Follow

The internet connection

Share on Tumblr

Just before the resolve of Danny's murder, the Broadchurch harbour newsagents shop is up for sale. Rose Tyler wants to open a coffee shop offering free internet and gets permission from the local council but it's Alec Hardy's job to make sure it doesn't bring trouble to the town since he's persuaded his boss to let him work part-time after being found out he has a bad heart.  





Just before the resolve of Danny's murder, the Broadchurch harbour newsagents shop is up for sale or lease, having been emptied hastily.  Rose Tyler wants to open a coffee shop offering free wireless internet and gets permission from the local council but it's Alec Hardy's job to make sure it doesn't bring trouble to the town since he's persuaded his boss to let him work part-time until his surgery. 

He's in for a rough time as Rose starts flirting with him every time he visits whilst teaching him to make a video call to his daughter since he hates the tea in the station.  Rose gets the wrong idea and thinks he's wanting to talk to his girlfriend and he doesn't know who she really is.

Scroll down to read each chapter

Chapter 1
Everything had been arranged, in rather a short period of time as Rose settled into her new home, a cottage near the beach in a small coastal town called Broadchurch.  She had seen the town in the news and had convinced her mother she was certain she wouldn't go off the rails and start calling the local detective inspector 'The Doctor' all the time.  Pete had agreed to lease the harbour newsagents and got planning permission to change it into a coffee shop upon the sad demise of the man who had run it and he'd cut through the usual red tape with the council but a condition came with it.

"What?  They won't let me open it until that murder's been solved?  How long's that gonna take?" Rose wanted to know as she'd barged into Pete's office after he'd called her to break the news.

"Just think about it Rose, no-one's visiting the town and it will give the shop-fitters more time to complete.  They just want to make sure you don't open then go out of business."

"Don't they know who I am?"

"Well if you open and you get no customers?"

"Since you put it that way but as soon as the killer's behind bars, the fitters had better be gone.  I'd best put the equipment on hold then?"

Pete smiled.  Rose had been in hurry to get out of Torchwood since he'd closed down the cannon project, they'd not got anywhere and when it had showed signs of life, it had all fizzled out within a few months and had gone dead again though thankfully, no-one had been trapped.

He'd tried to reason with her, to take another job but her mother had already warned him once she'd set her mind on something, nothing was going to change it.  They'd both been concerned Rose was doing this for the wrong reasons after a certain DI Hardy had appeared on a TV interview and had stated blankly he was going to catch whoever had killed the young boy.  Pete didn't doubt that he would but to him, the man looked like he was on his last legs and wouldn't last that long and he didn't even look that old.

Two weeks later though, the killer was still on the loose and Rose was going crazy.  She'd already quit her job, had a good night out with her work friends, Jake as usual drinking her under the table and she was itching to go.

"I'm gonna set off anyway, so I can keep an eye on the coffee shop, I don't like it being shuttered up.  Why did you lay the fitters off?" she asked when Pete got home one night.

It had been almost six weeks and the police had got nowhere.

"There was no point love, best leave it before all the tables were put in, there's only the counter, the lino has been put down after they finished decorating, then only the finishing touches, it can be done in less than a week.  People will start going back to the town, now the fuss is dying down."

"Well I'm gonna tell the rental agency I'll be moving into that cottage on Saturday, Jake offered to come with me."

"If that's what you want?  Oh, I had another email from the local council, wanting to know if you were still opening."

"Is that 'cos the place has been shuttered?"

"I expect so."

"Have they thought they'd got rid of me?"

"I expect so why?"

"Just wondered, considering there's a café in front and one behind, not to mention the old railway station one, perhaps they'd had second thoughts about giving me permission?"

"Nah, a town can never have enough cafés.  I expect some of them close over the winter months anyway, you were most insistent you were going to remain open."

"What else will there be for me to do?  I'm not doing it to make a profit, am I or do you expect a return on your investment?"

"It would be nice Rose but you know that's not why I agreed.  I'm sorry I had to stop your project, really I am but we were getting nowhere.  If we had carried on, someone could have got stranded and none of us wanted that.  Your mother would never forgive me if it had been you."

"Yeah, I know.  Anyway, I'm off to start packing, maybe you and mum can bring Tony down when everything has settled?"

The next morning, which was a Thursday, Rose called the agency and they agreed she could collect the keys for the cottage on her arrival.  She had seen on the news that the killer was still at large, she'd watched a re-enactment of the events a few weeks ago and last Sunday, a tearful plea from the boy's mother and also the front headlines of 'The Herald'.

She'd had to laugh though at the newspaper's star reporter who had dared to brand the lead detective as the 'worst cop in Britain' which was totally unfair when he'd had the odds against him.  So Saturday morning as she left London behind her and Jake agreed they'd make one stop as he followed her down, she had packed her personal belongings and her cases and had said goodbye to Tony and her mother.

"You be careful down there Rose, promise me?"

"I promise Mum, don't worry.  Come down, if Tony's still off school, when they catch the person responsible."

"We will, maybe we can rent a cottage or something?"

"Come on Rose, let's get going," Jake nudged her.

Jake had stayed the weekend, they'd got the keys for the new shop and Jake operated the electric shutter Pete had insisted on being installed instead of the heavy manual one.  It was red, like the outside of the shop, a sign with a single pink rose in the corner saying 'Rose's coffee shop' and Jake opened the door.

"Not much done then?" he observed, the counter looking a bit dusty but otherwise, the red lino didn't look that bad and the cream walls.

Rose was going to order some local prints of the cliffs and the harbour but they had seen a van parked opposite with assorted paintings so she was going to go and have a look and pick some out, once she got permission to open but she was going to the council office on Monday morning to say she was here and could she make a start and pick a date to open.

It wasn't a big place, room for a bar across one wall with a few stools and six or seven tables.  She'd had the shop floor extended by taking some of the back area and just leaving a small storeroom and a washroom, since she planned getting an under counter dishwasher and she wasn't serving meals, one of the conditions, since there were three cafés close by, plus all the catering stalls.

She had only wanted to serve tea and coffee anyway, the old-fashioned way, not those fancy machines in the fancy coffee shops and she was going to have wrapped pastries and confectionery delivered when needed, she'd got a good deal with a local bakery who delivered next door.  Over the weekend, she settled in, having lunch at one of the nearby pubs and Jake set off on Sunday evening.

"Good luck then Rose, sure you don't want me to stay?"

"Yeah, it's fine, you go back.  I'll call ya if I need any help, ok?"

Over the other side, Alec Hardy was out for a walk, though he wasn't sure what had brought him down by the harbour, since he'd not even been able to go out and examine Mark Latimer's boat.  He had noticed something was being done with the old newsagent's, a new red grill had been installed and the time or two he'd ventured that way, it was being refitted but they seemed to have stopped work and he'd seen no-one for the last few weeks.

Who could blame anyone for not wanting to re-open a shop where the owner had been hounded into taking his own life?  Whoever had been tempted to take the place on must have had second thoughts, perhaps just as well really but now, he knew what was going on, virtually under his own bloody nose and he'd been an idiot not to have noticed it sooner.

All that was missing now was for Danny's other phone to be switched on but whoever was in possession of it wasn't going to let themselves be caught, if it was actually who he now suspected it was.  He got up from the harbour wall and saw a man with blonde hair drive out of the parking area, wondering where the car had come from then realised it was probably from one of the cottages tucked away in the corner by the pub.

"Someone else packing up and leaving?" he thought to himself, the driver waving at him as he waited to cross the road.

Jake had smiled to himself as he'd driven off – there was the man himself, Alec Hardy and Rose hadn't bumped into him yet.  How would she react when she came face to face with the detective though?  She'd insisted she could handle it but would she fall at the last hurdle, so to speak?  It would be interesting but he hoped he wouldn't have to come back so soon if she fell apart when she laid eyes on the man.

The next morning, Alec was back at work, hoping he was going to last until the case was over, he'd been gradually getting worse since his fall on his bathroom floor and Becca didn't look like she was one for keeping secrets.  He'd made a big mistake though, asking if she wanted to keep him company – yeah, well done Hardy, that was the most stupid idea he'd had since asking Tess Henchard to marry him and look how that had ended?

Rose parked outside the town hall and asked for the planning department, getting her a look from the snooty receptionist, as if to say what did a woman want with the planning department?  After arguing with the planning officer that she could open the coffee shop by Saturday, him scoffing it would be a challenge, he had agreed, after he had made a call to CS Jenkinson of Broadchurch police.

"What?" Rose had asked as he picked up the phone.

"Well, you're offering free wireless internet, it may bring trouble from teenagers hanging around, messaging their friends."

"Really? Trust me, the prices I'll be charging, that's never gonna happen.  Aren't the police too busy with that murder anyway?"

Mr Price was on hold, something he didn't handle very well.

"Miss Tyler, I do know who you are and I already told your stepfather the conditions of you opening a fancy coffee shop by the harbour, there are already ample food and drink establishments but since it was agreed you would remain open over the winter when most of the food stalls are closed and two of the cafés only open at weekends, I agreed."

Rose thought he must believe he was actually doing her a favour.  As he got through to the chief at the police station, Rose tried not to eavesdrop.

"Ah, Elaine, sorry to bother you but I have a rather unusual request."

He outlined what he wanted, Rose being amused he thought she needed a babysitter.

"Very well Mr Price but I'm not happy about it, can't the opening be delayed?" Elaine Jenkinson asked, a bit annoyed the man kept insisting on calling her by her first name every time he had something to ask.  He was almost as bad as Alec Hardy, who said he didn't use first names.

"Well Miss Tyler insisted she could be open by Saturday and I have no reason to doubt she can keep to the deadline.  If I give her the go ahead, maybe you can just have a patrol stop by once or twice a day?"

"I'll see what I can do but we're already stretched as it is.  I hope it's going to be worth it and bring people back to the town?"

"So do I Elaine."

Rose was happy as she left, stopping to call Pete to get everything organised and by Thursday evening, the last of the equipment was being installed and she was on a stepladder hanging the framed prints she'd got from the vendor just across the road, who had been only too happy to rush the framing of those prints that were in need of one.

Friday, she'd had some leaflets printed at a copy shop up in the town and she was walking around the harbour, handing them out to any passers-by though she'd been careful to avoid standing opposite the catering stalls.  She was sitting on the wall across from the police station, having bought a drink and looking up, noticed someone standing on the balcony.  It could only have been Alec Hardy.

Not that keen on meeting him, well not yet, she got up and continued her walk, handing out leaflets once she got away from the outdoor catering area.  Alec stood on the balcony, he'd seen a blonde sitting opposite but as Ellie Miller had called him, he'd turned back and the woman was gone.  Who had she been, he wondered.

Events had taken a surprising turn the night before night, resulting in him almost dying after chasing a suspect, him knowing who it was but not being able to say anything but that morning, he had discharged himself from the hospital, Ellie Miller telling him he was an idiot.

"I have a job to finish Miller, we almost had him last night."

As he was sitting in his office, after getting her to bring him up to date, the CS walked in.

"Why didn't you say anything Alec?  Do you have a death wish?"

"I'm closing in on the killer."

"No, you are going to hand over to DS Miller and then step down.  You're off the case."

"Not until I'm done."

"Well when the CMO sees you tomorrow, you're out Alec."

"Fine, now excuse me, I have work to catch up on."

Alec swore as soon as Miller came back, he was going to chew her out for ratting on him, which was what he'd done and missed the mystery blonde sat opposite leaving.

Rose was back at the coffee shop, getting ready for opening.  The grill was halfway down and she'd put a notice on it saying it was opening on Saturday at ten and another saying a Saturday person and part-time cleaner were required.  Chloe Latimer was out with her boyfriend when they were passing by.

"Just what we need, another fancy café around here," she complained to Dean.

"They're just trying to make a living."

"By cashing in on my brother's death?"

"Don't be like that.  Look, they need someone for Saturday, you could apply and make sure whoever owns it doesn't do that."

Dean was just getting back on his bike, putting his helmet on and handing Chloe hers.

"Yeah, why not?  I can use the money and it will get me out I suppose.  Wait here.  Maybe if they are new in town they won't know who I am."

"You'll have to give your name."

Chloe grinned and walked across the roadway.  Rose heard a tap and looked up from the counter.

"Hi, we're not open until tomorrow," Rose told Chloe as she part opened the door.

"No, I was asking about the Saturday job."

After agreeing Chloe could start the next day, Rose finished arranging everything and decided to call it a day.  Rose was up bright and early the next morning, her supplies were arriving at eight and she wanted to make sure everything was perfect.  Alec was getting himself dressed, he had to see the CMO at nine and he knew this time, he wouldn't get away with it.

When he got out of the medical room, Elaine was waiting for him.

"Office to be cleared by the end of the day please.  How did you think you'd get away with it?"

"I just need another day, I know who the killer is," he hissed, grabbing the sheet of paper from her and stuffing it in his pocket.

"Alec, don't walk away from me," she called after him.

He had arranged to meet Ellie Miller down near where Danny had been found, it was after ten and she had been interviewing one of the locals who had not been entirely honest with them.

He was walking past the old newsagents when he noticed it was open and glancing in, he saw Chloe Latimer carrying a tray of drinks and whom he thought was the blonde from the other day busy behind the counter.  He thought if he made it through the day, he may pay a visit and see if she made a decent pot of tea.

Ellie was waiting.  "So, what did you call me all the way down here for then?"

"You've done good work on this case Miller, well done."

"What?  Did that heart attack the other night scramble your brain?"

Alec scowled at her.  What was the point in paying her a compliment?

Just then, Ellie's phone rang.  "Sir, Danny's phone has just been switched on again."

Alec indicated for her to pass the phone.  "Send the co-ordinates to my phone."  He handed it back to her.  "Go on, carry on interviewing, what's his name."

"You can't remember his name?"

Alec ignored her and got his own phone out of his pocket as he received a message.  He didn't want her to know he would more than likely follow the signal that would lead him to her house, if he was right about this, which he'd better be since he was out from the end of the day.  Miller would be bad enough when she found out but he didn't want her to have to arrest her own husband.

He called for a car to pick him up from the harbour car park, finding himself facing the new coffee shop and seeing the blonde taking delivery of something that looked like it could be a notice board.  He hoped she had permission to put it on the pavement, he would hate to have to go tell her to move it.
Chapter 2
Alec was glad to get back to his hotel after the arrest and charging of Danny's killer.  He had been right – Miller had broken down and lost her temper and he hoped it wouldn't go against them once the case went to trial.  It would just be his luck to get a defence team who would pick up on his error in judgement, everything had told him not to let her see her husband but how was he to know she would go all bloody Bruce Lee?

No, if the man got off because of that, then the whole justice system was a complete waste of time – what angry wife wouldn't go crazy?  He watched the events on the late news, recalling how he'd broken the news to the family, the daughter having just got home by the looks of her.  At least she was making an effort at getting back to some sort of normality and if the coffee shop owner was indeed from out of town, the teenager wouldn't be judged.

He'd seen the name above the door – 'Rose's Coffee Shop' and wondered if that was the owner's actual name or not.  He made his mind up that since from him clearing his desk earlier after giving another statement to the press he was now on medical leave, he may as well give it a try.  He was determined though he wasn't going to give up altogether and he had seen on the notice he'd been given that he was eligible for sick pay with or without taking up a less strenuous post.

He supposed he could always go give the recruits over in Exeter the benefit of his experience, if he didn't bore them to death or maybe he could soften Jenkinson into letting him sit at his desk for an hour or so a day.  Little did he know he was going to regret that thought.

Rose had been quite pleased that they'd had a steady flow of customers from ten until four and after helping clear up, she'd paid Chloe out of the takings and still made a bit of a profit.  Jake had fitted a safe in the small storeroom, which had a coded lock on it so having lowered the grill, she'd made herself a well deserved latte and sat at one of the tables.

