but tell me this, you were involved with the Cybermen, that much I can gather but just how much?  Did you know his first wife and everyone thought you went back and told your mother about him?"

"Stop it Alec, you're just too clever and I'll tell you the truth, when this is out of the way, deal?"

"Deal, now, let me get you out of here eh?"

Jake had gone back to join the others, Mike and Alan had successfully found a boat owner willing to hire a nice roomy boat for four people, Mike having to convince the man he was capable of handling it and giving it back in one piece though it would probably be Jake who would be doing the steering.  Chrissie and Alan were checking the equipment in the back of the van when Jake arrived.

"Everything sorted?" Chrissie asked cheerfully.  "What do you think about Rose offering to share?"

"It was a bit of a surprise, she only told me during the meeting."

"Yeah?  Must be the new bloke she's found, you just met him?"

"Met him yesterday, she's well gone on him so don't even think about it."

"Me?" Chrissie laughed.  "Don't have a clue what you're getting at."

Ellie had gone back to work, wondering when he was coming back to give her a good roasting.  He was being very protective all of a sudden, what was it all about?  It was obvious that something had happened to make him uncomfortable with Rose going out there, had all this talk of aliens made him afraid for her?  Surely he knew that was what she did and could handle herself?

Maybe he still had nightmares about pulling Pippa out of the river and now he'd got himself involved with Rose, he was afraid she might not come back but he'd come up with the idea of aliens on the seabed.  Did she believe it though?  Maybe not if the Cybermen hadn't tried to take over that time but Torchwood had helped them escape though some said they'd done everyone a favour instead of paying to keep them locked up.

Alec took Rose across the way to the bistro and ordered drinks and pastries.

"So, I go out tomorrow then we work together the day after?" Rose asked again.

"Yes, that's what we agreed but if there are any signs of something alive down there, you have to leave."

"We have done this sort of thing before Alec, don't worry so much."

"I won't stop until it's over."

"Well you came up with the idea.  How did you anyway?"

"Too many comic books?" he tried to grin.

"Yeah?  That I can believe and as for those Cybermen, think yourself lucky that's all there's been."

"What are you trying to say?  You mean there's more we don't know about?"

"I can't tell you here Alec, I told you, it's all connected and it's complicated."

"There's nothing complicated about how I feel about you Rose so don't think you have to hide anything from me."

"I won't Alec, I promise but you may change your mind about me."

"I had two weeks to think about letting you drive off that morning, that I would never see you again but we both thought it was what we wanted.  Why do you think it is so difficult to watch you being taken out there?"

"I wish I could explain it to you Alec, really I do and I just have to do this one thing, to prove something to myself."

"What are you trying to prove Rose?  That you are a good agent?"

"Partly but I told you, this was to replace something else before I decide whether to quit or not."

"Then quit."

"To do what Alec?"

"Do something behind the scenes, be a police consultant for Torchwood and stay here with me."

"I've always been one for action Alec, sitting behind a desk isn't for me, I drove everyone crazy for the last two weeks," she smiled.

"That was because neither of us knew how to get the other back.  You said you would be leaving equipment behind, someone has to monitor it, that could be you and at the same time, if anything else happens down here, Torchwood will have an agent on hand to liaise with the local police."

"You make a good argument Alec, why don't you put it to my stepfather?"

"I will then, even if you find nothing out there.  You had better give me another number for him."

Rose scribbled Pete's office number on a napkin and gave it to him.

"He'll listen Alec but he may not be too happy, since he started this project for me."

"So what did it replace then?" he asked, folding the napkin and putting it in his pocket.

"Going to different places looking for the friend I lost."

"Ah, by 'places' I assume you mean other dimensions, other worlds?"

"I told you that you were too clever Alec, looks like those comics really did pay off.  Do you know who wrote them?"

"I can only assume now they were written by people with first hand experience?"

He was far too clever.  Torchwood, well the old regime had known for years of the ability to travel to other worlds, Rose assumed that was when the Timelords were around to regulate it but it was strictly monitored by the organization.  A lot of agents went on to have successful careers as science-fiction writers, Torchwood laughing it off as a covert way of making the public believe aliens were all little green men from Mars and you could travel to another world and be back in time for tea.

"Yeah, something like that, Pete will explain it to you.  I'd better go find Jake and the others, you have to get back to work."

They got up and Alec stood by the steps leading to the street.

"You are one of them aren't you Rose?  You and your mother perhaps?  Travel is still possible?"

"Not any more Alec, the walls were closed after the Cybermen left."

"By Torchwood I presume, to stop them coming back?"

"No, by the people on the other side, my friend.  Me and my mum got trapped here."

"I'm sorry Rose, that caught me out.  You said you were not allowed to talk about it."

"What's to tell, you guessed most of it.  Where I come from, everyone had a double here, my mum was Pete's first wife's double but I never existed here, I was harder to explain.  My other friend Mickey had a twin, he died fighting the Cybermen when they were on the rampage."

"You were here then?"

Rose nodded.  "Yeah, got here by accident, helped defeat the Cybermen and went back.  A few months had passed in my world but it was three years here."

"So those creatures out there, they are maybe from your universe, if time moves slower?"

"Blimey, I never even thought of that.  Alec, I want you to seriously think of joining Torchwood, you're wasted as a detective.  Pete will try and recruit you.  Tell you what, I could monitor what's out there and you could be the Torchwood liaison, we'd make a great team."

"Then we will get this out of the way first before I make any decisions but I am calling your stepfather because now, Rose Tyler, the miracle from another world, I want to know all about you and just how real those comics were."
Chapter 9
They kissed goodbye, Alec hoping no uniforms would come out of the station and catch them.  He went back upstairs, motioning for Ellie to follow him into his office, she knew he was about to call her out for earlier.

"What was all that for Miller?"

"Need I remind you that you said you'd made a big mistake working with your ex wife?"