She'd half expected people to bypass the shop, since the last proprietor had met his demise but curiosity must have taken over, she'd heard people talking about someone called 'Jack' and surmised that had been the newsagent.  She'd not taken much notice of his death, she had been busy taking her anger of the project closing down out on poor Mickey, who unlike herself and Jake, had agreed with Pete it needed to be closed.

She hadn't made her mind up yet if she'd forgiven him for it.  She was surprised though that she'd been in the town over a week and apart from seeing Alec Hardy on the balcony of the police station, had not seen him since but when she got home and switched on the TV, there he was saying a local man had been arrested in connection with Danny's death and he believed they had the right person.

Her first thought was to ring Chloe and tell her not to worry about calling in after school on Monday to help with the cleaning, she'd offered it to her since no-one else had applied.  Rose had not yet decided the opening hours, debating whether or not to close on Monday but maybe not next week, since she'd just opened, she might have Wednesday off instead. 

She stayed in on Sunday, except to go for a walk on the beach and to the harbour stores, the owner asking how she had done on her first day.  Alec was in his room, he'd been visited by Ellie Miller late the night before, wanting to make some sort of sense of the whole thing but he'd had no answers for her.  When she'd finally left, after being in his room for some considerable time drinking half a bottle of wine he'd had left over, he hoped she wouldn't be caught on the CCTV on her way out.

He made his mind up he was going to stay until the boy's funeral, he owed them that much then if Jenkinson wouldn't let him back, he'd try the training academy and get himself a place to stay over in Exeter, at least until the trial.  He tried calling his daughter, who for a change answered him.  She had loads of questions for him, like if he was going back to visit her.

"I can't yet Daisy, I have things to sort out but maybe soon.  Did you get my messages?"

"Yeah, all 500 of then Dad."

"Don't exaggerate."

"Ok then but I got the one about a video call.  Do you actually know how to make one?"

"No but I can learn.  Give me a few days, I have something to do tomorrow."

"I thought you'd finished there?"

"Not quite, I have a few loose ends to tie up, then the funeral to attend.  Anyway, I have something to tell you and your mother, before you find out in the papers.  I've been put on medical leave."

"What?  What for?"

"Put your mum on eh?"

After he broke the news, he walked down the path onto the Esplanade and sat on the sea wall, where he'd been sitting a week ago.  He thought it a pity the coffee shop was closed but only the catering stalls opened on Sunday and the harbour café, so he'd been told.  He looked across again and saw the blonde coming out of the store next door, making her way across and disappearing around the corner of the apartments, a row of cottages tucked behind them.  So that was where she lived?

He thought back to the previous Sunday, the blonde man driving away.  Was he her brother, boyfriend or just someone helping her move?  He shook his head – what did it have to do with him?  He didn't know who she was, she'd never even met him and if she did, she'd be well advised to steer clear of him, well until he got up the courage to face his fate on the operating table, if he kept the appointment that would come very soon, since he'd discharged himself the other morning.

The next morning, Rose opened the shop and began preparing everything, then took the time to call Chloe.

"Oh, it's ok Rose, I'd like to come in even though I'm not going into school today.  Shall I come in at four?"

Rose thought she had taken it fairly well but it must be a relief to the whole family.  She opened the shop and a woman came in, dressed in a sort of business suit and ordered a double expresso.  Rose had learned fairly quickly how to use the coffee machine she had on the back counter, all she had to do was press a button basically and remember to keep the thing filled up correctly.  Tea was easier though and she had quite a variety of different ones.

"How are you settling in?" the woman asked as Rose took her money while she waited.

"Great, to say it's only my second day.  I can't decide what day I'm going to close but I can't work six days."

The woman laughed.  "I'm Maggie, I own the town's newspaper.  Maybe I can interest you in taking out an ad?" she smiled as Rose turned to bring the cup over and put it on the counter.

Rose smiled back.  "Maybe and maybe I can interest you in a blueberry muffin or some shortbread, they're made locally."

"Ah, a real businesswoman.  Maybe another time, you caught me out."

Rose laughed.  "I might take that ad out though, it won't do any harm to spread the word I suppose?  Have you got a number I can call?"

Maggie took a card out of her pocket and putting it on the counter, picked up the cup and saucer and crossed to a table as a man and a woman came in and made their way to the counter.

Alec was waiting to see Elaine Jenkinson after he got a mysterious phone call from her just after nine that morning.  He'd been up and was about to make his way there anyway, to plead his case for being allowed to be of some use and to say he wasn't ready to be put out for good.  He'd answered the phone but got nothing out of her except she wanted to see him in her office at ten.

He half thought he was going to get a lecture about fooling his superiors for the last few years and she wanted to find out how he'd done it and who had covered for him.  If that was the case, he was saying nothing and would take his punishment by being bored out of his mind and hope she or some other unsuspecting chief would take him back, should he be fortunate enough to survive.

So as Rose was serving Maggie Radcliffe, Alec was sat in Elaine's office, complaining at what she was asking him.

"You want me to do what?"

"Come on Alec, it's a simple thing to ask of you.  Just call in the new coffee shop every morning, whatever time you want and make sure things are running smoothly."

"Anyone could do that, why don't you get Miller, when she comes back?"

"I don't know if she is, once she's been cleared to return when the IA have interviewed her but she may not want to come back here anyway."

"She can't let the town turn against her."

"That's up to her.  So, what about it, for now?"

"What brought it all on?"
"The coffee shop is offering free internet access, the only place down by the harbour and the chief planning officer at the town hall thinks it might attract troublemakers or have people hanging around."

"Is that all?  Surely that does not involve us?"

"I'm afraid it does, he gave the woman permission to open on condition we kept an eye on things.  I'll make a deal with you.  You call in there and spend half an hour or so every day until all the fuss dies down and we see what sort of people are going in there and I'll let you come in and sit in your office for an hour.  Also, I'm afraid you'll have to move from that hotel by the weekend, it's proving too expensive, Ms Fisher called this morning, the reporters have all but left so she's had to put the rate up."

Alec couldn't help but think it was a pity she'd not taken him up on his offer, she might have let him stay for free.

"I'd best find a rental agency then, see if I can get something sorted out.  I was considering something anyway, that hotel is a pain to get back to without transport."

"For you maybe.  How did you think you'd get away with it?"

"I did, no-one was taking that much notice, were they?"

"Well since your illness came to light, the chief constable will bring in new rules that all officers will undergo a medical before any transfers are completed.  It seems since you slipped under the CMO's radar, he's not too happy about it.  I'll let you get something sorted then, we'll still make a contribution to your housing costs since you're only on sick pay and if you decide to come back full time, we'll have to put you on permanent staff."

"Right, I will see what they have then, after I pay a visit to the coffee shop, I would not like you to think I was not going to keep my end of the bargain."

Elaine laughed.  "Good luck with that then, there's always the caravan park for the time being."

He left the chief's office and made his way around the harbour, passing over the river and noting again a blue chalet that was just on the water's edge.  It looked empty so he thought while he was sampling the tea and the new coffee shop, he'd look it up, it shouldn't be that difficult to find if he put in 'blue chalet in Broadchurch' into a search, should it?

Rose had been kept busy, Maggie had just left, saying she would now be a regular as they were considering moving down to the harbour area in the next few months anyway and was pleased Rose said she'd be calling about an ad.  Rose had taken delivery of some takeaway cartons she had ordered specially and had finally got around to unpacking the board that had arrived on Saturday.

There were a few people sat at the table attached to the wall, playing with their phones and tablets so she took the board and was considering where to place it.  Since the shop front had been altered and what used to be the entrance was now glass fronted, she'd lost where the newsagent used to have newspapers and postcards and she was leaning the board just at the side of the entrance until she found a better place.

Having just picked it up to place it on the edge of what passed for a pavement, Alec was crossing the road.  Maybe he would have to tell her about the sign after all as she put it down just as people were crossing the spare ground from the harbour car park.

"Excuse me Miss, do you have permission to put that board there?" he asked as she stepped away.

"Sorry?  Oh, it's you," Rose told him, the Scottish accent giving him away, not that the grey coat shouldn't have done.

"You know who I am then?"

Rose grinned at him.  "Who doesn't?  The title of the worst cop in Britain doesn't go away that easily."

"You agree with the statement then?" he asked, thinking now he would tell Elaine to stuff the job if the new shop owner was going to insult him, despite being young, blonde and very attractive.

"I was hoping no-one would recognise me.  Well, have you got permission from the council, since you know who I am and I will have to enforce the law."

He thought he'd give it a try, no-one yet knew he was on medical leave and as tomorrow, he was on restricted duties anyway, he could always come back then and debate the finer points of obstruction with her.  It would be a novel way of getting to know her if nothing else.

"Seriously?  You'd book me over a sign?" Rose laughed, picking it up and putting it where she had first placed it.

"Is that going to be safe there?" Alec asked as she propped it up.

"What da ya expect me to do, chain it up?"

Alec just gave a 'hmm' and shook his head.  "I suggest you call the planning department and see if they allow it."

Rose thought she'd had quite enough of the planning department and had been surprised no uniformed officers had yet paid her a visit.  Then it dawned on her, Alec Hardy had made it is personal mission to do the job himself – just her luck.

"So, they sent you did they?"

"Excuse me?"

"To check my coffee shop wasn't attracting teens emailing their friends?"

He knew he'd been caught out but wasn't going to admit it.  "What makes you think that?"

"Just I was told that was one of the conditions they let me open but that was before you caught the killer of that boy.  I expect it doesn't apply now?"

Alec thought if it didn't, no-one had told Elaine Jenkinson and he was not going to be the one, it had got him a foot back in the door and would stop him going crazy having nothing to do, despite already getting off to a rocky start with the shop owner.

"So are ya gonna buy anything or stand here debating where I can put my sign?" Rose asked, opening the door and seeing someone get up to ask her where the restroom was.

She had made it a rule no-one was going to use it unless they bought something, having already seen three public ones around the harbour and just behind, in the car park and it was locked anyway, she was taking no chances.  She went to get the key, it being on a large keyring that no-one could 'accidentally' put in their pocket and walk off with.  Jake had laughed and suggested she put a code on the door but Rose liked the challenge if she saw it dangling out of someone's pocket.

She turned back, Alec having followed her in and was now standing at the counter that had two enclosed glass shelves, one at each side, filled with 'goodies' such as muffins, shortbread and wrapped flapjacks in various varieties.

"Can I get you something?" she asked him, pleased he wasn't just trying to trip her up over local regulations.  Had he nothing better to do?  Obviously not.

He squinted at the menu on the wall next to the counter, Rose turning to take the key from the lady and put it back where she'd taken it from.  She wondered if he was going to take all day about it, since all the drinks she had to offer were quite extensive, well the tea was, the coffee machine was somewhat limited but she wasn't running a branch of a more famous coffee house.

"I'll have a pot of the local tea, whatever that is."

She was dying to turn him down if he dared ask for a discount.  He didn't as she took his money and told him she'd bring it across to him, Alec indicating he was going to sit by the window since someone had just vacated the table and Rose rushed over to clear it.

"Seems you need some help?" Alec remarked as she put things on the empty tray.

Rose looked around.  "Nah, I'll manage.  I'll be back in a tick."

Alec got his phone out while he was waiting and picking up 'rosecoffee' on the selection of networks, waited for it to connect, noting a sign on the wall said connections were not secure and the owner accepted no responsibility.  He thought at least the woman was sensible in that respect, he wouldn't be investigating any complaints people had their bank accounts hacked whilst drinking her over-priced coffee.
Chapter 3
Rose put the teapot, cup and saucer, a small jug of milk and two packets of sugar then a small wrapped biscuit she'd got a large box of and put it on the saucer then carried the tray across, picking up a spoon.

"Here you go then," she said cheerfully as she had to smile at him squinting at his phone.  She wondered if he had the same design of specs as the Doctor used to have.

She placed the tray on the table, making him look up.

"What's this?" he asked, indicating to the biscuit.

"With compliments, every customer who just orders a drink gets one."

"Trying to impress?"

He was going to say 'bribe' but two people still had their heads buried in their phones and he wondered if she put a time limit on their usage or if it cut off after a certain time.  He wasn't intending being there long enough to find out but if it was going to take her five minutes or so to bring his tray every time, he just might.

Rose kept the smile on her face, blimey, he was nothing like the Doctor, she would have no trouble distinguishing the two of them, that was certain.

"I'm just trying to get people to come back, I'm not the only place around here.  Having fun on your phone?"

"Looking for a place to rent."

"Oh, I can give you the name of the rental agency I'm with, if that helps?"

"It would but I wanted to find out about the chalet by the river, the blue one."

"Yeah, it looks nice but it was occupied when I asked, I've got a cottage nearby."

He thought of asking if it was one over the other side of the car park but he didn't want her to think he'd been watching her.  She told him the name of the agency then went to clear up after a young woman and a man left, Rose hoping they had disconnected from the internet but Jake had insisted she set the range to a minimum, after telling her how to do it over the phone.

Alec found the chalet, seeing it was already vacant and that there was a nightly and weekly rate, did anyone actually stay for just one night?  Plus it was per person but there was only him and who would actually check?  He decided to finish his tea, which was better than what passed for it in the station and thought it would be worthwhile riling the blonde by coming in every day.

If she thought he was there to keep everyone in line, she'd be less likely to flirt with him, well that was his theory anyway, which was about to be disproved as she came back and sat opposite him.

"Found it?" she asked, wondering why he hadn't touched the biscuit.

"Yes, I will go and ask about it, I need to be on my own for a while, I'm in one of the hotels.  The tea was quite good, to say it was local."

"Yeah, I'm trying to use local supplies, well except for the coffee.  Not a biscuit lover?"

"No, thanks anyway.  You may not want to bother next time."

"So, I passed your test then?"

"Which one?  That you make a decent pot of tea or there seem to be no troublemakers around?"

"Both?" she smiled as he put the cup back and she wondered if he was going to leave her to clear up but he didn't.  Rose knew he'd been married, Pete had done a quick check on him but she'd not taken much notice, well not when she'd had the project closed down to find the Doctor.

He put his phone away and Rose saw he had a pair of rimless specs in his jacket pocket, wondering why he'd not bothered to use them.

"So, I'll maybe see you tomorrow then?"

"Aye, maybe and take my advice about the sign eh?"

"Yeah, I'll check up, my stepfather sorted everything out, he didn't say anything about signs."

"Did he know you were ordering one?" Alec mused as he got up and retrieved his coat from the back of the chair.

"Ah, good point, I'll have to ask him that too.  Do I have to call you inspector?"

"Not if you don't want to, you don't have to call me anything."

He then remembered the conversation about names he'd had at the Miller house, before he'd suspected who the killer was.

"So, you're Rose I take it?"

"Yeah, that's me.  See ya then?"

He nodded and went to the door, recalling the last time he'd been in the now totally different shop to when it was the newsagents and him telling Jack Marshall to lock his doors and go home.  He called a cab to take him back up to the High Street, he knew he shouldn't try and walk all that way, uphill and got out outside the hotel.  Just his luck Becca Fisher was writing on the board outside, he hoped she had permission as well.

"Hi, you're off work early."

"Not working, not until tomorrow.  I may as well tell you now, I'm looking to move out by the weekend, costs."

"Yeah, sorry but the press have left, it was just a peace offering but bookings are taking off again.  Oh, a letter came for you after you left, I'll just get it for you."

He knew what it was, the dreaded 'urgent action required' for him to phone the hospital and make an appointment.  Well he wasn't in that much of a hurry, not now but since the case was over, what did he have to lose?  His daughter had been upset when she'd listened with Tess, who was more annoyed than anything else he'd never told her.  He had argued it would have made no difference if he had, she would have still left him.

He got his letter and put it in his pocket then walked back out to the rental agency a few doors down, just past the opticians, which reminded him he must stop being so vain and wear his own instead of screwing his face up to read his phone screen.  Just an hour later, having rung the personnel department at the station, he was arranging to pick up the keys for the chalet on Thursday afternoon, pleased he wouldn't be required to contribute towards the costs.