"Rose is not my ex wife and as for insinuating she could not do her job when she acts as back-up then you need to take a step back Miller.  She is a trained Torchwood agent, the fact we are involved does not enter into it."

"Is that why you were trying to get her to stay all the time?  I get that you're worried about her but you were the one trying to stop her doing her job.  If she can do it so well, let her get on with it.  You really think something is out there?"

"You heard Miller, all they have to do is confirm it.  Have there been any more reports?"

"Not since earlier, people are probably not bothering now if the word has spread around town but Olly may pick up on it and the fact Rose is in town."

"She can handle your nephew and if he prints anything about lights out at sea, Torchwood will just cover it up for now, until they can establish what exactly it is."

"An alien ship?  That was your idea?"

"What's wrong with that?  Can you come up with anything better yourself?"

"I'm not a Torchwood agent, am I?  Don't you think you're getting a bit carried away?"

"No, I don't, Torchwood are taking it seriously.  Did you know they had branches in Wales and Scotland?"

"I gathered there was one in Scotland, since they missed the fact that coral wasn't what it was supposed to be but it coming down here?  What if there's more than one?"

Alec hadn't thought of that.  "I doubt that Miller, it's more likely to be the same one, they will compare the readings but let's leave that to the experts eh?  Rose thinks I would make a good agent."

"She would, she's biased."

Everything was arranged for the next day, they were meeting at the harbour after breakfast, Rose and Alec walking over, Chrissie basing the van on the end of the pier after loading everything on board the hired boat.  Alec tried to remain calm that night but the closer the time got for Rose to leave, the worse he became.

"Calm down Alec, we've been over this."

"How can I Rose?  Go on, the sooner you get this over with the better.  I'm going to my office to call your stepfather, he does not have to tell me anything, all I need from him is his permission for you to tell me."

"You might not believe me."

"I believe your best friend was an alien, what more do you want?  I want to know how he got left behind when you came here and how you coped."

"One thing at a time Alec," Rose smiled, burying her head in his shoulder after they'd woken early.  "I'm coming back you know.  My friend, he found a way to get a message to me, before the walls closed completely and he left me standing on a beach, in Norway and I am not going to leave you standing on the pier or sitting in your office."

"I hope not.  Rose, you know I am serious about you, don't you?"

"Yeah, I know Alec and if Pete says I can tell you then I will but you might find some things a bit hard to swallow, even by comic book standards."

"So it really happened, travel between worlds was possible?  Then how do we know there are not more people here who came from somewhere else?"

"We don't, some could have got stranded, even before the walls closed for good.  Alec, the Cybermen opened the gap, it was already closed, trust me."

"Then tell me how?  How did you get here then went away again?"

"By accident, we barely got back then when the Cybermen opened it again, they used it to get to the world I came from but there was something else, something far more dangerous than them but they got locked away with the Cybermen, between worlds.  It had to be closed Alec, others may have got trapped here or on other identical worlds."

"How many are there?"

"No idea but we went to a few, we got a device working, not detectable by the Cybermen but Torchwood were always worried we would end up trapped between worlds and the Cybermen would steal our means of transport."

"Is that why the project was stopped?"

It would be easy for her to say yes but she couldn't lie to him.

"Later Alec, I want you before I have to set off."

"Then come here for me Rose, then I will have something to take my mind off you going out there and facing more than coral."

After a hurried breakfast, having taken a bit longer than they'd anticipated, they walked hurriedly across the harbour as the boat was being loaded.

"Here she is, told you she'd not backed out today," Jake greeted her.

Rose was watching Chrissie, who chased anything in trousers after she'd split from her long-term boyfriend.

"Didn't think I'd miss this did you?" Rose grinned, still holding Alec's hand.  "Alec, meet Chrissie, Alan and Mike."

Alan and Mike held their hands out to shake Alec's, Chrissie expecting more and being disappointed but she only flirted with any man her friend may be interested in.

"We're ready to board Rose, whenever you are," Jake told her, seeing Alec was getting nervous.

"Yeah, I'll be right there."

Chrissie went back to the van, knowing her friend wanted to be alone with the dishy detective.  Alec didn't care there were people working nearby as he put his arms around her and pulled her to his shoulder.

"What can I say to stop you going out there?"

"I'm sorry Alec, I have to do this, we agreed.  Just go to your office and call Pete then when I get back, I'll tell you everything you want to know."

"Fine, I will do that then but it will not make my day any better until you come back."

"I know Alec and we won't stop out there any longer than we have to, I promise."

He leaned down to kiss her then whispered in her ear, "I love you Rose."

Rose looked up at him and smiled.  "I love you too Alec.  I'll be back as soon as I can."

"I know you will, promise me you will not take any risks out there."

"I won't, Jake won't let me, he's almost as protective of me as you are."

"I doubt that love."

"Bye lover, go get some work done and don't take it out on Ellie."

"No promises on the last part."

Rose kissed his cheek as she heard Jake yelling for her to get a move on.

"Gotta go Alec, I love you."

With that, she let go and walked towards the boat, Mike helping her on board and waving to Jake he was going to cast off.  Alec stood and watched the boat leaving the harbour, making a note of the name and registry number then turned to walk back to the station but not before Chrissie got out of the van and called after him.

"Alec, hold on.  You can stay with me if you want?"

"No, thanks all the same, I have work to do."

"Pace your office?  They'll be in contact for a while, if they stay within ten miles, unless it's moved.  You can monitor the transmissions though when we're working, we don't get personal."

"I appreciate the offer but Rose would not be happy I checked up on her and besides, I have a phone call to make."

"To her stepfather?  I've known her a long time Alec, since she's been part of Torchwood.  She helped me when I split from my boyfriend, she's like a sister to me and that girl loves you, she won't get herself in any danger unless that's the only option.  They're only doing reconnaissance today, getting more details."

"That does not make me feel any better.  If you talk to her, tell her I am going to make that phone call."

"To find out about her past?  She never tells anyone, you must be really special."

"She is the one who is special, she should not even be here."

"I know that much Alec but no-one other than her family and Jake know the whole story."

"Yes, well shortly, that will include me.  I am not taking no for an answer."

"I bet you won't, good luck with the director."

Alec got back to his office, ignoring Ellie and closing his door.  Ellie knew Rose was going out today and he wouldn't be in a good mood when he'd seen her off so she decided to stay well away until Rose got back.  Alec retrieved the number Rose had given him that he'd already put in his phone and waited for someone to answer.

"Director Tyler's office, how may I help you?" a woman's voice enquired.

"Yes, may I speak with the director?  My name is Detective Inspector Alec Hardy from Broadchurch police and I am calling regarding his stepdaughter."

"Hold the line please.  Is there a problem with Miss Tyler?"

"No problem, this is a personal matter."

Pete's secretary knew better than to put anyone through to the director regarding a personal matter, even if the caller claimed to be the police.

"Hold the line Sir, I will ask the director if he can take your call."

Alec waited, wanting to tell the woman her boss had better take his call, Rose had said the man knew she was coming to Broadchurch to be with him.

Sally put him on hold and called Pete's private line.

"Yes Sally, what is it?  More calls about sightings off the coast?"

"No Sir, I have Detective Inspector Hardy from Broadchurch police on the other line."

"Well put him through then."

"Sir, he said it was personal, about Miss Tyler."

"Don't worry, I expected him to call, he's the reason Rose took off on her latest project, he's her new boyfriend but don't go telling my wife that."

Alec was soon put through.  "Mr Tyler, I'm Alec Hardy, Rose's for want of a better term, boyfriend."

"Yes, she told me about you, sorry about my secretary but we get all kinds of people, mostly the press claiming they have a personal matter to discuss where Rose is concerned.  What can I do for you Alec?"

"Give Rose your permission to tell me all about her past and I don't mean since before her mother married you."

"I see.  She broke my rule of telling anyone where she comes from."

"I know she comes from a London council estate and that the transition was not an easy one.  Is this line secure?"

"Of course Alec.  Then she told you she's not from the London you might know of?  That was strictly forbidden for her to tell anyone, you must be really someone if she went against me but I shouldn't expect any less since she told you to ask for her when you had those sightings."

"She told me she had annoyed you, that was entirely my fault, I accept full responsibility for that.  We had tried several times to contact each other after we met that first time but we kept missing each other."

Pete couldn't help but smile, when Rose was determined about something, nothing put her off, that much he had learned.

"Has she gone out to the area of the sightings?"

"Yes and when she gets back, she wants to tell me.  Do you need to confirm that with her yourself?"

"No, that's not necessary Alec, I half expected her to want to tell you but you might not want to hear."

"She told me some things and they have not yet put me off, I know where she comes from, I am still wanting to learn more."

"She told you about the friend she lost?"

"Yes, she did and I know where he is and that she tried to get back to him.  That's why she's doing this, I reckon if things are coming through, she thinks he might also be able to do so."

"Very clever of you Alec.  You know all this and it's not put you off.  Very well, tell her she can tell you the rest, with my blessing."

"Thank you Mr Tyler, I can assure you it will only be between the two of us."

"She told you why I agreed to start this new project?"

"Yes, she did, I know she wants to find her friend."

"Alec, for the first time since we started the other project, I've never known her to be so excited about going on a mission, I trust you will take good care of her?"

"You have my word I will.  Thank you Mr Tyler."

"Call me Pete, you're practically family now, if Rose trusts you enough to tell you about her past but you can understand why I have to be so strict?"

"Yes, I can, I have a teenage daughter that I would do anything to protect.  The sad thing is now, I am too far away to do anything about it."

"You can only do so much for them Alec, Rose came into my life not that long ago, she had grown up without a father but she respects me and treats me as she would have done had she known him.  I hope we can meet soon, when her business there is concluded?"

"Yes, I hope so.  I asked her to stay here with me, I thought perhaps you would allow her to work down here, as a liaison with the police, not just in Broadchurch."

"I will discuss it with her soon.  Relax Alec, she has the best team with her, she'll be fine."

"Aye, I'll only be happy when she gets back."

While Alec had been having his conversation with Pete, the boat had got to the co-ordinates Rose had marked on the chart and Jake had stopped the engine.  Alan and Mike were preparing the underwater specialist camera and monitor and Rose was setting up the link back to the temporary base in the van.

She wondered if Alec had been tempted to stay and wait for the transmissions but Chrissie had relayed in her last message he'd said he had a call to make and she knew what that was.  He had taken things well so far, even when she'd said her best friend was an alien but how would he take the news he looked like him and that his people were the ones who had made travel between worlds possible?

"Rose, we're ready to lower the camera," Mike told her.

Everyone began their jobs, Alan steering the camera from the console and Jake keeping watch but no-one was prepared for what was about to happen as the camera began relaying images back to the boat and in turn back to base.  Jake had got the results back, they had confirmed it was the same coral as seen off the coast of Aberdeen.  On further examination, no coral had remained there, disproving Ellie's theory there were two alien ships that Alec had mentioned to Rose and she had told the team on the way out.

"Did you think there were two then?" Jake asked her.

"It was a possibility, that's why I wanted them to check again.  Now we know it's the same one but what if Alec was right and they were fixing something?  What if it was too cold for it up there?  That means it will probably stay down here now and someone has to keep an eye on it."

"You volunteering?" Mike laughed.

"Yeah, I want to stay in Broadchurch, I'm not going back to London, well except to get more clothes and break the news to my mother."

"Doesn't she know about him then?" Alan asked her, grinning.