Rose had a steady day and Chloe arrived just before four to help clean up.

"So, how did things go at home?  Have you decided on a funeral date yet?" Rose asked her.

"Yeah, Friday at eleven, up at the church.  You're welcome to come, if you want?"

"Yeah, I'd like to pay my respects, I'd probably close anyway, I was going to on Wednesday but I can wait."

"Thanks, I'll tell mum.  I was glad to get out, she and gran were going on about what flowers to order.  They settled on blue and white in the shape of his name, with a football."

"Aw, that's nice.  What were his favourite?"

"Sunflowers."

Rose made a note to go get some on her way there, if she could locate the church.

The next morning, Alec decided to get to the coffee shop around eleven, then go claim his desk back for an hour.  Rose was serving someone when he walked in so he waited his turn.  She had called Pete last night and asked about the sign, him telling her he would sort it out and to leave it where it was for now.

"I can't believe he told me off about the sign Dad," Rose laughed after she told him of her first meeting with Alec.

"He was just doing his job but I heard he may be out of the police."

"Really?  Why, what's he done?"

"I can't say, it's only a rumour, you should get him to tell you."

"Yeah, like he's gonna admit anything to me.  He doesn't even seem to know who I am."

"You are joking," Pete laughed, thinking Alec Hardy must be the only man in the country who didn't know who Rose was.  "Are you going to tell him then?"

"Nope, he's a detective, let him work it out."

Rose greeted Alec as she turned to him.  "Good morning to you then, do you want the same as yesterday, minus the biscuit?  You could have just sat down you know, I'd have brought it over to you."

"That will do fine, I don't expect any special treatment.  Been busy?"

"Steady.  Why don't you go sit down then and I'll bring it over to you?  Anything instead of the biscuit?"

He shook his head and took a two pound coin out of his pocket and placed it in her hand.  She had a charity box for spare change chained to the counter that someone on Saturday had asked if they could leave so giving him his five pence change, he put it in the box.  He went to find a table, leaving Rose wondering if she should act like Pete had not told her anything about him, maybe he was just going to move on and not decided yet, what else could it be?

As she gathered everything onto the tray, she picked up a packet of shortbread and put it next to the milk then walked to his table.

"There you go.  I thought you may like to try the shortbread, no-one's said if it's any good yet."

"So you thought you would get me to try it?"

"You'd give me your honest opinion.  My stepfather's asking about the sign."

"Good, then I'll be interested to see where you finally place it."

Rose smiled and went to clear the next table then after she'd put everything in the dishwasher, she saw him on his phone again and went to join him.  Alec was trying to figure out how to make the video call.  He gave in and fished his specs out of his pocket and put them on, Rose smiling at him and thinking he looked cute.

She noticed he'd opened the shortbread and one piece was missing.  "So is it any good then?" she indicated to the rest of it.

"So-so I suppose.  Did you want something?"

Rose looked around.  There were only three other people in besides him who didn't seen to want any attention.

"Did you ask about the chalet?"

"Yes, I get the keys in a few days."  He decided he was being rude and put his phone down.  "I was trying to see how to make a video call."

"Oh, it's easy, even my mum can do it and that's saying something.  You should have seen her when we had a video recorder."

Alec could just imagine it.  "Well I am not amused with it, the person I tried calling last night said I was not technically minded and gave up."

Rose smiled.  "You have to have your camera on."

"Really?  I never thought of that," he replied dryly.  "I suppose it makes a difference then?"

Rose let out a laugh, getting a look from a couple a few tables away. 

"Well yeah, you have to start the program then select who you're calling from your call list."

"I have not got a call list."

"There you go then, add the person from your phonebook to your call list.  It's easier if they call you, you just have to accept it."

Alec thought that with Daisy's call allowance, Tess probably didn't allow her to make video calls.

"Do ya want me to show you?"

"No thanks, the person won't be around at this time."

Rose thought it was probably his girlfriend or a work colleague then and if it was his girlfriend, she should stop flirting with him but he was encouraging her.

"Well just remember what I told you then.  Are you going to the boy's funeral?"

"Yes, it will be expected of me since I was the one to arrest the killer."

"Chloe asked if I wanted to go and being new in town and a shop owner, I thought I'd pay my respects to her family.  I don't know where the church is though, is it easy to find?"

"The one on the hill across the bay, you can't miss it, St Bede's."

Rose thought it would be just like her to be the only one not to find it and turn up late.  Then she had an idea.

"Maybe I could give you a ride and you can show me where it is then?"

It was a good way to find out if he was going with anyone but maybe if he had a girlfriend, she didn't live in the town, which would explain why he as trying to video call.

"When is it anyway?" he asked, taking off his specs and putting them away.

"Friday at eleven.  If you're moving just nearby, I could call for you at half past ten?"

"Maybe, I would not want to put you to any trouble though."

"It's no trouble, it will save me getting lost.  You finished with your tray?"

Alec nodded and sat back to allow her to move the tray.

"This places seems a lot for one person to take on," he remarked, getting up to put his coat on.

"It's not that bad, everything's locked up when I'm busy."

"Good, I would hate to have to warn you of the dangers of working alone."

"Got that from my stepfather already, thanks.  See you tomorrow then and let me know if you manage to make that call."

Alec nodded and walked to the door, turning back to see Rose carry the tray towards the counter.  Did she think he was trying to video call a girlfriend?  That thought amused him as he wondered how long he should let her keep on thinking that.  That morning though as he'd made his way there, he had actually been looking forward to it and as he left, he debated taking her up on the offer of a ride up to the church but why had she suggested it if she had got the impression he had a girlfriend?

Maybe she was just trying to find out, should he just string her along?  No, he'd been on his own far too long and a young blonde was actually showing an interest in him, she wouldn't wait that long, not someone like her.  Maybe he would just wind her up the next day and see how far she was willing to take the flirting she'd been doing with him.

When Alec had left, Rose was wondering if he would take her up on the offer of a ride to the church or would he think she was chatting him up?  She had found it easy to flirt with him at first, despite being a little annoyed he had been the one sent to spy on her.  He was cute wearing his specs, just like the Doctor had been but there the resemblance ended.

Alec Hardy was nothing like the Doctor, apart from the looks and there did seem something about him, maybe Pete knew and didn't want to tell her to save her blurting it out in front of him, which would put him off for good.  Now though, there was a distinct possibility he already had a girlfriend and if he refused the ride on Friday, then she'd know and back off.

Alec went into the station, getting a funny look from the officer on duty and a frosty reception from those in the squad room, who thought they'd got rid of him.  He looked at Ellie Miller's empty desk, her name still on it and various personal belongings now in a small cardboard box, for her to collect, if she ever bothered.  He noticed a family photo and could understand how quickly families could be broken up through no fault of their own but Joe Miller had broken this one up, to start a 'relationship' with an eleven year old boy, how sick was that?

Alec went into his office, closing the door and was just going through the pile of folders on his desk relating to the Latimer case that the chief had told someone to place there when his phone rang.  It was Ellie.

"Miller?  Are you coming back then?"

"No, I just wanted you to know I'm sorry for my behaviour the other night."

"You were upset, it's understandable, no need to apologise."

"I think I may have been caught on the CCTV on my way out, despite you steering me down the stairs to the side door, sorry."

"Forget it, after what happened, who is going to bother checking tapes?"

"They don't use tapes these days Hardy," she laughed.

"Stop it Miller.  I'm having enough trouble trying to video call my daughter."

"I'd like to see that, maybe you should take lessons?"

Alec thought he would take the bait.  "I've already had an offer I will have you know," he scoffed, sitting back in his chair.

"Where are you?  Did you get put on medical?"

"I did but the chief let me back for an hour or so a day but she made me do something in return."

"Oh, that sounds interesting, do tell," Ellie laughed.

"A new coffee shop opened where the newsagents used to be and the council thinks it will bring trouble, since it offers free internet access."

"Oh, do you mean that red shutter was put there for a reason?"

"Well they would hardly put one up on an empty shop, would they?  Someone from out of town opened it and the chief sent me down to make sure no kids were hanging around."

"Ha, you got a babysitting job?"

"Not exactly, the tea is quite good but a bit over-priced though at least it's served in a white ceramic teapot and you get a free biscuit."

Ellie laughed again, she needed cheering up after what she had been through and Tom had gone off with Olly and not come back.

"Maybe the new owners were trying to impress you, if they knew who you are."

"She knows who I am, there's just a young blonde running the place but I saw Chloe Latimer working there last Saturday."

"Oh, well she needs to get out but I'd best stay away, under the circumstances."

"Aye, I'll be going to the funeral, it's on Friday morning."

"I know, Olly told me, he's taking Tom.  I can get him to pick you up if you want?"

"No, I've already been offered a ride."

"Really?  Don't tell me Jenkinson is going?"

"No, the new owner of the coffee shop, her name is Rose, apparently and she's taken a liking to me, even gave me a packet of shortbread to try when I was in earlier."

"She was trying to impress you!  Is there something wrong with her?"

"Thanks for that.  No, she thinks I have a girlfriend."

"What gave her that impression?"

"When she offered to help me make a video call – I never told her it was to my daughter."

"You let her think that, then there's something wrong with you."

"Quite probably but the thing is, she knew who I was and still wants to flirt with me."

That was the funniest thing Ellie Miller had heard since he'd arrived in the town and stolen her job.  Good luck to her – whoever she was, she was going to need it but did she know he was seriously ill?  Ellie doubted it somehow.
Chapter 4
After his phone call, Alec got the letter from the hospital out of his pocket and stared at it.  Should he open it or not?  What difference would it make anyway, if he kept putting it off, fate would catch up with him eventually and if he rang and got scheduled for surgery, he probably wouldn't even survive but maybe the odds had turned in his favour, now a young blonde had her eye on him.

What would she be wasting her time with him for?  He had a strange feeling he was meant to know who she was, well apart from watching her across the road and then walking to her cottage then when he'd seen her outside the coffee shop.  Getting the job of checking it out didn't seem half as bad as he'd thought, he'd only seen her from a distance before and she looked better close up.

He put the letter away, then changed his mind and opened it and put his specs on.  He was a little surprised to be told that pending a consultation with the surgeon, he would be fitted in almost immediately and now, there was no case to stop him, no excuses.  Maybe, just maybe, he might have a reason to beat this thing, if he didn't screw things up and make an idiot of himself in front of the coffee shop owner every time he went in and she survived the funeral with him but would she want to be seen, in front of the whole town sitting in the church with him?

Hardly anyone would know who she was anyway, she probably wouldn't be that bothered about it and what the town had thought about his delay in bringing the killer to justice.  He dialled the number and got the hospital appointments department, being asked for his patient number.  After being told he'd been marked as an urgent case, he was given an appointment for the following Monday morning and told if he couldn't attend, to call them back.

Well that gave him a few days to actually think about it without charging in, so to speak.  It also gave him two days to decide if he was going to string the coffee shop owner, Rose along or not and tell her who he was trying to video call.  Maybe tomorrow, he might admit it and see if she was only flirting with him and not intending to do anything about it.

After Alec had left, Rose wondered why he'd seemed in a hurry today to get out.  Why was he coming in at that time anyway?  Was he just taking his morning break there then going back to work but what had Pete actually meant?  She wished now she'd paid closer attention to the news and thought she might walk up to the mini market and get a copy of 'The Echo' and see what they had printed about it.

After Chloe left, she walked up the road and decided to get a few things while she was getting the paper.  She'd wanted to call at the Chinese but trust them to be closed on a Tuesday, was it national they all picked the same day?  Instead she called at one of the stalls and then walked back home, to read the paper.

She was in luck, there was an article about the conclusion of the case and a piece about Alec but all it said was there had been an incident and he was slightly injured but it mentioned another case he'd been involved in, stating he had finally told his side of the story and that he'd covered for another member of his team when vital evidence had gone missing.

Rose wondered if it was his wife and that's why he was trying to make a video call, to get her to admit it or maybe get back with her.  If he was trying to get her back, she knew she should just let him get on with it, she really fancied him and not because of who he reminded her of and she was never going to tell him that.

The next morning, Rose had got to the shop early again, getting her milk and a sandwich for later from the shop next door.  She'd just put the water boiler on and the coffee machine when Pete rang.

"Good news about the sign.  You can put it up as long as it doesn't obstruct the pavement."

"Great, there's nowhere where it won't, except right outside the window, I don't want Alec Hardy questioning me about it again."

"Sorry love, I tried.  How's it going anyway?"

"Fine, he's taken to coming in every morning, he's been told by his boss to keep an eye on me and he's taking it seriously."

Pete laughed.  "Are you sure you're not encouraging him?"

Rose didn't want to admit it but she rather was.  "Mmm, I'll get back to you on that point but don't tell my mum, you know what she was like when she first saw him on TV."

Jackie Tyler's reaction had been bad enough when she'd heard an eleven year old boy had been murdered but when she'd seen Alec Hardy, she'd asked what was 'He' doing back and why hadn't he contacted them?

"You don't have to remind me Rose, I thought you'd have been the one to crack, since we were on the verge of closing your project down.  By the way, are you talking to Mickey yet?  You forgave me."

"I don't know yet but you sort of made it up to me by getting this shop for me.  Well I'd better go figure where I'm putting that sign, where Alec Hardy won't trip over it or someone will pinch it.  I got a copy of the local paper last night, he's in it."

"Told you."

"Yeah.  All it says was he was involved in an 'incident' but there were no details.  He has to be hiding something and I'm gonna find out what it is, before I do something really stupid like carry on flirting with him when he might already have a girlfriend."

"He's not been in the town that long."

"Yeah but he's trying to video call someone, I offered to teach him."

Pete laughed.  "Well if you can teach your mother, you have the patience of a saint.  I remember the tales of my other self teaching her how to program the video recorder.  Good luck with that and just be sure you're not doing it for the wrong reasons eh?"

Rose wasn't sure why she was doing it, if he had a girlfriend.  She could check and look him up, she still had basic Torchwood access if she wanted but it wouldn't be fair, would it?  He could look her up if he wanted to but had he already done so? 
Alec had got up, another rough night despite him now taking his medication since he no longer had to hide it but the recurring nightmares of the water kept waking him in a cold sweat.  He was relieved he only had one more night in the hotel and decided to start packing away what he didn't need.

Maybe all he needed was someone to watch over him, he should tell Rose today who he was trying to call but she was smart, she wouldn't give up subtly trying to find out, would she?  It was now too late to call Daisy anyway so it would have to be after she got home from school, maybe he could drop a few hints as to who he was calling?

He made his way steadily down to the coffee shop, it was strange the newsagents being taken over and wondered why she had chosen the place but there wasn't much in the way of shops down by the harbour but already more than enough cafés and catering stalls, who were now beginning to reopen gradually.  Another day and he'd be staring at them from his rented chalet and would probably get sick of seeing them.

He reached the coffee shop, noting she had opened up the sign and placed it in front of the window, there wasn't that much of a choice where she could leave it anyway, he expected she didn't want any more complaints from him or she didn't want any trouble with false claims.  Before he'd set off, he'd debated if he should look her up, wondering if she'd done the same to him.

He'd decided against it though, he might be disappointed if she had a boyfriend and he'd had enough let-downs recently anyway.  Rose had just served someone and she looked up when the doorbell rang.  Alec nodded and went to sit by the window, she'd told him the day before not to bother going to the counter so he was going to take advantage of it and didn't really care if anyone said anything to him or not.

Rose gathered the things on the tray and picked up an orange and chocolate flapjack and a small plate then walked across to his table.

"Good morning Detective Inspector."

"Morning, I hope you don't think I'm taking liberties by sitting down and waiting for you?"

Rose smiled, he was but since he was cute, she'd let him off.