"Nope, I was too busy trying to escape.  Anything showing up yet?"

"We should be getting something shortly, unless it's moved again?  So your friend thinks time for them moves slowly than ours?"

"Yeah, it makes sense, if they come from another reality."

Mike and Alan were not privy to where Rose came from so Jake was only able to tell them in general that Alec thought they'd fallen through a gap in reality and crash-landed here, maybe hundreds of years ago.

"So if it was hundreds of years ago for us, it was only a fraction for them?" Mike asked as he thought he saw something moving.

"Well yeah, in theory.  Did something just move?" Rose asked.

Jake was also staring at the screen.  "Stop the camera, something definitely moved just then, maybe with the current but we have to be sure we're not being observed.  Maybe Alec was right, maybe whatever it is was alerted when you sent the probe down last week Rose."

"What's that there?" Mike asked, pointing to the screen something else appeared to be moving.

"Rose, get Chrissie on the radio and ask her if she's getting this," Jake told her.

She didn't have time, Chrissie was calling them.

"Is that right, what I'm seeing?" she asked.

"Yeah, what do ya reckon?"

"Maybe your boyfriend was right to worry?"

"Stop it Chrissie, are you sending these back to London?"

"Of course I am, signing off."

What happened next seemed like it was happening in slow motion as first the camera seemed to loose the signal then went clear again, showing a creature that seemed to grow out of the coral itself, Rose thinking maybe it wasn't a ship after all but what Alec had first suggested, sentient coral that had somehow got from the east coast of Scotland to the south-west coast.

"Rose, get Chrissie back on the line," Jake ordered her, there was no time for fooling around now as the coral appeared to grow larger on the screen and was heading their way.

"I can't Jake, I'm getting some interference."

"Mike, retrieve the camera, whatever that is does not like it."

"I'm trying Jake, the line's snagged somehow around the coral or whatever it is."

"Whatever you do then, don't move it and keep transmitting, London may be able to identify whatever this is.  Rose, any luck with the radio?"

"No, just static but how come we're still getting a picture?"

"It wants us to see?" Alan suggested.  "You must have really upset it last week Rose, it's been waiting for someone to come back."

"So what were the lights about then?  If they're not repairing a ship, there must be a load of them, it's covering a large area."

"Well let's hope that's only one of them, their leader or something?" Jake suggested.  "Maybe when they all get together, when it's dark they start to glow and Alec was right what he said to you, it was too cold for them up there?"

"It's staying where it was," Mike pointed to the screen.

"Chrissie will be going mad now if she can't get through to us," Rose offered.

"She'll have told London she's got no communication with us."

"Well I hope she's not told Alec, you should have seen him earlier."

"We did," Jake managed to smile reassuringly.  "Hang on, it might be retreating.  Mike, try the camera again, very slowly."

"Won't it set whatever that is off again?" Mike asked nervously.

"Just do it Mike, then we'll get the hell out of here and leave a marker so no-one comes near.  They only turn when they feel threatened, boats must have passed over them before, especially when they were making their way down here."

That was their biggest mistake as the sentient coral seemed to gather speed and burst out of the water just feet away from them.  Jake looked around, holding up his hands to show they meant no harm.

"We mean you no harm, please, just go back," he tried negotiating.  "Rose, Mike, Alan, raise your hands."

Rose was still holding the radio transmitter, forgetting she had it and before anyone knew what was happening, the coral creature spun some kind of web, striking Rose in the side and making her scream in pain as blood appeared on her t-shirt.  Jake put his hands down and went for his stun-gun in his belt but Alan rushed over to Rose, who was bleeding out, trying to stop it with his fingers but as Jake raised his weapon, the creature missed him and hit Alan in the shoulder, making him drop to the deck.

"Mike, get us the hell out of here, let the camera go, now," Jake shouted as the coral creature seemed to subside back into the water and he rushed over to Rose, taking his t-shirt off and trying to stop the flow of blood, Rose now passed out on the deck.

Mike tore the lead of the camera out of the socket and dashed to the wheelhouse, quickly putting the craft into gear and speeding off, back the way they had come.  The microphone was hanging from the radio and Jake suddenly heard Chrissie's voice shouting their names.  He couldn't leave Rose, he had just about stopped the flow of blood with the pressure he was applying.

"Mike, get on the boat's radio and call the coastguard in Broadchurch, get an ambulance to the harbour and have someone call Alec.  Chrissie will see what's going on.  Come on Rose, hold on love, Alec won't forgive me if you don't."

"Right, doing it now.  Mayday, Mayday, this is The Speedster out of Broadchurch, we have an emergency situation."

"Come in Speedster, this is the coastguard in Broadchurch, what's your emergency?"

"We have two injured passengers, one female who has lost a lot of blood, one male, both unconscious, please have an ambulance standing by and advise all boats in the area we are coming in, we estimate in around twenty minutes.  Can you advise DI Hardy of Broadchurch police?  The unconscious female is his girlfriend."

"We're relaying that right now, the ambulance will be standing by, please be advised to come straight to the emergency landing area, which is being cleared for you.  We are sending an escort right now."

Chrissie was getting worried, she'd seen the images then the coral seemed to take shape then it had gone out of view but when she lost voice communication, she had alerted Pete.

"So what’s the situation Chrissie?  Do you think whatever it was is jamming communications?"

"I just lost the picture as well director.  Hold on, I can hear sirens approaching the pier, one of them must have used the boat's radio to call the coastguard, I'll keep you advised."

"Well call Alec as well, just in case, I'll give you his phone number."

She wasn't going to need it as the coastguard alerted the station and Ellie came rushing in.

"Sir, get your jacket quick, there's an emergency down at the harbour, the coastguard got an emergency call from the boat Rose was on."

"What? I knew this was going to happen Miller, I told her to be careful."

He grabbed his jacket off the hook, Ellie trying to keep up with him as he headed for the stairs.

"Where's your car?"

"No need, I had them send a car to the front entrance, I'm coming with you."

"I'm capable of going on my own Miller."

"We have to find out what happened and no disrespect but you'll only get her side."

"Don't sound so bloody smug with yourself Miller," he protested as they emerged from the stairwell.  "You, what happened at the harbour?" he barked at the desk sergeant who had taken the message.

"Just a call from the coastguard Sir, two injuries, an ambulance is meeting them."

"Well man, did they say who was injured?"

"Just a male and a female, the female has lost a lot of blood.  Crikey, is it Miss Tyler?"

Alec knew very well it was, she was the only female who had gone out and he never should have let her do so.

"Miller, why didn't you say?" he snarled as they went out of the door and headed for the steps, where he could see a waiting marked car.

"Because I wasn't told that bit, don't get annoyed with me, I bet whatever it was out there attacked them."

Alec raised his eyebrows as he got in the front seat of the car.

"You think Miller?  You, put that bloody siren on and get me to the other side of the harbour, where the ambulance will be and you wait there for me."

"Yes Sir," the driver replied, hating these kinds of jobs, especially since the snarly DI had come back to work.

They were there in a few minutes, the emergency landing bay had been cleared, an officer letting them through the barrier that had been dragged into place and Alec leaping out before the driver had put the handbrake on.  He peered to the outer harbour, just making out a speeding boat heading for the entrance followed by the coastguard patrol.

On board the boat, Alan was still unconscious but not bleeding and Jake was satisfied he had tied his belt around Rose's injury, having been given field injury training and he'd not even been able to reach the craft's first aid kit as he'd not wanted to leave her.  Chrissie had locked the van and walked around to where emergency vehicles were gathering, then she saw Alec pass her in a marked car and followed as far as she could go, showing her Torchwood ID to an officer.

"Those are my friends out there, ask DI Hardy."

The officer sent someone to Alec, who was pacing up and down by the ambulance as the boat seemed to slow down, Mike seeing the commotion and heading towards the ambulance.  Quite a crowd had gathered on the piers as the boat approached the landing, a crew waiting to tie them up and the ambulance attendants waiting with two stretchers.

"DI Hardy, Sir, someone from Torchwood says she's with the boat party."

"Let her through and clear everyone away, let the ambulances be able to get out."

"Yes Sir."

Chrissie went rushing past, catching up with Alec.

"Is Rose injured?"

"Yes, she is, stay with your team."

Chrissie nodded, getting her phone out to call Pete when she found out how bad it was.
Chapter 10
The ambulance crew had climbed on board the boat, Alec just waiting at the side for a glimpse of Rose.  He saw Jake, minus his t-shirt and surmised he'd used it to stop the bleeding.  He saw the other man leave the wheelhouse and stand back to let the attendants stabilize the two who had been injured, one of them the woman he'd told just a few hours ago that he loved her.

"Miller, find out what happened and don't let anyone else interview them.  Chrissie, you and the other man, secure your equipment from the boat, your friends will be taken to Dorchester  hospital, I'm going in the ambulance with Rose.  Miller, get something for Jake to wear then have my driver take him down to the hospital.  Chrissie, inform Mr Tyler what happened and tell him I'll call him when I find out how bad Rose is."

"Blimey, do you always bark orders like that?" Chrissie asked as he walked towards who he could now see was an unconscious Rose.

"Don't worry, he's not as bad as he used to be, not since he met Rose.  I'm DS Miller, go secure your things, no-one will bother you."

"Thanks."

Rose was just being put in the back of the ambulance.  Alan was being put in the back of the other ambulance as Jake caught up with Alec.

"I'm going with Rose, that car there will take you unless you are going with your other friend?"

"I'll go with him, those two will finish up here then they'll join us.  You were right Alec, we did upset whatever it was."

"Too late now Jake, the damage is done.  Thank you for trying to save Rose."

"Sir, we're ready to go," the attendant told him as he closed one door after getting Rose on a drip and plasma.

"Call me Sir, when you have some news," Ellie told him as he climbed in and the attendant began to secure the other door.

All Alec could do was sit by her side and hold her hand that didn't have the needles in.  He vaguely remembered taking similar journeys half unconscious himself, Becca with him one time and Miller the second.

"She's stable for now but she's lost a lot of blood.  Can you give me some details?" the attendant asked him.

"What do you want to know?  Her friend's in the other ambulance, he knows more than me but I can give you the basics."

He answered a few questions such as her date of birth, which she'd told him over the weekend and her nearest relative, Jackie Tyler, who he'd been warned was apt to slapping her boyfriends when they weren't even that.

The ambulances arrived at the emergency entrance and Alec got out first to allow the crew to get her out, Jake now with a navy police t-shirt on Ellie had got from somewhere and they both followed the two porters who had taken Rose and Alan.  They had to wait when they were taken through a plastic door and Jake got out his phone to tell Pete what was going on, Alec not listening, just watching the door.

"Are you coming down Pete?" he heard Jake ask Pete.

Pete had to go home and tell Jackie to pack a bag, Rose had been injured, which didn't go down well.

"You let her do it Pete, this is all your fault."

"Shush Jackie, she'll be fine.  Tony's nanny will tell him when he gets home, just hurry and pack for an overnight stay."

Jackie never did things by halves.

Alec was pacing up and down after what seemed like ages, until a surgeon came out.

"We’ve stabilized Mr Taylor and made him comfortable, he's being taken to the general male ward.  As for Miss Tyler, she's lost a lot of blood and we're having trouble locating her type, are either of you two a match?"

Jake knew he was.  "I am, what about you Alec?" he asked, knowing Alec would want to do it.

"She never told me what type she was.  If you're a match Jake, you go."

"She would rather it be you so stop wasting time and go get tested.  Doctor, I'll come as well, just in case."