"No, I'd tell you if you were and plus I did mention it yesterday.  Here, try the flapjacks today."

"If I wanted a job as a food tester, I would say so but if you insist.  No-one else tried them yet?"

"Yeah, I've sold quite a lot, had to re-order this morning.  So, how's the video calling coming along then?"

He recalled the second failed call last night when Daisy had pulled a face at him and gone off.

"Not so successful, I think the other person has given up.  Any more suggestions?"

"Well without seeing what you're doing wrong, I can't say.  Tell you what, come and meet me at five and we'll go sit across on the wall and see if I can figure it out?  If the person you're trying to call is around?"

"She may be."

He was trying to recall what days his daughter went to her grandmother's house, her being totally against Daisy using her phone to chat to her friends whilst there.

Rose was thinking of backing off but he could be trying to call anyone, couldn't he?  It didn't necessarily mean it was his girlfriend or ex-wife, did it?

"Did you turn your camera on?"

"Yes, I did, I don't know if she could see me or not.  I could hear her calling me and to stop messing around," he grinned, pouring milk into his cup.

"Well you're halfway there then, maybe it's the sound?  So, are we gonna meet at five?" she asked, seeing him pick up the flapjack and wondering if he was going to hand it back to her.

Instead, he opened it and breaking it in half, put it on the plate, then he remembered he'd not paid for his tea and wondered if she was going to charge him for the flapjack.  He fished in his pocket and got two one pound coins out and put them on the red and white chequered tablecloth.

"Put the change in the charity box."

"Sure, I think you're the only one that's done so.  No charge for the flapjack by the way.  You've not answered my question."

"Oh.  Right, yes, five across the way then."

Smiling, Rose went off as two more people came in and ordered coffee and sat at the bar.  While Alec was sampling the confectionery and drinking his tea, he got his phone out and sent Daisy a message to say he was going to attempt another video call.  No doubt later he would get a smart reply telling him he was a technophobe or whatever teenagers called those who couldn't grasp modern communication methods.  He added in his message he had someone who was going to show him and waited to see what she had to say about it.

Before he finished his tea, Rose had gone back to sit with him.

"So, are you moving tomorrow then?"

"Yes, thankfully though I don't know how long for."

That was true, once he got a date for his pacemaker, he'd have to put his affairs in order.  It was something he'd not really thought about and once he got to the station, he'd have to look up solicitors.  Rose was looking at him again.

"I see you solved your signage problem then?" he asked, pouring the last of his tea.

"Yeah, it's the best I can do.  Where did the newsagent leave his?"

"In the middle of the path to trip people up."

"I hope you told him off?" Rose grinned, pleased she wasn't the only one with the same problem.

"We were in the middle of a murder investigation, I was not here to lay down the local by-laws.  The flapjack was ok by the way."

"It passed your test?"

"You could say that, I'm not one for cakes and pastries so I hope you are not going to offer me a muffin tomorrow?"

"No, I was going to order some fruit cake and some packets of biscuits, maybe scones, if I can get them wrapped, I can't serve actual meals though, part of the conditions."

"How do you manage for your own lunch?"

"I get a sandwich from next door, when I collect my milk and when I finish work, I usually just go home and make something or call at one of the stalls.  I wanted Chinese last night but it was closed."

Alec decided to make a note of that, just in case, he could still eat some food without having to be careful.  He put his things on the tray and sat back, putting his phone away.

"I must get to work now."

"You start late or do you sneak out for a break?" Rose asked, getting up.

"That would be telling," he half smiled, reaching for his coat on the back of the other chair.

"See ya later then?"

"I already said so, did I not?"

"Yeah, you did, just making sure.  Bye for now.  Can I call you Alec?"

"If you must I suppose.  I don't really like my name."

"What do your friends call you?" she asked, hoping he might drop the hint if he was spoken for.

"My daughter calls me 'Dad' and my ex wife has several impolite names she calls me."

He figured if she'd already looked him up or read last night's paper, she'd know he was divorced with a teenage daughter and if not, it might stop her flirting with him but did he want her to?  He was going to tell her who he was trying to call but maybe he'd just tell her later?

Rose now couldn't wait for five to come around, why was she getting giddy about it though?  It wasn't an actual date as such, he might still be calling his girlfriend but he'd come in, three mornings in a row and not mentioned for her to back off yet and he was agreeing to meet her.  Maybe she would get him to agree to get something to eat, it would be a start.

When Alec got back to the station, he was regretting not telling Rose the reason he was going in late but if she'd read the paper, saying he'd had an 'incident' she would be asking those sort of questions and avoiding asking him outright what it had been.  He should come clean with her, that he had only a very slim chance of getting through his surgery.  It wouldn't be fair to just lead her on when he couldn't make anything of it.

She seemed really nice but he still had the feeling he should know who she was.  It would be so easy to look on the council website and see who had applied for permission to change the usage of a shop but she had mentioned her stepfather had arranged it all.  Still, her name would have to be on the lease.  He changed his mind and instead, looked up a law firm to go get his will in order, he'd made a start back before he arrived in the town but had taken it no further and he didn't want to burden Tess with any undue costs, he'd at least take out a funeral plan if nothing else.

He looked online and found two solicitors in the town and called one to make an appointment for Tuesday morning, hoping when he went to the hospital he would get a date but would he actually turn up?  He wasn't ready to give up yet, life had treated him unfairly but what was the alternative?

Another few years of having dizzy spells and blackouts and collapsing in his bathroom?  When he got moved, there would be no-one to find him if he did and now, only Rose knew he was moving there apart from the personnel department.  If he made friends with the coffee shop owner, at least she might bother if he didn't turn up one morning and she'd get concerned and ring the station.

Maybe it would be best if he at least warned her something could and probably would happen to him, so she could decide if she was going to continue chatting him up.  He didn't want her to be wasting her time when it could be all over for him in a few days time but how would she handle it?  She hardly knew him though and already he'd agreed to meet her later and go to Danny's funeral with her, he was placing a lot of trust in her.

She had been the one to volunteer to take him on Friday morning, albeit to save her from getting lost but she was going to help him overcome his problem with the video calls.  Maybe he should just stick to voice calls but Rose seemed to like the idea of teaching him.  She can't have made that many friends in the town as yet, maybe he was the only one and that may be short-lived.  No, he should do the decent thing and tell her, let her make her own mind up if she wanted to be friends or not.
Chapter 5
Rose was already clearing up when Chloe came in, the last customer was just ready to leave, Rose had already locked the door, since she had sort of a 'date' at five, something she was looking forward to and was sure it was showing on her face.  Chloe noticed but didn't say anything as she looked around and saw Rose had made a start but her curiosity got the better of her half an hour later.

"You look happy about something," she remarked as Rose came out of the storeroom.

"Oh, it shows?"

"Well yeah.  I don't mean to be nosy but have you got a date or something?  It must be a date or you wouldn't be grinning like that."

"It's not an actual date, I'm meeting someone.  Whether it turns out to be a date remains to be seen, I doubt the person I'm meeting will see it as that."

Chloe had to smile, her boss was being all coy and wasn't letting on if she was meeting a man or a woman.  It could just be a friend and they were going out somewhere.

"I know who you are Rose, it can't be easy for you, hiding yourself away."

"You do?  There was I thinking I was lying low, the newspaper editor was in the other day and didn't say anything but she might think there's a story brewing and she's taking her time."

"There'll be loads of reporters at Danny's funeral, just a warning."

"I'll have to stay out of their way then, won't I?  Besides, I'm going with someone."

"I only invited you 'cos you’re my boss, you're not thinking of bringing a date are you?"

Chloe bit her tongue, hoping she wouldn't now get told to forget the job.

"No, I'm giving someone a lift so I don't get lost.  Don't worry, you'll know who it is when we arrive."

"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to be cheeky, it's just some people might think it's ok.  The last time I went to a funeral, I had to pretend I wasn't with my boyfriend, mum and dad didn't know about him."

"That must have been awkward then.  Do they know about him now?"

"Yeah, he's across the car park waiting for me, he's early."

Chloe crossed to the window, seeing Dean sat on his bike by the other café.

"Did I just see DI Hardy across the other side?" she asked.

"I don't know, where?" Rose asked, seeing him walk along and sit down on the low wall.

"He's not waiting for you is he?" Chloe laughed.

"What makes you think that?"

"Just a lucky guess, I've not seen him around before and you're meeting someone."

"Promise not to laugh?"

Chloe nodded as she put the sweeping brush away.

"I'm teaching how to make a video call, he keeps getting it wrong.  He doesn't seem to be able to grasp it, he hadn't turned the camera on when I asked him yesterday."

"Really?  Seems like you'll have your work cut out for you then?"

"Yeah, even my mum can make a call and trust me, she's not the easiest person to teach anything to, my little brother is more technically minded.  I hope you won't tell anyone who I am, especially Alec Hardy?"

"No, I won't tell anyone but Dean already recognised you, sorry.  Like I said though, you might get swamped by reporters on Friday."

"Aw, I'll be fine, I'll have the police with me but I'm a bit puzzled, about this incident he was involved in, do you know anything about it?"

"Oh, I think he fell during a chase that he had to go to hospital, so my gran heard.  She knows someone who volunteers at the hospital, he discharged himself the next morning."

"Was it serious?"

"I don't know, was it in the paper?"

"Not really, I don't like to ask him about it.  I mean he's been in here the last three mornings and doesn't talk much."

"He never did really, Ellie used to do all the talking but how she put up with him is beyond me."

"Who's Ellie?"

"She was his DS and my mum's best friend but not any more, something happened, I can't talk about it."

She had been told not to say who had killed her brother even though by now, probably half the town knew.

"You can get off if you've finished, I did some of it earlier.  Oh, do you know where's the best place to get flowers, for Friday?"

"The florists up in the town, I expect they'll be busy, you might have to order."

"I'll do that then I can just pick them up on my way and hope Alec doesn't get us lost."

Chloe laughed.  "He's not been in the town for long but he'll know where the church is, he's been twice for services and probably to see the vicar.  He hauled in most of the town's male population at some point and he held my dad for hours, I had to bail him out."

She almost said by getting Becca Fisher to admit he was with her the night Danny died but Rose didn't need to know about that.

"You know who killed your brother, don't you?" Rose asked as Chloe got her jacket.

"Yeah, it was someone we all knew.  Ask Alec Hardy, he might tell you."

"I don't need to know, as long as the person's been locked up.  My mum followed the case, with me having a younger brother.  See you tomorrow and I'll understand if you don't want to work on Saturday."

"It'll be all over then, we can get on with our lives.  I'll tell mum not to say anything if she recognises you."

"I'll try not to steer the attention of the press away, that's not why I came here."

"Then why did you come here?"

"I was running away, my stepfather helped me set up here.  It wasn't because of what happened, this place reminds me of somewhere.  I'd best go meet Alec or he'll turn around and disappear on me."

"You like him?" Chloe teased as Rose made sure everything was switched off and then pushed the button for the grill to let them out. 

Why she never used the back door she didn't know but she wasn't keen on going that way, it led to the back of the shops just around the corner and was a bit out of her way anyway.

Rose looked across, it was almost five and he was looking at his watch, not that he wouldn't be able to see her from where he was sitting, he couldn't really miss her.

"I've been flirting with him every morning and it was my idea I went to the funeral with him.  I would have found my way on my own but don't tell him that."

Chloe laughed as Rose locked the door then put the key in the shutter.

"Your secrets are safe with me.  See you tomorrow."

Rose waved across at Alec and made her way over the stony entrance to the car park.  She got up to him and he stood up, indicating they should walk around and sit on one of the nearby benches.

"I saw you arriving, you should have come over," she greeted him.

"You had company."

"Don't you want to be seen with me?"

"Nothing of the sort, I'm here am I not?  So, are you going to help me make that video call?"

He'd got a message back from Daisy saying if someone was going to teach him, she wanted to know who was daft enough to do so but he'd replied saying it was just someone who owned the local coffee shop and for her not to make a big deal out of it.  He got his phone out and activated the screen, Rose noting it had just a picture that came with it.  She expected it just rang instead of a fancy ringtone as well.

"Right, you did what I told you and added the person to your call list and activated the camera?" she asked him.

"Yes, I did all that.  Here but don't mess with my settings," he told her, handing Rose his phone.

"I'll just go in the camera settings, you may have something turned off.  Why don't I give you my number, then I'll go sit on the next bench and you can try and call me?" Rose suggested, going into the camera app and locating the settings.

"We'll do that then.  Put your number in when you've done that."

Rose soon realised where the problem was, his video recording settings and the volume was muted, probably factory settings or he'd thought he wouldn't need it.  She showed him, Alec squinting at the screen.

"You could put your specs on, I don't mind."

"I'll manage.  So is that it?" he asked as she came out of the settings, leaving it on the camera.

"Yeah, here, I'll put my number in shall I?"

It meant he had to close the camera for her to do so but that was the least of his problems because now, she would get his.  Still, he'd made his mind up he'd come clean with her and if she still wanted to be friends, then he wasn't entirely opposed to the idea.  It wouldn't do his tarnished reputation any harm, being seen out with her.

He remembered what he'd been told and put her number into his call list and Rose got up and went to the next bench.  He made the call and Rose answered him, saying she could see and hear him.  As soon as he'd done so, he hung up and Rose went back to him.

"See, it wasn't too bad, was it?  Now, trying calling whoever it was and see if you can be heard."

"I'll call later.  Don't let me keep you."

"Aw, you're not keeping me from much.  Are you hungry?  We could get something from one of the stalls and come back here to eat?"

As long as it wasn't fish and chips wrapped in paper, he wasn't bothered.  He got up and Rose walked beside him, Alec hoping she wouldn't do something really stupid like putting her arm in his.  They decided to stay by the catering stall, sitting at one of the tables around the corner, facing the river.  Alec could just see the chalet he would be moving into the next day and was already regretting she knew where it was.

"So are you all packed, for tomorrow?" Rose asked him.

"Yes, I will be moving after I finish work."

"You never told me why you're in the coffee shop at the same time."

"There is a reason, I'm now on reduced hours."

"Oh, something happened, didn't it?  I saw it in the paper and Chloe mentioned it.  Was it serious?"

He wasn't going to admit that technically, according to Miller, he had died on her. 

"Fairly, I don't want to bore you with the details.  I should let you get home."

"Yeah, I have things to do but if you want to talk, I can put them off."

"No, it's fine, I'm fine now.  I just agreed because my boss wanted me to check out your coffee shop."

"How much longer are ya gonna do that?" Rose smiled, throwing her rubbish in the bin.

"As long as I'm told."

"Hope your boss doesn't think it's a waste of time?"

"Probably but she wants to keep peace with the council.  I should get back to the hotel and make that call now, she might think I've forgotten."

Rose looked at him and he knew he shouldn't have said that.

"Don't let me keep you then, since I've gone to the trouble of showing you.  Will you be in tomorrow morning?"

"Yes but I can come to the counter."

She was going to tell him he should, why was she giving him special treatment, when all he wanted her for was to learn to video call his girlfriend?

Alec thought he'd put his big foot in it yet again.

"I'm not calling a girlfriend, in case you were wondering?"

"It's nothing to do with me who you call Alec, I'll let you get on with it."

Rose got up but he caught her arm.  "Rose, I wanted to learn so I could call my daughter, before she forgets what I look like."

Rose sat down on the wall next to the tables and he joined her.

"I did not mean to mislead you but I saw the look on your face just then.  You did think that I was calling a girlfriend or my ex wife?"

"The thought crossed my mind."

"Is that why you were still flirting with me?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Was I?"

"You know you were and I'm very flattered Rose, that despite me misleading you, it did not put you off.  I should have said something."

"What?  To tell me to stop wasting my time flirting with you?  What's wrong with you anyway?  What happened that night?"

He knew now was as good a time as any to tell her but she didn't look like she was in the mood to take pity on him.