They followed the surgeon to a side-ward where two nurses were waiting with everything they needed for a transfusion.

While they were getting tested, Pete and Jackie were making their way to Dorchester and Chrissie had collected Rose's car, Jake having thrown the keys to her as he'd got into the ambulance and they had just arrived, asking where Rose and Alan were, being told Alan was in no danger but still unconscious.

Jake was pleased Alec was a match and he had remained laid down while the transfusion was completed and was just about sitting up drinking some sweet tea, insisting he was fine and wanting to go into the operating room.

An hour later, he was back to pacing the corridor again, Jake trying to get him to sit down and  Chrissie kicking the drinks machine as it wouldn't part with her coffee.

"Chrissie, that's not doing Rose any good.  Why don't you go join Mike upstairs?"

"Get lost Jake, I'm staying right here until she comes out, she's like a sister to me, you know that."

"I know, she is to me as well but she could be a while yet.  Alec, I expect you have plenty of questions like what the hell happened?  Chrissie, what did the police do?"

"Ellie's informing the boat owner to collect it from the emergency landing, we'll have to pay for any damage, we got all the equipment back in the van and Rose's mobile she dropped.  Ellie said she's keeping everything under wraps and her boss will call Torchwood to put out a cover story.  I'm going out for some fresh air, see if the director and his wife have arrived yet."

That was something neither Jake nor Alec were looking forward to, Alec had only heard of Rose's mother and it wasn't all good where her daughter was concerned.

Pete was approaching a sign for Dorchester, following the navigation system that Jackie always said was wrong but this time, she had been quiet all the way, they'd not even made a stop.

"Tony will want to know what's going on," Jackie suddenly declared, breaking the silence.

"Nanny will explain Rose had been taken to hospital but she's fine, it's just a precaution.  Go on, say it Jackie, tell me I shouldn't have allowed her to start this damn project."

"I told you I was against it Pete but I know what she's like.  All that stuff she used to put me through back home, swanning off with that first Doctor for a year, me not knowing if she was dead or not and he wouldn't have even bothered to tell me."

"I think he'd have done that, he knew how close the two of you are but it's not the Doctor this time, this time it was me who allowed her to go off but they should have been safe enough, they only sent a camera down.  Whatever it was mistook it for it being dangerous, the probe Rose sent down last week must have spooked it.  No-one is to blame, it was a misunderstanding."

"She could have died out there Pete."

"I know Jaks, I'm sorry.  You know she got involved with that Alec Hardy?"

"She thinks I don't know but I'm not stupid Pete, I know why she went off in such a hurry and she needn't think I don't know what she got up to on the way back from Torquay, I don't need a picture drawing.  She spent the night with him, there's no point in denying it.  She told you didn't she?"

"The day she left, she admitted it to me, they parted the morning after and tried to contact each other but never managed it and I thought he'd got desperate and rung the number Rose had given him.  I wasn't surprised when I got home and she'd already left."

"Well she could have bothered telling me, still, it's too late now.  Is that the hospital?  That looks like Chrissie."

Jackie was out of the car, clinging hold of Rose's best friend while Pete got a ticket.  Fortunately, you paid when you left, which was better than estimating how long you were staying, who knew how long a hospital appointment was going to take or you were visiting a relative who was badly injured?

"Chrissie, any news?" Jackie finally asked her as she was led to where Jake and Alec were waiting.

"Alec gave some blood, they didn't have enough of her type, he was a match but Jake would have done it.  Alan's comfortable, Mike's with him now."

"I'll go find him, Jackie, go with Chrissie and don't start an argument with Jake or Alec."

"Huh?  My daughter is fighting for her life and you think I'll argue with them?" Jackie huffed as Chrissie tried to lead her away.

"Yes, I know you will do exactly that, neither of them is to blame Jackie.  Chrissie, get her a drink first will you?" Pete asked, pointing to the café in the corner.

Alec had sat down for a few minutes, still trying to process what had just happened when his phone rang, it being Ellie, whom he didn't really feel like talking to.

"Any news on Rose Sir?" Ellie asked when he barked, "What do you want Miller?" down the phone at her, Ellie knowing he was upset.

"She's still in surgery, she needed a transfusion, we're still waiting.  Have you called Torchwood?"

"The CS has called them and I've left units at the scene to keep people away.  Olly called for a statement but I told him we would be issuing one later.  How's the other agent?"

"He's stabilized, his brother is with him.  I have to go, Mrs Tyler just got here."

Jake had already rushed over to greet Jackie, who had refused to stay and finish her drink and held it in her hand.

"I'm so sorry Jackie, I accept full responsibility for Rose's injuries."

"Pete said no-one's to blame so forget it Jake.  You're Alec then?" she turned to him, Alec thinking he was going to get what Rose had described as the customary slap on the face.

He was surprised when she handed her drink to Jake and reached out to hug him.

"You must be something for my daughter to run off without her telling me about you, she's only ever done that once."

"The friend she lost, I know Mrs Tyler and from the reaction of her friends, I think it's a safe bet I look like him?"

"She would have told you, when she was ready."

"Aye, I got your husband's permission for her to tell me the rest of it, she told me some and I guessed most of it.  I've had time to think while she has been in there, I love Rose and whatever she has to tell me makes no difference.  As for her friend, well I don't need to be a Torchwood agent to work that one out, she had a good reason not to come out and tell me from the start, she was trying to get back to him and recently, she hoped these sightings were a sign a way through had been found and he would find his way here but do you know what?"

Jackie could only stare at him and shake her head.

"She chose to be with me, she chose to come back when we couldn't get hold of each other for two weeks and she may miss her friend but I know she's not with me because I look like him and I know there was more to it than them being friends."

"Very astute of you Alec," Pete interrupted, having just checked on Alan and fearing his wife would make a fuss.

"I meant every word Mr Tyler, it makes no difference, she is in there fighting for her life and I was the one who agreed she could share the mission with Chrissie here, it could have just as easily have been her in there.  I begged Rose not to go but she was trying to prove a point out there, that not everything she did for Torchwood was centred around her trying to get him back.  She never even said who he was."

"Time for that later Alec," Pete told him as a surgeon came through the double doors marked 'No Entry' and took off his mask.

"Are you Miss Tyler's next of kin?"

They all said 'yes' at the same time.

"We've repaired an artery and a nasty tear, we're just stitching her up and we'll take her to recovery.  Who tied the belt around the wound?"

Jake raised his hand slowly, thinking he'd done something wrong.

"You saved her life by doing that.  She might have a scar but otherwise, she'll make a full recovery, you stopped her losing a lot more blood than she did."

"Thank you," Alec told him as Jackie clung to her husband and Chrissie clung to Jake.  "When can we see her?"

"Someone should be with her when she wakes up, then we'll move her to the ward.  I know who she is, I'll arrange a private room for her once she's out of the recovery room.  I recommend only one person stays with her, two at most, it's a small room and there are other patients but we need her close by, in case there are any complications, which I'm not expecting."

"Alec, you go with her," Pete told him, seeing he wouldn't be stopped anyway.  "Jackie, go with him for a while and I'll go find us a hotel for the night.  Jake, you need to go get some more clothes."

"It can wait Pete, I'm gonna go see how Alan is, you coming Chrissie?"

Chrissie got the message that Rose's mother would want to talk to her daughter's new boyfriend.

They sat in silence until a nurse said she would take them to Rose.  Rose still had a drip in her arm and a breathing tube in her nose as Alec stepped up to her and kissed her forehead then sat at the side that was tube free and took her hand, holding it gently and rubbing his thumb over the back.

"She's gonna be ok," Jackie declared, as the nurse brought another chair and put the curtain around her, a carrier bag with her soiled clothes in.  Alec could only guess they had disposed of Jake's blood-soaked t-shirt.

"I still blame myself for letting her go," Alec mumbled, pushing her hair out of her face.

"Let me tell you something about my daughter Alec, no-one would have been able to stop her and the only reason she agreed to take turns was because she was doing it for your sake, not hers."

"I know that it was not easy for her to back down, she's very dedicated to her team-mates but it almost got her killed.  I promise I will find out what happened out there.  My DS is covering it all up, no questions will be asked formally."

"Pete will make sure of that, trust me.  He told me on the way down you'd asked him to let Rose stay here and work."

"Yes, I did but now I am not so sure there will be anything to do."

"She won't care about that you plum, she only came down here for you, she would have come even if you'd not called her.  So how much do you know then?"

Alec was watching the monitor, though it made no sense whatsoever to him, a nurse was at the desk and would be alerted if anything changed.

"Enough not to change the way I feel about her, no matter what she might have to say to me.  So, who was that friend of hers?"

"That's up to Rose to tell you but she was devastated when they were separated.  It was all we could do to get her back to some sort of normality, it wasn't easy for her accepting it.  She got so much media attention, she found herself with the status and money she could only dream of and every time she so much as looked in a bloke's direction, they were practically engaged.  How come you'd not made the headlines yet?"

"She made a deal with the local reporter to keep me out of, while they were investigating."

"She would, she had to learn to be sneaky."

"Well it helps the reporter is related to my DS but when she gets out, he's going to get the interview he wanted, I'll not deny anything."

"I can tell.  Why don't you take a break, I'll watch her."

"No, not until she wakes up, she must have expected me to stay in the van with her friend and keep tabs on her."

"Why didn't you then?"

"Her friend made me nervous."

A while later, Jake had brought Alec another tea, less sweet than the last one and Chrissie was taking him back to the hotel to get changed.  Pete had got a room for himself and Jackie and a double for Alec, if they could persuade him to leave Rose's bedside.  It was soon early evening, Pete had dragged him to the café for something to eat, the nurse saying she would call the moment Rose was awake and saying if he'd given blood, he needed to keep up his strength.

Just after seven, they were trying to make him leave when he felt his hand being squeezed so the nurse rushed to her side as he called out.

"You're back with us Miss Tyler, just take it easy, don't try and get up."

"Alec?  Where's Alec?" she asked, still not seeing things in focus.

"I'm here love, shush, take it easy."

"Hi, guess I'm in hospital or someone stuffed a breathing tube up my nose?  What happened, was anyone else hurt?"

Jake had told him Alan was awake and would be discharged in the morning but they wanted to keep Rose under observation for 48 hours.  After she managed to drink some tea, the orderlies came to move her to a private room they'd found somewhere and Chrissie had come back with some clean clothes for her after Alec gave her the spare key.

It was after nine when Rose finally kicked him out, Pete had come back for him, to take him to a nearby hotel.

"Go to the hotel Alec, I'm not going anywhere, I promise."

"Aye, I guess not.  You are going to stay as they insisted?"

"Yeah, you can keep me company and I'm really sorry I took no notice of you this morning."

"People would still have got hurt Rose, no-one is to blame entirely, you must have disturbed whatever it was last week when you went out, just be thankful it did not attack you then."

"You gave blood, to help save me, how can I thank you for that?"

"Jake wanted to, if I had not been a match but I was and I would do it again."

"I love you Alec now please, go get something to eat or they'll be keeping you in."

"I had enough of being in hospital love, trust me."

Two days later, Rose was behind the curtain getting dressed, her side still aching but she was on painkillers for it.

"I hope I don't have a scar," she shouted out to Alec.

"It does not matter to me Rose."

"Well it does to me, when you take me on holiday and we're lying by the pool.  I'll have to wear a one-piece swimsuit."

"What holiday?"

"Didn't Pete tell you?  The holiday in Majorca I asked him to book for us.  I need to recuperate."