"It was nothing, I told you, I fell."

"Then why don't I believe you?  Alec, you can trust me, I don't know anyone here apart from you and Chloe, who am I gonna tell?"

She managed to smile at him as a glimmer of recognition appeared on his face when she said he could trust her, it was her stepfather's company's motto.  She tried it again, nudging him and trying to get the thumb sign right, something Pete always laughed at.

"I've been an idiot," he declared as she laughed.  "Rose Tyler?  What are you doing in a place like this?"

"Flirting with the local DI?  Did it work?"

He wanted to say no, that he was impervious to her flirting but he would be lying to both himself and to her.  The first time since he'd arrived in the town, getting on for almost two months and she was already getting to him more than anyone else had.

"Maybe but I would not like to spoil your fun.  I should really go call her now."

"What's she called?"

"Daisy and before you say anything, I do not come in the coffee shop because you are named after a flower also."

"I never said anything did I?" Rose laughed.

She got up and they walked back towards the coffee shop, Alec wanting to call for a cab to take him back to the hotel and thinking from tomorrow, he wouldn't have that problem.  They crossed the road and Rose wondered if he intended walking her home to find out where she lived but he stopped outside the harbour stores.

"I have to get a few things, then I'll get a taxi to the hotel," he told her, thinking he could at least go in and get some bottled water, the hotel charged more than double.

"Right, so I'll see you tomorrow?  Please don't tell your daughter who taught you to make the call."

"She thought anyone who tried to teach me must need their head examining.  Until tomorrow then?"

He took her hand and kissed the back of it, almost a smile on his face.  Now, he would get back to the hotel and trim his beard and tidy himself up a bit, he'd been letting himself go the last few days and Rose might actually forgive him for misleading her, if he was very lucky. 

Rose got home and made herself a drink, relieved she'd not gone rusty with her flirting skills but it wasn't over just yet.  Now, she knew she was on the right track with him and it still needed a bit of work but why wouldn't he admit what was wrong with him?  Alec got back to the hotel, tidied himself up and called Daisy.

"Hey, I can't believe someone managed to teach you," she told him.

"Well yes, it was only something simple."

"So, where is she then?  It was a she?"

"She went home and she is just someone I know, as I already told you, she owns the coffee shop by the harbour."

"Do you fancy her then Dad?" she teased, seeing him blush.

"I don't know her very well but I may like to get to know her.  Why?  Would you object if I were to do so?"

"No, I accept you and mum can't stand each other and she's got that loser Dave instead.  Honestly, he's such a misery, he's no fun at all."

"Well, you can't choose for her, try and make the best of it eh?  I got an appointment on Monday, at the hospital."

"Do you want me to come down and go with you Dad?"

"No, it's just a consultation but I won't have long to wait for the actual surgery."

"Maybe your new friend can go with you?  What's her name?"

"She's called Rose."

"Seriously?  Well I hope it's not Rose Tyler but what would she be doing in Broadchurch?"

He decided to leave things as they were for now, he may have nothing to tell her anyway.  He remembered to take his pills, using the water he'd bought in the store and looked at his phone, thinking he should maybe put Rose's number in his phonebook.

Rose had already put Alec's in hers, she was watching TV when she got a message from him saying the call had gone well and he'd not told his daughter who exactly had shown him.

Rose sent him one back saying 'well done, see u tomorrow? x' and instantly regretted the 'x' at the end but she did it to everyone, even Mickey, well when she was actually talking to him, which she hadn't been for a few weeks.  She might forgive him sooner or later, it had brought her to Broadchurch and she had met Alec Hardy and the town wasn't going to be half as boring as she had originally thought after all, he would more than compensate for her being away from home.

Alec had to smile when he actually got a reply, wondering why she'd added the 'x' but Daisy did it all the time to him, he had no reason to think Rose wasn't the same with her messages, had he?  He'd been so close to telling her what was actually wrong with him and if he couldn't trust Rose Tyler, the Vitex heiress, who could he trust?  Maybe on Friday, after Danny's funeral, it would be a good time to make a fresh start with her, if she was still talking to him by then.
Chapter 6
Rose felt much better about things the next morning, now if she flirted with him, he might begin to flirt back but if he'd just told her in the first place who he was making the call to, it would have not made her so apprehensive.  He might also open up to her and tell her what was wrong with him, it had to have been something bad, for him to get taken to hospital, it was a pity this Ellie wasn't still around but since she didn't know her surname, she would be hard to locate.

When Alec got up, he didn't feel too bad, just as long as he remembered not to get out of bed too quickly but it was moving out day so along with going into the coffee shop, he had something else to look forward to but if he was to be honest with himself, he'd looked forward to it for the last two mornings and at least now she knew he didn't have a girlfriend, was that about to change?

He still had to find out why she had chosen to move to Broadchurch though, running a coffee shop of all things, she could do anything she wanted to.  As he got ready to go out, Rose had opened the shop and Maggie had gone back in, having realised who she'd been talking to on Monday morning.  Her star reporter was still taking some personal time though he hadn't said what for but she had her suspicions since she'd found out his aunt Ellie was on leave from the police and the killer had been caught.

"Morning, do you want an expresso again?" Rose asked Maggie.

"Thanks.  So are you settling down now?"

"Yeah, I like it here, I'm glad I came now."

Maggie looked around at two people with their noses buried in their phones.

"The free internet's taking off then?"

"Yeah but I still get checked up on, to make sure it's not causing any trouble."

Maggie passed the money over to Rose and took her cup of coffee.  She'd also heard Alec had been in hospital and had already confronted him about it, wondering if he'd managed to keep his job or not and if he was still in the town.  She'd find out if he was at Danny's funeral tomorrow and maybe Olly would be there, Tom Miller would want to go, since his mother seemed to have disappeared.

"You have the police round?" Maggie asked her.

"Oh you know, just the local DI who has nothing better to do but between you and me, I don't think he needed much persuasion.  It gets him out of the office for half an hour if nothing else."

"You get DI Hardy's personal attention?  Lucky you then.  I thought he'd left town?"

"Nope, he's still around, says he's staying for the funeral but who knows?"

"Indeed.  We did an article about him last week."

"Yeah, I read it but I can't find out what happened to him, he's not talking about it."

"Well he told us but we promised to let things die down before we printed anything.  Now though, I don't think it's that newsworthy, best just leave it and let the man pick up his life again."

Rose was pleased to hear that, having been subjected to all kinds of speculation about her personal love life, or lack of it.  She was counting the minutes until Alec would arrive and was going to ask if he wanted help in moving later.  Maybe he had it all arranged though?  At least now he wouldn't have far to get back to after he finished work.

Rose was just serving someone when she heard the bell and thinking it was Alec, her heart skipped a beat but when she looked up, Mickey was standing there.

"Hello Rose, how are you?" he asked, stepping up to the counter.

Just her luck Alec would be on his way in and Mickey would open his big mouth.  She went around the counter and pulled him towards the back area.

"Listen to me very carefully Mickey.  Someone is about to come in, his name is Alec Hardy, he just found that boy's killer and you may recognise him."

"Come off it Rose, your mother never stopped going on about him."

"Yeah, well just you remember that and not let on to him, I think he likes me and if you spoil it, I will never speak to you again, got it?"

"Loud and clear.  Now are you gonna let me go before he gets here?"

Rose let him pass and he was just deciding what to drink when Alec walked in, going to sit at his usual table.  Mickey pretended not to notice and picking a cappuccino, Rose put the mug under the coffee machine then went to prepare Alec's tea, deciding what to put on the tray and seeing Mickey looking at her.

"Can I get you anything else?" she asked Mickey, to make it look authentic.

Mickey just grumbled about paying for his drink, Rose wanted to point out he'd pay more than that elsewhere and was just daring him to go over to Alec and say anything.  She was not going to stop flirting just because her ex boyfriend had decided to pay her a visit.  Rose waved to Alec, who just got his phone out then his specs, remembering what she had said about him wearing them and thinking he should stop trying to be so vain, the woman was obviously interested in him or she wouldn't be going to all this trouble.

Mickey leaned over as he picked up his drink.

"If I make this look good, you owe me an explanation Rose."

He went over to the bar and pulled out a stool, just close enough to where Alec was sitting to eavesdrop on what was about to be said.  Rose picked up some chocolate coated shortbread and put it on Alec's tray then walked over to his table.

"Hi Alec, how are you today then?"

"Just fine thanks Rose.  I was wondering if we are still meeting at the arranged time tomorrow?"

"Yeah but I have to stop off on the High Street to collect some flowers I ordered first."

"Maybe I should meet you a little earlier then, say ten minutes before?"

"Yeah, I can come over for you, if you want?"

"No, I will meet you outside.  I am really glad we got that misunderstanding cleared up last night."

Rose looked around and since no-one seemed to want anything, she pulled out the chair next to him, moving his coat.  She wondered if he took it everywhere with him, he was as bad as the Doctor.  She could feel Mickey glaring at her, pretending to be messing with his phone but she just ignored him and turned her attention to Alec.

"Yeah, me too, it was my own fault, jumping to conclusions.  Do you need any help moving later?"

"I have it organised, I pick up the keys then I will get a taxi down."

"Right, anyway, I'll let you finish your tea and you still have to tell me why you're on reduced hours."

"I am on light duties, due to what happened that night, I will explain tomorrow maybe."

"Then I'll look forward to it, I hope it was nothing serious?"

How could he tell her he almost died?  It wasn't a topic of conversation to impress her when she was chatting him up.

"I am still here, thankfully."

He also didn't want to say he didn't know for how much longer.  Rose got up, putting her hand on his arm.

"Yeah, you are.  Drink your tea and enjoy the shortbread."

She went towards Mickey, pretending to see if he was on the internet or not.  She went to the counter and Mickey got up to order another drink, it seemed to Rose he intended waiting until Alec left.

"How long do we get on the internet?" he asked as Rose turned back to him.

"A reasonable time, just don't overstay your welcome.  Anything else?"

Mickey huffed as he paid up.  Rose was giving him a warning look.

"Aren't you gonna introduce us?" he asked in a low voice.

"Forget it Mickey, just take your drink."

Alec glanced over and saw Mickey leaning over the counter.  He put down his cup and got up, trying to remember not to go barging in.

"Everything ok Rose?" he asked, eyeing Mickey.

"Yeah, thanks Alec, he was just sitting down, weren't you?"

"What?  Oh, yeah.  Don't mind me."

"You know him Rose?" Alec asked, wondering if he'd been right all along and she did have a boyfriend, well maybe a jealous ex one.

Rose hated to admit it, that might be the last time Alec came in or even talked to her.

Mickey held his hand out.  "Mickey Smith, you must be Alec Hardy then?"

"Anyone knows that, I have been in the news recently.  An old friend of yours Rose?"

Rose had to think fast.  "Yeah, Mickey and I go way back but we fell out recently."

"Really?  You must tell me about it then?  If you are sure you are ok, I will get back to my tea."

"It's fine Alec, really, thanks for your concern.  Mickey came here to find out if I was talking to him again."

"Are you?" Alec smiled.

"I don't know yet, he never did have any patience.  Go sit down Mickey."

Mickey huffed again and went back to his seat but Alec remained.  At least the man didn't appear to be Rose's latest boyfriend and she hadn't seemed pleased he had paid her a visit.  He leaned over the counter, Rose looking a bit flustered.

"Sorry about that Alec, he just turned up before you arrived."

"No explanation is needed, really."

"I didn't want you to think he was my boyfriend, he's not been that since I was nineteen.  We stayed friends and up until recently, we worked together, with my stepfather."

"I see.  So you both worked for his company?"

She knew Alec was fishing for information.

"Not exactly, I'll tell you later, maybe we can get something to eat again?"

"Yes, that would be nice."

He went back to his table, watching Mickey.  He felt a little jealous himself and could see why the man had travelled all that way, if Rose had fallen out with him again but he couldn't imagine either Rose or Mickey working at Vitex.  Torchwood was known to the police but Pete didn't put himself over as the head of it, not any more anyway.  Yvonne Hartman was the public figure of the organisation but Pete was ultimately in charge, she was just better at public relations than he was.

Yvonne had kept out of the arguments for and against closing Rose's project down and it was doubted anyone would have taken any notice of her even if she had sided for it to be closed.

Alec finished his drink and put his cup on the tray, noting that Rose hadn't rushed over to see if he'd finished but maybe she was a little put off by her unexpected visitor.  Rose was just unloading the small under-counter dishwasher when Alec got up and brought his tray over.

"Oh, you should have left it Alec, thanks," she told him, touching his hand briefly as she took the tray from him.

"No problem, maybe I will see you later?"

"Yeah, I'll come and look for you when I get out.  Bye for now."

Alec said goodbye and glanced once more at Mickey, who was ignoring him.  The man wasn't really that much competition was he?  As Alec left, Rose went to sit near Mickey.

"Thanks a bunch Mickey."

"What was I supposed to have done?"

"Stayed away, that's what.  Why did you have to come down here?"

"You weren't talking to me, I said I was sorry."

"Well now, I have to explain that to Alec, thanks to you.  He needn't have known about it, I wasn't going to tell him anything about my past."

"Nothing at all?  That's a hell of a secret to keep, do you think you can do it, if he and your mother ever meet?"

"Unlike you, she won't come barging in, will she?"

Mickey wondered about that, Jackie wasn't known for being tactful sometimes, well most of the time.  He shrugged his shoulders and put his phone away.

"I hope you disconnected from the network Mickey," Rose reminded him.

"Of course I did, Jake told me about it.  What do you want to offer free access for anyway?"

"Because this is the only place around the harbour, apart from maybe the pubs and I want to have people coming back.  There are plenty of places if people don't like the idea but I've been open less than a week and things are going well."

"Including him looking at home?"

"Stop it Mickey, he's been told by his boss to keep an eye on the place, I don't object.  It could have been worse, a uniformed officer could come in instead, the locals know him, he's less conspicuous.  You've come a long way for nothing you know?"

"I just wanted to see if you'd forgiven me.  Have you?"

"I might have done if you'd not stuck your big feet in it again.  Go back Mickey, I'm not gonna let you spoil my chances with him."

"What if he finds out?"

"He won't, not from me anyway but he'll ask questions now and I have to give him some answers.  I'll just have to leave certain parts out but he's also hiding something, I know he is.  We'll just have to trust each other."

"Maybe he doesn't want you to know?  You're hiding something from him."

"I think that's a bit different, don't you?"

"Well I'll get going then, since you don't seem to want me to stay."

"I never asked you to come down.  You just timed it wrong."

"Don't I always?"

When Alec had left and got back to the station, he still wondered if he had anything to worry about but he had other things to worry about than someone from Rose's past, he hardly knew her and the way things were going, if he took any longer, it would be too late, he might only have a few days anyway.  He may as well make the most of them he supposed, he could do worse than spend his time with her but he'd have to tell her, it wouldn't be fair to lead her on then give up on her.

He never knew his luck though, she might decide he as worth hanging around with even if he did tell her and if not, at least he'd tried but she was going to a funeral with him tomorrow, he hoped she wouldn't be attending his in another week or so, not that Tess would bother to let anyone know where and when it was.  Daisy might though, she'd been intrigued at the possibility he may have got himself a girlfriend but that was teenagers for you.

Rose had watched Mickey leave then drive off, she knew he was disappointed and was surprised he'd not put up much of a fight.  It wouldn't have mattered if he had though, they were friends, nothing more, not for a long time.  The afternoon went quickly for her though every opportunity she got, she tried to glance through the window to see him getting out of a taxi in front of the boating hut.  She thought though there may be another way around to the chalet so she wouldn't see him anyway.

Chloe arrived and noticed how Rose was on edge.

"So, how did your meeting go?" she asked Rose.

"Can you believe the volume was turned off for recordings?"

"Yeah, men.  So that was it?"

"Well he called me then I got a message later to say he'd managed."

"I hope he thanked you?"

"Yeah, in his own way.  Ready for tomorrow?"

"As anyone can be, mum's a bit upset but she's pregnant, it doesn't take much to set her off then she was upset about losing her best friend."

Rose wondered about that, why would someone stop being friends unless they had a big fall-out?  If the woman had been Alec's DS, what had happened unless she'd had something to do with Danny's death?  She could find out if she really wanted to but it was best she got Alec to tell her.  When they had finished cleaning, Rose gave Chloe the extra money she owed her, Pete had said to put it down as petty cash since the teenager was still at school and the accountants would sort it out.  She knew she'd have to go up to the bank at some point but she was waiting for Pete to sort the account out but at least she had the safe.  Hopefully, the account details would arrive tomorrow then she would just have time on Saturday morning.

When she'd said goodbye to Chloe, there was no sign of Alec anywhere so she walked up towards the bridge, passing some of the stalls where they had been last night and stopped overlooking the river and the blue chalet.  The door was open and she waited to see if he noticed her.

The move had proved a bit much for Alec though, he'd laid on the sofa having taken some more pills and had fallen asleep.  He woke suddenly and looked at his watch – just after five and he'd more or less agreed to meet Rose to get something to eat, realising he was hungry.  He reached for his phone to see if she'd called and getting up slowly, he could see her peering across from the road bridge.

He went outside and waved, Rose waving back then he waved her over but Rose had no idea how to get to where he was so she sent him a message.  He sent one back saying to go around the corner, across the footbridge then around the wooden building that was a fish restaurant and through the gate.  She finally made it, opening the catch to find Alec sitting on the doorstep.

"Blimey, I can see why you picked this place, it's a bit of a pain to get to."

"Well it will discourage unwanted callers if nothing else.  Your friend still around?"

"Nope, he went back to London, I never told him to come down to start off with."

"You fell out over something?"

"Yeah, a project I had going that my stepfather insisted on closing down, Mickey took his side."

"Was it important, this project?"

"To me it was but the argument was it wasn't safe any more."

"At Vitex?" Alec smiled, going to fill the kettle and indicating if Rose wanted tea.  "I've no coffee, sorry."

"Don't worry.  No, not at Vitex.  You're in the police, you've been briefed about Torchwood?"

"Really?  You were working for them?  That woman in charge looks a bit grim, like she means business."

"She's not in charge, not really, she just does the public image bit.  My stepfather's really in charge, it's all about image, she's a people person, so she says.  He lost Vitex to Lumic and he didn't want to be associated once he got it back, after what happened."

"Yes, I remember that, a lot of companies were taken over by Cybus, it was rumoured Lumic ran the government though how true that was is anyone's guess.  So Pete Tyler was involved with Torchwood at the time?"

"They were fighting Lumic, trying to bring him down but you probably already know that?  Anyway, enough of that, my project got closed so Pete wanted to make it up to me, I wanted to come here and forget it.  There, that's my secret, now tell me yours, why you're on light duties only."

Alec considered he should be as honest as Rose had been.  "I was put on medical leave, pending me getting something done about my condition."

He made the tea and they went back to sit outside, Rose on the step below.

"So, what condition's that then?"

"A heart condition, that chase, I had another heart attack."

Rose just managed to put the mug of tea on the decking, taking his hand.

"You should have said something Alec, you let me flirt with you."

"Would you have stopped flirting, had you known?  Do you know something?  I actually enjoyed it, it's been a long time since a woman flirted with me and I was too afraid to even let any of them try."

"Sorry, I didn't mean it like that.  So, what happens?"

"I get a pacemaker or retire but I won't last that long, a few months maybe, if I am very careful."

"If you get a pacemaker, you'll be ok, won't you?"

"I've left it too long Rose, maybe at the beginning but my chances of survival are slim to none."
Chapter 7
Rose got up and made Alec move over, taking his hand.

"You have to fight it Alec, you can't just give in."

He squeezed her hand.  "I don't intend to, not any more.  I had given in to the inevitable Rose but not now.  If I choose not to have the surgery I may have a few months but I will get worse.  I have an appointment on Monday to see the consultant, he or she will probably have already scheduled me in so either way, I lose on the operating table or hang on for a few more months.  I have to see Danny's killer get justice."

"You will.  Can you tell me who it was?"

Alec nodded and started to get up, slowly.  He wasn't going to risk being outside and telling her.

"It was a man called Joe Miller, he was the husband of my DS."

"Chloe mentioned someone called Ellie, she was her mum's best friend."

"I know but she knew nothing about it, she worked hard on that case and she was devastated when she found out.  Her eldest son took it hard, he was Danny's best friend."

"I think Chloe mentioned it.  Alec, whatever you need, just say, I can help you."

"With what Rose?  You really want to help me?"

"Yes Alec, if you have to wait, I can help you get seen quicker, get you the best surgeon."

"I'll be fine Rose, they won't make me wait, I've had two attacks since I've been here."

"That's terrible, you should stay at home Alec, not go back to work."

"I would not call going into your shop every morning 'work' exactly and I just go sit at my old desk for an hour or so, if anything happens, I will send someone else out first.  I can't stay off Rose, that's not me."

"Well, you be careful, promise me?"

"I will, don't worry."

They had sat on the sofa, a brightly coloured blanket over the back, Alec leaning back against the cushions.  Rose moved up to him and he held his arms out.

"If you want to help me, just be my friend eh?"

"I can do that but maybe you could flirt with me a bit?"

"I may not have the time to spend flirting with you."

She took the hint and let him put his arms around her shoulders, leaning on his.  He kissed her forehead and Rose tried to look at him.

"Then stop wasting time Alec, you're gonna get through it, I already lost someone I cared about, I'm not losing anyone else."

"Is that what your project was, to find them?"

"Yeah but it's over, it was shut down because we almost lost someone else.  My mum was worried I'd go and not come back."

"How would that happen?"

"It's complicated and like you said, you may not have the time."

She managed to move and judged if she should go to kiss him or not but Alec sensed what she had in mind.

"Then I will make the time.  I know you are still hiding something Rose, why can't you tell me?  Were you involved with Torchwood, when they were fighting Lumic?"

"Not then, no but afterwards, that's how I met Pete, then I met him again a few years later, just as the Cybermen disappeared, he then met my Mum and he couldn't believe how she looked like his first wife.  The rest is public knowledge.  Are we gonna talk about me the rest of the evening?"

"If we have to.  Is that everything?  Who did you lose?"

"A very good friend, he went after the Cybermen with a team and never came back, it took me years to get the project started to go find him."

There, that was all he was getting, there was no way she would tell him the rest, even if he survived.

"Then why was it closed?"

"We thought he'd gone to another dimension, a parallel world but we couldn't find out which one.  The gap was still open, after the Cybermen left but it closed before he and the team could get back.  We were sort of trying to reopen it and it finally started to work, then it stopped suddenly and Pete declared it unstable and no one was allowed to attempt to re-start it.  You can see why I was upset with Mickey, he was all for it closing down."

"He was maybe worried you would also go missing, you can't really blame him."

"I suppose not but still, he didn't have to make it so obvious, he could have been more sympathetic, Jake was."

"Is Jake blonde by any chance?" Alec smiled, brushing her hair back and kissing her cheek.

"Yeah, why?  Did you see him while we were getting the shop sorted?"

"I believe I saw him driving off last Sunday evening, if you live behind those apartments?"

"Yeah.  Let's go get something to eat then you can walk me back later?"

Before he let her go though, Alec put his finger on her chin and angled his head to go for a kiss, which was short but sweet at first, then as Rose responded, it intensified, making Rose's heart beat faster.

"Mmm, that was nice.  I can go for more of those."

"Then I will see you get the chance.  Maybe now I have another reason to fight my condition?"

"Yeah but let's not hide, ok?"

"By no means do I intend to hide the fact, did I give you any indication I objected to your flirting?"

"No but you didn't exactly encourage me but I know why now.  Alec, don't you go hiding anything from me either, if you have pills to take or you have to be careful with things, just say.  Just carry on being yourself, yeah?"

"I can do that and it is a relief I don't have to hide anything.  I should take my pills soon, I took some extra earlier after moving, I fell asleep."

"That's why you didn't come to meet me?"

He leaned down to kiss her again, smiling afterwards.

"Yes, I woke up to see you watching out for me, you came looking for me."

Rose let him up and after putting his jacket on, they walked around to the takeaway, which was open and Alec told her he couldn't eat anything too heavy so they got some chicken and rice to share and Rose went into the harbour stores to get some fizzy flavoured water, the owner asking if she was going to the funeral tomorrow, since his wife had noticed a sign on the shutter.

After they'd eaten. Alec lay on the sofa while Rose insisted she cleared up, then she joined him, Alec moving his legs to let her lie down with him, his arm around her.  It wasn't long before nature took it's course and they began kissing, they both had questions but it seemed they could wait and the kissing couldn't.  Rose got bold and began unfastening his shirt buttons, pulling it off at the shoulders and Alec decided he wasn't going to be outdone and went for the zip on her top, pulling it down and pulling the top off her shoulders.

It was after eight and getting darker outside, neither of them realising what the time was, Alec had already pulled the blinds closed and the curtain across the door and by this time, Alec's shirt was off and how he'd not got her bra off was anyone's guess.  The straps were down over her arms, her having lost the top at some point, which was on the back of the sofa with his shirt and Alec could tell there wasn't that much to the offending article, he could still feel her softness on his chest.

He'd managed to unzip her black trousers but not made a move to go any further, he didn't really know how far they were going to take this, since Rose had told him to just be himself and lately, he'd not been wanting to take any unnecessary risks at setting himself up for another attack.  His last one had been his final warning, he'd already been told they would more than likely not be able to revive him next time and now, here was Rose assuring him it would be well worth heeding the warning.

"Alec, is everything ok, I can tell you're struggling a bit."

"Maybe a rest is order then?"

"Yeah, 'course, you should have said before, I won't be offended."

"I know that.  I don't deserve your attention."

"You do, you're worth taking it easy.  Maybe you can walk me home and come in for a while unless you want me to stay here?"

"Ah, the rental agreement is only for one person though how they would know?"

Rose giggled as her boobs almost slipped out of her bra and he noticed.

"Oops, that's what I get for letting you pull the straps down, I'm surprised I'm still in possession of it."

"So am I, the way you were pressing into me and moving around.  I will give you fair warning though, next time, it comes off."

"I'll consider myself warned then?  Let's just both of us be ourselves?  If you want, bring some things over for tomorrow, do you have a black tie?"

"My DS lent me one last time, I'll have to wear my dark grey one.  I can come back in the morning and change, I'll need a clean shirt.  You intend for me to stay then?"

"I'd be worried about you, being on your own.  Why did you pick this place, you said you'd had two attacks?  Was that chase the second one?"

"Yes, I collapsed in the hotel just after I arrived here, the hotel owner found me and got me to hospital and thankfully, she's not told anyone."

"Well maybe staying here was not one of your best ideas?  How long have you rented it for?"

"I just need to give one day's notice, why?  I need my independence Rose, that's why I moved from the hotel," he told her, fastening his shirt before she offered to help him.

"I'll give you my spare key, you can come and stay with me, I'm out all day, remember?  Is that independent enough for you?"

"I could stay here until you finish work, then meet you."

"Ok, for now but you stay with me overnight, there are two bedrooms, if you want?"

"Let's see what happens, you might not want to share, I tend to wake up suddenly and I may scare you."

"I doubt it.  You need someone Alec, someone to take care of you."

"You are volunteering?"

"That was the idea.  So, do I get the job?"

"For now, let's see what comes of my appointment on Monday?"

"I can call my stepfather, Torchwood might have something that can help you, if the surgery's delayed."

"No need Rose, it won't be.  I won't have long to wait.  Hold on, I will put a few things in a holdall, if you have room for me to hang up a shirt?"

Rose laughed.  "Yeah, I think I can squeeze it in my wardrobe.  I'll clear a drawer for you and think about moving out of here?"

"I just moved in today Rose.  Like I said, you may not like being woken by me when I feel like I'm drowning."

"What happened Alec?  Beside you collapsing those times?"

"The case before I came here – Sandbrook."

"I heard about that – the other girl was never found, was she?"

"No and if I survive my surgery, I am going to find her and find out who killed her cousin."

"Her killer got off, didn't he?  I read you admitted it wasn't you who got him off.  Why did you do it?"

"So my daughter would not find out it was her mother, what else could I have done eh?"

She went up to him, putting her arms around his neck.

"It could have killed you Alec and you still took the blame."

"I could still die before I get it resolved.  You really want to help me?"

Rose nodded, leaning into his shoulder.  "Anything, you just have to say."

"Then promise me you will contact my ex and get her to reopen the case.  I will give you her number before I go for my surgery, I have arranged to see a solicitor on Tuesday so Tess can make all the arrangements.  I will have to put her down on the hospital consent form."

"Let me go with you Alec, I can take care of things."

"Why would you want to do that?"

"Because you need someone who's on your side, someone who won't argue over things, will your ex wife do it without any fuss?"

He supposed not, knowing Tess.

"We will discuss it when I have been to the hospital but as for you going, you have a coffee shop to run."

"I was debating if I should close on Mondays, it would be a good time to start.  I'd rather not close mid-week."

"Then I would be glad to have you come with me, thank you.  Let me get what I need eh, then we can go and on Saturday, I will consider moving out."

"Yeah, ok, I'll wait."

Alec locked up and they walked back over the bridge and along the harbour, passing the coffee shop and Rose led him behind the apartment block.

"So this where you hide away?"

"I'm not hiding Alec, come and take a look."

She led him through the kitchen, her car parked outside and Alec admiring the sporty four-wheel drive metallic blue car that he thought looked far too much for her to handle.  He didn't know what pains Jake had gone to in order to teach her to drive when Pete had presented her with a provisional driving licence.  He had bought her a similar car when she passed her test the second time, having failed on not putting the car into reverse whilst letting someone pass and she'd just let the car roll back.  She claimed later that's what everyone did anyway but Jake had laughed saying maybe, just not on your driving test.

She had now got a newer model of the same car with her personalised number plate and she had seen Alec admiring it.

"Are you allowed to drive?"

"Well since I never declared my illness, I suppose I could.  That car looks a bit much for you."

"I manage, I like the height and the room, plus the leather seats.  It's automatic, I might let you drive it."

"Best not, until I get sorted eh?"

He crossed to the window, looking out at the sea.  Trust her to live almost on the beach.  There was wooden decking outside and Rose opened the door and went to sit at the table.  It was dark now but light reflected off the sea and the nearby cliffs and Alec realised they were next door to that pink house that no-one could miss and wondered why she had gone the way she had instead of the other way but then maybe when she had moved there, the quayside might have been busy with boats unloading though it would be safe enough in a car.

Alec sat across from her and reached for her hand.

"So you like it here?"

"Yeah, it reminds me of something."

"The friend you lost?"

"He's not dead."

"You don't know that, if he never got back.  Where is he Rose?"

"I told ya, he followed the Cybermen."

"Then why don't I believe you?  This other dimension, you mean a parallel world, almost identical to this one?"

"You watch to much TV Alec."

"I used to make up stories when I was a wee boy back home.  Then there were rumours, within the police when it all happened.  Lumic was supposed to have invented the Cybermen but I reckon he had some help and maybe they went back to where they came from?"

"Wow, you've got some imagination Alec.  I got this project started, it measured timelines in other dimensions only no-one had got it working before and I don't know if it was my determination or not but suddenly, it did.  I was one of the first to go, I couldn't sit back and hope he'd find his own way back but I never found the right one."

"Then how do you know that?"

"He would stand out, well that was the theory, his lifesigns would be different, not detectable by anyone where he is though, he would have just blended in and kept out of trouble, hopefully."