"I can't just take a week off Rose."

Yes you can and it's two weeks, one in Palma and another at a resort hotel on the other side of the island and yes, you can sit with your feet in the pool, no-one is going to drag you in."

"I guess I can live with that though you may entice me in, if you promise to hold on to me."

"Done," she smiled as she pulled the curtain back.  "Did you get my discharge papers and those painkillers?"

"Yes love and Chrissie dropped off your car last night, are you keeping it here, Jake is going back tomorrow."

"Do I need it?"

"That all depends love, am I going to be able to keep you home all day?"

"Fat chance lover."


One Year Later

Rose had been back in hospital, the result of the delayed two weeks holiday where on the last night in the resort hotel, Rose had one too many rum punches and forgotten what time of the month it was and Alec denying he kept up with such matters which had brought Lily May Hardy into their lives nine months later.  Now, the doting grandmother, uncle Tony, who still couldn't work out why he was an uncle when Mickey and Jake were his and all the other guests were in the function room of The Traders Hotel.

Alec was fussing over his six week old daughter, who had decided to go to sleep for the naming ceremony and he had a trick up his sleeve, having been to the town hall, got a special marriage license and was waiting for the vicar to indicate to hand the sleeping baby to him to begin the short ceremony.  Then, as arranged with Pete, who was ushering in the town's registrar, he would ask for everyone to remain where they were and would hand his daughter to her grandmother and take Rose to the corner and tell her he wanted to marry her, right there and it was all arranged.

They were due to go to the registry office on Monday to officially name their daughter, who Rose had insisted took his name and he'd got it in his head he wanted to do this properly since she had not once hinted she wanted to get married just because the baby had come into their lives.

He had marvelled at her selflessness in him sharing all her ups and downs during her pregnancy, insisting he went to work even when she didn't feel well and this was the only way he could tell her he had enjoyed every second of it, from her telling him when he got home one night, to find candles on the table and a mug she had found that said 'Daddy' on it and how happy he'd been and spun her around several times.

The naming ceremony over, Pete got up to go fetch the registrar, even Jackie didn't know what was happening, only Pete and Jake were in on it because he'd asked Jake to be his best man.  Ellie though had some idea what he was up to and he'd looked at her as if to dare her to say anything to Rose.

Alec was still holding his daughter, Rose at the other side of Paul Coates.

"Can everyone remain seated for a few moments?  Jackie, can you please take your granddaughter for a moment?  Rose, I need to talk to you."

Chrissie laughed.  "Still barking orders Alec?"

Everyone else saw the funny side as Rose was led over to the window, which overlooked the esplanade after he handed his precious baby daughter to her grandmother.

"Rose, love, we've had a wonderful year or so together and you've just given me a beautiful tiny daughter, you never hesitated to say you wanted her to have my name."

"I never had any doubts about it, so what's this all about?"

She had her back to the door as Pete led the registrar in, indicating for the guests to stay silent and not shout out and alert Rose.

He got a ring box out of his pocket, Rose staring at him.

"A fine time to get engaged Alec don't you think?"

"That's not a no is it Rose?  Everyone is here, if you turn around, your stepfather is standing with the town's registrar so, Rose Marion Tyler, you have given your daughter my name, will you change yours?  Marry me?"

"Now?" Rose cried out that everyone heard.  Jackie passed the still sleeping baby to Ellie, who happened to be sitting next to her, trying to stop Fred from wanting to take her.

"Listen to me Rose, that man loves you, you love him so quit having a staring contest and just get on with it.  Don't throw this away sweetheart, Lily deserves to have a proper home, with both of you, you never had that."

Having said her piece, she went back to her seat but Ellie was in no hurry to play pass the parcel with the little bundle in her arms, who was now yawning and making indications she wanted feeding, the baby bag tucked under Jackie's seat.

"Jackie, tell them to get a move on, Lily will want feeding soon and I'm not going to miss this."

"Neither am I Ellie, Rose isn't usually so slow."

"Neither is Alec, trust me, except for when it took him two weeks to get her back."

Alec was still waiting for Rose, who was staring at the ring he had placed on her finger.

"You heard your mother Rose, let's bring her up properly eh, I know you never had your dad around but Pete told me you accepted him the way you would have treated your own and I know you told me you went back to see him.  Wherever he is Rose, your own dad would be proud of you and of being a grandfather, make Pete proud of you as well?"

"What are you waitin' for then?"

"That's a yes?" he asked, not thinking it would be this easy but Ellie was making signals the baby was awake and would want some attention paying to her.

"It's a yes Alec Hardy, then you can feed your daughter, Ellie is dying to watch you change her."

"She would be.  I asked your stepfather to stay at our house while I whisk you off somewhere for a few days.  I don't think your mother would object," he observed, seeing Jackie get the bottle out of the baby bag and indicating for Becca to get it warmed up.

"A honeymoon?"

"Aye love, a few days in Torquay?"

"You're such a romantic Alec, if I'd not left that awful hotel early, we'd never have met."

"What about when I called Torchwood about those lights?"

"Aw, we'd have thought you were just makin' it up, I mean we never expected anyone to call, trust it to have happened here."

"What was the name of that hotel?" he asked seriously as people began to mumble when they realised what was going on, Olly taking covert pictures of the couple having their talk and Pete frowning at him.

"You'd better not have booked that one or you'll be divorced before the ink's dried on the paper."

"I just wanted to thank them for sending you in my direction."

So hand in hand, they walked up to the table, Becca came back in with Lily's milk, Ellie insisting she fed the now hungry baby and the registrar asked everyone to stand, beginning with "We are all gathered here today to witness the joining in matrimony of Rose Marion Tyler and Alec James Hardy.  If there is anyone present who knows of any reason they may not be joined, speak now."

Alec looked back over his shoulder, daring anyone present to do so – he would have arrested them.

The End!

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