Rose almost said the chance would be a fine thing, the Doctor staying out of trouble but that was the story Pete and Jake had agreed on, if she had to explain why she missed him.  Alec had almost believed her but he let it go for now.  Rose got up, holding her hand out to him and they went back inside, Rose going to make a drink.

After their drinks they laid on the sofa until just after ten, Rose already hanging his clean shirt up for him and stuffing the contents of one drawer into another, placed his t-shirt, some clean shorts and socks in it.

"Do you want the bathroom first, I tend to take my time."

"In that case, I had better go.  Where did you put my things?"

"In my bedroom, still in your holdall, I didn’t want to take them out."

"It's fine Rose, I have nothing to hide from you."

Rose was just turning down the bedclothes when he came into the bedroom.  She kissed his cheek then left him to get into bed.  While she was gone, Alec went to get his t-shirt after he'd asked which was his drawer, assuming even though she'd got his shirt off earlier, she may object to him taking liberties and waiting in her bed without it.  If she wanted to take it off though, he wouldn't object, since he was way past having some fun in that department.

Rose was faster than usual, she'd taken a nightdress in with her, not sure she should be getting undressed in front of him though he may not object, since she'd almost come out of her bra earlier and she had been laid on his chest.  She knew she had to be careful with him, he was so close to getting something done about his heart, she didn't want him collapsing but she had some idea what to do, due to her Torchwood health and safety training and basic first-aid.

She hoped she wouldn't have to though, he'd seemed well enough early, getting very close to taking her bra off and having her move around so it might as well have been but it had felt good and now, wearing just a flimsy nightdress with only her skimpy red matching knickers, he wouldn't wonder if he should have just unfastened it or not.  Her nerve was running out though as she closed the bathroom door after her, the bedroom door open and the bedside lamp on.

Alec had got into bed, propped up on the pillows, his hands behind his head, he was also getting nervous.  It was one thing to ask the hotel owner, Becca Fisher to relax with him and another to have someone like Rose Tyler inviting him back for a sleepover.  What would she expect of him?  She knew he couldn't do much but maybe he should make the effort and find out exactly how far he could go instead of holding back and thinking he couldn't do anything at all.  Even if it was the last thing he ever did, he was going to attempt to have sex with her.
Chapter 8
Rose sensed he was nervous, she got into bed and reached to turn out the lamp, moonlight coming through the curtains.

"Alec, we can just do more of what we did earlier, if you want?"

"Aye, I can go for more of that.  I may be tempted go a little further, if you want to?"

"I don't want to set you off again Alec, whatever you are comfortable with.  You have nothing to prove to me, you know that?"

"I don't expect I have, you are very understanding.  Maybe I can demonstrate and prove I can still get you all hot and bothered eh?"

Rose let out a giggle and leaned over, Alec grabbing her waist.

"Maybe I should do all the hard work though?" she asked, going to lie on him.

"Well maybe just this once, until I can judge how far I can actually go.  If you see me struggling, just let me rest a while?"

"Yeah, don't worry, I'll be able to tell."

Before long, Rose had lost her nightdress and Alec his t-shirt, Rose murmuring softly as they kissed and moved around, Alec noting how very little underwear she was actually wearing and trying his best to move it to his advantage.

"Mmm, Alec, why don't you take your shorts off?"

"No need to tell me twice, though maybe you should be the one to lose the underwear, since it's hardly there?"

Rose wriggled around and he helped pull the article off.

"Well don't blame me if your shorts get all wet then."

"I have spare ones but maybe I'll take them off, just in case?"

She could at least let him do that, he wouldn't go too far, not the first time.  It was better than either of the expected, Alec managing to keep his heart-rate at a manageable level but as they parted, Rose could feel it wasn't normal, even though neither was hers.

"Mmm, that was really nice Alec, does your heart always go that fast?"

"It's when it slows down I have to worry.  I'm fine, don't fuss eh?"

"Why, what happens?"

"I get dizzy and pass out."

"Then what happened when you were chasing that suspect?"

"It can happen at any time.  Sometimes, very rarely, it can be fairly normal, just slightly faster, like now."

"So that's normal for you?"

"You could say that."

"It's so unfair Alec, how did it happen?"

"Stress maybe, maybe it was because I worked too hard on my last case, I can't be sure.  I had someone covering up for me, he was sending my medication and filling out the paperwork."

"You cheated."

"Yes, I had no choice but now I have been found out, it would have happened sooner or later.  At least I saw the case to the end."

"Yeah but it almost killed you."

"It was the price I had to pay.  Now, come back here, I've not finished with you yet."

The next morning, Rose went to make some breakfast before they had to go collect the funeral flowers and Alec wondered how many people would actually notice them arrive together but Rose was right, they shouldn't hide the fact they were together.  The only problem was, getting past the hordes of reporters who would be looking for a story and he would walk right into the middle of it with Rose Tyler on his arm.  If she wasn't bothered though, why should he?

Rose went into the florist to collect the flowers, getting a small sympathy card and once back in the car, asked him if he wanted her to put his name on it.

"Why not?  It can be our first official outing."

"Chloe warned me not to take a date to the funeral," she stated, signing the card with both their names then the little card attached to the sunflower arrangement.

"Sunflowers?" he queried.

"They were his favourites, according to Chloe."

"You told her you were going with me then?" he asked, putting the car into the 'Drive' position as Rose had said it would be easier if he took them there rather than give directions.

He had got out of the passenger seat when Rose went into the florists, him seeing the newspaper editor a few doors up coming out of the office as he got in the driver's side.  He'd noticed she was on her own, Stevens must still be looking after Tom Miller then and he was hoping the boy's mother wouldn't show up but he doubted she was stupid enough to.  Maggie had seen him and waved, probably wondering what he was doing driving and where he'd got a car from all of a sudden, one with an unusual number plate of 'TAR01S' and him thinking it must be something personal to Rose.

He turned into the lane leading to the church and seeing a bunch of reporters by the church gate, he stopped behind another car.

"We should walk the rest of the way, the funeral cars will need to get close."

"Looks like I'll be dodging reporters then, though if I put the flowers in front of my face and lean close to you, they might not notice me."

"You never answered my question Rose, do the Latimers know you were coming with me?"

"Chloe might have guessed, she saw you waiting the other night."

"Well everyone will notice if we can't get past that lot."

He put his arm around her shoulder and Rose put the bunch of flowers up in front of her and they both hoped for the best.  Alec got a few calls, asking for a statement to which he told them it was not the time or the place and Rose seemed to have got away with it, none of them asking who he was with and Alec thinking if they did get away with it, it would be a miracle.

Maggie was standing with Olly, his mother and Tom, Becca Fisher was talking to the vicar and Alec wondered if there was something going on between them the way they were smiling and laughing.  She kept touching his arm but that was the detective in him he supposed, suspicious of everyone, which had caught him a killer in the end because it had been the one person who was beyond suspicion, well except to him.

He had told Ellie Miller he suspected everyone and she'd questioned him about it, meaning surely he didn't include her husband but now he thought about it, Joe Miller had been in a unique position to avoid detection and cover everything up, including cleaning the hut and burning the boat, since it was his wife's nephew's boat.

Maggie was the one to approach them as Alec kept his arm around Rose.

"Hello Rose, you never said you two knew each other?"

"Well I didn't want it in the papers, we just managed to dodge that lot out there.  Where's everyone else?"

"Some family members and friends are already inside.  So how are you, detective inspector?  Enjoying retirement?"

"I've not retired, not yet, I am still on light duties, the suspension and forced sick leave only was enforced during the investigation and that's over."

Well that was what he'd convinced himself and Jenkinson anyway.  Alec turned around to see Becca approaching them.

"How's the new place working out?  I can see why you wanted to leave in a hurry.  Hi, I'm Becca.  He never said he was leaving to go live with his girlfriend.  You are his girlfriend, not his ex wife?"

"Yeah, I'm his girlfriend but we've only been together a few days.  I'm Rose, nice to meet you.  Alec told me you got him to hospital that time, thanks for that."

"Well, he can thank the woman below him who heard him fall.  Where did you get to anyway?"

"Closer to the police station," he replied, not sure how much longer he'd be in the chalet and he'd only just got it.

Rose was hoping she hadn't been recognised, Maggie knew who she was and hadn't so far printed the story she was in the town, running a coffee shop of all things.

It wasn't long before the funeral party arrived, Rose could see the media going crazy as cameras flashed and raised voices shouting 'Beth', she felt sorry for the whole family, a funeral was bad enough without the extra trouble.  They followed the procession and Alec led Rose to a seat near the back, just in front of Becca, Maggie and the others.

When it had ended, they let everyone out then Rose followed Alec out, Chloe calling her over as her parents shook hands with people.

"Mum, this is my boss, Rose."

"Nice to meet you Mrs Latimer," Rose told her.

"Chloe told us about you, I can't believe you're here, in the town.  DI Hardy, glad you could make it and we wanted to say how sorry we were to hear you'd been taken ill, chasing our Danny's killer.  Have you recovered?"

"I will do, Rose will look after me, she won't let me do anything foolish."

Rose smiled and squeezed his hand.

"Will you come to the house, after the burial?"

"We wouldn't want to intrude," Rose told her, not so sure Alec should be at a funeral, let alone by a young boy's graveside.

"You won't be intruding, there are only a few people besides family going to be there.  We have to go now."

"Of course, Alec and I will wait in the car, he shouldn't be standing all that time."

"I can stand by a grave Rose, you don't have to shield me."

"I was just thinking it might be best for you, in view of things."

He took her hand and they followed the rest of the family and others who were still present, Alec was sure he had spotted Karen White amongst the congregation earlier but she was now nowhere to be seen, thankfully.  Alec let Rose follow the family back to their house, a marquee had been put up in the back garden and Rose had seated Alec in it, telling him he needed a rest.

"Are you always going to boss me around then?" he asked as he joined her after she got caught by Olly Stevens, who had recognised her and asked if he could interview her at a date to be arranged.

"I'll let you know," she had told him, not sure that if Alec didn't actually make it through his surgery, she would want to stay.

Beth was going around and caught up with them.

"Are you two going to the bonfire lighting on the beach tonight?  You're both welcome, Paul is organising it, we're lighting our own, on top of the cliff where Danny was killed."

"Yeah, that would be really nice, thanks.  We'll be there, won't we Alec?"

Alec was watching as Karen White was edging towards him.

"Excuse me Rose, I'll be right back."

Rose knew who the reporter was, someone who accused your new boyfriend of being Britain's worse cop, even before he was your actually boyfriend was the enemy in her books.

"DI Hardy," Karen greeted him.  "You're keeping very high class company there days, what's the story?"

"As if I would tell you.  What are you doing here?"

"Paying my respects.  So, you and Rose Tyler?"

"What about it?  I was told to keep an eye on her, by my boss."

Well it was half true he supposed.

"In her bed or yours?  I heard you were out of your job?"

"Not exactly, I got a babysitting job, not that it has anything to do with you."

"You gave your story to Olly, how about giving me the Latimer case?"

Alec shook his head.  "You never give up.  I don't talk to the press."

He turned around and went back to Rose, who was talking to Paul Coates.

"I heard you were in town Miss Tyler, I never expected to see you here.  I was going to come and pay your coffee shop a visit, Maggie speaks very highly of it."

"Thanks, I'll look forward to you visiting though I'm going to be closed on Mondays from next week."

"So, are you and Alec Hardy an item then?"

Rose knew when she was being interrogated.

"Are you and Becca an item?"

"Good point, I'm just nosy by nature, it's none of my business I suppose but if you are, you might be able to watch out for him, I heard what happened to him."

"Yeah, I'm gonna keep him from doing anything else in the stupid department.  Excuse me, he's just managed to escape the viper's nest."

Paul smiled as he watched her walk across to him, touch his cheek then kissed the other one.

"Ready to go?"

"Aye, I think that's enough for one day.  Drop me at my chalet?  I need to get a few things."

"Sure, want some company?"

"As much as I would like that, you must have things to do?"

"Yeah, I should see if my bank details arrived then go pay them a visit."

They got into the car Rose insisted she drove them back.

"Just drop me by the bridge, I can walk across on my own.  I will see you at dusk, for the bonfire lighting, call me if I am not there."

"Yeah I will, don't worry.  I'll go to the supermarket when I'm done at the bank, do you want anything?"

He shook his head, then put his hand on her leg as she stopped at a mini roundabout.  After she dropped him off, she went to get changed after going through the back entrance of the coffee shop and seeing her bank deposit book and other documents had arrived, she emptied the safe and carefully exited, getting back into her car and driving back to the cottage.

Getting her shopping done, making sure she had enough for two people, she called Pete then had to face her mother.

"So, do you have something to tell me?" her mother asked after Pete had inadvertently mentioned Rose had already met Alec and that Mickey had expressed he wasn't happy about it.

"Yeah, he needs looking after Mum, until he gets his pacemaker."

"Well I hope he's gonna recover then, you don't need to lose anyone else."

"I know that Mum, I am not gonna lose him, trust me."

When Alec had got back, he'd packed most of his things and put them in a larger holdall, leaving his other suit and his coat in the wardrobe, well what passed as one in the chalet.  Rose had sent him a message telling him to have a rest before going to the bonfire lighting and he'd taken her advice, being woken by his phone buzzing and seeing it was Ellie Miller.

"Thought you'd left town Miller?"

"I am, I was trying one more time to persuade Tom to come with me.  You were with a woman at the funeral.  Rose Tyler maybe?"

"Ask your sister and your nephew.  Did you want something?"

"Can you meet me tonight, on the harbour pier, after dark."

"A bit cloak and dagger?"

"Do you want to be seen with me during the day, now you have a girlfriend?"

Alec thought about it – maybe not then.

So as Rose put her black trousers and a hooded top on, over her pink t-shirt, she walked across to join the group of people walking with lit torches approaching the bonfire.  Paul handed her one of the torches and Becca stepped forward, getting a nod from Paul as she bent to light the wood.

"On your own?" Maggie asked her.

"Yeah, I should call him, he's probably fallen asleep."

"Is that him, across on the pier?"

Rose turned around, two people sitting on one of the benches.

"Why would he be sitting there?" she asked, getting her phone out and calling him.

There was no answer.  Ellie and Alec were talking, Alec asking where she was going.

"To make a new start and give Tom some space, to come to terms with you arresting his father and the fact Joe killed his best friend.  What about you, now you have a girlfriend?  What's she even doing here?"

"Making a fresh start, like we all seem to be doing.  I go to the hospital on Monday, about a pacemaker.

"Well good luck with that."

"Ah, I don't need luck Miller, I have Rose."

He felt his phone buzz in his pocket, knowing it was Rose but he didn't like to talk to her in front of his old DS.  Rose had set off, just as Ellie had got up and Rose passed her.

"Hello, you're Rose, right?" Ellie asked.

"Yeah.  Ellie Miller, I presume?"

"Sorry, I kept him, was he meant to go to the bonfire lighting with you?"

Rose nodded.  "Not to worry.  Nice to have met you Ellie."

"You too, you made a big impression at the funeral, so I was told.  My son wanted to be there, I couldn't go."

"Understandable.  I'd better go get him, he'll think we're talking about him," Rose laughed.

"We are," Ellie laughed back.

Alec had remained where he was and Rose walked the short distance to him.

"What are you still doing out here?"

"Waiting for you to take me home?"

When they got back and got into bed, Alec was tired and it showed as they just lay together, kissing and getting as close as they could.  The next morning, Rose was back to getting up early again, Alec was still asleep so she made some tea and took him some upstairs.

"Hey sleepy, I have to get to work soon."

"Morning.  Don't let me keep you then."

"Ah, take your time, make yourself at home.  Why don't you get the rest of your stuff later?"

"Aye, I think I just may, after I call in and keep an eye on you."

"I'd miss you if you didn't call in and don't take any notice if Chloe stares at us."

"I don't intend to."

"Can you manage things on your own?"

"Yes, I will bring my things over then get a taxi to the rental agency.  I dare say they will make more renting it out to a family than to me eh?"

Chapter 9
Alec did as he said he'd do, not giving any particular reason for his short stay but it seemed they'd had a rush of bookings and were glad to get the keys back, since he'd not said how long he would be staying there.  Chloe hadn't stared too much as they sat at his usual table and had just got on with serving a few customers while the two of them had been oblivious to their surroundings.

Before she left, Chloe had said how sweet it had all looked and Rose told her from Monday, she would be closed that day, not mentioning why she had decided to start all of a sudden.  Alec felt much better that night and was waiting in bed, having claimed more wardrobe space while she'd been out and he'd already ditched his t-shirt and when she got into bed, he was very pleasantly surprised she had forgone her underwear but they still didn't cross the line, Rose wanted him to be in good condition for his consultation on Monday.

After a nice day out on Sunday, just down the coast in the next village, Rose was taking no chances Alec wasn't going to get the go ahead for his surgery as she limited their activities and Monday morning, Alec said he was feeling much more confident than he had been previously.  As they sat in the hospital waiting room, Rose had to hold onto his arm to stop him pacing.

"Just be positive about it."

"I am more positive than I was previously."

"Tell me something Alec, do you still have those nightmares?"

"Well, since you mentioned it, then no, I slept much better, which is due to you being there."

"Good, glad I was useful for something."

Alec looked at her so she nudged him.

"I'm winding you up, geez Alec, just chill.  Shame we never met before."

"Aye, that it is but would you have been ready to move on, with me?"

Rose thought about it, she'd only just got over it now but Alec had made it bearable and she was falling for him in a big way though if she admitted it, it was clear she'd already fallen for him.  Alec looked up as a nurse came across from the desk with a folder, then called his name.

"Come in with me?"

Rose got up with him.  "Try and stop me."

After the consultant listened to his heart and his chest, she declared he could go ahead for the pacemaker.

"I've already pencilled you in for Wednesday afternoon at three, pending my examination.  I'll be honest with you, it seems you were very lucky to escape the last time and while we will do everything possible, there are no guarantees."

"I understand that."

"Yes, well I advise you to get your affairs in order before your surgery and just pray you will have made the arrangements for nothing."

"Well, that's what we wanted, a date," Rose remarked as she drove them home, Alec was actually calling it that even after only a few days.

"I'll call Tess, get her to come down."

"Why?" she asked.

"You have to go to work."

"Stuff work Alec, you're far more important than the coffee shop, don't you get that?  I'll open until one, come and collect you then we'll drive down to the hospital,"

"If you insist.  When I go make my will tomorrow, I'll make it clear you are taking care of any arrangements, if that's what you want?"

"I already said Alec, I'll take care of everything, well my stepfather will help, I will be upset, naturally.  I'll call Jake, he'll come right down in a few hours and pick me up from the hospital, Mickey can bring him down.  You make your arrangements Alec, I'll make mine and take care of everything else."

"I know I can trust you Rose so how about you trust me eh?  Tell me about the man you lost, who am I going to tell?"

So after they had eaten, Alec listened, just like that night she had told her mother, Pete and Mickey about the dream she'd had of the Doctor calling her to the beach in Norway.  When she'd just about finished, they were curled up on the sofa, Alec rubbing her shoulder.

"That's quite a story Rose and if I had not believed travel between worlds was possible, I may have found it difficult.  So you got here by accident, went back and only a few months had passed in your world but it was almost three years here?"

"Yeah, this world must spin faster or something, I never could get used to it but I'm three years younger than I led everyone to believe, mum was easier, she got away with it but I was more difficult to get past prying eyes."

"I expect you were.  It makes no difference to me, since apparently there were hundred's of years between you and the Doctor."

"Yeah but we weren't together, not like we are but I still loved him."

"I know, I understand that, I am not asking you to completely forget him, I would never make you do that.  You're here now, with me."

"Yeah, guess you're stuck with me?"

They kissed and Alec suggested they went to bed early.

"If we only have two nights Rose, I want to make the most of them, can we do that?"

"Yeah, I need to have something to remember you by."

"You will love but I have a feeling things are going to work just fine, don't you?"

"Yeah, I do, I'm gonna be stuck with you."

Rose had to go open the coffee shop the next morning and after Wednesday morning, wondered if she'd be ever be able to bring herself to open it again, if Alec didn't make it.  She'd be beyond upset if he didn't, she was trying to make a life here and wanted to do it with Alec, like she'd been drawn to the place at the right time and the delays had just made it better because he wouldn't have been free to come in every morning and brighten her day.

She told Chloe she had an appointment and would be closing early the next day but the teenager sensed it was more than that.

"Ok Chloe but you can't tell anyone, promise?"

Chloe nodded.

"Alec goes for surgery at three tomorrow, for a pacemaker and he doesn't know if he'll survive or not."

"That's awful Rose, I hope he does though he was a bit of a pain at first but he got my brother's killer.  He told you who it was?"

"Yeah, I know and it's so sad that Ellie is being punished for it.  Her son won't live with her, she's lost her best friend and your mother lost hers, can't she forgive her?"

"We've tried talking to her but she reckons Ellie knew about it."

"I can't see that, do you believe it?"

"No but it doesn't matter what I think about it."

Rose knew it was none of her business and she wouldn't be thanked for interfering but maybe when the trial had come and gone, there might be some forgiveness and hopefully, both she and Alec would be around to see it.  She'd already made her mind up if he didn't survive, she'd carry out his wishes they'd talked about before they'd gone to sleep last night, after what Rose had considered was their best time together so far but he'd still not cross the line and she hadn't pushed him.  He knew his limits but maybe tonight, if he were to try, she wouldn't stop him, even though she wasn't taking anything.

She had to stop taking precautions because it was interfering with her monthly and since she never really got to that stage with anyone she dated, she'd never worried about it but she'd not gone to bed with anyone without making sure if she did, he would take the responsibility.  She wasn't even going to mention it to Alec, he deserved that much pleasure if it was going to be his last time but how would it make her feel?

Would she feel sad or just remember the few nights of passion they'd had together and maybe she wouldn't get away with it and really have something to remember him by.  She wasn't sure how long she'd stay or if she would come back, after she took Alec home to Scotland, where he told her he was born and if she did, it would only be to pack, nothing else and Pete would try and sell the coffee shop as a business or get someone in to run it.

Alec had been to the solicitors and when he'd got back, he called Tess, told her about Rose and that she was taking full responsibility for the arrangements.

"Wow Alec, I never thought you had it in you, getting a girlfriend like Rose Tyler.  So are you going to stop Daisy and myself coming to the hospital?"

"No but I want you to be civil to her, she makes all the decisions, understood?"

To his utmost surprise, she actually agreed.  He gave her the details and she told him she would meet them there.  When Rose got home, he broke the news she may have someone pacing the corridor with her.

"It's ok Alec, she's your ex wife, I'm ok with it.  Maybe while she's there, I can get her to promise to reopen the Sandbrook case?"

"I knew there was a reason I moved in with you."

"Is that the only reason?"

"Well now you mention it, there was another.  You made me feel wanted Rose and if I go on the operating table, I want you to know how much you mean to me."

"You'll have plenty of time to tell me."

"Well if I don't, I love you Rose."

"Aw, I love you too Alec and if you feel ok, well tonight, no holding back."

"No, Rose, tonight, you will have something to remember."

As Rose tried to make it that Alec had the least movement, despite insisting she was on top, she felt different and knew despite his condition, he had excelled himself and Alec was beaming, not that she could see him.

"That was amazing Alec, I'd never have known there was something wrong with you."

"I could easily forget there was.  That was your first real time?"

"Yeah, I've never felt like that before.  That was really special."

She thought about telling him she wasn't taking anything but it didn't matter, if he didn't make it and she got pregnant, she would have a part of him and if she didn't, well at least she'd made him feel special too, that someone still cared about him.  If he made it, he might be mad at her but she had only good intentions.

The next morning, she left him in bed with instructions to send a message the moment he got up and he had to text her every hour and not come in the coffee shop but just after eleven, he'd got tired of standing at the window, staring at the sea and put his jacket on to go follow his now morning routine. 

He wondered how they'd managed to get this far after only meeting a week ago and him asking if she was allowed to put her sign up.  He'd never made a move on anyone so fast in his life, not even with Tess but Rose was something else.

Rose was surprised when he walked in and sat at his normal table.  She'd put a notice up saying due to unforeseen circumstances she had to close at one and she was going to pull the grill down at half past twelve so she would be away in time.  Chloe was going to arrive as normal at four to clean, Rose had given her the back door key the night before.

Getting his things on the tray, she walked over, setting it down.

"Everything ok?"

"Fine, I was going mad back there, I had to get out."

"You told the station you wouldn't be in today?"

"Yes, I saw Jenkinson before I left yesterday, she knows where I am going.  I said you would let her know, one way or the other.  I can put off Tess and Daisy being there?"

"No, it's fine, let them come.  If no-one's in by the time you're ready to leave, I'll lock up and go home with you."

By twelve fifteen, Alec had waited around and pushed the button to lower the grill and they were walking home just after half past.  Alec insisted they went to the bedroom for an hour, just to relax but it turned into more as they both let go completely, Rose being able to see his grin and he the look on her face.

"Huh, some rest that was Alec, you may not get the go ahead now."

"Rubbish, it was just what I needed to give me a reason to survive.  I had so much I wanted to say to you."

"I know, so did I but you know everything about me now and if you do get through it, I'll have nothing to hide from you."

"Thank you for being honest with me.  I want to put you as my next of kin, so you can take care of everything."

"Yeah, you can do that.  I just need to call Pete before we go."

Rose made the call, asking him to have Jake and Mickey on stand-by to come down to Dorchester if needed, she couldn't face going back home on her own and she didn't really know anyone who could sympathise with her, well maybe except Chloe but she was much too young to go crying to.

They were in the hospital early, to find the right department and were surprised when he was called into a room to sign the forms early.  After being led to a side ward, they were left for a few minutes, arms around each other before he got undressed.

"Promise me Rose, that you'll stay and run your coffee shop."

"I don't know if I can, it won't be the same if you don't come in every day."

"Well if I make it, I will be going back to work so I will only be able to call in for a few minutes at lunch time."

"Yeah, I know that.  I love you Alec, I wish we'd had more time together."

"Aye, so do I.  I love you too sweetheart."

The orderlies came to take him to the operating room and Rose saw a girl coming through the double doors.

"Dad?" Daisy asked as he past.

"Daisy, where's your mum?"

"Outside, she thought it would be best."

"This is Rose, she will take care of everything, if I don't come out of there."

"Hi Daisy, go get your mum, don't leave her out there on her own," Rose told her.

"We have to take him in now," one of the orderlies told them.

Daisy went off and once outside the door, Rose had one last chance to kiss him, knowing now, he really needed a miracle.  He had sacrificed the few months he maybe had left but she knew he'd not wanted her to see him get worse and die on her either at home or while she was at work, he'd said he couldn't do that to her.

So as Rose sat on one side of the narrow corridor and Tess and Daisy sat arm in arm on the other, they just waited for the news he'd made it or not.

Nine months later

Rose was waiting for her boyfriend, she'd warned him if he was late, she wouldn't forgive him and he'd promised he would be there on time when she called him so she had called him, only to have Ellie Miller answer his phone as he was driving.

"Tell him to get his ass here – pronto or I won't be responsible for kicking it."

"Calm down sweetheart, he's on his way then I'll take the car back.  Have you long to go?"

Rose looked down at her swollen belly, covered only by the hospital gown as she stood in that and her slippers, a nurse sat in the corner waiting for something to happen as Alec had insisted she was not to be left on her own.

"Nope, not long at all, I'm pacing the delivery room because if I go and lie down, the baby will come and I'm not having it until he gets here.  He got me into this state."

Ellie laughed, looking at her boss, who had a grin on his face and the siren going that Ellie could hardly hear herself talk above the noise.

"From what I heard, you didn't object at the time, a last minute thing by what he says."

"Yeah, well we did both think it was his last night on this planet, wish I'd known he was gonna survive."

"Too late now love," Alec shouted into the speaker.

"Don't go reminding me.  Where are you?"

"Just turning onto the High Street, we're five minutes away.  Good thing they kept the local maternity unit open," Ellie told her.

It had been on the list of services to be axed but some intervention from Pete and a petition from the residents had kept it open and they'd closed a unit that already had one in Dorchester and people could easily get there.  Beth Latimer had been relieved but in the end had chosen a home birth three months ago but Rose had decided she wanted the comforts and Alec's thoughts on water were well known to her.

It had been touch and go during Alec's surgery but something had kept him going and now, he was going to be a dad again though they'd opted not to be told what Rose was having, buying everything neutral.  As they were driving, suddenly Alec pulled up outside the jewellery shop, getting him a look from Ellie.  He shushed her and told her to tell Rose they would be with her shortly.

"What do you think you're doing Hardy?  You heard her, she'll kick your ass if you don't hurry up and get there soon."

"I know Miller but I have to do the right thing.  She never once mentioned getting married, she probably figured I'd learned my lesson over Tess.  Five minutes, just wait here and if that idiotic traffic warden wanders along, shown him your badge and tell him it's my car and I'll bust him back to the school crossing patrol, got it?"

Ellie laughed, he would as well.  The nurse had been joined by a bossy sister, who was trying to get Rose to go lie down.

"Miss Tyler, we have to get you into bed now your water has broken or you'll have this baby standing up."

"No, I'm waiting for Alec so forget it.  Try him again will ya?"

"You just got off the phone with him, maybe he's just getting dropped off?" the nurse offered.

"He'd better be.  Ouch!"

Another pain passed over her and the nurse began the timing.

"That baby is not going to wait, come and lie down."

As Rose gingerly straightened herself up, she allowed the nurse to take her arm and walk her to the bed.  Just then the double door opened and Ellie popped her head around the corner.

"Ellie, where is he?"

"Just coming, he had something to do."

"Yeah, find another girlfriend if he's not here in thirty seconds."

The door opened wider and Ellie turned around as Alec dumped his car keys into her hand.

"There you go Miller, you're in charge for the next six weeks, don't get used to it and don't put your name on my desk."

Since Ellie was pleased it was finally delivery day and he'd stop going around with his head in the clouds and fussing over his girlfriend, she let him off.  He went over to Rose, who was in the middle of another contraction and sat beside her.  Just twenty minutes later, she was cradling her new daughter, Alec taking photos then putting his arm around, taking one of all three of them.

"So, Sarah-Jane eh?" he asked, taking his new daughter's tiny hand.

"Yeah, is that ok?"

"Sure.  How about Sarah-Jane Hardy?" he asked as he sent the photos to Jackie, who he got on surprisingly well with.

"I was gonna give her your name, if you wanted?"

"It would be better if you had it too you know?"

"Really?  We never talked about it."

"We should have done.  So, will you marry me, Rose Tyler?"

"I want a ring."

He went in his pocket and pulled out the pink ring box, hoping he'd got the ring size right.

"Is that why you were almost too late?"

"Yes, I made Miller wait outside the shop."

He put it on her finger, just as Sarah-Jane moved and let out a big yawn.  It was time for Rose to finally come clean over her.

"That night, before you got your pacemaker, I set out to get pregnant."

"You did?"

"Yeah, you're not mad are you?"

"No, I don't blame you, you thought I was going to die and you wanted a baby so you'd still have part of me."

"You’re far too clever Alec.  I can't take anything, it upsets my system."

"Oh, well we have a few months to work around that eh?"

"Yeah.  I can try again to get on something, it was years ago now."

"Well see shall we?  We have three months to make up for lost time."

Alec's phone beeped, it was Rose's mother with a message – 'Alec Hardy, you gave me a granddaughter, now how about a wedding?"

He showed the message to Rose, who just smiled.

"Is your mother psychic?"

The End!

No comments: