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Viva Las Broadchurch




Rose Tyler is the daughter of arcade boss Pete Tyler in the seaside town of Broadchurch then Alec Hardy arrives in town.




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Rose Tyler is the daughter of arcade boss Pete Tyler in the seaside town of Broadchurch where Pete made his fortune in the 90's.  17 yr old Tony Tyler doesn't want to take over and gets caught up in a power struggle when Jack Harkness and his gang offer to make him the boss if he helps until DI Alec Hardy arrives in town, spoils their plans and falls in love with Rose.  Based on 'Blackpool'

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Chapter 1
A/N:  The events of  'Broadchurch' have not taken place.  My 100th story – enjoy!

Pete Tyler – arcade boss and entrepreneur had always wanted a son after his daughter Rose was born and ten years later, after much persuasion of his wife Jackie, along came Tony.  Rose was doing well at school, Pete was always coming up with ideas and inventions and Jackie had threatened to divorce him several times until she had Tony. 

He had started off small, buying a small arcade in the sleepy seaside of Broadchurch from someone who was retiring whom he'd met on a family camping holiday so Pete had packed up, sold the house and they had lived in a caravan for what had seemed like years but now, they had the biggest house on the side of the cliff and he was planning on expanding his little empire that consisted of the arcade in Broadchurch and a slightly bigger one in Weymouth plus other seaside towns in the Dorset area.

He only had one problem and that went by the name of Jack Harkness, who along with his side-kick, Ianto Jones, had moved in next door in Weymouth and was planning on expanding his growing empire of arcades that was mainly in Southend and neighbouring seaside towns.  Rose could have had any job she wanted in her dad's empire but she had chosen to settle as a shop assistant when she left school and didn't want to give it up and now she worked on the High Street in a fashion shop called 'Cinders'. 

Rose was very popular in the town and on her day off would hang around the arcade with her old boyfriend, Mickey Smith and when he was old enough Tony, her baby brother as she called him.  Mickey, though unknown to either Pete or Rose, knew the time was coming for Tony to begin to realise there was more to life than tending his father's slot machines and other games of chance and he was trying to persuade him to take over, even though Pete had said that would never happen until he turned twenty one.

Mickey had been approached by Jack to help smooth the way for him to muscle in and get Tony to agree to help him and Mickey had said he could easily persuade the young man to do so for the right amount of money.

The local police force, led by a detective inspector who couldn't wait to get out of the place and had been sent from Manchester until his pension came through and a chief superintendent who let him get on with it never bothered about the arcade as long as things didn't get too out of hand.  Pete had got his licence extended (since he had several council officials also in his pocket) to open until 10pm as there was very little else to do down by the harbour and a few of the catering stalls stayed open during the summer months.

Pete had become worried though when he got back from a trip to Weymouth to find Jack and his 'friend' were in the town and he caught up with Jack in one of the harbour pubs.

"Harkness, a word," Pete had said to him, Ianto looking on.

"Ianto, get some more drinks and none of that flat beer.  Tyler, have a seat.  How's that daughter of yours?"

"You leave Rose alone Harkness.  Your little boyfriend might get jealous.  What are you doing here, you don't normally stray this far."

"I heard you had big plans Tyler, very big plans for the seafront."

"That's none of your concern, why don't you go back to Southend?"

Jack just laughed.  "Afraid I'll try and muscle in?  Why don't we call a truce?  You persuade that daughter of yours to marry me and we'll merge our empires."

"Never in a million years Harkness, you leave her alone, I already told you.  You know I have the local police in my pocket, I could run you out of town."

"Relax, I just came to see if the rumours were true."

"Then I expect you to leave."

When Pete got home, Rose was watching TV.

"Hello sweetheart, where's your mum?"

"She went to bed.  Dad, is something wrong?"

"No love, what could be wrong?"

"I heard talk today, the DI is retiring and they're bringing a younger, tougher one in, the one who caught the killers of those two cousins up in Sandbrook."

"You mean Hardy?  Crikey Rose, he's tough, I'll never be able to get him to play along like the old DI.  You stay away from him and watch out, Jack Harkness is in town though I don't know how long for so no hanging around in the arcade on your day off, he'll be watching the place.  He's trying to find out what my plans are."

"You mean for the Esplanade?  I thought you had someone on the council who was gonna help you with that?"

"He is, don't worry.  I just have to get those investors to agree, I don't want to use all my own money, do I now?  I have to go away again next week so I want you to keep an eye on Tony for me, in case Harkness tries to get at him.  Watch Mickey as well."

"Dad, I thought you trusted Mickey and Tony?"

"Not with Harkness around.  You've seen Tony lately, he wants to get out or take over, he may think Harkness can help him and as for Mickey, given the right incentive, he can be easily swayed.  Night love, set the alarm before you go to bed eh?"

"Yeah, I will, night."

Rose was worried about her little brother, he was easily swayed by Mickey and the last time their dad had been away she'd seen them talking in the far corner of the arcade.  So the following Monday morning, Pete was getting ready to go back to Weymouth since he also wanted to visit his other arcades and was taking no chances Jack Harkness was going to muscle-in on his territory.  He was considering taking Mickey with him but Tony had never been left on his own and while he was having doubts about Rose's old boyfriend, he was going to have to trust him for now.

Little did he know Jack was still in town and was planning on talking to the youngest Tyler once his father had left on his trip.  When Jack untangled himself from Ianto, he told him today was the day they were going to begin tearing down the Tyler empire.

"We go for the kid while his dad's out of town, what better time?  Come on Ianto, get your ass out of bed.  We have work to do starting with making a call on Jackie Tyler.  Don't go getting jealous, you know she likes to flirt with me."

"You don't have to flirt back, do you?"

"If it helps find out what her husband's up to, what harm can it do?  Shame that Rose doesn't want anything to do with me, maybe I should work on my chat-up lines?" he asked, admiring himself in the mirror.

Rose had left for work, Tony was getting ready to walk down to the arcade, not that he really wanted to, he wanted out as soon as his dad got back from his latest trip and no amount of arm-twisting was going to change his mind.  He was almost eighteen, old enough to do as he wanted and he wanted to leave the boring seaside town he'd grown up in.

He hardly had any friends his own age, his dad had insisted he hung around the arcade since he was old enough to remember and his school friends had done the same at first until their parents had banned them because he used to lend them money to play the machines kids were allowed on and charged them interest for every 50p they borrowed.

Over the weekend, Detective Inspector Alec Hardy had arrived in the town, booked into the hotel he'd been assigned and thought straight away he was going to spend as less time as possible in his room and had already been on the local property website to register.  So as he walked into Broadchurch Police Station, he was already in a bad mood when he found out he was working with another woman, like working with his now ex wife wasn't enough.

As he sat in his office, she dared to knock on his door.

"So, how are you settling in?" she asked, taking a seat opposite him.

"You wanted something?  Get one thing straight, I am not here to make friends or win popularity contests Miller."

Ellie thought he was going the right way then.

"Bring me up to date with what's going on in the town."

"Well, nothing much goes on up in the town, the harbour is quiet at this time of year, it's another two weeks until the holiday season."

"Is that why there was a crowd across the harbour on that patch of grass this morning?"

"Oh, they'll have been waiting for the arcade to open.  I bet it'll have been late if Tony's opening up."

"Who's Tony?"

"Tony Tyler, the arcade owner's son.  It's supposed to open from ten in the morning until ten at night but if his dad's gone away again, it's anyone's guess.  Beats me why he doesn't get Mickey to open it."

The name Tyler rang a bell with Alec and he reached for a folder left by the DI who had just retired.

"What's all this?" he asked, holding the folder up marked 'Lucky Slots' then taking a look inside.  "What?  Do you know how many licence violations are in here?  How do these people manage to stay open?"

"Ah, Mr Tyler had an arrangement with DI Hunter."

"He did, did he?  Well he will have no such arrangements with me."

Ellie Miller didn't doubt it, things were about to change around here.

"Do you want me to arrange a meeting?"

"With who?"

"Mr Tyler, I think he was going off again."

"I need an appointment to speak to him with regards how many changes he is going to have to make?" Hardy asked, shaking his head.

"He's a busy man, he has several arcades on the Dorset coast, including Weymouth.  He won't be pleased."

"I don't care if he is pleased or not Miller.  I am going to pay a visit to the arcade, the ones not in this town are not my concern.  Does the chief know about it?"

"About what?"

"Don't act dumb with me Miller, about the arrangements as you call them.  How did they get a licence to stay open until 10pm?  Who stays in charge at that time?"

"Mr Tyler has a night manager and security then a van comes in a morning after it opens.  It does close early on Sundays."

"Well I am glad to hear that," he told her, getting up to put his jacket on.  "I am going out, to pay them a visit."

"Mr Tyler won't be pleased."

"Do I look like I care if I please anyone?  Whose idea was it to stick me in a hotel up in the town?"

"It's nothing to do with me."

"Well find out, I want moving down here as soon as possible, if I can't find a place to rent."

"That's not my job – Sir, to make your arrangements."

"Then what is the point of you Miller?  Get onto it.  Find out if there are any places I can rent, not a caravan though, with all the noise, I want somewhere quiet."

As he walked out, Ellie thought maybe a hole in the ground might do the job, or that place by the river and he might sleepwalk and fall in, hopefully.

Since it was lunchtime, Rose had promised she would just call by the arcade for a few minutes while Pete was away then grab something to eat at one of the food stalls.  She was just coming out when she almost collided with Hardy.

"Watch where you're going," Rose called out as he tried to dodge her again.

Hardy wasn't watching where he was going when he'd seen the blonde turn away from the change desk.

"Excuse me, you almost bumped into me when you were turning around."

"Well don't get so close next time.  Tony, I'll see you later and don't forget what dad said, don't let Mickey choose the music or we'll get complaints again.  You know what the kids like."

"Yeah, yeah, Sis, stop nagging me, you're worse than mum.  If you'd not been talking you wouldn't have collided with him would you?" Tony grinned.

"I was making sure you knew what dad wanted."

"I should know by now and Mickey will be back with lunch in a minute, you could have stayed."

"I prefer to eat outside without a load of teenagers watching me."

"Have you two finished?" Hardy asked, getting out his ID card.  "DI Hardy, Wessex Police.  Who's in charge around here?"

"I am," Tony said proudly, trying to look taller than he actually was, getting him a look from the woman cashier who hated being bossed around by a kid, Mickey was bad enough.

"What do you want then?" Rose asked, thinking he might try bossing her brother around.

"Where is the owner?" he asked, testing Miller's theory he'd never get a straight answer out of any of them when she'd warned him on his way out.

"Away on business so you'll have to wait until he comes back.  Tony, don't say anything until Mickey gets back," Rose told him.

"Would that be Mickey Smith?" Hardy asked, recalling some of what he'd read earlier about him being a troublemaker who hung around the harbour at night, got into fights and was always let off while the others got to spend the night in a cell and whose friends included the local plumber's mate who did a bit of poaching on the side and a less than reputable market trader.

Mickey was just walking in with two food trays.

"Someone say my name?" he asked, looking at Hardy.

"You're Mickey Smith?" Hardy asked, expecting someone with a bit more to them.

"Who are you then?"

"He's the new DI, Mickey, you knew the other one was leaving," Rose told him, thinking she'd have to be fast if she wanted to eat or she'd have to eat on the way back.

"I am just checking things out, I have a list I want to go through with you."

"What list would that be?" Mickey asked, finding which carton was his fish and chips smothered in ketchup.

"All the violations you have been getting away with.  No matter, I will see Mr Tyler when he gets back.  I take it you are Miss Tyler then?" he turned to ask Rose, getting his notebook out to remind himself to come back, if she was going to be here at the same time every day, it might be just worthwhile hustling the two males who were glaring at him.

"Hang on," Mickey told him, sticking the plastic fork into a chip.  "What violations?  The other DI never did anything if we made a few alterations."

"Well I am not the other DI.  You can start by turning that racket down and bursting my eardrums and that sign outside needs moving so no-one will trip up over it.  Don't the council say anything?"

"Why would they bother?  No-one complains, it's big enough to see," Mickey told him smugly.

"Well trust me, they will," Hardy told him, clicking his pen and putting his notebook away.

"Mickey, I have to go or I won't get any lunch." Rose interrupted them.

"Yeah Rose, see ya.  You want to go to the dance with me on Saturday night?" Mickey asked hopefully.

"Get lost Mickey, I wouldn't go with you if you were the only single bloke in town."

"Who you going with then?"

"I'll think of someone, even Olly is a better choice than you."

All three of them watched her leaving.

"So, she's your ex girlfriend then?" Hardy asked.

"Yeah, hey, keep your mitts off, her father won't be happy you coming in here ordering us around."

For a date with Tyler's daughter at the local dance, he was willing to risk it.
Chapter 2
Rose went to get something quick to eat, just having lost ten minutes of her lunch break when the town's new DI had almost knocked her over but instead of shouting abuse at him, she'd let him off.  Pete would have something to say when he got back later in the week though he'd not said anything about when he was coming back or anything other than stay away from the new DI but the last time she'd seen him on the news, he'd looked completely different.

Now he had changed his hairstyle and grown a scruffy beard and she had quite fancied him, despite him being older.  She only had just over half an hour, it was a ten minute walk back to the shop and Eileen, the manager would get mad if she was late so sitting down to wait for her order, she was going to have to eat quickly.  She was just sat on the wall by the river when she saw the DI come out of the arcade and get his phone out.

"Miller, I want a full report on why the licensing committee granted an extension to the arcade's opening hours and why Pete Tyler is leaving a young boy in charge."

"Well there's no law anyone under eighteen can't enter the premises as long as they're not gambling," Ellie told him, getting tired of him already and it hadn't even been a day.

"That is not the point Miller, they are in violation of the laws I know about."

"Your own?"

"Do you want to be on the school crossing patrol?  Just get it done and I want more information as to why Mickey Smith is let go with a warning every time he gets into a fight.  Find out who he associates with, I want names."

"Weren't they in the report you were reading?"

He glanced over to the wall and saw Rose sitting there, having just got her food and a bottle of flavoured water.

"I want it on my desk when I get back."

He hung up and crossed the street by the side of the pub, Rose pretending she'd not seen him.

"Hello again," he greeted her, sitting on the wall beside her at what he considered was a safe distance.

"Are you going to bump in to me again?"

"I did not do that on purpose Miss Tyler, you just happened to turn around unexpectedly."

"You sneaked in without me hearing you, detective inspector.  Why are the police interested in the arcade all of a sudden?"

"Your father may have had arrangements with my predecessor but that has changed.  He is gone and I run a different town now."

"I'm sure my father won't be pleased about that but I don't have much to do with the arcade, I just promised dad I would keep an eye on my brother.  He can be a bit hot-headed sometimes, especially when Mickey's around."

"He also seems to like to show off, that alone could get him into trouble with the wrong people."

"That's why Mickey's there, he's supposed to keep him out of it."

"Is that why he's always getting into fights?  I have read up about him."

"He just gets a bit carried away with the punters who think they got cheated.  They don't get that the games are games of chance, they don't like losing so they wait until Mickey's out of the arcade and try their luck with him."

"Is that why they get locked up and does not?" Hardy asked, wishing she would stop eating and making him feel hungry.

"My dad keeps him out of trouble."

"You mean by having an arrangement with the local law enforcement?  I can tell you now, that is over, there are no arrangements and he will get locked up overnight for disturbing the peace until he gets bailed out.  I will be having a long discussion with your father when he gets back."

"Well it's not all Mickey's fault.  See those two blokes hanging around outside?  That's Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones, you might want to keep and eye on them.  They're my dad's arcade rivals and Jack's after opening one here but the council won't let him.  He's got one in Weymouth next to my dad's and wants to expand."

"Why won't they let him?  Oh, I get it.  The same arrangements apply with the council?  Well I think your father is going to be in for a shock.  There is nothing I can do about the council but things are going to be tightened up around here.  I will leave you to finish your lunch.  Where do you work?"

"In a fashion shop up on the High Street.  I really should be setting off back now.  Like I said you should be talking to those two clowns who have just gone into the arcade."

"Can your brother handle them?"

"No but Mickey should be able to, if they've not already got to him."

"Does your father not trust him?"

"Not entirely.  Nice talking to you, detective inspector."

Hardy was looking in the direction of the arcade.  "It's Alec, Alec Hardy but I don't care for my first name but call me that if you wish?"

"Ok Alec who would rather have some other name, I'm Rose."

"So I heard.  Don't let me keep you.  Will you be down here tomorrow?"

"Probably.  See ya then."

Rose got up and threw her trash into the bin, not wanting an on-the-spot fine from him.

"Quite possibly, good day Rose."

All the way on her hurried walk back to the shop, she couldn't help thinking maybe she'd got herself a date for the dance on Saturday.  Hardy decided to leave the arcade for now and look up this Jack Harkness.  If there was going to be a territorial war in his new town, he wanted to know what he was up against.

Jack and Ianto had been to call on Jackie Tyler, being announced by the housekeeper.

"Mrs Tyler, two gentlemen are here to see you."

"Oh, who are they then?  They'd better not be selling anything."

"No, it's Mr Harkness and his 'friend'."

"Well that's different," Jackie told her, fluffing up her hair and wishing she'd worn a skirt.  "Show them in then," she added, standing near the window.

Jack and Ianto were shown into the smaller lounge that had once been the study of a top London barrister.

"Jackie!" Jack greeted her, opening his arms and grinning.  "You get lovelier every time I see you and it's been too long.  How are you?"

"Hello Jack, you've been avoiding me, come here."

She threw her arms around him and they pretended to kiss each other's cheeks, well since Ianto was watching.

"I've been busy, you know how it is, right Ianto?  Why don't you go to the kitchen and get yourself a coffee or something?"

Ianto knew that look on Jack's face and the fact his door opened both ways and Jackie Tyler was still on his 'To do' list.  What worried Ianto was that Pete Tyler was away.

So after their 'visit' to Jackie, Ianto had parked the car in the pub car park and they'd walked along the sea front to find out where Pete was planning his latest venture.

"There is no way he can build anything here Jack," Ianto insisted as they reached the end of the roadway and it gave way to the sea at one side and the cliff wall at the other.

"Well you tell me where he plans building something, unless he wants to knock something down, that would explain the delay and no plans but what?  Those apartments and the police station are fairly new and that only leaves the harbour car park.  He wouldn't build anywhere away from the harbour."

"Well whatever it is Jack, he's not telling anyone.  Let's go see if he told Tony or Mickey?"

"Good idea or maybe we can call in the hotel on the way huh?"

That explained why when Rose had seen them hanging about outside the arcade, they'd not seen her for some reason as they were busy talking about their sexual exploits plus they had not expected Rose to be talking to anyone apart from Mickey or her brother and being late in arriving at the arcade had not seen either of them leaving.

Alec Hardy had got some food on his way back to the station and was just making a drink when Ellie approached him, not thinking he would be back so soon.

"Sir, I got some of the information you wanted and the chief wants to see you."

"What for?" he asked.

"She never said but she said as soon as you got back."

"Then I will eat my lunch first.  So what do you have to tell me?"

"It's on your desk as you requested though I didn't have time to go through everything.  Sir, you need to know that Hunter dealt with Pete Tyler, we had to do as he said.  If he said Mr Tyler's people were off limits, that's exactly what they were.  If Mickey got into a fight, uniformed officers had been told to let him go with a warning."

"So what about the chief?"

"She just left him to get on with it.  When Mr Tyler gets back, if you haul Mickey or anyone else who works for him in, he'll not be happy."

"So you have already told me Miller," he replied, sitting at his desk as Ellie followed him into his office.  "What's the story with the kid?"

"He's training to take over the arcade, given Mr Tyler's plans."

"Which are?" he asked, eating his sandwich.

"That's just it Sir, no-one knows, he's keeping it very quiet mainly so his rival, Jack Harkness doesn't find out probably."

"He has contacts on the council?"

"Yeah, how did you guess?"

Hardy shrugged his shoulders.  "What do you know about Tyler's daughter?"

"Rose?  Have you met her?"

"She was in the arcade.  Tell me about her." 

He didn't want his new DS to know he'd already introduced himself.

"She's very popular, works up in the town and she used to babysit for me when Tom was little.  She went out with Mickey Smith for about three years then she left him.  I don't think he ever got over it."

Hardy thought she was right, since Smith had asked her to the local dance and she'd turned him down flat.  If he saw her tomorrow, he might find out if she did have a date for it, find out where it was held and how to get tickets.  It would make him look good if on his first week in the town he turned up with the arcade owner's daughter.

If she already had a date, it may be worth his while to either persuade her to go with him instead or turn up and steal her away from whoever she had gone with.  He had to find out who this 'Olly' was as well.  He'd finished his lunch so he made his way to the chief's office and knocked on the door.

"Ah, there you are Alec, settling in?"

"I prefer to be called just Hardy.  Miller said you wanted me."

"Really, are you going to call everyone by their surnames?"

"After working with my ex wife, I learned not to use first names, they have to earn my trust first."

"Well just because your ex wife turned on you doesn't mean you can't trust anyone."

He thought since he'd arrived in the town, Rose Tyler was the only one he'd made an exception for.

"Was there anything else?"

"Yes, about the arrangements DI Hunter had with Mr Tyler."

"They are no longer in place, I can tell you that much.  Whatever they were, there are going to be a lot of changes."

"I'm not sure that's wise Alec, I mean detective inspector.  I take it Mr Tyler is out of town again?"

"Seems so since he left a young boy and his minder in charge.  Seriously, he's letting his young son train to take over?"

"It's none of our business what Mr Tyler does, you should keep out of his way when he does come back.  I expect he already knows Hunter left."

"Maybe.  Was there anything else?"

"Yes, I hope you are not going to make it your personal mission to go around upsetting the local business owners?"

"That all depends.  They have nothing to worry about if they conduct themselves within the law."

"Yes, well your law is not what they are used to.  Have you met any of the other owners yet or have you only been to the arcade?"

"Just the arcade so far, Hunter made the mistake of leaving the file on his desk when I took over, what do you expect?"

"Well tread very carefully.  The busiest season is almost upon us, the harbour businesses depend on it and the arcade attracts a lot of attention.  You'll be upsetting a lot of them if you go after the arcade."

"If they give me a reason I will have no choice.  Miller mentioned someone called Harkness."

He didn't want her to know what Rose had already told him.

"Stay away from him, you have no idea what he and Mr Tyler are capable of combined, trust me.  I mean it Alec, there will be consequences if you get between them and it will end very badly."

Alec shrugged his shoulders, like he cared who he upset.  After Sandbrook, this would be a picnic.

The chief picked up a folder.

"Here, follow up on this from last week.  An accident victim who had lost his memory regained consciousness up at the hospital.  See what he remembers."

"Is this some kind of punishment for visiting the arcade on my first day?  By the way, that hotel you put me in is not suitable, it's too far away so I got Miller to start looking for something nearer, a holiday cottage or apartment must cost less than a hotel."

"DS Miller is not there to find you alternate accommodation you know?  Go see personnel if you want to be moved, they have an arrangement with the owner of The Traders that anyone new to the force is put up there for up to six weeks.  After that, you're expected to either have left or find somewhere of your own and get a subsidy towards it or in some cases, rare mind you, the full cost."

"Does everyone around here have arrangements?"

"You'll soon find out for yourself.  Now, take this and go see that patient at the hospital.  A nurse Jones has been looking after him."

Alec took the file, seeing the patient had no name.

"Who goes around with no ID?  I take it someone has checked to see if he's wanted?"

"Of course, we're not that backward Alec, really.  Take DS Miller with you, she might have more sympathy for him than you will."

Hardy thought maybe she would be better going on her own, without him but if it got him out for an hour, maybe they could go back via the High Street and he might be able to discover where Rose worked.  She had said a fashion shop but if there was more than one, without going in them all, he would have to hope she was standing by the window.

Why was he so bothered though?  The chief interrupted his thoughts.

"Well go on then, I thought you were in a hurry to get out of my office?"

He picked up the folder and scraped his chair back, partly on purpose.  Elaine Jenkinson shook her head.  If he went up against Tyler and Harkness, he'd more than likely be the one in the hospital with no memory.

Rose had got back to the shop with two minutes to spare, the manager looking at the fancy clock on the wall.

"Cutting it fine Rose?  Trouble at the arcade?"

"Not exactly, unless you call Mickey asking me to the dance next Saturday 'trouble'?  Honestly, he should know better by now."

"Maybe he's not that convinced and that you'd do anything not to go to the dance on your own again this year?" Alice, the other assistant asked her.

"Yeah Rose, going with all the other single women doesn't exactly mean you have to hang out with us all night," Amber, the part-timer laughed.

"Well it beats getting chatted up by the losers.  I swear if Olly Stevens comes in here with tickets again and asks me, I'm gonna go throw up.  I did meet the town's new DI though," Rose grinned, deciding to go tidy a display of brightly coloured t-shirts.

"So, what's he like?" Alice asked before she realised it was her lunch break.

"Tall, dark and scruffy-bearded.  He almost knocked me over."

"Did you talk to him?" Amber asked, seeing the boss look at them so she went to tidy the other side of the display since Eileen didn't mind them talking as long as they appeared to be busy, she hated nothing more than customers coming in and seeing the three of them chewing gum and leaning over rails.

"He sort of apologised but then he started talking to Tony so I had to stay.  Seems the arrangements my dad had with the old DI are now null and void."

"Thinks he tough then?" Amber asked as the doorbell rang and two teenagers came in, Rose nudging her friend to stop and follow them around.

Though the shop had security cameras, young teenage girls enjoyed the challenge of sneaking small items under their jackets, which considering it was warm outside, made them conspicuous.

Rose approached one of them.  "Looking for something in particular?"

The girl looked in her friend's direction, whom Amber was standing behind.

"Nope, just looking, thanks."

"We have a nice line in bright t-shirts, makes you stand out, you know, shows beneath your jacket no matter how you try and zip it up."

Rose knew every sign when someone was planning a fast getaway, Mickey had taught her a few tricks, which was why Eileen always left it to her to deal with any budding shoplifters.  They didn't normally come back, well not for a while anyway.

The girl put her hands in her pocket, giving a signal to her friend, whom Amber had seen fingering a skimpy top that would easily accidentally 'fall' off the hanger and under the girl's jacket.

"Don't think so, thanks.  Come on," she nodded to her friend.

"Been nice talking to ya, call again soon won't ya?" Rose grinned, pointing to the CCTV monitor with four pictures, the two girls being in two of them.

The girls left, Rose confident nothing had been taken.

"Don't know how you can do it," Amber told her as they went back to the display.

"Aw, it's nothing, you should see what people get up to in the arcade, nudging the machines.  I mean, just to get a few 2p coins out, you'd think they were robbing a bank.  Anyway, back to the new DI.  Did I tell you he was sort of dishy?"

Amber shook her head, giving Rose more attention than what she was supposed to be doing.

"If he asks me to the dance, I don't think I'll be turning him down, put it that way."

"Won't your dad be mad at you?  I mean if he was checking out the arcade and he wasn't there?"

"Nah, he's got bigger things to worry about, Jack and Ianto are in town."
Chapter 3
After Rose and Hardy had left the arcade, Jack and Ianto made their way inside, Ianto getting some coins out of his pocket to play one of the slots until Jack called him.

"Ianto, what the hell are you doing huh?"

"Sorry Jack, force of habit," he grinned, pocketing the coins.

They made their way to the back, knowing they were on camera and someone would be on their way to try to throw them out.

Mickey went to meet them.

"Jack, what are you doing here?  I thought you'd left town?  We weren't supposed to meet yet, I've not had time to talk to Tony."

"Why not Mickey, what am I paying you for huh?" Jack wanted to know.

"Because Pete was here all weekend that's why, plus Rose was hanging around earlier."

"Aw, I just missed her?  I'm gonna be upset all day now.  She's still having nothing to do with you then?"

"What do you think Jack?  I asked her to the dance and she told me to get lost again.  I think she might have another bloke."

"Well it's not me Mickey boy.  So, when are you gonna talk to the kid?"

"I'm working on it Jack, now are you gonna spend some money?"

"What do you think?  You'd better talk to him soon or the deal's off, I might get bored and go some place else."

"Why would you do that?  Don't you want to know what Pete's up to?"

"Well no-one seems to know, not even you apparently.  What's he playing at?  He's not told Jackie, we just came from visiting her.  Rose still not interested in the arcade then, as well as not being interested in you?"

"Don't remind me Jack.  Did you hear the old DI just left town?"

"I heard rumours he was getting out.  Have they replaced him yet?"

"Oh yeah Jack, they replaced him alright, it's his first day and he's already been in hassling us.  Can you believe his nerve?  Pete's gonna be furious when he gets back, trust me."

"So did you and the kid stand up to him, put him in his place?"

"Not exactly, he thinks he's gonna make a few changes around here, I told him that wasn't gonna happen."

Mickey was hoping Jack would believe him, since Hardy had in no uncertain terms told them he was in charge now.  Hardy had stayed a bit longer after Rose had left and pointed out a few 'changes' that needed their attention, starting with more signs to say no gambling under the age of eighteen and taking away the stools at the slot machines so kids were not tempted.  Mickey had argued the regulars sat on them and they would complain.  Hardy had said that was their problem, not his.

"Well we'll be back Mickey so get on with talking Tony into joining forces with us, he wants to be on the winning team, trust me.  Tell Rose I'm sorry I missed her then."

"Yeah, she'll be sorry she missed you."

Hardy and Miller were on their way to the local hospital.  It was only a small place and had been saved several times from being closed due to petitions and Pete Tyler since his son had been born there shortly after their arrival in the town.

"This is a complete waste of time Miller," Hardy was telling her as she drove them, noting she was not going via the High Street but another way.

"We have to find out who he is, we can't just leave him there."

"Let the hospital take care of that."

"Got something else to do Sir?"

He chose to ignore the remark.  Yes, he did have something else to do, find out more about a certain Rose Tyler.  How was he going to get Miller to go back via the shopping area?  He could always say for her to drop him at the hotel for something and he could walk back, looking in the shop windows on the pretence he was finding his way around.  Maybe he could call in a few and introduce himself but what excuse could he possibly have for going into a woman's fashion shop without arousing suspicion?

Whatever the reason, he was running out of time as Miller stopped in a parking space that had a sign saying 'Official vehicles only' and Hardy thought she must think she qualified, not that he was complaining since it was outside the main entrance and he really didn't want to be there.  Ellie Miller seemed to know where she was going as he followed her in.  He didn't like hospitals since he'd been several times during his last big case and had made a point of never going back to one, until now.

Ellie had stopped at a reception desk, Hardy surprised they even had one.

"Hi, we're looking for Nurse Jones?  She's been looking after a patient suffering from memory loss."

"Oh yes Ellie, she's in ward 2, you know where it is?"

"Yeah, thanks.  This is DI Hardy, he's new in town."

"I heard DI Hunter was retiring.  Shame, he was really good at his job."

Hardy wondered if he was going to get that everywhere he went, even when they'd got used to his way of doing things.  It seemed to him that it wasn't going to be as easy as he thought as Miller led him through a door and stopped at the nurse's desk and there was an Afro-Caribbean woman in a nurse's uniform sitting looking at a monitor.

"Hello Ellie, come to see our unknown patient?"

"Yeah, is he awake Martha?"

"He's in bed 3, with the curtain around him.  It'll be visiting time soon and we didn't want to upset him when others got visitors.  He's remembering a bit more, knows he was driving a blue car and he blacked out."

"Well that's a good sign then.  Oh, this is DI Hardy, he took over from DI Hunter."

"He finally retired then?  Shame.  Hello, I'm Martha Jones.  So it's DI Hardy?  No first name?"

"I don't do first names.  The patient?"

He knew when he was being checked out, Rose had done it earlier and while he had welcomed her attention, this woman was making him uncomfortable to say the least.  Martha led them across the ward and went though the curtain, seeing the man was awake.

"Up to talking to the police then?"

The man simply nodded, he wanted to be out of the place as soon as he knew where he was going.

"He's all yours Ellie.  Come and see me before you go, won't you?"

Hardy thought that was addressed to him, not to Miller.  Twenty minutes later, Miller had to stop to talk to the nurse, didn't she? Hardy thought, trying to get away and still trying to come up with a reasonable excuse to go via the High Street and not being able to come up with one except he really wanted to know where Rose Tyler worked.  Maybe he should just try asking, what did he have to lose?

"So, are you and Joe going to the dance on Saturday night then?" Martha asked Ellie but looking at Hardy.

"No, don't think so, I think we'll leave that to the younger generation and besides, we'll never get anyone to watch Fred.  Are you going?"

"Well if I can find someone to take me?" she hinted, looking again at Hardy, which got a smile out of Miller.

"What about that Doctor Milligan?  I thought you liked him?"

"He's away somewhere again, why would I want to go out with anyone who keeps disappearing on me?  How long are you here for, DI Hardy?"

He wanted to say he'd be on the next bus out.

"Come on Miller, we have to go see if we can get any information on the mysterious patient, we've not got all day to talk about who is and is not going to the local dance," he told her, putting his notebook away.

"Tetchy," Martha remarked, looking at him with that look that said 'are you going to ask me or not?'

"Just because you're new in town doesn't mean we don't think it's important," Ellie scoffed back, knowing he'd chew her out when they got back to the car.  "Things like that are important in a small town – Sir."

"Then talk about them in your own time Miller.  For your information I do not attend local dances unless I either go in an official capacity or I know someone whom I would like to take."

He wanted to add that it didn't include the nurse giving him that look again and for her not to get any ideas.

"Well all the tickets will be snapped up soon but they usually keep a few back to be sold on the door," Martha wanted to inform him and for him to take the hint again.

He knew a hint when he heard one but if he were to invite Rose, he wouldn't be seen buying tickets at the door.  Not daring to risk asking where they were available from, he walked away from the desk, Ellie trying to apologise for her new boss.

"Sorry Martha, it's his first day and he's already been to the arcade so he's not in a very good mood.  Why don't you see if Mickey has a date?"

"What?" Martha asked, staring after Hardy.  "Oh, maybe, if he's not got a full calendar, you know Mickey?  Go on then, what's his first name?"

"Leave it Martha, trust me, he's not worth it.  He's done nothing but complain all day and he's just arrived.  I hate to think what he'll be like in a week's time."

"He needs to go to the dance then, that may cheer him up Ellie."

"Well good luck with that then, you're going to need it.  I might go just to see him with two left feet."

Ellie rushed to catch up with her grumpy new boss who didn't seem to know when he was being chatted up into taking a woman to the local dance.

"You can get tickets from the tourist information centre, the one in the newspaper office opposite your hotel."

"Why would I want to do that Miller?" he asked, standing by her car.

"Just in case you were to find someone to go with.  I think someone in there was volunteering."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah, though I dare say if you went on your own, you might have them queuing.  There aren't a lot of eligible bachelors to go around, well not that the local women would actually want to be seen with.  You never know your luck."

"Are you local agony aunt or something Miller?  I am not interested in seeing how many woman want to dance with me.  I would not lower myself by making it clear to the single women of Broadchurch I was 'on the market' if that's the term these days.  If I were to go, I would go in an official capacity to let people see I was keeping an eye on things or I would find myself a date, not one who was throwing themselves at me."

"Martha was right, you are tetchy.  Got anyone in mind then?"

"I refuse to be interrogated Miller.  Go back via the hotel, I want to call in."

"To ask Becca Fisher?" Ellie laughed.

"Very amusing Miller, why do you think I want to move out?"

Ellie dropped him as he'd requested.

"Want me to wait?"

"No, you get back and get me that information and I want the low-down on that Harkness you mentioned."

"Sir, stay away from him, he's trouble, I mean it."

"Why are you and the chief keen to keep me away from him?"

"Because you don't know what you're up against.  You may have been a pain since I met you earlier but I wouldn't see anything happening to you.  Trust me, keep away from him, especially if he's with his boyfriend."

"You mean he's one of those?  Why should I be worried then?"

"Because Ianto Jones is shall we say the brawn and Harkness is the brains, they're unstoppable once they get going.  If he's in town, they're after finding out what Pete Tyler's up to and they won't leave until they find out.  Have you seen them?"

"They were pointed out to me as I left the arcade."

"Who by?"

"Rose Tyler, I saw her as I came out of the arcade."

"You never said you'd already spoken to her."

"You never asked.  You should be getting back to the station, I won't be long.  Get onto personnel and put a rocket under them, I want to be out of that hotel as soon as possible, got it?"

"Yes Sir, got it.  I could get you into a caravan?"

"Forget it, I'm not going in a caravan, it reminds me of when my parents used to take me.  They used to spend all the time arguing."

"Right, caravans are out then.  The apartments are a bit expensive, that doesn't leave a lot.  I'll see what they say but you might have to pay towards somewhere."

"What about one of the pubs, don't they have rooms?"

"I thought you wanted to be on your own?"

"I'll have more privacy there and it will be nearer the station.  Get to work on it, I'll take one if you can't find me anywhere else."

When he had watched her drive off, he changed his mind about going into the hotel and wandered down the street.  They'd not passed any fashion shops on the way but there was another street leading off and he wondered if it was down there but she had said the High Street, unless that had the same name but he was about to turn off when he saw a sign saying women's fashions and two young girls hanging around, looking a bit suspicious.

They saw him watching them so he went to show his ID and they ran off.  He wondered if they had been trying their luck in the shop that had the name 'Cinders' above the window and he thought he could see Rose inside, though maybe that was what he wanted to see?  He thought he should at least go and check the teenagers had not caused any trouble but his phone rang.  It was Ellie Miller.

"Are you on your way back?"

"Why?"

"I got you that information you wanted about Harkness, you won't like it."

"I am on my way back then."

As he walked away, Rose was looking out of the window and thought she caught a glimpse of him but maybe she had him on her mind and wanted to see him, wanted him to call in but what could she do?  It would look a bit odd unless she went after him and said two teenagers had been trying their luck but she'd seen them outside and since they'd gone, she assumed they'd got tired of hanging around.

As Hardy walked down the street, he was a bit annoyed that Miller had chosen that moment to call him about Harkness but he had to find out why two people had tried to put him off going after him.  Once back at the station, he went through the information Miller had got him, not knowing what to expect.  He wondered how she'd got it so fast but she'd probably got it from the records department, if his predecessor was keeping tabs.

Miller had been right, he didn't like what he read.  Harkness had no interest in the area other than trying to muscle in on the Tyler operation and Hunter had just brushed it off by the looks of it.  Why was Tyler keeping everything so secret?  Now he had a problem because if he asked Rose to the dance, she would surely think he was trying to find out about her father and Tyler would tell her to stay away from him.

If he admitted it, he did want to get to know her but he couldn't go easy on the arcade just for the sake of it.  He would have to play this very carefully.  If he'd thought about, he could have called and got two tickets for the dance but first, he had to make sure she would talk to him again so it was back to the arcade at the same time tomorrow or just wait outside for her.  He had to keep up the appearance he was watching what went on in the arcade though so he'd get there early and hopefully, she wouldn't be put off by him being there talking to her brother.

The following day, Rose was setting off for work when Tony caught up with her.

"Rose, Jack came into the arcade yesterday after you left."

"Yeah, I saw them outside while I was having my lunch.  Did they talk to you?"

"No, Mickey went to talk to them.  I think they're tryin' to find out what dad's doing.  Has he told you anything?"

"Why would he tell me Tony?  If you're worried, just call him."

"Yeah, great idea Rose, then he'd think I wasn't up to taking over from him."

"Are you?"

"I don't know, I'm all mixed up Rose.  Mickey keeps tryin' to tell me I can do better than work for dad."

"Such as?"

"He never says.  I don't want to stay in the arcade all my life but what else do I do?"

"That's down to you.  I gotta go, see you at lunch time and don't let Mickey get to you, ok?  Don't let that new DI get to you either."

She had some room to talk, he'd already got to her.
Chapter 4
Hardy was in his office counting down the minutes he could justify going back and shaking down the arcade.  He hoped today that he might bump into this Harkness bloke and see if his bark was worse than his bite or if the chief and Miller were over-exaggerating in their warnings.

He had looked up what he could find for himself on Pete Tyler, a tough arcade owner, which he already knew but nothing about any plans for Broadchurch on the council website listing planning permission but if Tyler did indeed have a few councillors on his side, there wouldn't be but it was annoying him.

He knew it wouldn't be fair to chase after Tyler's daughter to get the information he needed but when he'd seen her yesterday, finding out what her father was up to was the last thing on his mind after first getting her phone number and inviting her for a drink and to go to the dance with him, well now he knew about it.  Perhaps he should go secure a pair of tickets or risk paying on the door but if they were sold out, Rose wouldn't give him the time of day and he would have blown his only chance of getting over being sent here in the first place.  At least she might make his stay, however long, more pleasant.

It would be six months before he could even apply for a transfer then where would he go?  Certainly not back to Sandbrook and watch his ex wife make-out with her boyfriend who would never leave his wife.  He wished now he'd seen it before and taken Claire Ripley up on her offer but since she'd turned out to be a bit of a psycho perhaps it was just as well he hadn't.

Just after eleven, Miller knocked on his door.

"Sir, the hospital just rang.  That patient remembered something else and I think I found a match for him from a missing persons report.  He's from Weymouth and his name is Daniel Jones.  He works, well guess where?"

"I'm in no mood for guessing games Miller, just tell me."

"In the arcade belonging to Harkness, the Lucky Dollar.  It's right next to Tyler's arcade."

"That's a bit of a coincidence, him losing his memory.  Do you think he is faking it?"

"I don't think so Sir, he was definitely in an accident.  It was investigated last week when it happened."

"By Hunter?  Can I trust anything that man did if he let things go?"

Ellie hated anyone talking about her old boss that way.

"Sir, with all due respect, DI Hunter was a good man."

"I'm sure he was before he got to retirement age and wanted an easy life.  Tell me, these arrangements with Tyler amongst other things, how long had they been going on?"

"A few years."

"Exactly.  Hunter hung on until the last minute when he could have got out sooner.  Well get up to the hospital then and see what else he remembers."

"Aren't you coming with me?"

"Take one of the other DS's with you."

"Oh I get it, you don't want to face Martha again?" Ellie laughed.

"What has that to do with anything?  Can't you handle an interview on your own?"

"Yes, I can but you seemed keen on getting out yesterday."

"That was before I was ganged up on to go to the local dance."

"So you have no intentions of going then?"

"Not with that nurse.  Well are you going to stand there all day?"

Ellie shook her head.  Perhaps she should play match-maker, how else was she going to get him to the dance?  She took Frank with her to the hospital and while he was asking the man some questions, Ellie was talking to Martha.

"So go on then Ellie, what's DI Hardy's first name?"

"It's Alec but don't tell him I said so."

"Why didn't he get my hints yesterday?"

"Maybe he needs a push?"

"Yeah, I might go by the station when I get finished and see if he's there, you know?  I finish at four today and it's my day off tomorrow."

"Might be worth a try.  Don't tell him I was encouraging you, he seems determined not to go."

By eleven thirty, Hardy was itching to get to the arcade so before Ellie got back he got his jacket and walked the short distance, planning on trying to eat at the same time as Rose, if she wanted his company.  That was if she didn't catch him hassling her brother again or she almost collided with him.

He stood outside the arcade for a while, it was a bit early for the lunchtime crowd who ventured down from the town to spend their hard-earned cash on the machines.  He checked Harkness and his boyfriend weren't around and began to wander through the recently extended arcade, which had annoyed the local newspaper editor as she had been about to apply to use the building next door as her new office.

Mickey was watching the CCTV monitor and nudged Tony.

"Hey Tony, why don't you go see if you can handle the new DI?"

"Me?  You go Mickey."

"Come on, go stand up to him, what would your dad say?  You don't have Rose to stick up for you today."

"She said she'd be in again."

"Did she say anything about going to the dance?"

"Nah, not to me unless she's said anything to mum.  Mind you, mum was acting a bit funny last night."

"How so?" Mickey wondered, since Jack had said they'd been to visit her.

"Can't say, who knows with her?"

Hardy had almost reached the change desk so Mickey went out of the office.

"What you doing here again?"

"Have you put those notices up yet?" Hardy asked, not seeing any.

"I have to wait for Mr Tyler coming back."

"Are you not in charge while he is away?"

"No, Tony is."

"Then he needs to make sure the signs go up.  While I am here, you should be aware I know how you have been getting away with a warning when you get into a fight.  That stops.  The next time you are caught, you will get locked up."

"Huh?  Blame the punters, they always start it."

"Yes and from what I've read, you normally finish it so either stop fighting or you will get charged with disturbing the peace.  Do you understand?"

"Yeah, I get it.  Mr Tyler will get me out and trust me, I'll only get locked up once."

"Sure of that?  Where is young Mr Tyler anyway?"

"Busy."

"I won't ask what with.  Just remember about those signs then, I will be back.  When does Mr Tyler return?"

"He never said.  Are you gonna hang around all day, you're putting the customers off."

Hardy looked around at the mostly older teenagers who were playing video games and laughing.  He knew as soon the school holidays came along, all the kids would be hanging around spending their pocket money instead of getting out in the fresh air and unless he did something drastic it would be a great shame they didn't go out on the beach and play football instead of choosing to spend their time indoors.

He was looking to see if there were any other violations he'd missed when he caught a glimpse of Rose making her way to the office at the side of the change desk so he carefully avoided her seeing him and dodged around a row of slot machines and went to wait outside, getting himself a much needed carton of tea, thinking he'd wait and order some food nearer the time she came out, if she didn't completely ignore him.

Rose had done nothing but talk about him all morning to her two fellow assistants, both of whom knew exactly where this was leading – she had a bad crush on the town's newest addition to the police force.

"Rose, stop going on about him will ya?" Amber asked when she'd got in at eleven.  "Just go find him and tell him you fancy him and be done with it."

"It's ok for you Amber, you've not had to listen to her since she came in," Alice yawned, pretending to be bored but the way Rose had been going on, she was dying to meet him but they had an unwritten rule of first come first served when it came to men.

"Nah, I don't chase blokes," Rose grinned.  "Not after that other disaster, how did I know he was married?"

"How do you know the new DI isn't?"

"He's divorced, it was in the papers he was getting one after his last case and his stupid ex wife almost screwed up.  He was really lucky he guessed who smashed her car window.  No, I'm gonna let him chat me up if he's around the arcade today."

"If your dad catches him, that'll put him off for good," Alice mused, trying to look like she was doing something.  "You'd better hope that Martha doesn't get her claws into him."

"Why would I be worried about Martha?  Geez Alice, how many times has she tried and failed to get a bloke to take her to the dance?"

"As many as you?" Amber giggled as the shop bell rang and Beth Latimer came in with her daughter Chloe.

"Hi girls, Chloe's looking for something to wear at the dance on Saturday.  I have to get to the information centre, I'll leave you to it."

"Mum, I don't need you to tell them what I want, I'm sixteen, not six."

Rose smiled, Beth was just like her mother.  Just before twelve, having served Chloe, she got her jacket and dived out before the other two gave her a list of instructions such as finding out how old the detective inspector was, his height, weight and if he was fit or not.  Ten minutes later, she was sure she'd seen him dodge behind some slot machines but she'd been imagining seeing him all morning and waved to Mavis, the long-suffering morning cashier who was dying to get out as soon as Beryl got there at four.

"Hello Rose, they're in the office.  Tell Mickey I want my break will ya?"

"Sure, I'll tell him, don't let him take his first again."

She found Tony and Mickey watching two older teenage girls who knew they were on camera and were showing off certain parts of their anatomy.

"Tony, you should know better," Rose scolded him as they didn't hear the door open.

"Aw Rose, it's just a bit of fun, they know someone's watching."

"Yeah, a couple of perverts.  Get your eyes back in your head Mickey.  Has the new DI been in again?"

"He just left, chill Rose, I got him under control."

"Yeah, sure you have.  I hear Martha's looking for a date for the dance."

"She is?  Good luck to her then.  She might con the new DI into taking her."

"I thought she fancied you.  The last time she came in she was asking about you."

"She's got her eye on Tom Milligan, I'm not in her league, trust me."

"Everything ok?"

"Why wouldn't it be?" Mickey huffed as the two girls nudged each other, waved and made their way outside where Alec Hardy saw them come out as he was watching for Rose after he'd placed his lunch order.

"You don't have to check up on me every day Rose," Tony insisted.

"I promised dad.  I got a message earlier, he'll be back on Thursday at some point, he's down in Poole.  Have Jack and Ianto been in?"

"No, why should they?" Mickey asked worriedly.

"I saw them hanging around yesterday that's all.  Tony, you stay away from them."

She didn't want to alert Mickey that Tony had already said something, she was sure her former boyfriend was playing both fields and would turn on her father quicker than a spin of the wheel of fortune and take Tony with him.

"Right, I'm off for my lunch and let Mavis go grab something before you two stuff your faces with burgers.  If we don't watch out, she might end up working for Jack."

"She wouldn't get the bus to Weymouth every day," Mickey scoffed.

"I meant if he gets his own way and opens one here, idiot."

"That won't happen, he said…"

"Said what?  Are you thinking of working for him?"

"No of course not," Mickey lied, thinking that maybe she was onto him.  "Thought you were going?"

"I am, just watch out Mickey, you know Jack's just tryin' to cause trouble.  You too Tony."

She made her way outside and looked across at the stalls and thought she was seeing things as Hardy was sat at one of the tables.  She walked across and he greeted her.

"Hello again, join me?"

"I'll just go order then.  Are you eating?"

"I just ordered something.  Been to see your brother?"

"Yeah, I think Mickey's tryin' to cause trouble."

"Want to tell me about it?" he asked as his order was called and he followed her to the stall.

Rose ordered and went to join him.

"It wouldn't look good if I were to give you a list of complaints," she smiled.  "Besides I've only got half an hour."

"It's that long?" he asked, smiling for a second time since he'd met her yesterday.  He'd smiled as she'd left him the day before, what was happening to him?

Despite him being in a slightly better mood after he'd met her, he was still annoyed his DS had tried to force him into asking that nurse to go to the dance with him – he chose his own dates after his disastrous marriage to Tess, who had done all the chasing.

Rose went to get her order, thinking she was going to have to stop doing this but it was her day off tomorrow and once her father got back, it would be back to normal.

"I shouldn't be bothering you with my concerns over the arcade, you might be causing a few of them."

"In what way?"

"I don't know, Tony wouldn't tell me anything, not that he does these days but I'm guessing since you visited yesterday and said there had to be some changes that they won't be that bothered about them.  They only do what my dad tells them to do so you're wasting your time, Alec."

Anyone else he would have told them to stop calling him that.

"They are breaking a dozen licensing laws Rose, how can I not inform them?  I would have done it anywhere else, not just here.  They had too easy a time with the other DI, I have to be seen as the tough guy.  Just for you, I will give them until your father gets back and I am only doing it for you on one condition."

Rose thought this was it, he was about to ask her out, she hoped.

"What's that then?"

"That if you have any concerns, you come to me."

"Oh, well only until my dad gets back.  Is that all?"

"Will you be down here tomorrow by any chance?" he dared ask.

If it had been any other woman other than the arcade boss's daughter, he wouldn't have been so worried.

"It's my day off tomorrow but I might call in and keep those two on their toes," she smiled, nodding to Mavis and hoping she wouldn't go back in and tell tales on her to Mickey that she was eating lunch with the local police. 

She also hoped she would be gone when Mickey came out or he'd be straight on the phone to her father.

"Then would you care to join me for lunch, across in the café?" he asked nervously, pointing to the end of the row of old apartments and wishing he could afford one of them.

That reminded him to ask Miller if she'd found him somewhere to live yet, the hotel owner and been eyeing him at breakfast so he thought maybe tomorrow he would skip and make some toast at the station.

"Lunch?  Well I was only planning on a walk on the beach or something so yeah, half twelve?"

"Twelve thirty then.  That dance you mentioned yesterday, where would it be?"

"The local high school, why?" she asked, throwing her trash into the bin to show him at least one of the Tyler family obeyed the local by-laws.

"Just curious.  Until tomorrow then, don't let me make you late back to work but if you are, you can blame me."

"I will," she smiled, putting her purse on her shoulder.  "See ya then, Alec."

He watched her walk off again, a bit nearer to asking her than he had been yesterday when he'd learned about it and someone else hinting he should take them instead but if he went to get two tickets and asked Rose tomorrow lunchtime, he could truthfully say he was already going and got himself a date, not that he would say who with.  Maybe for Miller's and Nurse Jones's benefit, he may deny he was even going and just turn up, with Rose on his arm.

Since when did he do that?  Rose was having more of an effect on him than he cared to admit.  He saw Mickey come out of the arcade and head towards him so he got up, thankful Rose had just left.

"Was Rose just here?" Mickey called as Hardy threw his trash away.

"Why would she be sitting with me?"

"I never asked if she'd been sitting with you."

"Well to answer your question, you just missed her and I don't care for your insinuations I would have known that."

"Huh?" Mickey asked as Hardy walked off.

Was the DI trying to hide something?  Had he been sitting with Rose, eating lunch?  He was going to have a few questions for her when he saw her again, like what the hell she was doing eating lunch with the enemy.  He was sure Pete would have told her to stay away from the new DI, maybe he should call him and tell him but what would he say?  The DI could be trying to wind him up since Rose shot him down in flames about the dance in front of Hardy yesterday and Rose herself could be just trying to make him jealous.  She was doing a very good job as well.
Chapter 5
Martha was determined that she was going to get the detective to agree to be her date to the dance.  He was new in town and was fair game but had that sneaky Rose Tyler already beaten her to it?  Well for a change, Martha Jones was going to get in first and go catch him outside the station at five and wait on the wall opposite and ask him directly, since he couldn't seemingly take a hint when she had dropped enough yesterday.

She thought calling the station herself with the news about the patient they'd been to see yesterday would get him back though Ellie had come with another DS but at least she'd encouraged her which meant he may not have met Rose yet which was something.  Finishing her shift, she made her way down to the harbour and ordering coffee and a sandwich, sat where she would see him coming out of the building.  When she did, she got up and walked back to the road.

"Hello Detective Inspector Hardy, or should I say Alec?"

"I don't like being called Alec.  What are you doing down here, shouldn't you be at work?"

"Early finish.  So, buy me a drink then?"

Hardy shook his head, he didn't want to encourage her, he'd no idea what time Rose got out of work and if she were to make her way down here to check on the arcade again, he did not want her seeing him talking to the nurse.

"I have somewhere to go," he told her truthfully, since Miller had arranged for him to view a holiday cottage in fifteen minutes over on Harbour Cliff Beach.

"Not even time for a coffee?"

"I don't drink coffee and I really have to go.  Look, no disrespect but I am not looking for anyone to go to the dance with.  I don't know what DS Miller put you up to but it will not work.  Now I am going to be late, excuse me."

Martha stood to one side and watched as he walked off.  Should she follow him and see if he was meeting someone?  He couldn't stop her from walking the same way, could he?  She walked at a safe distance behind him, past the arcade and then he turned left, crossing the road, past the pub on the corner then across the car park and in front of some houses and onto the edge of the beach where a man was waiting by a car.

What was he up to?

"DI Hardy?" the man greeted him, holding out his hand.  "We don't normally do viewings so late but DS Miller said it was urgent.  Let me show you the property then we can discuss the terms."

Hardy nodded and gestured for the other man to lead the way.  He stopped at the bottom of some paved steps.

"How many?"

"Well, 36 to be exact.  Your DS never said steps were a problem, she just said you wanted somewhere isolated and private."

"Go ahead then but how do I get up there in the dark?"

"How long are you planning on staying out?  It stays light until around 10pm."

Hardy thought that was rather beside the point.  He supposed he could take it for now.  He looked inside at the open-planned lounge and dining room, the kitchen then the double and twin bedrooms.  He then opened the patio door, looking along the beach then the small garden at the back.

"So, give me the bad news then."

The man handed him all the details which Miller had neglected to tell him but considering how much the police were paying per night at the hotel, it wasn't that bad and he should get it all paid for.

"If you sign now, I can let you have the keys on Thursday afternoon, we won't need the usual checks if the police are paying.  The minimum rental is a month."

"The only thing putting me off are those steps, I will have a curfew but I suppose a good torch will prevent any accidents.  I'll take it for a month then and see how it goes.  I still want to know if anything else, on ground level becomes available.  Is there a parking space?"

"You can park where I was, it's for residents."

Hardy sat at the small kitchen table and signed where indicated, noting the details for payment were still blank.

"So you will bill the station then?"

"We have dealt with them before.  Here's my card, call and see me on Thursday afternoon, then you can move in when you want."

Alec followed the man down the steps, carefully but at least there was a handrail and since the path was at the side of some houses, he may get some light from them and he hoped he wouldn't have to go out in a rush but at least it gave him a month to find something else.  Now all he had to do was request a car, since he'd had to leave his other one back at his old station.

Martha was sat on the harbour wall, waiting for him to walk back but he got his phone out and called for a cab to take him back to the hotel.  Tomorrow he planned taking a walk back up to get two tickets for the dance then go meet Rose in the café and ask her nicely if she would consider going with him.  He thought he caught a glimpse of the nurse as the cab turned the corner to take him to his hotel but why would she be sat there other than to wait for him?

Down at the arcade, Tony had gone home, leaving Mickey and the night staff plus two 'security' guards who he wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.  The place was busy, staff were walking around keeping an eye on the punters and giving change and Beryl was counting stacks of coins, Mickey watching her when he wasn't watching the CCTV monitor in the office.  He was surprised to see Jack on his own walk towards him.

"Mickey Mouse!  How's it going?"

"Jack, on your own?"

"For now.  So, any news for me?"

"Pete will be back some time on Thursday, so Rose said.  Don't worry, he never stays long."

"Yeah, especially if I cause some more trouble down in Weymouth."

"So you're the reason he went off again?"

"When is he ever gonna learn I mean business?  Talking of business, our little arrangement is a bit one-sided, wouldn't you say?"

"What do you expect?  I'm working on Tony, trust me but that new DI coming in ain't making it easy, Tony's getting spooked."

"Well you're with him, now's your chance.  Tell him I can shall we say 'persuade' the new DI to go easy on him, I doubt Pete will be able to get the same arrangement he had before."

"Hardy already said that was finished."

"Did you say Hardy?  From that case in Sandbrook?  He just put three killers behind bars, Pete's gonna have his work cut out on that one but maybe I can do a bit better?"

"How are you gonna do that?"

"Ah, like I'd tell you!  I have my ways but I might run out of patience with you and cut you out of the deal.  So don't waste any more time."

"OK Jack, I get it but Tony's unsure."

"It's your job to make him see things my way and tell him not to worry about Hardy, I can deal with him.  You had any more luck with Rose?"

"Nah, she only stayed a few minutes but I'm getting worried.  When I went to get lunch, Hardy was sat across by the river and he said she'd just left."

"So you didn't actually see them together?"

"Well no but she could have been."

"Well find out, do I have to do all your thinking?"

Hardy had got back to the hotel and was about to go upstairs when Becca caught him.

"Hey, how's your room?"

"As hotel rooms go?  I will be leaving on Thursday, I have found a place to rent."

"Oh, I thought you'd be here a while?  I was going to ask you, are you going to the dance on Saturday night, with you being new in town, it's a good way of getting to know people."

Why was everyone except Rose asking him to go to the dance?

"I was considering going."

"Oh, well if you need someone to go with?"

"I already have.  Now, I have to go freshen up before dinner."

Rose was at home, helping her mother set the table for dinner, since the housekeeper prepared everything before she left for the day.

"Dad said he'd be back on Thursday."

"Yeah?  I wish he'd stop going off like that.  Jack came to see me yesterday."

"You never said Mum.  What did he want?"

"Just a friendly visit, he heard Pete was out of town."

"Mum, you know he's trouble, dad will go crazy if he finds out."

"You think I don't know that?  I'm counting on you not telling him, promise me Rose?"

"Well ok but you have to promise me something in return."

"Anything you say."

"I met the new DI, had lunch with him today and he invited me for a proper lunch tomorrow."

"You fancy him then?"

"I might do but you know dad told me to stay away from him?  Well I don't think I'll be able to do that, I'm hoping he might ask me to the dance on Saturday night."

"You, having a date for the dance and you expect to keep that quiet?"

She could always live in hope.  If Pete found out, she would just have to face him but he'd not even met Alec Hardy yet so why was she so worried?

The next day, Hardy was looking forward to his lunch date and nothing was going to spoil it so making his excuses, he took a walk to the tourist information office to get the tickets for the dance.  He would rather get them and show Rose he was being serious than risk them selling out.  He had no idea Martha had already been in and bought two, hoping she could entice the DI into going despite him going off in a rush last night.  Beth had just got there when Martha walked in.

"Oh hi Martha, what are you doing here?"

"Are there any tickets left for the dance on Saturday night?"

"Yeah, a few, they're going fast.  Got a date?"

"I'm working on it."

So when Hardy walked in there was now a limited supply of tickets and Beth had to mention it.

"Oh, hello.  Are you new in town or just visiting?" Beth asked as he indicated he wanted two tickets and seeing the dwindling number.

Hardy thought well at least she wasn't asking if he was going to invite her.

"DI Hardy and you are?"

"Beth Latimer, my husband's the local plumber.  So you're the new DI everyone's talking about?  I thought you would have been going in an official capacity, you know, to get to know people?"

He was sure someone else had already suggested that but he wanted to do it properly, he wasn't going there to keep an eye on anyone other than Rose Tyler.

"I do get some time off.  I would not like to be seen trying to get in for free by taking advantage of my position.  How much do I owe you?"

He paid the ten pounds and put the tickets in his jacket pocket.  Now he had to get down to the harbour café to meet Rose without anyone else asking if he was going.  He was just leaving when Olly Stevens was coming back into the newspaper office.  Olly had been doing his homework and he should be interviewing the new DI to see how he intended running things and after trying the station and being told the detective was out, had called his aunt, who'd not been very helpful when asked.

"How do I know where he gets to Olly?  He's only been here two days and trust me, when he goes out, he's out of my hair.  He's been a pain since he got here.  Try the arcade, he's been bothering them."

"I just called in there, no sign of him."

"Well I know he's been going in, he's thinking of going up against Pete Tyler, when he gets back."

"That's suicide, didn't you warn him?"

"Like he'll listen to me, he'll find out the hard way plus he's already saying he's interested in Jack Harkness.  He won't last long if he goes after both of them and gets caught up in their little war."

So Olly recognised Hardy right away and turning around, went after him.

"DI Hardy?  Olly Stevens, Broadchurch Echo, have you got a minute?" he asked, showing the press badge around his neck.

"Not now, I have to be somewhere.  What do you want?"

"Just the low-down on how you intend running things now you're in town.  Is it true you've already declared war on the arcade?"

"What?  Where did you get that from?"

"I have my contacts.  Since Mr Tyler's away, are you going to enforce the local by-laws?"

"No comment Stevens, I will be visiting Mr Tyler when he gets back.  Now excuse me."

As Hardy walked off, he wondered if that was the same Olly as Rose had mentioned she wouldn't go to the dance with and having just met him, could see why.  It had better not be Miller who was the reporter's 'contact'.  He got to the harbour café with five minutes to spare and ordering tea for two, sat at a table facing the window so he could see if Rose was on her way.

Rose had got delayed by having the misfortune to bump into Olly, who had more or less followed Hardy.

"Hi Rose, going somewhere?" Olly asked, catching up with her.

"What do you want Olly?  I'm not going to be your date for the dance so forget it."

"Did I ask?  I'll be working anyway, taking photos and doing an article about it.  So are you going then?"

"I haven't made my mind up yet and if I do, I'm not dancing with you and you take my photo and put it on the front page and my dad will have the paper shut down."

"I thought you liked getting your photo in the paper?" Olly laughed as Rose crossed the road by the mini-roundabout.

"Stop following me Olly, get lost.  Why don't you find someone else to bother, Nigel's sat in the van over there.  Ask him if he's caught anything lately."

"He's not nearly as interesting as you.  Did you know Jack Harkness is in town?"

"So?  Like I care."

She was rescued by Nigel shouting from inside the van for Olly so she made her escape and walked to the café entrance where Hardy had been watching.  She walked up to the table where he'd moved to sit at the other side. 

"Hi, sorry I'm a bit late."

"It's quite alright, I saw you had been delayed.  The reporter is persistent, he caught me a short time ago."

"Well the town's a bit quiet at the moment, until the holiday-makers arrive.  Have you ordered yet?"

"Just tea for two, I was waiting for you."

The waitress arrived with a tray as Rose was looking at the menu so deciding on something simple, Hardy got up to order for both of them.  As he got back, he could see through the window that Stevens was talking to someone sat in a blue van.

"So who is that reporter talking to now?"

"Just Nigel Carter, the plumber's mate.  If you ask me they'll be talking about how neither of them have a date for Saturday night, not that it's anything new.  So, have you been busy Alec?" Rose asked, pouring tea for both of them as Hardy turned the cups upright.

They talked over lunch, Hardy saying he was finding his way around the town from the hotel to the harbour, then he mentioned he was moving when Rose asked if it was a bit of a trek.

"I managed to get a holiday cottage for a few weeks until I find something else.  I can move in tomorrow.  Do you live up in the town?"

"No, I live just up there," she pointed, in the direction of the houses on the side of the cliff.

Hardy tried to look around but not far enough as Rose smiled.

"You are teasing me since I cannot tell where you mean."

"Aw, well I can't come right out and tell you, can I?  Well not until you tell me which holiday cottage you have taken."

"You cannot see it from here, it is around the back, very awkward to get to as I found out when I went to look last night but I wanted somewhere isolated."

"Got what you asked for then?" Rose smiled, thinking it wouldn't take much guessing if she wanted to but Alec seemed to be enjoying their little game of not saying where either of them lived.  "Met many more of the locals yet Alec?  I mean besides Mickey and my little brother."

"Your brother is taller than you," he smiled.

"Yeah but he's ten years younger than me, mum had given up wanting any more kids until dad somehow talked her into it when we were moving here.  Must have been the sea air."

"Yes, quite.  So how are you planning on spending the rest of your day?"

"I'm going for a walk then catch up with a few things at home.  Back to work for you then?  How are you getting on with Ellie?  I used to babysit for her eldest boy, Tom and sometimes I had two of them when his friend Danny stayed over.  Right little terrors they were but they weren't really too bad, my brother could be worse."

"Yes, back to work and as for DS Miller?  We do not seem to working along the same lines.  They had very different ideas before I arrived."

"Yeah, the old DI let things get a little slack before he left, not that it's anything to do with me but he let things go too easily and people took advantage."

"Mickey Smith being one of them eh?  I have talked to him and informed him he will get locked up next time."

"Good, he might stop getting into trouble but like I told you, it's not always his fault, unless he's changed the games or something.  Oh, I never thought of that.  I told my dad he was getting untrustworthy, I'll have to mention it when he gets back.  The thing is, they get left to their own devices and Tony's still a bit green around the ears.  I don't think he'll be there much longer."

"Ah, your list of concerns?  I am listening Rose, I would like to help if I can.  Don't think you are being disloyal will you?"

"I shouldn't be bothering you Alec.  Do you have to leave yet?"

He looked at the clock on the wall.  He'd been out almost an hour but he really didn't care to just go hurrying off and leaving her.

"Maybe you can take your walk with me?  Just to the station?" he asked, hoping she'd agree.

"Yeah ok but maybe you can sneak a bit extra time to walk along the seafront with me, just to the end of the road?"

"I can always say I had business to attend to, if you were to express more concerns about the arcade to me.  It would help me have a better understanding."

They left the café and stayed on the harbour side of the road.  As they passed over what became the river, Hardy noticed a blue chalet right by the edge and wondered if he'd have been better off taking that so instead of falling up or down the 36 steps in the dark, he might have just fallen in the river.  He had wondered how the cottage had ever been built on the side of a cliff and whose bright idea it had been to have no proper access.
Chapter 6
They took their time walking around the other side of the harbour and passing the police station on the other side of the road, Rose stopped at the beginning of the stone pier, sitting on the circular seating area and Hardy hoping Miller wouldn't be watching for him going back.

"Do you think you'll like it here Alec?"

"It is early days yet Rose, I have only really been to the arcade and the hospital."

"Is there something wrong with you?" she asked, looking alarmed.

"No, Miller and I had to go see a man who had lost his memory in a traffic accident but he is getting it back.  Seems he comes from Weymouth and works in an arcade next to your father's, owned by Jack Harkness."

"Don't talk to me about him, he's a creep and my dad's business rival.  That's why dad has to go away so much, to stop Harkness trying to take over."

"So has that been going on for a while then?"

"Yeah, since Jack bought the arcade next door down there when my dad put in to take it over, Jack beat him to it, offered more money.  It's the only one he has down here, all the others are on the south-east coast but I think there's more to it."

"Your father's secret plans?"

"Yeah and before you ask, he's told no-one.  He's scared Jack will find out.  He's out finding backers to fund it so it has to be big but no-one can even guess what he's up to and where it will be.  There's nothing down here Alec and I know you think he's got a few councillors in his pocket but if he has, he's never said who they are or if he really has."

"Well there are the licensing violations that I will have to speak to your father about.  I am not trying to cause him trouble Rose, really I'm not but I can't let them go or I am in violation for not enforcing the law.  I have no idea how the other DI got away with it."

"I'm not blaming you Alec, you have a job to do and my dad will appreciate that.  I can't say he won't try and come to some arrangement with you though."

"I will have to say no, my career will depend on it Rose, I can't be seen turning a blind eye.  How were the other business owners over it?"

"I don't know, honestly.  They could have had similar arrangements, Ellie might know but be careful whose toes you step on, she may have known nothing about it."

"She told me if Hunter said back-off, everyone did but I put out a notice this morning saying whatever he had told them was no longer valid and any officer not doing their job properly will answer to me.  I don't want to be the bad guy around here but I will be, if I am forced to.  There will be no getting out of jail free cards around here any more."

Rose got up, holding her hand out to him.

"Coming?  You promised to walk to the end of the Esplanade with me."

"Yes, I did but before we go, I have something to ask you.  Not about the arcade or any plans that your father may have.  You said on Monday that you would not go to the dance on Saturday night with Smith or whom I now know is the town's nosy reporter so I took the liberty of purchasing two tickets and I thought maybe you would not object to going with me?  If you have no other plans of course?"

Rose tried not to seem too keen but it was what she had been hoping for.

"Well, I'm usually fighting off invitations you know?" she grinned as they walked off.  "Buy me an ice-cream and I'll consider it."

They stopped at the kiosk and got two strawberry cones in wrappers and Rose went to lean against the sea wall, hoping her mother was not sunning herself in the garden or watching out of the window.  Hardy stopped beside her and being taller, sat on the wall, holding out his free hand to help her sit beside him.

"Have you thought about it?  You should know I have had other offers as well."

"Oh.  You have?  Let me guess.  Would they be Becca Fisher and Martha Jones by any chance?"

Hardy thought they must be her rivals when it came to men.

"Nurse Jones has been most persistent.  She was waiting outside the station last night."

"She would.  I was trying to fix Mickey up with her but he doesn't seem to be interested for some strange reason.  Watch out for Becca though."

"That is part of the reason I am moving out, she watches me all the time," he grinned.

Rose nudged his elbow and giggled.  He was playing just as hard to get as she was.

"Oh, ok, I'll go with you then, just to save you from a fate worse than death.  You did buy the tickets with the intention of asking me, didn't you?"

He knew he'd been found out.

"Yes, that was my intention."

"Well I wouldn't want you to think I wasn't capable of getting a date or anything."

"No, of course not.  So, we are agreed.  I do not have a car yet but I intend requesting one when I eventually go back to my office, which you are keeping me from, Miss Tyler."

"I can get there, do you even know where it is?"

"Ah, then maybe I should get a cab and we could share on the way back?  Unless I get a car with a navigation system installed."

"We'll do that then Alec.  I should let you get back to work, thanks for lunch and the ice-cream."

"You are most welcome.  I may stop by the arcade, just to keep those two on their toes.  Do they work all week?"

"Yeah, they have night and weekend staff who take over but Mickey stays late some nights and be my guest, now I think Mickey's up to something.  I should tell my dad when he gets back but he goes away a lot these days."

"Maybe Harkness is causing problems on purpose?"

"Yeah, maybe he is but it won't stop dad going after him.  Alec, there's gonna be trouble, I can see it brewing."

"Maybe your father would be better giving up the Weymouth arcade and concentrate on this one?"

"No, it won't matter to Jack, he wants to know what's going on here, why dad's being so secretive.  Jack thinks by keeping dad busy down there, whatever he has planned here will fall through but I don't think my dad can see that.  If Jack finds out his plans or who's helping him, he'll try and take it over.  Alec, be very careful about getting involved and trying to stop them."

"Rose, I just put three child-killers away, I can handle two arcade owners who are at war with each other."

She just hoped he was right.

"So, where do you live then?" he asked as they sat on the end of the wall, a barricaded road opposite with a turning area and a path going up the side of the cliff that everyone used to get up to the town, including him since it was quicker than walking all the way round but that wouldn't be a problem after tomorrow.

"Up there," Rose pointed, to the largest house nearest the path.

"Don't you get tired of people walking past?"

"Aw, you get used to it, we have a yappy little Yorkshire terrier we leave in the garden, no-one dares do anything.  If you ever want to call, take my advice and go around the back, Missy lives in the garden, she never comes in during the day and when she does, she goes to sleep in the hallway.  She lives just to bark at people, it's her purpose in life, well when she's not dodging my mum giving her a bath, that's fun."

"I can imagine.  So, how do you get around the back?"

Rose explained it to him then got up.

"I'm keeping you from work, Alec."

"You are rescuing your brother and Smith.  If Smith is such a bad influence, why does your father leave him with Tony?"

"Good question but I don't have any proof Mickey's doing anything wrong.  I should pay more attention but dad's back tomorrow at some point, if nothing goes wrong again."

"If Harkness is keeping your father occupied, then why is he in town?"

"Good point.  Maybe he's just trying to figure out if dad's planning something, where it's likely to be."

"Surely there is nowhere he can build anything, without planning permission and that can take a long time.  Unless of course he already has it?"

"Never thought of that Alec.  Maybe DI Hunter was in on it?  Do you know where he went?"

"From what I can gather, he was on the first flight to Benidorm.  Miller said his wife was already out there setting everything up and that must have cost something.  Are you thinking what I am?"

"Yeah.  If Hunter was in dad's pocket and let him get on with things, who was he getting in the way of?"

"Exactly.  If Harkness paid him to leave though, they would not have known who was going to replace him.  Maybe Harkness thought whoever it was, he would be able to get on his side."

"Well, he's come unstuck, hasn’t he?" Rose smiled.

"Yes indeed Rose and maybe that is why he is keeping away from me?  He must be planning something of his own.  Maybe your brother and Smith are part of his plan?"

"Tony wouldn't turn on dad."

"I am not questioning your brother's loyalty Rose but maybe you should try to find out and inform your father?  It would be better he knows, if Smith is trying to turn your brother and get him on Harkness's side?  Was he with someone, his boyfriend, according to Miller?  You pointed out the two of them the other day."

"Yeah, Ianto Jones, he's someone Jack met in Cardiff and he follows him around like a lost puppy and he's dangerous Alec, I mean it.  He thinks nothing of arranging 'accidents'.  You said there'd been one last week?  Someone who works in Jack's arcade.  Oh, do you think he found out what Jack was up to, causing trouble for my dad?"

"You may be right so you just be careful Rose."

"You should be too, if Jack can't buy you off.  I don't think they'd be so stupid to cause you any harm but you might find yourself suddenly out of a job or worse, accused of something you haven't done."

"That would not be the first time Rose, trust me.  Evidence went missing in my last case and my ex wife tried to blame me.  I was lucky I figured it all out.  I will be prepared if he comes after me but we could be wrong.  I am going back to the arcade, see if they are hanging around because the sooner I find out if he is after me, the better."

"So I'll see you at the dance then?" Rose asked, getting up.

"Yes, unless you would care to have a drink with me on Friday night?"

"Yeah, I'd like that.  I'll meet you in the bar of The George, say eight?"

"I look forward to it.  I meant it Rose, watch out for Harkness."

"Yeah, you too Alec, be careful."

She reached up and kissed his cheek, well what wasn't covered by his beard.  Hardy thought since she'd seemed a little reluctant, he might give it a trim before Friday night – he might get lucky and she'd want to kiss him.  Well if not on Friday, then he was going to have to make the first move during or after the dance. 

Now he was worried that they might be caught up in a territorial war between rival arcade owners and if that Martha Jones was at the dance, she might go all psycho on him and start getting jealous but surely the two women had gone after the same man before?

Martha had gone to her flat after getting the tickets and then she planned sitting opposite the station again but she'd been playing on her phone and had failed to see Rose walk past with him.  She also never saw him go back in since he cut through behind the corner café, aptly named 'Windy Corner' so when it got to almost two, she gave up.  Tomorrow before starting her shift at noon, she planned on going into town and getting a new dress and show off to Rose Tyler that she was going to the dance.  Then she would find out if Rose herself had a date, since she wasn't worried about the other two assistants.

When Rose got home, her mother was sat in the garden, the dog quiet for a change.

"Where did you get to then?  Bit long for a lunch?"

"We were talking, I'm surprised you never saw us?"

"Why would I be looking down at the seafront?  Honestly Rose, I'm not interested when you want to get yourself a bloke but watch out for your father when he gets back.  He called earlier to see how things were, not that he's been bothered the last few days."

"He's busy Mum.  I wonder if he knows Jack's still in town?"

"Well don't you go telling him.  So when are you seeing that DI again?  Did he ask you to the dance?"

"His name's Alec and he asked me for a drink on Friday night and yes, to the dance.  I might have to treat myself to a new dress.  I hope dad's in a good mood when he gets back."

"As long as you don't tell him who you're going with."

"You know I never lie to him Mum, I'll just have to avoid his questions."

"Well good luck with that.  So, what's he like then?"

Pete Tyler had not been having fun while he'd been away.  He had to get to the bottom of these 'incidents' at the Weymouth arcade but now he suspected it was all Jack's doing to keep him away from Broadchurch, he meant to wind things up tonight and head home in the morning.  It had taken him a while to work it out but it was all adding up to one thing and he didn't like it.

Hardy had no luck at the arcade.  After a quick look around and there being no sign of Harkness, he went back to the station, telling the desk sergeant in no uncertain terms he wanted a car made available for his use by the end of the day and he didn't care who had to give one up if necessary.

Rose was in a good mood when she got to work the next day, Alice noticed.

"So, I take it you got a date for the dance then?"

"Yep and not with Mickey or Olly."

"Ah, the detective inspector got around to asking you then?  Took his time didn't he?"

So when Martha entered the shop just after eleven, Rose had quickly whispered to Amber not to let on she'd got a date for the dance with the DI.  They were all whispering as Martha was looking at dresses in her size.

"So you mean to say she had the nerve to try and get him to invite her?" Amber asked, since the manager had gone out.

"Yeah, so he told me.  She was waiting outside the station for him on Tuesday night, can you believe it?  I know everyone gets desperate to have someone to go to but she's going a bit far.  Watch out."

Martha always had a feeling the three sales assistants talked about her but since they had all the best fashions in the town and she wanted to look her best, she'd had little choice.  She had one more day to get the DI to go with her and she was getting desperate for ideas how to do so and had one more trick up her sleeve.

"Have you got this in blue in my size?" Martha asked, holding up a red floral dress.

"All the sizes are out but one might have been misplaced, let me have a look?" Rose offered, taking the dress from her, in her own size and thought if Martha found one, she was going to buy it tomorrow and hope she could con Pete out of the cost.

"Hey, you're in luck Martha.  Why don't you go try it on?"

"Did you hide that on purpose Rose?" Alice grinned as Martha disappeared behind the curtain.

"No, it was in the wrong place so let's go through all of the rails before Eileen finds out and kicks our butts.  Alice, keep this to one side for me though, I'm gonna try it on since I don't have to go to the arcade today, my dad should be back."

"You wouldn't would you?" Alice whispered as she hung it behind the staffroom door.

"Why not?  It's a different colour."

Martha decided to take the dress, though she'd have to go without something later in the month until she got paid again or ask her mother to put some money in the bank for her.  Getting to the hospital, she found the man who'd recovered from his memory loss had been discharged, as she'd hoped so she had an excuse to call Ellie to check on him and get her to plead her case for Hardy taking her to the dance.

"Ellie, hi, it's Martha.  I was just checking on Daniel Jones, no relation."

"Oh, the memory loss accident victim?  Not heard anything.  Did they release him?"

"Yeah, yesterday, when I looked at the charts.  So you weren't informed then?"

"No, I wasn't, unless Hardy was.  Mind you he was out for ages, don't know where he got to and when he got back, he upset one of the other DS's when he asked for a car.  He'll be going out again soon no doubt, to annoy someone."

"I saw him on Tuesday night but he was in a rush, wouldn't talk much.  I wanted to ask him about the dance again."

"Oh, he was probably going to look at a rental property, he never said if he'd got it or not, that's the thanks I get.  He's not mentioned he saw you though but that's men for you.  I'll try and find out if he's going, you might see him there."

"Well tell him I have a spare ticket, Beth didn't want an odd one so I took two," Martha lied, hoping Ellie wouldn't bother checking.  "Is he moving far?"

Ellie knew better than to indicate where he was moving, since he wanted some privacy and he'd know she'd given information out.

"No, not far, he didn't like being in the hotel though now he's got a car, he can't complain it was too far away.  Look, all I can do is say to him it would be in his interests to check out the dance, then if you wait in the entrance, you can tell him you have a spare ticket.  He might be grateful enough to stay with you but there are no guarantees."

"Well, I'll have to settle for that, unless I see him before.  Does he ever go out?"

"How would I know Martha?  He tells me nothing."
Chapter 7
Hardy was out at the arcade, hoping to find Pete Tyler, who had just got back from his trip.

"Mr Tyler?" Hardy asked, recognising him from photos.  "Can we talk in the office?  I'm DI Hardy."

"Right, I knew it wouldn't be long before you were around.  Shall we?  Mickey, out.  You too Tony," he told them, opening the door.  "So, what do you want to talk about?"

"Licensing violations for starters, lack of signs, we can go on."

"Ah, I believe you should take that up with my son."

"Your son, Mr Tyler, is too young to be running this arcade, he's not eighteen yet, is he?"

"Not quite, he's being trained."

"Yes, by Mickey Smith, who seems to be a fine one to be doing the training.  Getting into fights is not setting a good example."

"What can I say, detective inspector?  It's Alec, isn't it?"

"No, Hardy or DI Hardy."

"If you insist but Mickey gets a bit upset and takes things personally."

"Well, you need to know that if he gets in another fight, he will be arrested.  I'm here to tell you as I did them, whatever went on before no longer stands.  Now, you have until Monday to put up signs by the slot machines, remove the stools and check ID's if anyone under eighteen approaches them.  Then we will address the rest of the violations."

"You look like a fair man, DI Hardy.  I would be only too happy to come to the same arrangement I had with DI Hunter."

Hardy shook his head.  "That's not going to happen Mr Tyler.  I heard you were having problems with a certain Jack Harkness?"

"How did you hear that?"

"I make it my business to know.  It seems to me you want to keep him out of Broadchurch as much as I do."

"You could say that.  Go on."

"Mr Tyler, you need to know that while I will not go easy on you, I will be fair and I will say this.  Did you wonder why Hunter left suddenly?"

"I thought he'd retired?"

"Yes, he did but he could have stayed, had he wanted, at least part-time.  Has Harkness been hanging around a lot lately?"

"He was in town last week.  Why?"

"He's been seen hanging around outside during this week."

"What?  Mickey should have told me."

"Well, my theory is, Harkness eliminates the senior officer and that leaves Smith.  He had no idea who was going to replace Hunter.  I can't be bought, at any price and Harkness is going to find that out."

"Why are you telling me this?" Pete wanted to know. 

He'd been expecting trouble when he got back but here was Hardy trying to help him without being bribed.

"Because, Mr Tyler, you run the arcade according to the law and I will help you stop him taking over in the town and while I can't say the same about your other arcades, if you have plans for Broadchurch, you need to know that for your sake, you should forget it because if Harkness does find out, well I don't need to tell you, the town will never be the same again."

Pete was left wondering exactly why the new DI was telling him this.  Rose had been a bit suspicious about Mickey before he'd gone to sort out those problems but it seemed now that most of them had been going on under his nose.  Surely Mickey wasn't trying to turn his own son against him but was Hardy right?  Was he asking too much of Tony at such a young age to take more responsibility?

He would have to carefully re-think about who was going to be in charge while he went away but now every time he got a call from the Weymouth arcade, he knew the reason and that Harkness was luring him away.  What was his rival up to?

Jack and Ianto had been laying low now they knew Pete was coming back.  They had been sat across the other side of the harbour the last few days, watching who was going in and out of the arcade and had noted on Wednesday that Rose hadn't gone in but they'd seen her talking to the reporter then leave the café with a tall well-dressed man with a beard and they could only assume she had made friends with the town's new DI.

So when they'd just seen him leaving the arcade, they decided to pay Pete Tyler a visit, stopping first to talk to Tony, who was going around checking that anyone who shouldn't be playing the gambling machines stayed away, a new order from his dad which funnily enough came just as Hardy had left.  Pete had called him to the office.

"Tony, why didn't you tell me Jack was still in town?"

Tony shrugged his shoulders.  "Dunno, Mickey said it wasn't anything."

"How many times has he been in?"

"Once or twice.  He never spoke to me he always talked to Mickey.  I got told not to bother about him so I didn't."

Pete was annoyed but he'd told Tony to trust Mickey and now he was regretting it.

"Well you'd better be bothered about him.  Right, go around and tell the others if they see anyone going near the gaming machines who don't look old enough to check for ID.  I don't want that DI on my back and until I sort something out with him, I have to be seen doing something about under-age gambling and you stay away from them, don't think I don't know you sneakily play them when the camera points the other way."

So Tony had been surprised when he was in the far corner that Jack and Ianto sneaked up behind him.

"Tony Tyler, alone at last!" Jack greeted him, slapping his shoulder.

Ianto stood behind with that grin on his face, leaving poor Tony nowhere to go and he was in a blind-spot away from the cameras as he was trying to escape his father's attention.

"Oh, hello Mr Harkness, Ianto.  Did you want to see Mickey?  He's off today, said he had somewhere to go."

"We came to see you kiddo.  You always seem to avoid me, why is that?"

"I'm not trying to avoid you Mr Harkness, honestly."

"Good.  I asked Mickey to talk to you, has he?"

"About what?"

"Come on Tony, what's going on around here?  Has your dad let you take over yet?"

"I have to learn the business."

"How long's that gonna take eh?  He's stalling you, you've been watching how things run since you were a little kid, you should know it inside and out by now.  He's holding you back Tony, you already know that and he'll give it to Mickey, just you watch."

"No, dad wouldn't do that to me.  Besides, I don't know if I still want to work for my dad yet."

"Then come and work for me.  I can get you this place if you want it?  It would be all yours and you could boss Mickey around, you want to boss Mickey the idiot around don't you kid?"

Tony tried to look enthusiastic.  Jack was offering him free run of the place and even if his dad made him manager, he would still be breathing down his neck every five minutes or have Mickey watching him.

"I'll give you time to think about it.  I'll be back when you least expect it and don't tell anyone I talked to you, got it?  Ianto here will be upset if he finds out you did talk to anyone, especially your big sister.  How is she anyway?"

"Ok I suppose.  She was going on to mum last night about a bloke who was taking her to the dance on Saturday night and not telling dad about it."

"Did she say who it was?" Jack asked him, looking around and thinking what changes he'd make once the place was his.

He would make Pete Tyler an offer he couldn't refuse.  Swap him the arcade down in Weymouth for this place and whatever he had planned for the town.  It was a gamble he was willing to take, Tyler had to be up to something and if he got permission to go ahead instead of Tyler, it would be a whole new ball game.

"Some bloke called Alec I think, I hate listening to her when she gets a new bloke, she never shuts up.  She's not had one for a while, the last one, she found out he was married and lived in Exeter with his wife and two kids.  She dumped him but she took it badly.  This new one must be special if she's dating again."

"Did you say Alec?  That new DI's called Alec Hardy.  She wouldn't go out with him, would she?  He has to be your dad's enemy now Hunter's left, well with a bit of encouragement from yours truly.  Seems I made a big mistake there, how did I know they were gonna send hardass Hardy who just locked up three child killers?  Just my luck but if he's dating Rose and your dad doesn't know, I can use that to my advantage." 

He turned to Ianto, who had been tempted to put a few coins in the nearest machine.

"Come on Ianto, we have some work to do.  Hardy just left, let's see if Pete's approached him yet and if not, well we'll have to come to an arrangement with him ourselves.  Everyone has their price, let's see what we can get on him, besides him probably already screwing around with Pete's daughter."

Tony knew this was going to cause trouble but Rose wouldn't listen to him if he tried to warn her.  He'd not known her go on so much about a date before but if Harkness got the DI in his pocket, he could just as easily dump her after deciding where his loyalties lay.

Hardy had got himself something to eat, seeing Jack and Ianto come out of the arcade and he thought they were avoiding him but as he sat, missing Rose's pleasant company, they stopped in front of his table.

"So you're Hardy then?" Jack asked, blocking the pavement.

"Very observant Harkness.  You wanted something?"

"Yeah, you could say that.  Have you talked to Pete Tyler yet?"

"That's none of your business."

"Ianto here gets very upset when I don't get a proper answer, don't you Ianto?"

"Yes boss, I get very upset."

"That should bother me?  I'm on my lunch break."

"So I see.  No company today then?"

"Should I have company?"

"Mickey Smith said you were with Rose Tyler the other day."

"She was here, eating her lunch.  So what?  If Smith jumps to the conclusion we were eating together, that's his problem, not mine."

Jack had to admit to himself that Mickey hadn't been so certain they had been eating together.  Maybe Mickey was still jealous and had seen what he wanted to see but Tony had just confirmed Rose was seeing the detective, more or less.  She was playing a very dangerous game if Hardy went up against her father.  Maybe he should make a play for her himself?  What better way of finding out what Pete was up to?

Pete had seen Jack and Ianto leaving the arcade then cross over to where he thought he saw Hardy.  Were they trying to get to the detective before he did?  Hardy had already told him in no uncertain terms he couldn't be bought but Jack Harkness never played fair like he did.  They would find something on the detective and force him to help them in exchange for keeping it quiet.  He could only hope the detective had no skeletons in his cupboard.

Rose had tried the dress on, getting the opinion of her co-workers.  She would get a discount if she bought it, unlike Martha and both her friends agreed she looked better in the dress than Martha had done when she'd opened the curtain to get better light and move around looking at herself.

"Keep this for me until tomorrow, when I get paid.  I might get my dad to pay for it, he always complains I have no date for the dance, me being who I am and all that."

"So are you going to tell him who's taking you?"

"I doubt he'll have met Alec yet, I should be safe for now and when he finds out, he'll see how happy I am and not bother, well unless he tries to get Alec on his side, so to speak and fails.  Maybe I should have gone down to the harbour for my lunch?"

"Give him a day off Rose," Alice laughed, putting the dress in a carrier and sticking a piece of paper with Rose's name on it.  "You could always wander down there tomorrow?  Have you even got his phone number yet?  Have you given him yours?"

"Stop with the questions Alice.  I don't need his number, I can ring the police station, if I have to and if he's not there, they'll give me his work mobile number."

Alice shook her head and took the carrier to the staff room.  There would be no talking Rose out of going down there tomorrow to find him.

Hardy made his way back to the station, not being worried about the two clowns who had just spoiled his lunch break.  Let them try anything, he had nothing to hide though if his ex had her way, he could have been blamed for letting three killers get away but it hadn't taken much to figure out who had broken into her car.

Ellie decided when Hardy got back, she would bring up the subject of the dance and risk him shouting at her that he wasn't going.  If she were to tell him it would really be a good way of meeting the residents and then people might get used to him quicker, since he probably hadn't even been to introduce himself to business owners.

She saw him trying to sneak past her and followed him into his office.

"If you are here to try to persuade me again I should go to the dance on Saturday night, forget it Miller."

"How did you guess?"

"Well everyone else has been trying, why not you?  Give me one good reason why I should attend?"

"You need to let people see you for one.  You've only been hanging around the harbour area, there is a town as well you know?  Did you take that cottage?"

"Yes, I will be going to collect the keys later so I will be leaving early to get moved."

"Well a thanks would have been nice.  Look, why don't you take Martha?  She seemed keen enough and it will create a good impression."

"With whom?  Miller, I am not going with her and that is final.  If I do go, I am capable of getting a date.  Look, just leave it, have you got nothing else to do?"

Ellie went out and felt like screaming.  What the hell was wrong with him?  Had Martha gone too far in trying to get him to go with her?  Well now, she was going to have to stay out of it because no matter how she went about it, he would get mad with her.  If Martha called her again, she was going to have to tell her she'd given up and Martha would have to find someone else.  She wondered what had happened to the man she'd been chasing previously.

She remembered she'd not asked him about the man with the memory loss but turning around saw he didn't look in a good mood so she left it.  Hardy wasn't in a good mood, he'd missed having lunch with Rose and he'd not even got her phone number.  He couldn't very well call the shop, he had no valid reason and he didn't want to get her into trouble for taking personal calls.  So if he went to get his keys, collected his things from the hotel and was waiting when she got out, well that would be a coincidence if he'd just happened to be passing.

Just after two, he went to his car to go clear out his hotel room, then he'd get the keys for his new cottage.  Becca was at the desk when he got to the hotel.

"Oh, so you're leaving?"

"I already said I was leaving today.  Did you think I had changed my mind?"

"I was hoping you might have and about going to the dance."

He shook his head.  Maybe he should just come out and admit who he was going with?

"I already have a date and I will thank you not to go around telling everyone."

"Oh.  Well, maybe another time then?  So who are you going with?"

"I promised her I would not say.  Everyone will find out on the night."

Finally getting away from the hotel, he left his car where it was and walked down the road, going into the letting agency and seeing the man who had shown him around the cottage, waited until he was free.  He then signed for the keys and drove down to the harbour cliff car park, stopping at the mini-market to get the essential groceries to put him on until Saturday but he didn't relish carting too many shopping bags up all those steps or making more than one trip.

Putting everything away, he just had time to drive back up and park somewhere near where Rose worked.  Why was he going up there though?  He'd arranged to meet her tomorrow night, couldn't he wait until then?  The answer was a definite no.  She would either be pleased to see him or not, it could go either way.  So he parked nearby just before five and waited.

Rose was getting ready to leave, wishing Alec had asked her out tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow but it had been better than waiting until Saturday.  She was just saying goodbye to Alice as Eileen locked up the shop and put the key in for the electric security grill when she looked up the road and thought she saw Alec.

She was right as he gave her a little wave.

"Hey, is that him?" Alice asked as Eileen said goodnight to them.

"Yeah, seems he can't wait until tomorrow night."

"Well, what are you standing here for, get going."

Rose strolled up to where he was waiting.

"Hi, what are you doing here Alec?"

"Well, remember you told me if I wanted to visit your home?  How did you say to get around to it by road?" he smiled, opening the passenger door for her.

"You came up here to take me home and ask me that?"

"Well I was hoping you may agree to get something to eat with me, since you did not visit the harbour today and I had my lunch spoiled."

"Oh, how was your lunch spoiled then?  Was Mickey hanging around?"

"No, Harkness was and you were not having lunch with me."
Chapter 8
"So, where do you suggest?" Alec asked, getting in the car.  "I do not know my way around yet."

"Have you not looked around?"

"Only the harbour and near the hotel," he admitted, starting the car engine.

"OK, turn around and head out of town, there's a pub that does meals, I've been before."

Alec did as she said and headed out of town, not very much further down, just past the turn-off for the sports centre where she told him to turn into a pub car park.

"I'm not dressed for anything fancy," Rose admitted.

"You look fine, I have my work suit on, you will not stand out."

They got a menu and sat in the corner, Alec waiting for her to decide.

"You could have got another menu Alec," Rose giggled, looking over the top.

"I was waiting for you to suggest something, I left my specs on my desk."

"You should have said.  Don't you have a spare pair?"

"No, I should get one.  So, what are you ordering?"

Rose read out a few things after moving nearer to him as he sat at the other side of the table and he then went to order, bringing back a light lager and a white wine with lemonade for Rose.

"So, what was the real reason you came to meet me?"

"I missed having lunch with you."

"Well I wasn't needed at the arcade and I was trying on a dress for the dance."

"Oh, well I may excuse you then but like I said, it was spoiled and he may have upset you.  It seems Mickey Smith told him we were sat together the other day and he was trying to find out if I had spoken with your father."

"Have you?  Mickey should mind his own business, shouldn't he?"

"Indeed, as I told Harkness when he asked both questions.  Yes, I spoke with your father, I gave him time to fix a few things.  After that, we will go through all the other changes he needs to make to comply with the licensing laws.  He tried to make the same arrangement with me as he had with Hunter but I do not make any deals.  I'm not making any exceptions and I believe Harkness was trying to check me out to see if I would deal with him."

"I told you Alec, be careful, you don't know what he's capable of."

"He will soon leave when he finds out I mean business.  I told your father if he makes the changes, I would help him run Harkness out of town."

"You will?  How are you going to do that?" Rose asked as their meals arrived.

"I have my ways and I will not involve you in any way.  First, I have to persuade your father to forget any plans he has for the town."

"Wow, you don't want much, do you?  He's been planning for a long time, he'll not give up that easily."

"He has two choices, letting Harkness take over is not the right one.  We came out for a meal, now no more about the arcade war.  So how long have you lived in Broadchurch?"

"Since I was almost ten, mum hated it at first until dad talked her into having Tony.  He thought it would be a good place to raise a son.  Seems he was wrong.   Mum didn't think he was seriously about going to expand his empire.  So what about you?  Before you arrived in Sandbrook?"

"That is a long story, for another time eh?  Would you like another drink?"

Rose was soon telling him about where she worked, her friends and how she now hated spending too much time playing the games in the arcade.

"Honestly Alec, going in for more than ten minutes makes me irritated.  When I was old enough, dad used to give me a tub of pennies and let me play then he'd check how much I had left and see if I'd won anything."

"Did you?"

"What do ya think?  Tony used to lend his mates 50p and charge interest, until their parents got wise.  Now, all the fun's gone out of it.  I should get home and tell dad I think Mickey's altering some of the games."

"Leave it Rose.  He may be doing so for the benefit of Harkness and I don't want to alert him I am onto him.  Besides that, you still need actual proof, unless you have seen him?  He was nowhere around when I went left though he was in the office when I went in."

Mickey indeed had been somewhere.  He'd gone in for an hour then he had other things to do.  He'd had a call from someone who worked for Jack who'd just regained his memory and had been released from hospital and was staying up in the town.  Mickey had offered him a ride back to Weymouth in exchange for some information on Jack and it had been interesting.

The man had been waiting for him just on the end of the Esplanade.

"So, what did you want then?" Mickey had asked him as he'd got in the car, recognising Mickey.

"Ianto put me in the hospital, he must have done something to my car, I'm lucky I'm still here.  I was on my way up here to see Mr Tyler, to tell him something when my car went out of control.  They took me to Broadchurch hospital and I was out of it for a few days, then I'd lost my memory."

"So what did you want Pete for?"

"I want to leave Jack's employment and work for him but I want protection."

"Then why have you come to me?"

"You work for him, he trusts you.  You have to promise you'll talk to him for me, set up a meeting.  I can't go back to Weymouth Mickey, Jack thinks he got rid of me, I have to pretend I've not got my memory back.  The police found out who I am but I got discharged yesterday, I've been keeping away from the harbour area, in case Jack and Ianto were hanging around."

"They have been hanging around, trust me.  You want my advice?  Get away from here, why do you want to work for Pete?"

"I told you, I've got things to tell him, my memory came back."

"Then tell me."

The man looked nervous.

"No, I'll only talk to him.  I heard he's got big plans for the town and I want in."

"You and me both mate but Pete's not telling anyone, even his two kids, well grown-up kids."

"I'm going back to Weymouth tonight, my car was totalled and I can't claim on the insurance either, in case Jack's watching.  I'm gonna clear out my room at the boarding house and lay low somewhere.  Call me when Mr Tyler will talk to me.  Meet me outside the newspaper office tonight at seven, if you're still giving me a ride?"

The man got out, looking around as if he expected Jack and Ianto to suddenly appear.  Mickey sat for a while, wondering what to make of it.  Should he alert Jack he had a defector or tell Pete the man had valuable information for him?  He drove off around the harbour and saw Jack and Ianto talking to Hardy just after twelve but had driven past, debating what to do.

He decided while he was down in Weymouth he would check out Jack's arcade, since Jack was otherwise occupied and if he was lucky, no-one would recognise him though how Jack's ex employee had recognised him, he couldn't guess, he'd just been told where to meet but maybe the man had looked him up.

So as Rose and Alec were still talking, Mickey had collected Daniel Jones and they were on their way to Weymouth, Mickey still undecided what to do but he knew his passenger was scared of what Jack would do, if he found out he'd got his memory back.

Just after eight, Rose said she should be getting home so Alec followed her directions and stopped outside her house, seeing two cars parked in the driveway.

"Oh, they're both my dad's.  Good thing I don't drive."

"Yes, indeed, the driveway would be crowded and there is barely room to turn around out here."

"Ha, you shouldn't have got such a big car Alec.  So, you want to have lunch tomorrow?"

"Yes, that would be nice.  Why don't you meet me across from the police station?"

"Yeah, ok then, just after twelve.  Mickey won't be hanging around there."

Smith might not be but Hardy was hoping neither would Miller, or Martha Jones.  Rose went to kiss his cheek again, he'd not had time to have a shave.  Now he was cursing himself, he should have made time but going to meet her had been spontaneous, hadn't it?

"Goodnight Rose, thank you for a pleasant evening."

"Yeah, thanks for the meal and the drinks.  Was this instead of tomorrow night?"

"Oh no, certainly not Rose, if you would still like to go for a drink?"

"Yeah, I still want to go, if you do?  You don't have to collect me from work though," she smiled, going for the door handle.

"Ah, that was just on the off-chance, I did remember how to get here really."

"Sneaky.  Goodnight then, thanks again."

"My pleasure.  Until tomorrow lunchtime then."

He waited until Rose reached the door then doing his best not to hit anything in the small turning space, waved as he drove off.

When she got inside, her mother wasn't pleased she'd missed the family evening meal.

"Rose, why didn't you call and say you were staying out?"

"Sorry Mum, I went out with someone."

"The same person taking you to the dance?"

"Yeah.  Where's dad?"

"Sitting outside, says he's got a headache.  If you ask me, it's that bloomin' arcade with all those coins rattling all day."

"It's what he does mum.  No more visits?"

"Shush, Tony's around somewhere.  He's been acting all weird since he got home."

"I'll go talk to him."

Tony was in the larger living room, watching TV, the patio door partly open and she could see Pete reading the paper so she went outside first.

"Hi Dad, how's things?"

"You should have called your mother."

"I know, sorry, I lost track of time.  Dad, you know I never normally have a date for the dance at the school?"

"You still haven't got one?"

"Yeah, I've got one so I tried a dress on at work."

"You want me to pay for it?"

"Would you Dad?  Thanks, you're the best," she told him as he went for his wallet, getting a twenty pound note out and Rose still holding out her hand.

"How expensive is it?"

"It might get me in the paper, for the right reasons?"

"You know I don't like you being in the paper."

"I was just kidding dad, I already told Olly he'd better not put me on the front page."

"Hang on," he told her, getting another twenty pound note out and wondering if he'd get any change, which he doubted.  "You're not going with the reporter are you?"

"As if Dad.  No, just someone I met, I doubt you'll know him, well there's no real reason why you should know him."

"What are you hiding Rose?"

"Nothing Dad, I'm just not sure if I'll ever see him after the dance, well not as in actually going out, I'm bound to bump into him, which could be a bit awkward if things don't go well."

"Were you with him tonight?"

"Well yeah, you know, just getting together before the dance."

"Well, if you see him after the dance, maybe you should introduce him to us?"

"Yeah, if he wants to see me again after Saturday night.  I don't tend to trust men these days."

"Rose, what happened with Mike was not your fault, he did a really good job of hiding the fact he was married.  I told you that you should have let me check him out."

"Dad, I had no reason to, you can't check out every man I meet.  When I have something to tell, you'll be the first to know."

"Have it your way, just don't let it all end in tears like last time.  This one though, he must have caught your attention, if you're seeing him before the dance?"

"You could say that.  Thanks for paying for my dress, I want to make a good impression though Martha bought almost the exact same one, in a different colour."

Pete smiled.  "Who bought it first?"

"I decline to answer that but I look better in it than she does and I doubt she has a date anyway."

"You know that because?"

"She was hoping to be asked by my date."

"Rose, that's bad."

"Well he asked me, not her.  She's been trying to get him to take her, she's been hanging around."

"How did she get to know him and while we're at it, how did you?"

"I don't know how Martha met him, she must have just seen him around, the same as I did."

"You are being very secretive."

"I just want to make sure there's something to tell you, I don't want to get my hopes up then he'll change his mind and take Martha or that he'll dump me if he only wants to show off at the dance."

"Well, since you put it that way then.  Have a good time love."

"Thanks.  I need to talk to Tony about something."

"He's sulking because I warned him off playing the slot machines."

"Oh, why was that?"

"Because the new DI came in this morning.  He'd already told Mickey and Tony about under-age gambling and to put more signs up but they did nothing about it and they never told me but what gets me is, Mickey never told me Jack and Ianto have been hanging around.  Did you call in while I was away?"

"Yeah, you asked me to but I couldn't stay long.  I never saw Jack hanging around, I would have called you."

"Did they say anything to you?"

"No, they never mentioned it, unless they went in after I left but I was sitting just by the arcade.  Maybe they went in as I left?"

She hated playing games with him but if she admitted she'd seen them, he might ask why she'd not mentioned it or if she was with anyone.  Well she'd only seen them outside, she had no reason to think they might have gone in.  She went back inside and nudged Tony as she sat down.

"What's wrong with you?"

"Nuthing, why?"

"What's Mickey been up to, while dad's been away?"

"The usual, you know, teaching me how to spot trouble-makers and kids messing around."

"Some teacher he is.  Does he go around with you, when the machines aren't working properly?"

"No, he sends Dave, the engineer or goes with him.  Why?"

"Don't keep anything from dad, will you?"

She got up and left him to think about it.

Alec had got back to his new home just before nine, having stopped at the mini-market and was locking his car when he heard a voice behind him.  Martha had got off at eight and since Ellie had said he'd not moved too far away, she had figured out where he'd got to the other evening and had been waiting to see if he'd been out.

"Hello again, Alec."

"I told you not to call me that.  What are you doing here?"

"I thought it was obvious?  Buy me a drink this time?" she asked, indicating to the pub opposite.

"No, I don't think so.  What is it with you that you can't take no for an answer?"

"I bought a new dress for the dance and I have a spare ticket," she asked hopefully.

"Well good for you, I am sure you will find someone to go with."

"I don't want to go with anyone else, you just don't get it, do you?"

"Neither do you, the answer is still no."

He didn't want to give her any clues as to where he was living, although the 36 steps may just put her off but he hoped they wouldn't put Rose off if he invited her back after the dance on Saturday night.

"Oh come on, who else are you going to go with?  Know anyone else well enough to ask?"

"You think you are the only female around here that I know?"

"Beside Ellie, yeah, I'd say that's a good bet."

"Well you are wrong, I have already bought two tickets for the dance and I have asked someone.  Now are you going to leave or do I get a patrol down here and have you removed?"

"For what?"

"I can think of a few things, soliciting for one."

"What?  You wouldn't?"

"No?  Try me Miss Jones.  Don't try asking me who I am taking either, that's no-one's business but mine but if you bother me again, you won't be attending, you will be locked up, clear?"

"Don't think you've seen the last of me, detective inspector.  When your date doesn't show up, you'll wish you'd asked me instead."

"I don't think so.  Now are you leaving or do I get a patrol car down here?"

Martha turned around, she was furious.  Who had he asked?  It had to be that no good Rose Tyler, the arcade owner's daughter but did he know who she was?  Everyone in town knew her but he'd only just arrived and if she'd not told him who her father was?  He would be sure to go up against Pete Tyler, most people knew of his little arrangement with the last DI.  All she had to do was sit back and wait for the fireworks when Mr Tyler found out who his daughter was going to the dance with.

He would go anyway on Saturday and when Pete had forbidden Rose to attend, well Hardy could hardly blame her and everyone else would be with someone, there was still a chance, wasn't there?  Maybe a phone call to Pete would be in order, as a concerned friend that his daughter was going out with the new DI.  He couldn't have had the time to get Alec Hardy on his side so soon after he'd arrived in the town.
Chapter 9
Friday morning didn't go fast enough for Rose, she was just itching to go meet with Alec.  She was driving poor Amber crazy when she arrived, it was Alice's day off, since she had a hospital appointment and had changed it.

"So you met him last night?" Amber asked her as they tidied the rails.

"Yeah, he was waiting for me after work, can you believe it?  He said he missed me at lunchtime."

"Sounds like he's serious then?  Are you getting that dress?"

"Dad's paying for it, I'd better not forget it tonight.  Since it's quiet, I'll go pay for it now, I don't want to forget after lunch.  I wonder what Martha will say when she sees me walk in with him?"

"She'll be pretty mad I expect especially if you're wearing more or less the same dress as her.  Don't you like anything else?"

"As I told dad, it's a different colour and a slightly different design, that's why they're so popular.  I bet the others that have been sold will be worn to the dance.  You are going, aren't you?"

"What?  Miss you going up against Martha?  It will be the highlight of the dance, I wouldn't miss that for anything.  Oh, watch out, here she comes."

"Doesn't she ever go to work?  Alec said she was hanging around the other night waiting for him."

"Yeah, so I heard, honestly Rose."

"What can we do for you Martha?" Rose asked in her work accent, forgetting Martha was now the enemy for Alec's attention.

"Are you going to the dance?"

"Yeah, why?  You came in to ask me that?  I've got other things to do Martha."

Eileen didn't like them spending too much time with non-paying customers but since Martha had bought something the day before, let it slide for now.

"Have you got a date then?"

"What's your point Martha?"

"I hope you're not planning on going with the new DI, Alec Hardy?"

"Why would that be of interest to you?"

"Because he's going with me."

"Does he know that?" Rose laughed, getting a snigger from Amber, who knew full well the detective had already asked Rose and by her mood, it was all arranged.

"What do you find so funny Amber?  I mean it Rose, you'd better not have any plans of going with him, I already asked him."

"Really Martha, are you sure he knows that?"

"I saw him last night, on his way home and he finally agreed so don't get any ideas he's going with you."

"If you're here to gloat, forget it.  Let's see who he turns up with tomorrow night?"

"Are you denying you were trying to get him to go with you?"

"I'm not saying anything but I've plenty of offers, thanks very much.  You however seem like you're desperate."

That got another snigger from Amber but the door opened and two women came in so they were getting a look from Eileen.

"Come on Rose, leave her, we have paying customers," Amber told Rose, pulling on her arm.

"Well you'll soon find out when he has me on his arm, won't you?" Martha huffed, making her way to the door.

After the two women each bought a dress, probably for the dance, Rose thought, Eileen called her over.

"Are you paying for that dress you put aside Rose?"

"Yeah, sorry about Martha, she's under the illusion my date for the dance is taking her.  She said she saw him last night but you saw him waiting for me, didn't you?"

"I saw a good-looking man in a dark suit waving to you.  That's the town's new DI?"

"Yeah and I was out with him until after eight so I think she was a bit deluded, unless she's found out where he lives and I don't even know that but I can guess from where he pointed the other day.  I wonder what her little game is?  Seriously, if she goes on like that, following him, he'll lock her up for stalking."

"Yes, probably but don't encourage her when she comes in the shop to warn you off or gloat, please Rose?"

"Sure, sorry.  I'll go get the money then I'm meeting him down near the harbour so I'll find out if she was just deluded or not."

"Well I won't be here tomorrow, no doubt I'll find out one way or the other on Monday and don't go on about it all day tomorrow.  Mrs Shaw herself will be in since there have been a few changes in days off this week and you know she hates the staff talking amongst themselves."

Rose went to get her purse and paid for her dress and since it was lunchtime, put her cardigan on and made her way down to the  harbour, having to go past her house and hoping her mother wouldn't see her, or the dog bark at her.

Hardy had been grilling Ellie Miller about who had told Martha Jones where he lived.

"Well it wasn't me, she must have guessed," Ellie was protesting when he said she was waiting near his new home when he got back last night, trying not to admit where he'd been and who he had been with.

He didn't think he could keep it a secret after Saturday night anyway, not that he'd wanted to keep Rose a secret but he needed to get her father to see his way of thinking and bragging he was going to the dance with the man's daughter was not such a good way of doing so.  He would have lunch with Rose, out of sight of the arcade and then he would pay Mr Tyler a visit and see how things went, as long as Harkness wasn't there or had got to him first.

There was no getting away from the fact Harkness would eventually discover what the arcade owner was up to and go all out to cash in on it.  He'd already looked up Harkness and his boyfriend and he hadn't liked what he'd seen.  Although he'd never been arrested, a lot of his employees had suffered 'accidents' or gone away suddenly and since Miller had told him the latest accident victim had been discharged from hospital on Wednesday, he'd look deeper into what had been going on in or near the town.

He couldn't interfere with what was going on down in Weymouth but the two arcade owners would come to blows sooner rather than later and it was up to him to put a stop to it and he could only do that by getting Tyler to go along with him and stop whatever he was planning for the town in the way of expanding.

"Well someone gave her the general direction Miller and she followed me on Tuesday night but I left her on the corner, she can't have seen where I went."

"Are you kidding Sir?  She could have seen you walking up all those steps easily enough."

He hadn't thought of that.

"Yes and did you find it amusing to tell the agent I would be interested in a place with no road access?"

"You never had a car then, did you?  You took it didn't you?"

"Only because I needed to get out of that hotel.  If I find out you told her, I will not be happy.  If you see her again or talk to her, tell her I am already going with someone, since she took no notice last night."

"Then tell me who you're going with?"

"I promised I would not tell anyone, I do not want the whole town knowing about it until we arrive.  This is not a popularity contest Miller, to see who takes who to the dance.  You said I should go and to let everyone see me.  Well I am taking your advice but who I go with is my business."

"Well you can't have met that many women since you got here so your choice is somewhat limited.  There's only Becca Fisher."

"Be serious Miller, why would I ask her if I moved out of the hotel to avoid her?"

"I'm not going through a list."

"Good.  Right, I am going to lunch then I am going to see if Mr Tyler complied with my recommendations."

"You mean you've been laying down the law to him?"

"Not before time Miller, when I have finished with the arcade, the other businesses will get the same treatment."

"Why start with the arcade?"

"Because Miller, that is where visitors will head once the summer holidays start and I will not have under-age gambling while I am around."

Ellie thought it was a pity no-one had been around to warn her sister at that age when she'd got into it.

Before he headed for the arcade, he had a very important lunch date and hoped he could sit away from where Miller could see him if she ventured out.  Rose was making her way down to the harbour, sneaking past her house and to where she'd arranged to meet Alec but when she was almost there, she wondered about what Martha had just said.

How had Martha seen him last night?  Had she been actually watching for him getting home and how had she found where he lived?  He'd said she followed him the other night, had she simply guessed?  She wished now she'd got his phone number but he'd not asked for hers last night, maybe he planned on getting it today?

Hardy had sat as far back as he dared in the outdoor catering area and gave Rose a wave when he saw her.

"Hi, hope you've not been waiting long?" Rose asked, sitting opposite.

"No, I just got here, I have my specs today," he smiled, getting them out of his pocket and putting them on to show her.

"Aw, you look cute.  Shall we order?"

That was the first time someone had told he looked cute in them.  He went to order, insisting on paying again.  When he got back, she told him he shouldn't.

"Maybe you can repay me by cooking for me sometime?"

"At my house?" she laughed.

"Well maybe you could come to my place and cook, on your day off?"

"If I knew where you lived?  You've still not told me."

"I will show you tonight, after our date."

"Oh, ok then but if it's where I think it is?"

"Where do you think it is?"

"Maybe I should be asking Martha that?"

"What makes you say that?" he asked as their drinks arrived.

"She came in the shop earlier, she said she saw you last night."

"She was waiting where I park, it was a lucky guess on her part.  She must have seen the general direction I went in the other night, she did not see where I went, I made sure she had left.  Miller did point out she could have seen me the other night though."

"Alec, she's crazy, trust me.  She tried to warn me off you."

"What?  What did she say?"

"To forget going to the dance with you and that you were going with her.  That's not true, is it?"

"Of course not Rose, I do not double date, I asked you but I can't get through to her I am not interested in her."

"Well I told her we'd see who you turned up with."

"Maybe I should pay a visit to the hospital and tell her in no uncertain terms to leave me alone in front of everyone?"

"You'd do that?" Rose asked as their food then arrived.  "That might be going a bit far Alec."

"If that is what it takes?"

"Just leave it Alec, please?  She'll find out tomorrow night."

"Or if she happens to be in the pub tonight?  Do you have her phone number?"

"No, we're not really friends and speaking of numbers, you never gave me yours."

"No, I neglected to do so but you could have called the station, had it been urgent."

"Oh, I wouldn't want to cause any trouble, they might not have put me through.  We can swap numbers before we leave?"

"Yes, we will do that then.  Do not take any notice of what she may tell you between now and tomorrow night.  May I call for you to escort you there?"

"I thought we were meeting there?"

"Well, in view of things, it may be better if we arrive together?  I will get a taxi and call and pick you up, say seven?"

"Oh, you mean if she sees us getting out of a taxi if she's waiting for you?"

"Indeed.  That was the idea.  If I do see her again, I will have officers come and give her a warning.  She was not there by accident last night, I believe my DS may have hinted where I had moved to.  She set the meeting up with the agency."

"Why would she do that?  I didn't think Ellie would go that far, she doesn't know Martha that well."

"They were talking at the hospital the other day, they may have talked since, if Nurse Jones is not taking no for an answer."

"I guess she isn't?" 

"Are you going up into the town?" she asked twenty minutes later as they finished their lunch.

"No, I have to go see your father.  Have you told him I am taking you to the dance?"

"I didn't think that was such a good idea, you telling him about putting things right in the arcade," Rose smiled.

"He will see things my way, if he wants Harkness out of the picture.  Maybe I should just admit you are going with me?"

"That's up to you Alec.  I have to get going now."

"Yes, don't let me delay you.  I will see you at eight?"

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.  So it's an actual date then?"

"I guess so.  Best not say anything to your father just yet eh?  Let me see how things go?"

"Yeah, if you think so.  Bye then.  Oh, give me your number."

He went in his pocket and bringing out a card, wrote another number on the back.

"That's my personal number or call my work one.  Until tonight then?"

He leaned down and kissed her cheek, hoping now that Miller was spying on him from the balcony of the station.  Maybe then she would relay the message to Nurse Jones he was otherwise spoken for.

Martha still had time before her shift started after leaving the fashion shop and thought about using it wisely.  She found the number for the arcade and asked to speak to Pete Tyler.  It was Tony who answered, since Mickey was doing the rounds with Pete, being shown where to put the new notices Pete had just ordered.

Mickey was complaining.

"Why are we doing this boss?"

"We have to be seen doing something, like I told Tony yesterday.  Where did you get to anyway?  Tony said you had to go somewhere."

Mickey had decided to not say anything about his new friend just yet.

"Had to go somewhere but it might be to our advantage.  I heard one of Jack's men was wanting to leave his employment."

"Where did you hear that?"

"I have my ways boss.  If I hear anything else, I'll let you know.  So are you gonna let Hardy tell you how to run the arcade?"

"Yes and no Mickey.  Let's see how much leeway he'll give us?"

"I didn't want to say anything boss but I think Rose has already met him.  Well, she was in the other day when he came in, then I thought I saw them sitting by the river when Rose was having her lunch."

"She never said anything to me.  Is that who she's going to the dance with?  She just got forty quid off me for a dress last night."

"You know boss, maybe I just saw them and they weren't talking or anything?  I wouldn't want to stir things up for her."

He did really, if it got rid of Hardy anyway.  He was pretty sure now Pete had brought up the subject that she would be going with the DI, since she'd shot him down in flames, in front of the said detective and Tony.  Maybe he should go and see if there were any tickets on the door and see if he was right?  Then he could get in Pete's good books on Monday and play the ace up his sleeve called Daniel Jones.

Tony had answered the phone, asking who wanted to speak to his dad.

"Oh, it's friend of Rose's.  I'm a bit concerned for her."

"So what's your name then?" Tony asked, knowing his dad didn't normally speak to Rose's friends.

"It's Martha.  Has she ever mentioned me?"

"Maybe, she talks about her mates all the time, I don't take any notice.  Hold on, I'll see if I can find him, he's somewhere in the arcade with Mickey, the new DI is making him put notices up."

"He means business then?" Martha asked, thinking why didn't he mean business with her instead of pretending he wasn't interested?

The other end went silent apart from the usual arcade noises of music, sounds from the machines and coins rattling in the change machine or someone actually winning.

Tony caught up with his dad and Mickey, pressing the 'Hold' button on the portable phone.

"Dad, one of Rose's friend's wants to talk to you."

"I'm busy Tony, why would one of Rose's friends want to talk to me?  Mickey, you take it, I've got better things to do if they're complaining Rose has bought the same dress for the dance or something.  Oh hang on, she was buying the same dress as someone else, is it Martha?"

"Yeah dad, are you gonna talk to her?"

"Mickey, carry on, I'll see what she has to say.  Tony, go with him, see if there are any more places the signs need to go.  Pete Tyler speaking," he answered the caller, pressing the 'Hold' button again and knowing full well Rose had now started something if she'd bought that dress but was going to deny all knowledge since he'd paid for it.

"Mr Tyler, it's Martha from the hospital.  I'm a bit worried about Rose."

"Why's that?"

"Did she say who she was going to the dance with?"

"Some bloke she's seen hanging around, she never actually said as such.  Any particular reason you're asking?"

"No, it's just she may think she's going with the new DI.  When I was in the shop earlier, well she seemed under the illusion he was taking her but he's already going with me."

"Is he now?  As far as I know, Rose hasn't really met him apart from the other day in the arcade.  So why are you concerned?"

"Well I know how upset she was when her last bloke turned out to be married, she was devastated.  I just didn't want her getting upset when she turns up and she sees me arriving with DI Hardy.  Can you talk to her?  It's best she finds out now, then she can get another date, I'd hate her to make a scene at the dance over it."

"Well thanks for your concern Martha, I'll talk to her tonight but you could be mistaken over it.  I'm sure she would have told me if it was him she planned on going with but in view of him making it his mission to have the arcade running properly, I'll maybe have a word with him as well when I see him.  If he's asked you, maybe he's also asked Rose and like you said, Rose could get upset if he's stringing her along.  Thanks for calling Martha."

"Sure Mr Tyler but don't tell her I called, I already tried to tell her but she wasn't listening and as her friend, I'd hate us to be fighting over the same man."

"You're sure he's already asked you?"

"Yeah, when he was visiting the hospital on Monday.  Oh, by the way, they came to see a man who'd lost his memory and it turns out he works for Jack Harkness."

"Is that so?  Did you get the man's name?"

"Yeah, it was Daniel Jones.  He got some of his memory back but he was discharged on Wednesday, it was my day off so I don't know what happened to him."

"I think I do."

He knew Mickey had been up to something yesterday, had he been to meet the man?  If he had, why was he keeping it quiet?  He was having more and more doubts about his minder lately, he'd already been reluctant to leave him with Tony while he'd been away and now Hardy was threatening to lock him up if he started another fight, which was sure to happen over the weekend, they usually did.

He ended the call to Martha and went back to the office to call Hardy and ask him what he was doing asking two women to the dance and one of them was going to be bitterly disappointed and if it turned out to be Rose, all deals over the arcade and Jack Harkness were now off.
Chapter 10
Pete Tyler had left a message for Hardy, having been told the DI was out of the office but Hardy went straight to the arcade after walking to the corner with Rose and saying goodbye again and since there was no-one around, Rose had kissed his cheek and he'd gone off with a smile on his face, something he was doing far much more of in the last few days.

Why shouldn't he have someone interested in him even if it was a woman much younger than he was, what did it matter?  He walked back towards the arcade and saw Mickey juggling three cartons of food, tempted to put a hand on his shoulder and make him jump.  He did the next best thing and caught up with him.

"I sincerely hope you are not going to get into any fights this weekend Smith?"

"Don't go sneaking up on people Hardy, geez man."

"Is Mr Tyler in the arcade?"

"No, I got three lots of food just for the sake of it," Mickey replied sarcastically.  "He won't be happy if you interrupt his lunch."

"I can wait until he's eaten, I will see what other things I can find wrong in the arcade."

Mickey had no reason to believe the detective wouldn't actually go and do that.

"He ordered some signs to go above the machines," Mickey told him as they entered the arcade, Hardy noting some of the stools were still there.

"I thought I told you to move them?" Hardy asked him, pointing to them.

"The older customers will complain."

"How long do they sit there?"

"Some of them for hours.  They get free tea or coffee."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah, one of the girls goes round and sees how long they've been there."

Hardy shook his head.  "I'm surprised you don't have a café in here then?"

"Pete wanted one but he's got an arrangement with one of the food stalls to give half price vouchers for those who stick around."

"Why does that not surprise me?  Is he in the office?" Hardy asked as they reached the change desk and the same woman from the other day looked bored out of her mind counting coins.

Mickey still had his hands full and kicked on the door, Tony opening it.

"Didn't you see me on the camera Tony?" Mickey asked him as Tony took one of the cartons.

"I thought you two were just talking."

Hardy shook his head again.  If this kid was being considered for taking over the arcade, it would be closed within a month – tops.  Either that or Harkness would be able to walk right in and take over with no fuss.

"Dad,  DI Hardy's here," Tony called behind him, Hardy seeing Pete watching the CCTV monitor.

"I can see that Tony.  What can I do for you Hardy?  I called the station, they said you were out.  I hope you weren't having lunch with my daughter again?"

Hardy knew Mickey had been telling tales.

"What makes you think that?"

"Well, were you?  Mickey thought he'd seen the two of you the other day?  Rose is very particular who she keeps company with these days.  You two, go eat outside."

"But Dad," Tony protested.

"Come on Tony, let's leave them to it," Mickey told him, putting a carton down beside Pete.

Hardy thought they all must eat the same thing to avoid any mix-ups.

"Excuse me while I eat?" Pete asked, gesturing for Hardy to sit but he remained standing, his arms folded.  "Well, were you having lunch with my daughter?" Pete continued.

"If I deny it?"

"Just don't go upsetting her.  I called the station because a certain woman called Martha told me you'd asked her to the dance tomorrow night and Rose told her you were going with her.  So which is it?  You'd better not have asked Rose if you've no intention of taking her, I had to pay for her expensive dress."

"I can assure you Mr Tyler, I am only taking Rose.  I don't know where Nurse Jones got the impression I had agreed to take her."

"She said on Monday, when you were visiting the hospital, an employee of Jack Harkness to be precise."

Hardy wondered why the nurse had to bring that up.

"I can assure you I agreed no such thing.  I only asked Rose on Wednesday, we were trying to keep it quiet."

"Well, now I know and I shouldn't have had to find out from Martha.  Rose was being very evasive when I asked her who she was going with.  I think I'm entitled to know since I was paying for her dress."

"Maybe she told her mother?" Hardy suggested, knowing what his teenage daughter and his ex wife were like.  "I am sure she did not mean to be secretive but in view of me being the law around here, she maybe thought you would not approve."

"I wouldn't normally but you seem like a reasonable man.  Just give me your assurance you will treat her well."

"You have my word.  I am taking Rose, not the nurse.  I would not do anything to upset your daughter."

"Well now we've cleared that up, just a bit of friendly fatherly advice.  Don't keep her out all night and if you do, have the decency to bring her home and introduce yourself to her mother.  You must have made an impression, Mickey said he wasn't sure if you two were talking over at the food stall the other day."

"I asked her to join me as on Monday, she was just about to leave and yes, we did have lunch today across the other side of the harbour because she did not want Smith reporting back to you.  It was my idea for her not to say anything in view of the situation between you as the owner of the arcade and my position of enforcing the law."

"It is somewhat unusual but I would just as easily warned anyone off who asked her and then went with someone else.  What's this I hear about someone who works for Harkness being in hospital?"

"He was discharged before I could speak to him again.  I sent two senior officers back to interview him, he had not remembered much, then I found out today he'd been discharged.  Has he been in contact with you by any chance?"

"Me?  Why would he want to talk to me?  Oh, do you think he knew it was Harkness that put him in there?  What happened to him anyway?"

"His car went off the road, he had temporary amnesia, so I was told.   Maybe he was on his way to see you in the first place, otherwise why was he up here if he lived in Weymouth?"

"Mickey said something about it earlier.  I think he knows more than he was telling me.  I ordered those signs as you asked."

"So Smith told me.  It seems between him and Nurse Jones, they are trying to stir up trouble between us?  This does not mean I will go easy on you Mr Tyler, just because I am taking your daughter to the dance."

"I wouldn't expect any preferential treatment, we can't be seen as doing such, I have a reputation to uphold.  Whether you are the law around here or not, I won't have you upsetting my daughter."

"I do not intend upsetting her.  When you have those signs up, we will discuss any more alterations.  I told Smith about those stools by the slot machines."

"Ah, yes, some of the older customers and the regulars complained when we were about to remove them.  Can we agree they will stay and my staff will remove anyone not old enough?"

"Just for now then.  Maybe customers shouldn't be encouraged to stay by getting free drinks?"

Pete smiled.  If they could negotiate over things, it would save him some money and he'd still get what he wanted, well to a certain degree but he was going to have words with Mickey over this employee of Jack's.

"Are you seeing my daughter before the dance?" Pete asked as Hardy was leaving.

"We are meeting tonight, yes.  Do not blame her for not telling you."

"I won't but she should have told me."

"We need to talk further, about Harkness and your future plans."

"Which plans would they be?"

"I think you know?  Remember what I said, there is only one explanation Harkness is in town, to find out what they are and take them over."

"I have no intentions of letting him find out what they are.  I'm not just going to drop them, they are still going ahead."

"You are making a mistake if you do.  He won't leave until he finds out and while he's in town, he will turn those you trust against you."

"You mean Mickey?"

"Amongst others, yes.  How do you know that man in the hospital was not part of it?"

Pete thought about it.  Who could he trust around here, well apart from Rose but dragging her into it was out of the question.  If she continued to see Hardy though, she may well get involved but whose side would she be on, Hardy's or his?

"You mean he was planted there, to get Mickey to believe he knew something about Jack?  I think that's going a bit far."

"Is it?  Think about it.  If I keep Rose out tomorrow night, it will because she wants to stay out and I will make sure she gets home."

With that, Hardy left and Pete threw his cold meal into the trash.  He put his jacket on and called Mickey over the loudspeaker system.

"Yes boss?" Mickey asked him as he let himself in.

"I'm going out for a while and if Harkness comes in, you are not to talk to him, understood?"

"What would I tell him boss?"

"I don't know Mickey, what would you tell him?  That employee of his you mentioned, who was he?"

"Don't know boss, never got a name but I heard he wanted out."

"Did he now?  Can you get hold of him?"

"I can try boss," Mickey lied, knowing how to get hold of the man who would have got well away from Weymouth by now.

"Right, well try then and have the staff watch that the kids don't sit on those stools, I don't want Hardy going on about them again."

"What did he want boss?"

Pete had an idea Mickey already knew.

"What does he always want?  For us to obey the law and he won't stop until we do.  I tell you Mickey, the best thing we can do is let him think he's winning, he'll soon get tired and pick on someone else when he sees we're trying to comply."

"Did you ask him about Rose?"

"Why?"

"Like I said, they were over at one of the food stalls and then you got that call from Martha.  You know her and Rose aren't exactly friends."

"No, I didn't know that.  No wonder Rose picked more or less the same dress for the dance, that should be fun.  Are you going?"

"Nah, got no-one to go with."

"Maybe Martha will have a spare ticket if you just turned up?" Pete smiled, knowing the nurse would be furious if Rose did actually turn up with Hardy, which judging by the conversation he'd just had was now a certainty.

"You want me to go and keep an eye on Rose boss?"

Pete sometimes wondered about Mickey.  What Rose had ever seen in the man Pete had often wondered.  Mickey had come down for a holiday years ago and stayed, when they found out he was from the same part of London as they were and he'd had grown up nearby.

"Why don't you keep an eye out for Martha and ask her?"

"Yeah boss, I might just do that."

Hardy had gone back to the station and Rose back to the shop, assured Alec was not going to double-date on her.

"See, told ya he wouldn't do that Rose," Amber told her when she got back.  "If he said he missed having lunch with you yesterday."

"Yeah, I don't know why I even bothered with Martha, it's not like we're really friends."

Meanwhile at the hospital, Martha was still pretty sure she had a date for Saturday night because now she'd put Rose Tyler off, the DI would turn up and not being able to find her, he'd be easily persuaded to spend the evening dancing and she might even get him to take her home.  Now she'd spoken with Pete Tyler, he would surely warn Rose off about going with the detective, Pete Tyler and the law didn't go very well together, which was why it was rumoured he'd bought the old DI.

Martha was having her late break when another nurse came in the break room and sat opposite her.

"Going to the dance Martha?"

"Yeah, I want to show someone off."

"Good for you.  Anyone I know?"

"Oh, you might have seen him around town, everyone will know when I arrive with him."

How she was going to arrive at the same time would take some planning, unless she just appeared to have done so?  If she waited around, she could pretend to others she'd arranged to meet him there and when he got out of a car or taxi, she could grab hold of him and go inside with him.  Yes, that sounded just about right.  She knew she had done the right thing, eliminating the competition and clearing the field.  Now she just hoped that no-one else had bought the same dress, she wanted to create a good impression.

Rose got home and went into the kitchen where her mother was stirring something on the stove, Rose thinking it was a good thing that was all she was doing with it.

"I'm off out later mum, got another date."

"With the same bloke?  What's come over you all of a sudden?  You've not been out with anyone since you know who."

"I'm over it Mum, I made a big mistake, anyone could have done it."

"Well if your father asks me who you've gone out with, I can hardly lie to him."

"Tell him I never said, it worked last night when I said I'd nothing to tell him yet.  Can you believe what Martha tried to do?"

"Nothing surprises me about her.  Has she tried to pinch him off you?"

"You could say that.  She's crazy Mum, Alec's thinking of having her arrested for following him, she turned up near where he lives last night."

"What she do that for?" Jackie asked, turning the heat down on the stove.

"She was trying to persuade him to take her instead of me, she's convinced he will.  He's calling for me tomorrow night so if she's waiting for him, she's in for a surprise when she sees us getting out of the same taxi."

"Hasn't he got a car?"

"Well yeah but he can't have a drink if he has to drive home, can he?"

"Then is he dropping you back off afterwards?"

"I don't know, do I?  We might still go to the pub afterwards."

"I hope you're gonna introduce him to us?"

"Well dad and Tony have already met him but they don't know I'm going out with him, I don't know how dad will take it."

"That depends if he's managed to bribe him or not."

"Alec won't do any deals with dad, he already told me that."

"They all say that sweetheart.  Still, you must like him if you're seeing him tonight as well."

"Yeah, I like him Mum and Martha can say what she likes, he's taking me to the dance, not her."

Just before eight, Hardy left his cliff-side cottage and walked the short distance to the pub near the arcade, seeing groups of youths hanging around outside and thinking the holidays hadn't even started yet, it was only going to get worse and there was nowhere else for them to go, most of them weren't old enough to go in the pubs.

He couldn't see if Mickey was inside the arcade or not but Tyler wouldn't trust him as much now.  It got him thinking as to what Tyler could possibly be planning.  It had to be something big and not limited to adults.  Then he had a horrible thought.  Trying not to dwell on it, he entered the pub and not seeing Rose, went to the bar to order their drinks and turned as he heard loud laughter coming from the far corner.  It was Smith, who was sitting with a bald-headed man and one with grey curly hair and Smith was facing away from him, thankfully.

Once Rose arrived, he was going to suggest they went elsewhere.  Mickey was talking with Nigel Carter, the local plumber's mate and part-time poacher.

"I tell you Nige, the new DI can't be bought, Pete's tried.  He's losing his grip on the town and Harkness is gonna walk right in and take it all."

"Whose side are you on Mickey?" Nigel asked him, looking directly at Hardy, not knowing who he was.

"The winning side, what do you think?  What are you looking at?"

"Who's that over there?"

Hardy had just turned away to go find a table away from Mickey, Rose wouldn't like him spying on her.

"That's him Nige, that's Hardy.  What's he doing here?"

"Looks like he has a date – with Tyler's daughter," Laurie, the grey-haired man replied, nodding to where Rose was standing in the doorway and looking around, waved at Hardy, who waved back.

"I said they were together the other lunchtime.  Pete's gonna be mad."

Alec stood up to let Rose into the corner seat, then sat next to her.  Sitting opposite was no longer what he wanted to do, they would be dancing closely tomorrow night, well he hoped it would be closely.

"Hi, hope I'm not late?"

"Not at all, I only just sat down although you may want to leave after we finish our drinks," he replied, nodding towards the opposite corner.

"They don't normally come in here, sorry.  We can walk across to the other pub if you want?"

"Which one?"

"Either as long as they stay here," Rose smiled back, pleased he'd remembered what she drank.  "No Martha following you tonight then?"

"Don't say that, hopefully she is working.  I talked to your father, he knows I am taking you to the dance.  It seems she saw fit to inform him."

"What?  Why would she do that?  I bet she was hoping dad would stop me going but he never said anything before I came out, he just asked if I got my dress."

"Yes, he mentioned you had got him to pay for it," he smiled.  "How did you manage that?"

"I'm daddy's little girl," she replied, her tongue poking through her teeth, which Hardy thought was part of her charm.

He still didn't know how she was getting to him so quickly and he hoped by tomorrow night, he might have a better idea of how she was doing it.

"Then I hope you are going to enjoy our evening out?"

"I'm sure I will Alec, especially when Martha sees me wearing the same dress as her and I get out of the cab and walk in with you."

"Ah, we will have to make a grand entrance then, won't we?"

Rose put her arm in his and kissed his cheek.

"Rose, if I promise to trim my beard, will you kiss me properly?"

"Who said anything about waiting for you to shave?"

Forgetting where they were, she turned to face him, put her finger on his beard then leaned forward.  Mickey had just turned back around and saw them as their lips met for a few seconds, Rose feeling like it was the best kiss she'd ever had.
Chapter 11
Rose went bright red when she realised she'd just kissed him in front of everyone who happened to be looking, which was bound to include Mickey and his cronies but at present, she didn't really care.

"I promise I will trim my beard for tomorrow night.  If you finish your drink, we can go elsewhere?"

"Aw, let them watch, I'm not bothered.  If he goes telling tales to my dad, I'll know where he got them from but as I already said, he never warned me not to come and meet you.  Have you two come to some arrangement or something?"

"You could say that.  We have a common enemy, well two now.  Jack Harkness and possibly Martha Jones, she apparently called your father earlier."

"What?" Rose asked, a bit too loud.  "She did what?  That was totally out of order, what did she hope to gain?"

"Calm down Rose.  She was trying to get me in the middle of it by saying to him I had asked both of you.  I assured him that was not the case."

"You have to do something about her Alec, it's getting too much.  I'm sorry I dragged you into a petty fight between two women for your attention."

"It is a long time since that happened, I can assure you."

"Oh, so you don't mind us fighting over you then?" Rose grinned, finishing her drink and putting the empty glass on the table.

Hardy didn't know if she wanted another or she was going to leave, with or without him.

"Yes, I do mind, I do not welcome her attention.  What do you expect me to do about it?  I said I would go tell her in front of her work colleagues.  Do you want me to arrest her?"

"No, she might take that the wrong way.  Leave her to me, trust me?"

"If you say so.  What are you planning?"

Rose smiled at him and kissed his cheek.

"Woman stuff, you wouldn't get it.  We can be really catty when we want to be.  I just need to know you'll go along with whatever I say?"

"That depends.  Is it going to give me a bad name?"

"Nah, it might get around that you know me a bit better than you actually do."

"In what way?"

"I'll leave that to your imagination."

"I don't want to know as long as your father does not have me arrested."

"He won't do that.  Besides, she'll probably stay away until tomorrow night, she'll be planning her moves for the dance, starting with your arrival.  Why don't we go separately, you get there first and let her think I'm not coming?"

"I was right, you are very sneaky.  You want her to go after me?"

"Well as long as you don't go inside with her?  I'll get there a few minutes later and snatch you from under her nose and plant a big sloppy kiss on you."

"We had better have some practice then.  Are you ready to leave?"

"Where are we going?"

"I will get you a bottle of wine then you can find out where I live."

"Later, let's stay here a while longer?"

"If you insist?  I have a better idea about tomorrow night.  You get there first and fight over me."

Rose nudged him.

"Are you enjoying this?"

"Maybe not?"

"No, you may have something.  She might run off if she sees me wearing the same dress."

"Aye, she will want to make a good impression on me.  Are you sure you want to wear the same one?"

"Why not?  We won't be the only ones, we've sold loads of them.  The only difference is, she'll be upset, I won't be.  So, which is it then, who arrives first or do we still arrive together?"

"I would not like you to cause a scene either way, maybe we will get there early, together?"

"You take all the fun out of it.  Afraid you'll end up arresting me?"

"I will try to remember the handcuffs.  Sure you want another drink?"

Just over an hour later, Hardy planned on getting Rose to his new cottage before it got dark but had no idea how to get her back down the steps once it did get dark but it would be easier than going both ways.  He went to the bar and bought a bottle of wine and they both left, Rose taking his hand though Hardy thought that may be just for Smith's benefit.  He led her around to the car park and towards the houses in front of his cottage.

"So, you live up there then?  I might have guessed.  How many steps are there?"

"Thirty six, so I have been told.  Maybe I should just take you home?"

"Do you mind?  It'll be dark soon, how do you manage?"

"I get up there before dark, well just about.  There is a handrail but I will take you home but maybe you would consider the effort would be worthwhile tomorrow night?  I will put the wine in the car for now or do you want to take it with you?"

"No and I'm sorry Alec but I won't make it down those steps in the dark in these shoes, you should have warned me."

"When I pointed it out the other day, I thought you would have guessed?  I apologize Rose, I should have thought about it.  Why don't I just take my car tomorrow night, then you can leave a flat pair of shoes in the back to change into after the dance?"

"Oh, you won't be able to have a drink."

"I only drink light lager, then I do not really enjoy it, I can drink something else.  I hope you will want to come back with me after the dance?"

"Did my dad tell you to have me home before midnight?" Rose smiled, seeing he looked a bit disappointed.

So was she, she really wanted to kiss him properly.

"He did say if I kept you out all night, I had to take you back and introduce myself to your mother."

"Oh, sorry, he would.  We should set off walking, since you had a drink."

"It was nothing Rose, less than 10 percent alcohol so I can drive you around."

"Afraid to pass the arcade again or we'll see Martha?"

"I refuse to answer that," he smiled, going in his pocket for his car keys, relieved he still had them on him.

"So can you remember the way then?" Rose teased him as she got in the car.

Five minutes later, he was stopping outside her house, turning around while he could.

"I seem to have a habit of bringing you home early," he remarked as he turned the engine off.

"Yeah, don't make too much of a habit of it.  We should have walked.  We could still go somewhere else?"

"Maybe just for a few minutes, it will be dark soon."

They got out, Hardy hoping no-one would want to get out of the Tyler's driveway or turn around.  Rose led him across the cliff path and over onto a bench facing the sea, sitting down then putting her arm in his.

"I come and sit here sometimes, just to be on my own," she told him, leaning into his arm.  "I love watching the sun go down over the sea.  Sometimes I think how lucky I am we came here, I could still be living in London and working in a boring department store or something.  What brought you here, you never said?"

"A lot of things after my last case.  I asked for a transfer, this was it.  I put three killers away and this is how they thank me but I am beginning to think it may not be so bad here."

"Because you enjoy getting my dad to clean up the arcade?"

"No, because the arcade owner has a beautiful daughter who is going to the local dance with me tomorrow night."

He put his arm around her shoulder, even though they were in plain sight of people passing by below though thankfully, no-one was walking down the path beside them.  Rose leaned her head on his shoulder and he took her hand.  They stayed until the light faded, then they walked to the back of the house.

"So you sit out there often then?" he asked as they stood in the driveway.  "Is your bedroom at the back of the house?" he pointed upstairs.

"No at the front but the biggest room's my parents.  Dad bought the house off some barrister who was moving back to London, we stayed in a caravan until it all went through."

"Miller suggested I took one until I found somewhere to live, which is why I took the cottage."

"Don't you like caravans?"

"Not exactly, it reminds me of family holidays.  I think I came here once before, on holiday.  I seem to remember those cliffs."

"Wow, when was that then?"

"Before you came here probably.  Rose, I am much older than you, you know that, don't you?"

"Well yeah, of course I did Alec.  Does it matter?"

"No, if you are ok with it?  I should let you get inside.  Until tomorrow then and I will call for you, I don't want to have to break up a fight before the dance.  I would not be surprised if your friend Mickey gets into one before tomorrow night is over."

"He just gets carried away sometimes, sorry.  I don't know if he's planning on going to the dance, since I turned him down."

"Well when you did turn him down, it gave me the hope you might agree to go with me."

"If I'd said no, would you have gone with Martha?"

"Honestly?  No, I don't think I would, I do not like being chased."

"Is that why you asked me, because I wasn't chasing you?"

"Perhaps.  You were flirting with me though."

"Huh?"

"In the arcade, for making you almost bump into me."

"No I wasn't.  Well maybe, afterwards when you came out of the arcade.  Did my dad tell you anything about his plans?"

"Why would he do that?  I have not seen Harkness hanging around, maybe he has left town?  We did figure one thing out, why your father is always called down to the Weymouth arcade."

"Don't tell me, Jack's behind it?"

"Yes, so maybe your father won't be in such a hurry to leave next time?  Anyway, enough of the arcade and it is forbidden to mention it tomorrow night."

"Yeah, gotcha.  Night then."

"Goodnight and maybe tomorrow night we can drink some of that wine?"

"I'll remember my flat shoes but maybe by the time I have to go back down the steps, it will be light?"

"Well that was the idea, there are two bedrooms."

"Well since you don't like women chasing you, you may well offer me the spare room?"

"I hope it does not come to that?" he asked, leaning down to kiss her.

The kiss lasted longer than the one they'd shared in the pub, making Rose tingle.

"I hope not either.  Bye Alec."

They kissed again and Rose watched him drive off.  She let herself in and went to find Pete.

"Good night out?  You weren't long."

"Yeah, Mickey was in the pub with his mates, it sort of spoiled it."

"I'm getting worried about him, he's not staying as late as he used to."

"Well just hope he doesn't start a fight."

"I know, he's been warned.  So you and the DI eh?  Why didn't you just admit it?"

"I didn't know what you'd say Dad, sorry."

"Well, I've told him to make sure he treats you right.  If you have any trouble with him, tell me."

"I don't think I will.  Shame you can't do something about Mickey and Martha."

"I told Mickey to go to the dance and see if Martha had a spare ticket," Pete smiled.

"Well she's in for a shock tomorrow night 'cos Alec's calling for me."

"I should hope so.  He'd better bring you home at some point as well.  Are you planning on staying out?  I want to know whether to set the alarm."

"I can un-set the alarm Dad.  I'll have to see how things go.  I know I should have told you about him but the police have always been causing you trouble apart from the last one.  Alec's not like that and I thought you'd be a bit upset."

"I'm not upset love, just a bit surprised."

Hardy had driven off, a bit disappointed he'd not been able to get Rose to his cottage but he couldn't really blame her for not wanting to try and get up and down those steps.  What had he been thinking when he took it on for a month?  He was never going to last there so the sooner he found something else when the month was up the better, even if it did mean bringing back memories of staying in a caravan, they had to be better than they were thirty years or so ago.

If all went well tomorrow night, he would help Rose up there if she changed into some sensible flat shoes and if he had to, he'd even offer her the spare room but he was hoping it wouldn't come to that.  What would she agree to though on a first proper date?  Kissing would be nice and anything beyond that would be a bonus, he shouldn't expect her to have sex with him the first time he took her there though no doubt that was what the nurse had in mind, were he to somehow agree to go to the dance with her.

He was quite looking forward to being fought over but hoped no-one would get arrested over it but Rose might get tired of it if she met her now rival before the event.  He got to his parking spot, got the bottle of wine and a torch he kept in the glove box out and locked the car, hoping he wasn't being watched.

Martha had finished work and made her way down to the harbour, going in the pub and seeing Mickey on his own in the corner.  Should she go talk to him?  Maybe the detective might wander in for a drink and if she was talking to Mickey, he might get jealous.

"Hello Mickey, buy me a drink?"

"Why would I want to do that?"

"Have you spoken to Rose?"

"Not lately, she's avoiding me.  What did you ring up Pete for earlier?"

"Well, Rose is under some illusion the new DI is taking her to the dance.  I thought he'd be a bit annoyed about it."

"He never said anything to me.  If he mentioned it to Rose, it didn't work, they just left."

"What?" Martha asked, sitting down.  "They were both in, together?  Did they leave at the same time?"

"Well yeah so if her father said anything, she was taking no notice.  What's it to you anyway?"

"He's supposed to be taking me to the dance, that's what.  I even bought tickets."

"You mean you asked him?" Mickey laughed.

"Not exactly, I just dropped some huge hints and got him to give in."

That wasn't quite true but Mickey didn't know that.

"So he's two-timing both you and Rose?"

"Well if you put it like that, then yes.  Why was he with her when he's taking me out tomorrow night?"

"Sure you've not got your wires crossed?  Are you sure he actually agreed?  Why don't you make him jealous and turn up with someone else?"

"It's a bit late now to find someone Mickey."

"I'm not doing anything tomorrow night, did you say you had two tickets?"

"Well yeah but if you want one, you can pay for it and you can buy me a drink."

Mickey got up after asking what she was drinking, then got his wallet out to pay for the ticket though he begrudged paying out to go keep an eye on Rose but surely Pete didn't agree with his daughter going with Hardy?

He agreed to meet her there, she wasn't parting with the ticket to make sure he would actually go in with her.  He didn't seem that bothered she was using him to get to Alec Hardy and make him jealous, not that she was actually going to dance with Mickey except to get the detective's attention and once she'd done that, Mickey was on his own.

All the next day, Rose was trying to concentrate on work and not a certain Alec Hardy.  The two Saturday girls were giggling in a corner as she seemed right out of it between serving customers and Alice was going to be having words with her during their break.

"Come on then, tell me what's wrong?" Alice asked as she made Rose a coffee.

"Nothing, I'm just nervous about tonight, that's all.  We went to the pub last night and he invited me back to his place but I didn't go."

"Why the hell not?  Geez Rose, what's wrong with you?"

"Because it was getting dark and there's a load of steps up to it, that's why."

"Oh.  Don't tell me he's renting that cliff cottage?"

"Yeah, I had a feeling he was and when it's light, it won't be a problem."

"It'll be dark when you get out of the dance."

"Yeah but if he helps me up there, I don't intend going back down in the dark."

"I should think not as well.  So has Martha been causing any more trouble?"

"Yeah, she had the nerve to ring my dad yesterday to tell him Alec was asking both of us.  The night before, she was waiting where he was parking his car.  She's getting to be a liability."

"You're telling me.  Anyway, we'll see who he turns up with tonight and my bet's on you."

"Thanks Alice.  Best get back to work."

Hardy had been to do his grocery shopping, hoping the nurse didn't use the same supermarket.  He got some lemonade for Rose, a box of nice chocolates and a bunch of flowers so if he took her back home the following morning, he could present them to her mother if he kept them in some water and Rose didn't think they were for her, though he would explain that her father wouldn't be so mad at her keeping this a secret if he tried not to hide it any longer.

He hadn't wanted to keep things quiet and now there didn't seem any point after tonight, everyone who was there would see them together and the word would soon spread.  He just hoped the nurse wouldn't be a sore loser and tell everyone Rose had stolen him from her and he wasn't branded as someone who had let her down, not that there was any truth to it but small towns were notorious for gossip.

Rose was about to go for lunch when she decided to send Alec a text to see if he was out and about.  He sent one back saying he'd meet her the same place as yesterday, much to her surprise.  Would he think it was a bit much, with them going out tonight?  When they met up, he put her at ease.

"I was surprised to get your message."

"Yeah, I just thought, if you were already out, you'd have to eat."

They sat down then he went to order but neither of them saw Martha across the way, standing on the bridge between the river and the harbour, who could make them out quite clearly so as Alec had greeted Rose with a kiss on the cheek on her arrival, she was less than pleased.   When she got to the dance, she was going to cling to Mickey and see how long the detective lasted her doing the same to him.
Chapter 12
Rose was out of the shop at five, half expecting Alec to be standing by his car down the street but there was no sign of him, which she shouldn't be so surprised at since they'd unexpectedly met for lunch, which had been nice, well for her it had, not for Alec.  When he'd left Rose on the corner for her to walk back up into the town after a brief kiss, it turned into a nightmare.

Martha had sat herself by one of the catering stalls with a drink and waited, knowing he had to pass that way to get home.  Why she'd agreed last night to give the other ticket to Mickey, she'd no idea but it seemed it at the time, if it made the detective jealous enough to cause a scene either inside or outside the school.

Hardy had put his sunglasses on and thought about going up into the town to get his hair cut and his beard trimmed, then thought he would go get his car first but as he crossed over the bridge, he thought he saw the nurse.  It was too late for him to cross over the road so he decided to turn around and walk back into the town but she'd seen him and caught up with him at the other side of the river.

"Hello, I wondered if you'd be around," Martha greeted him.

To her surprise, he grabbed her arm and pulled her around the corner out of view.

"Have you been watching me?" he asked angrily, getting tired of the game she seemed to be playing and backing her against the wall.

"What?  No, I was sat having a drink and I saw you."

"Don't bother lying, you do it very badly Miss Jones.  This is your first and only warning – stay away from me and Miss Tyler or I will have you arrested.  Do you understand me?  I know you have already rung her father, which was very low, what did you hope to gain?  She's not some little kid who will get grounded, she is an adult who is capable of doing things on her own.  You on the other hand are the one with the childish behaviour.  What part of I am not going to the dance with you do you not get?"

Hardy stopped and stood back, his arms folded, waiting for a response, which he didn't get at first.  Martha wondered what the hell he was getting so angry with her for, it wasn't like she was the only one to chase after a man.

"Well?" Hardy asked again, moving one arm to get his notebook out of his pocket.

"Do you really need that?  Are you giving me an official warning?" Martha finally asked.

"Do I have to?  What the hell are you playing at?  If you think you have warned her off, I have news for you, we are still going to the dance tonight and if you do not want to see us together then I suggest you do not attend.  Why not find someone else to go with eh?"

"I have, I'll have you know."

"Don't tell me, Mickey Smith?"

"Lucky guess.  He said he'd go with me so you can let me go now.  Geez, don't take it so personally, I was just trying to let you know I fancied you."

"Well the feeling is not mutual.  Not that it is any of your business but I had already decided to ask her to the dance before I even met you, that is why I turned you down but you obviously were determined.  When I said no, that usually means no and not to keep on asking me.  Now, I will keep this unofficial but if you continue to bother us, I will have to reconsider.  Are we clear?"

"Yeah, I get it.  So what's so special about her, just because of who her father is?  Has he tried to buy you off yet?"

"I suggest you leave now before I take that as slander.  You want to know the difference between you and Miss Tyler?  I asked her to the dance, not the other way around."

Now he was in no mood to go get his hair cut but he should still try to trim his beard.  He left a dazed Martha Jones and went towards his new home, hoping that was the last of it but he was prepared for the worse, should the nurse try again.  After he left her, Martha sat on the low wall by the river, wondering what to do.  There was now no way her plan would work so she was stuck going to the dance with Mickey, whom she had learned was Rose Tyler's old boyfriend - just great.

When Rose got home, she went to make herself something to eat since the housekeeper didn't work on Saturday and on Sunday, they all did their own thing anyway as Jackie usually attempted something and they all made their excuses, Pete not always getting away with it.  She was soon up in her room putting her dress on after a quick shower, then she got a small shoulder bag from the wardrobe and put a pair of flat shoes inside along with a change of underwear, just in case she decided to stay.

She was downstairs waiting for Alec's car to turn around, looking out of the small window for him.  Pete noticed she was nervous.

"He'll be here Rose, don't worry."

"Yeah, I know Dad."

"What's the shoulder bag for?"

"Just my flat shoes, Alec wanted me to see his rental cottage, the one on the side of the cliff over the other side of the harbour."

"Did he now?  Just how serious is this?"

"I don't know yet Dad, this is our first proper date where people will see us.  Am I making things difficult for you?"

"No more than normal.  He'd already made his mind up he couldn't be easily persuaded to see things my way but he has a nerve, asking you out.  He said he'd help me get rid of Jack, I hope he'll keep his word."

"I'm sure he will Dad.  Have you seen Jack?"

"No, he's been quiet, a bit too quiet.  I warned Mickey not to talk to him but I doubt he'll take any notice.  Hardy said I shouldn't trust anyone."

"Dad, Jack has to be getting his information from somewhere."

"I know and he also said Jack is creating problems down in Weymouth to lure me away so next time, I'm not going."

"Good, Jack will get the message then, that you're not playing his game any more.  Why can't you just forget your plans Dad?"

"If I do, it won't stop Harkness.  It's better I get the go-ahead for the plans I have for this town than him, trust me.  Looks like your ride is here, see you in the morning eh?"

"Thanks Dad and don't worry about me, I'll be fine."

Alec was just turning around, he was now getting used to it and seeing Rose wave to her dad stopped to let her in, Rose throwing her shoulder bag into the back seat and kissing his cheek as Pete watched.  As Hardy drove off with Rose, he wondered if it was such a good idea to be only seen to go along with the detective, after all, things hadn't been that much different having Hunter in his pocket, the old detective could be a pain when he wanted to be.

As Hardy drove out of the street, he wondered if Rose had more than a pair of shoes in the shoulder bag.  He wasn't going to presume there was though, it might get him a slap at the least and could spoil his plans.  While he'd been getting ready, he'd trimmed his beard and hoped she would appreciate his efforts.  He'd been thinking about Harkness and why he was lying low all of a sudden when he'd mostly been trying to stir up trouble.

What got him most though was that their paths had never crossed but little did he know how that was going to be remedied sooner rather than later.  Jack and Ianto had decided to go back to Weymouth once Pete came back and they were planning something to get Pete's attention, leaving them to freely go after Mickey, Tony and if they had to, Rose.

Alec pulled into the school car park, hoping he wouldn't get blocked in if Rose decided she wanted to leave early, which he wouldn't object to.  He decided not to tell her about his little altercation with the nurse, he didn't want to spoil the mood and Rose looked like she was in a good one when he'd glanced in the mirror and seen her smiling back at him.

"Looking forward to dancing tonight?" he'd asked on the way.

"Yeah, though if I'd not been going with you, I may not have gone at all."

"I find it hard to believe you would not have had a date for tonight."

"Well, you'd better believe it, I've not had a date since Mickey used to take me and trust me, that's a while ago.  I still don't know why he stuck around when we broke up."

"That was some time ago then?  I was under the impression it was fairly recently?"

"No, he keeps trying to get me back every now and then but he's changed recently.  Maybe Jack has got to him?"

"Well, we will leave that for now eh?  If anyone blocks me in if I park here, I will go back in and grab the microphone to get them to move it."

Rose smiled.  "Yeah, I can believe that.  Well, here goes.  Doesn't look like Martha's here yet."

"Good, maybe she finally got the message?" he asked, seeing Rose was waiting for him to help her out.

She hadn't the last few times but she was wanting to make an entrance, since there were a lot of people getting out of cars and taxi cabs.  Taking his hand, Rose got out and as he closed the door, he turned back to Rose kissing his cheek.

"Yeah, I did notice you'd trimmed your beard.  It suits you like that."

She touched his chin and smiled.  Maybe they'd get around to some serious kissing later in his car before he got her up to his cottage.  Well he was going to try anyway.  He had wondered if she'd been bragging to her friends about him and he knew he should have put Miller straight when she'd insisted he went to the dance but he hadn't been sure about Tyler himself but now, it didn't matter.  Word would soon get around and as they walked to the school hall entrance, Rose had already waved to a few people and shouted a 'Hi" to them.

As they went inside, Rose with her arm in his, he handed the tickets in at the door, Rose stopping to talk to one of the women.

"Hello Rose, got yourself a date?"

"Yeah.  This is Alec Hardy, the new DI."

"Well enjoy yourselves.  At least you won't have to fend the men off all night."

Hardy wondered if that was what she normally did, stay with the single women all night and hope someone would ask her to dance or did she not like any of the single men in the town?  She'd mentioned someone called Olly, was it the reporter and had she already dated him?  They went inside, the tables already filling up and he really hoped she wouldn't choose to go sit with any of her friends but he needn't have worried as there were a few table with just two chairs over in the corner and Rose headed for one as people sat in groups of four or they'd put two tables together.

Hanging her purse on the chair and her black velvet jacket over the top, she went to sit down, Hardy hovering over her.

"I will go get the drinks then?  Are you having the same as last night?"

"Yeah please.  If you go now, there's not much of a queue at this time, people are getting settled, they'll be ages before it's decided who buys the first round."

Hardy smiled at her, looking around to make sure the nurse or Smith were nowhere nearby.  Martha was still waiting outside for Mickey, already regretting giving him the spare ticket.  She was still upset about Hardy stopping her earlier so she'd made up her mind if Mickey wanted to dance, then she'd go along with it but there was no way she was taking him home with her, not like she'd planned on doing with the detective.

She'd just arrived in a cab as the two of them had been walking arm in arm across the car park and into the hall, Hardy allowing Rose in first and putting his arm carefully on her back.  She'd only seen the top half of Rose, wearing a black velvet jacket so she couldn't see how else she was dressed but she doubted it wouldn't be anything less than expensive since she'd have got her father to pay for it.

Mickey finally arrived, in a cab because he liked to drink while he was out.  He made his way across to where Martha was, she was getting the tickets out of her purse.

"I'm glad you turned up Martha," Mickey told her, since he'd paid for a ticket just to keep an eye on Rose and wasn't happy about it.

"Yeah, well who else would I go with?  Have you seen Rose today?"

"No, she stays away from the arcade mostly, don't know what she does instead."

"She's probably been getting her claws into the new DI this week."

"Yeah, they were sitting together the other day."

"They were opposite the police station today, I saw them."

She wasn't going to add that Hardy had warned her off again.  As they handed the tickets in, the woman smiled, since Martha was wearing almost the same dress as Rose had been wearing and thought there was going to be fun once one of them realised and wished she could get off the door to watch.

Mickey saw some friends and headed for their table, much to Martha's dismay.

"Are we sitting with them?" Martha asked, turning to him and pulling a face at two men and one woman.

"Why not?  Where else are we gonna sit, all the tables are filling up," he replied, looking around and seeing two people take the table next to where Rose was sitting.

He had to smile since even at that distance, it looked like Rose was wearing the almost same dress as Martha.  Martha took a seat next to the woman and Mickey went off to the bar with Nigel.

"What you doing here with Martha then?" Nigel asked him as they saw Alec getting served.  "Didn't you ask Rose again?"

"She turned me down again, as usual.  She was coming with the new DI, that bloke she was with last night."

Hardy had got served and was just passing on his way back to Rose, relieved no-one had dared to go sit with her.  Olly had seen her though and was about to approach her as Hardy got there.

"Hi Rose, want a dance later?"

Hardy replied for her.  "No she does not.  What are you doing here?" he asked defensively.

"It's ok Alec, this is Olly, the town's reporter.  Working already Olly?"

"If there's a story.  Is there?"

"We've met.  Leave now," Alec told the reporter.  "There is no story here, go annoy someone else."

"Then can I take a photo later, when everyone's dancing?"

"If you must but it had better not focus on us."

"Why are you trying to hide the fact you came to the dance together?"

Rose was wondering exactly the same thing.  He had said he didn't want to hide they were going out together but perhaps having your photo in the local paper on your first official date wasn't such a good way of letting everyone know.

To say he paid her attention all night was an understatement.  They danced close to the slow tunes, he stood while Rose danced around him, holding her hand and only sat down when Rose decided it was not a good idea to wear shoes she'd only worn once before as she kicked them off under the table.

"Alec, I have to go to the ladies room.  Can you go get my other shoes please?"

"Are your feet sore?"

"Yeah, my little toe is really bad.  Do you have any plasters in the car?  I should have brought some."

"There is a small first-aid kit, all police vehicles have one, I will try to find you one or ask at the office, someone will be around.  Stay here."

"I'm not going anywhere Alec.  You might have to carry me out or let me lean on you."

"Then I will not be objecting.  No telling the reporter I kept you dancing."

"Girl scouts honour," Rose smiled, making the scouts sign.

"Were you ever in them?"

"Yeah but they were called Brownies back then and yes, I have badges."

"I can well believe it.  Was this your school then?"

"No, I went to a private school, dad insisted.  I'll tell you later, I can't hide my feet under the table all night."

"No more dancing then?"

He went off to the car to get her shoes and a sticking plaster but Martha saw her opportunity to get her own back on Rose, getting up and Mickey taking no notice as she strode off to the corner table, standing in front of Rose.

"How could you?" Martha asked, not even bothering to sit down.

"Excuse me?  What are you going on about Martha?" asked a confused Rose and wishing Alec would hurry back, not that she couldn't be catty with the rest of them when she wanted to be.

"You got that dress because I bought one?"

"Oh this?  Get over it Martha, it's a different colour and no-one else is wearing one, think yourself lucky.  What's your problem anyway, calling my dad?  Never thought you'd sink that low."

"I told you to stay away from him.  He was supposed to be bringing me."

"That's not what he told me and I believe him over you.  Come on Martha, we're not exactly friends are we?  Why should he have been coming with you?  He asked me on Wednesday and he'd already decided on Monday he was going to come with me."

"He only arrived on Monday, don't be so stupid."

"I met him in the arcade and he flirted with me, then he sat down with me at the food stand, chatting me up.  He was waiting for me on Tuesday and on Wednesday, he took me out to lunch properly.  Do I need to go on?  I've seen him every day this week.  Actually Thursday night we went for a meal and despite you thinking you know where he lives, he took me back there last night, it's very nice and looking out from the patio at the moon on the sea is really romantic."

"He never took you there, he can't have done."

"Wanna bet?  I didn't go home until six in the morning, he didn't want me falling on my way out.  He's amazing in bed."

Rose hoped Olly wasn't passing by but she saw him with Alice and Amber, trying to persuade one of them to dance with him.  Mickey noticed Martha was taking her time talking to Rose so he made his way over, just in time to hear Rose bragging about Alec's bedroom skills.  Martha didn't want to hear the rest.

"You knew I fancied him, how could you?"

"You don't own him Martha.  He told me he'd never go out with you in a million years so you'd better leave him alone, he's mine and if you call my dad again, you'll regret it.  Did you come with Mickey?"

"She conned me into coming with her," Mickey admitted, not wanting to give the real reason, that of spying on her.

Martha dug him in his ribs.

"Thanks for that Mickey.  Look where it got me?  I got stuck talking to your stupid friends all night who haven't got a brain between them.  I should have come on my own."

"Good I didn't want to come with you anyway.  You can get your own drinks from now on.  Go sit with your friends over there, Olly might take pity on you."

"They're not my friends, they don't think I'm good enough for them."

"I wonder why?" Rose thought out loud, really wishing Alec would come back, what was keeping him?

Hardy had located something for Rose's wounded toe and was about to go back in when he saw Nigel Carter and Dean Thomas, Chloe Latimer's now ex-boyfriend talking in a corner and it looked like Nigel was backing the man into the wall.  Wondering if he should interfere and stop a fight or go rescue Rose, he thought she'd be ok for a few minutes and went across.

"What's going on here?" Hardy asked, getting his ID out of his pocket.

"What's it to you?" Nigel asked, letting go of Dean.

"I ask the questions.  I know who you are, you were pointed out to me."

"By your new little blonde girlfriend, that stuck-up little bitch?"

"Be careful what you call her and yes, she is my girlfriend.  I'll ask you again, what's going on?"

"Nothing.  Dean and I were just having a friendly conversation, weren't we?" he asked Dean, who looked like he wanted to run off.

"Is that right?  I've read up about you Carter, well you and Mickey Smith.  Quite a little game you have running.  I'll be doing some more investigating next week so whatever you two are arguing over had better be finished.  Understood?"

"You think we're scared of you?" Nigel asked, facing up to Hardy.

"You should be.  I just put three child-killers behind bars so if you want to go up against me, be my guest.  Now clear off, both of you and if you are going back inside, sit down and stay out of trouble."

"I'm not going in there," Dean admitted, not wanting to see Chloe with her new boyfriend whom she'd met at university.

Sulking, Nigel went ahead of Hardy and Dean went back to his motorcycle.  Hardy shook his head, just what he'd needed but Rose was waiting for him inside.  Mickey had been about to leave when Martha decided to insult him.

"Yeah, well you agreed to come with me and you talk to your awful friends."

"Well I didn't want to come with you anyway, you asked me, to get back at Hardy."

"She did?" Rose asked.

"Yeah Martha, tell her."

"Get lost Mickey, I only asked you because I wasn't going to waste a ticket."

"Well you both wasted them, didn't you?" Rose smiled, though her toe was really hurting now as she rested her foot on top of the offending shoe.  "Martha, forget it, he's with me, in more ways than one, trust me."

"Huh, I really hate you Rose."

"Feeling's mutual Martha," Rose called after her.

Martha went back to the table, grabbed her shoulder bag and almost collided with Hardy.

"Where are you going in such a hurry?" he asked as she rubbed her arm.

"Like you'd care, screwing around with Rose Tyler."

He tried not to look too confused.  Rose had said she may infer she knew him better than she did, just what had she told the nurse, who was in a hurry to get out of the place?
Chapter 13
Martha tried to get away.

"Believe what you want, I warned you."

"Tell her, not me.  She sat there and told me you two, well you know, spent the night together.  You expect me to listen to her?"

"I did try to tell you.  Yes, we are involved and whatever she told you, she wanted you to know.  My advice is, if you don't want to listen to her then stay away."

"I get the point.  Now excuse me."

Rose was watching, wondering why he'd stopped Martha in the doorway.  She saw Martha go off and Alec walked towards her.

"Hey, where did you get to?" Rose asked him.

"I got delayed.  Here are your shoes and the plaster."

"Thanks, I think I'll risk putting the plaster on here or I won't make it."

"I will cover you," he told her, standing in front of her as she took the wrapper off.

Rose got up a few seconds later as he turned back around.

"Better?"

"Yeah, I think I can walk now.  So, what happened to her then?"

"You tell me?  What did you say to her?"

"I said I may infer a few things.  How was she to know I never made it up to your cottage last night?"

"Is that what you told her?"

"I may have done.  Now, I really need the ladies room, excuse me."

"I will go get some more drinks when you come back."

"Fine, I won't be long."

She made her way out into the entrance, locating the ladies since she only went there once a year.  As she opened the door, she saw Martha standing at the washbasins.

"Thought you'd got rid of me?" Martha asked, checking herself in the mirror.

Rose chose to ignore her, closing one of the cubicle doors.

"You can't hide in there all night," Martha called after her.

"Who says I want to?  I have someone to go back to."

Martha thought she didn't have to rub it in.

"You think I chose to come here with your ex boyfriend?  Does he know about Mickey?"

"Yeah, he knows and Mickey hasn't been my boyfriend for years, never mind what he might have told you.  So that was your plan?  To come with Mickey and make Alec jealous?"

Martha remained quiet, Rose thinking she'd slipped out already but as she opened the cubicle door, Martha was leaning on the sink top, her arms folded.

"He would have come with me if you'd not flirted with him.  Mickey told me how you made eyes at him in the arcade.  You were the one doing the flirting, not him.  I'm tired of you stealing men I fancy."

"So?  I didn't keep annoying him and I didn't have to ask him to bring me, there was no need."

"Yeah, well I bet you never even went to his place last night."

"Prove it.  I wasn't the one who followed him home, he took me there.  I swear Martha, if you follow us, I won't be responsible for what happens."

With that, Rose washed her hands and left, leaving Martha sitting there.  Nigel had seen Martha leaving after talking with Hardy and decided to follow when Rose went out.  This was his chance, there were a few people talking and waiting for cabs since it was almost ten so as he saw Rose come out of the ladies, he approached her.

"Think you're too good to dance with the locals?"

"Get lost Nigel."

"You think Hardy's gonna stick around with the arcade owner's daughter?  Why don't you come outside with me?"

"Ha, you are joking, right?  If I'm not back in there in the next thirty seconds, he'll come looking for me."

Nigel thought about it.  Hardy wouldn't want her if he taught the stuck-up blonde a lesson.  He was about to grab her arm and drag her outside when Martha came out of the ladies.

"What are you doing with her Nigel?"

"Gonna teach her a lesson, go back inside," he told her, grabbing hold of Rose from behind.

"Get off me you clown, think I'm going out there with you?"

He began pulling her outside, meaning to drag her around the corner, away from anyone leaving.  Martha stood there as Rose struggled to get away from the big man.

"Get off me, Alec will be looking for me.  Martha, don't just stand there, go get him."

"Well he won't find you will he?" Nigel gloated.

Rose continued to drag her feet, trying to slow him down as they reached the corner but he was holding her in such a way it was impossible to break free.  Then she had an idea that Mickey had shown her.  She went limp and let him carry on, then when he thought she'd given in, she'd kick him where it hurt.

Martha watched in disbelief as he had dragged Rose out but she'd noticed the people who had been waiting had gone.  Why should she help the blonde when she'd stolen Alec Hardy from her?  Alec had thought Rose was taking her time.  Had she got cold feet and left without her jacket?  He picked it up along with her shoulder bag and went to the door, seeing Martha.

"Where's Rose?" he shouted, as Martha stood there.  "Tell me where she went?"

"Nigel was waiting, he grabbed her and took her outside."

"What?  Which way?"

"To the left, around the corner."

"Call the station, tell them I said to get a unit out here now and an ambulance," he shouted.  "And go get someone from in there out now."

He ran towards the double doors, it was getting dark and there was only the lights from the hall but as he burst outside, he could hear Rose yelling, trying to locate her.

"Get off me you moron, Alec will have you locked up."

"Think he's bothered about you?  Just you stand still," he told her, pinning her against the wall, pulling her purse off her shoulder then going for her dress.

Suddenly, Alec burst around the corner.

"Carter, get off her now."

"You want her when I've finished with her?" he asked, about to put his arm around her back but Rose saw her chance and brought her knee up, catching Nigel off-guard.

As he felt the impact, Rose pushed him over and ran towards Alec, who put his arms around her as a load of people came around the corner, including Martha and Mickey and hearing sirens in the distance.

"Are you ok?" he asked her as she clung to him.

Mickey walked forward towards Nigel.

"Leave him there Smith, I want officers to see him like that.  Now back off or do you want to join him in the squad car?"

Mickey thought about it.

"How did you find me so quickly?" Rose asked as he put her jacket around her shoulders and picked up her purse.

Nigel was still recovering on the ground as two officers got out of the squad car that had just arrived and approached Alec, one of them telling everyone to stand back.

"DI Hardy, Sir.  What happened?"

"That man down there dragged my girlfriend outside to attack her."

Nigel was being helped up by the two officers, one of them tying his hands behind his back.

"Think you'll get away with this, she just attacked me," Nigel spluttered as he was being put in the back of the car.

"I saw the whole thing, he was holding her against the wall," Hardy told them as Bob got his notebook out.  "Miss Jones here saw the man dragging her outside."

"I'll need you all to come down to the station first thing in the morning, we'll lock him up overnight and call his solicitor if he wants one though he's already been in enough trouble, he won't qualify for legal aid.  Are you ok Miss Tyler?  Do you want me to call your father?"

"I'll take care of her, just get the piece of garbage out of my sight.  Come on Rose, I'm taking you home."

"What about me?" Martha asked, thinking he might be grateful for telling him where Rose was.

"Thank you for calling for assistance but I think I should get her home, don't you?  Rose, did he touch you?"

"No Alec, he just held me and dragged me out, I tried to get way but he was too strong."

"Well you can make a statement tomorrow, I should go tell your father personally, I was responsible for you.  Let the ambulance crew check you out."

Rose shook her head but allowed him to lead her to the waiting crew.  The woman asked her a few questions and took her blood-pressure and listened to her heart and said she could go.

Mickey was still hanging around as Nigel was being driven off, the officers taking note of the incident.

"What about him?" Mickey asked.

"He'll live Smith."

Rose let Alec help her into the car and he got in beside her.

"Alec, can we tell him in the morning?  I don't want to go home and you promised to show me your cottage."

"That can wait.  If I do not tell him now, any chance I had of getting him to co-operate over the arcade and reveal his plans will be gone.  If you still want to come with me after I tell him, then I will take you."

He drove them to the Tyler residence, choosing to reverse down the short cul-de-sac and stopped outside her driveway.  He got out as Rose waited and went round to help her, her shoulder bag on the floor.  She passed it out to him, putting on a smile.

"Guess that ruined our evening?  How was I to know that stupid idiot was waiting when I came out?"

"Maybe he was waiting for the nurse?"

"Why would he be doing that?" Rose asked as she held onto him.

"She was sat with them all night."

"Yeah and Mickey would have been complaining I wouldn't go with him, I don't think he was after Martha, he might have seen us all arguing."

"You were arguing with them?" he asked, locking the car.

"While you were out, Martha didn't like me wearing the same dress and Mickey admitted he only went with her because she wanted to make you jealous."

"Rose, it would not have made me jealous, it is you I am interested in, you know that."

"Yeah, I get it, she'd just been tryin' to cause trouble.  Alec, my last boyfriend, well after I met him, I found out he was still married and it upset me because she saw him first and I think she knew, that was why she gave in and now, she's trying to get her own back."

"So you made a mistake?  It happens and she will not split us up.  I am divorced Rose, so there is no jealous wife to worry about.  Now, I should tell your father what happened, I would not like him to find out from Smith or someone else."

Rose got her key out, taking the shoulder bag from him.  He followed her inside, standing in the hallway as Rose went to find Pete.  Pete looked up when Rose opened the smaller living room door.

"I didn't expect you back."

"Yeah.  Something happened at the dance, Alec's here."

Pete turned off the TV.  "Rose?  What happened?  I trusted you with my daughter Hardy."

"Then let me explain Mr Tyler."

"Dad, it was Nigel Carter, he tried to attack me."

"What?  I hope he's been arrested?"

"Yes, he is in custody, he will be charged with assault in the morning.  Rose will have to give a statement and my DS will have to interview her as I was present.  You may want to go with her."

"Yes, I'll call my solicitor first thing, he'll not be happy with it being Sunday.  Why did he attack you?"

"I think it had something to do with Martha and Mickey, complaining about me to him all night though what it has to do with him is anyone's guess.  I'm ok Dad, don't tell mum, please."

"Well if she finds out on her own?  I'll bring her to the station in the morning Hardy."

"I'm still going over to Alec's, we have to talk."

"It's late Rose, maybe we should talk tomorrow?" Alec asked, seeing Pete watching him.

"I wanted to see your cottage."

"You will, I promise.  We should get this out of the way first."

"He's right love, I should take you in the morning, then Carter can't accuse you of encouraging him.  You didn't, did you?"

"Don't be daft, why would I go with that creep?"

"Well his solicitor will want to know if you did.  I'll have Mr Baxter meet us there.  Thank you for telling me yourself Hardy, I appreciate it.  Was Mickey there then?"

"Yeah, sort of with Martha but he admitted he didn't really want to be with her."

Alec's phone rang.  It was the station.

"Sir, we've locked Carter up overnight, will Miss Tyler be bringing charges against him?"

"Yes, she will.  Call DS Miller first thing, tell her to meet me there at ten in the morning.  Mr Tyler will be bringing his daughter in, their solicitor will meet them there."

"Carter is protesting his innocence, says Miss Tyler wanted him to take her outside."

"Well, we will see who the judge believes, Carter has a less than reputable reputation around here."

"Yes Sir, he does indeed.  If you want my opinion, it was only a matter of time before he did something like this, he's trouble."

Hardy already knew that after reading his arrest record for possessing a dangerous weapon and poaching.  He turned his attention back to Rose, who looked disappointed.

"Walk me to my car?" he asked as Pete left them.

"I wanted to go to your cottage."

"I will take you tomorrow, I promise.  We will make our statements then I will take you somewhere quiet and we will talk.  I think now though that Martha Jones will be out of the picture.  She will also have to make a statement, since she witnessed him dragging you out but why did she not stop him?"

"Have you seen the size of him?  What could she have done?"

"Come right back in to get me."

"Maybe you were out before she had the chance?"

"Aye and maybe she was deciding whether you deserved it or not?  I can't ask you what happened, not until we have given our statements."

"Is that why I can't go back to your place?"

"Yes, partly.  Are you sure he did not hurt you?"

"No, he didn't, you heard what he said?"

"Some of it.  I would have got around to investigating him and he knew it.  Now, I will have to call the newspaper, make sure the incident is not reported until statements have been made and charges brought against him."

"My dad's solicitor will handle it.  I really wanted to spend some time with you."

"I know, I wanted to spend time with you.  You will be asked some personal questions during the interview, I do not know what happened before I found you.  You have to answer them honestly and if one of them is did you have sex, then you can honestly say no, if Carter did not have time to do anything."

"I see, you're just thinking of me and not getting ahead of yourself?"

Alec walked towards her, putting his arms around her.

"There is nothing to stop us kissing and yes, I was hoping sex would be on the agenda."

"I never have sex on a first date Alec."

"Well technically, it is our third."

"Oh, so those were actual dates?  Alec, don't get me wrong, I do like you, really I do but after my last mistake?  I had three dates with him, not all in the same week though and I should have got suspicious when he said he was only in town once a week."

"It does not matter, you found out, that was the main thing, before any damage was done.  It was his fault for misleading you."

"Yeah but he'd been flirting with Martha, that's why she was determined to get back at me."

"Did you ever tell her he was married?"

"No, she may have found out later, someone opened their big mouth."

"You mean Smith?"

"Yeah, who else?  Now half the town knows."

"When was that?" he asked, seeming concerned.

"It doesn't matter, it was last year."

"You never got over it?"

"No, well not until now.  I was starting to, you made me happy and I was really gonna try to get over it tonight."

"I should never have let you go out there on your own.  I waited too long when you did not come back but I know how long women can take."

"I wish I could tell you what happened."

"You can't, it would jeopardise everything if you want him punished for what he tried to do.  I saw enough Rose, he was going to try something despite me being there.  It was a good thing you caught him off guard."

"He won't try to say I assaulted him, will he?"

"No, you have a witness – me.  That is why you can't tell me what happened before I got there."

She leaned into him as he pulled her closer, kissing her forehead.

"I want to tell you what happened."

"I know you do.  I had better go and let you get some rest and I am just as disappointed as you are.  We will make up for it tomorrow night."

"Promise?" Rose asked, looking up at him.

He reached to kiss her, Rose putting her arms around his neck.

"I may have misled Martha, just a bit."

"Really?  Then you must tell me, so I can confirm it."

"Just we were on your patio, looking out at the moon on the sea."

"Is that all?  I am disappointed.  She thought you had inferred more."

"Yeah, I kind of inferred about your bedroom skills."

"That may have been why she did not come in to tell me Carter had taken you outside."

"Do you think so?"

"I will ask her myself.  Tomorrow night, we will watch the moon on the sea, I promise."

"Come outside with me?"

"Your father could come back in."

"I don't think so.  Come on."

She unfastened the patio door and shushed him.

"Don't say a word, mum might hear.  You know sounds carry at night."

She led him outside, under her bedroom window, looking out at the moon reflecting on the water.

"I love it here," she reached up to whisper.  "If I ever leave home, I have to live by the sea."

"I can understand that," he replied quietly.

Rose leaned on his shoulder, Alec stroking her hair.

"If you have this view, why did you want to stand on my patio?"

"Different view and my parents wouldn't be upstairs."

Alec had to smile.  They stayed with their arms around each other for a few more minutes, then went back inside.

"I will see you at the station in the morning, 10am," he told her.

"We'll be there then you take me somewhere.  Will we be able to talk about what happened?"

"Yes but Miller will have to conduct the investigation.  That should not take long, since there are two witnesses and those who came outside."

"All they'll have seen was him on the ground."

"Which proves you were defending yourself.  I saw him holding you."

"Yeah but it might go against me.  I'll have to let the solicitor speak for me.  My mum will find out."

"She will anyway if it goes to court."

"It will?  I never thought about that.  Everyone will know, just like they did about Mike."

"We will try to keep it as low-profile as we can.  He has to pay for what he tried to do.  He got away with other things far too easily but no solicitor is going to take him on when he can't afford one and he will be going up against your father."

"Yeah, that's one advantage I have."

"You have two advantages, you have me."

Rose walked him to the door and they kissed goodnight.  As he drove off, he couldn't help thinking that Carter had been instructed to go after Rose and only one person would do that and leave Carter to face the consequences.


Chapter 14
A/N: The assault in these chapters has no bearing on the storyline of series 3 of Broadchurch - I have no idea what will happen in the new series even though I saw some of the filming while I was on holiday down there.  One thing is for sure, it won't be about Rose Tyler going to the dance with Alec Hardy!

Rose found it difficult to get to sleep, still going over what had happened.  Pete had gone upstairs to allow Rose and whom it now seemed was her new boyfriend a few minutes to come to terms with what had taken place.  He couldn't really blame Hardy, when Rose had said Carter was waiting outside the ladies room and he was a big bloke but he was going to regret attacking Rose in more ways than one, he was finished in the town.

Jackie of course had heard talking downstairs and wanted to know what was going on so he'd tried to tone it down as Rose hadn't wanted her to know.

"It's nothing Jaks, Rose just got caught up with something at the dance.  Don't worry, Alec Hardy rescued her.  You knew about those two?"

"Yeah, she told me who she was going with.  She didn't want to tell you, with him going up against you."

"So last night wasn't their first date then?"

"Pete, she's never stopped going on about him all week, ask Tony."

He fully intended to.

"I have to take Rose to the police station to give a statement in the morning, I'll have Baxter or someone meet us there."

"Why, what happened Pete?"

"I don't want to worry you about it, we'll get it sorted in the morning but Nigel Carter was involved."

"I really hate him.  Rose said Mickey was hanging around with him when she was in the pub with Alec Hardy."

"Ah, well that explains a few things then.  Mickey was at the dance with Martha."

"About time he asked her out instead of tryin' to get Rose back."

"Yeah, well he didn't go with her willingly, trust me.  He was probably trying to make Rose jealous and Martha was trying to make Hardy jealous.  Seems she thinks Rose stole him from her."

"Martha thinks Rose steals every bloke off her, she can't accept the fact Rose is more popular than she is."

"Well that dress Rose got for the dance, it was almost the same as Martha's, Rose did it on purpose."

Jackie tried not to laugh too loud.

"Trust her.  Still, Martha asks for it most of the time.  Did they get into a fight?"

"Jaks, I don't know all the details, Hardy couldn't tell me much until they've made their statements.  I'll tell you something though, I half expected Rose not to come home tonight so it must have been serious.  Hardy did come and tell me himself."

"So you're not still trying to buy him off then?"

"I don't think I need to, he's acting tough but he wants to keep Harkness out of the town as much as I do.  I think we can work together and if he's dating Rose, well it's just got a whole lot easier.  He'll do anything to avoid me banning him from seeing her, I can use that to my advantage."

"Well don't take too much advantage, Rose won't be happy if you threaten to keep them apart.  Pete, she's had no-one since last year, he's the first one."

"I know that.  She can actually help me, he'll do anything to keep her happy."

"You're a sneaky one Pete Tyler, using both of them.  Coming to bed?"

Alec had got back to his cottage, his plans for the evening put on hold, well not that it was still evening, it was getting on for midnight but he'd wanted to show Rose the view from his patio but he doubted it would equal the view from her own.  The wine in the fridge would have to wait, the flowers were still in water, he could take them to Mrs Tyler tomorrow at some point, well if Rose was still talking to him after she had been interviewed by Miller in the morning.

How the hell had this happened?  They were supposed to have a nice evening out, dancing and maybe something else when he'd got her back to his cottage and that village idiot had spoiled it.  He hoped Rose had really hurt him, after what the man was probably planning for her.  He somehow doubted that Rose would have let him get any further, that she could have looked after herself but it had been his job to watch out for her and he had failed.

Before he'd driven off, Rose had told him he wasn't to blame but if he'd not delayed going to find her, Carter wouldn't have got that far with her.  The only consolation he had was she wasn't hurt and hadn't been assaulted.  Carter had come off the worse in the end but when it came to witness statements, would the nurse admit she'd seen Carter drag Rose off?  That would depend on how sore a loser she was and she knew now she had lost out to Rose.

Even if Rose never wanted to see him again, there was no way he would ever ask Martha Jones out.

Rose was still awake early, wishing she could have woken up with Alec.  Would he think that she no longer wanted to go out with him?  She wondered what it would have been like, spending the night with him.  Would they have got around to having sex or agreed to take it slowly?  At least he wasn't married, a factor that had put her off dating almost for good.

She heard her phone buzzing with a message.  It was from Alec which read 'How are you feeling?'

She replied with a 'I would be better if I'd have stayed with you' then added 'I meant at your place' just in case he thought she'd meant if she'd not gone out on her own last night but she should have been safe enough.  Now, she had to go face an interview over what had happened when Martha could have prevented it by running in immediately and getting Alec but she must have delayed and Alec was right.  Did Martha think she deserved whatever Nigel had been planning?

Once her dad's solicitor had finished with Nigel Carter, he'd wished he'd never even thought about it.  What the hell had come over him?  He had never shown the slightest interest in her since she was old enough to start dating and he knew Pete wouldn't let him get away with it so why had he even bothered?  All he was interested in was drinking and poaching, inbetween working as a plumber.  Everyone in town would get to know about it and he'd probably lose his job as she knew the Latimers quite well so he'd have to leave.

She got up and made herself some breakfast, Pete joining her just after eight.

"Morning love, how are you?"

"Ok thanks Dad.  I was just thinking what the hell possessed Nigel to go after me?  I hardly even have anything to do with him, he's Mickey's mate."

"Yeah, I know that.  Now, I have to call Baxter's 24hr line and get someone to meet us at the station and once he gets to know, he'll insist on meeting us there himself."

Lester Baxter was an old family friend as well as the Tyler's solicitor ever since they'd arrived in Broadchurch so as Pete had predicted, once he'd learned Rose had been attacked from the receptionist on duty, he had called Pete.

"How did this happen Pete?" Baxter had asked him.

"She should have been safe Lester, she was with the town's new DI, Alec Hardy.  What I want to know is why there was no-one around in the entrance, at that time when people would have been starting to leave."

"We'll have to leave that for the police to find out but Hardy won't be able to conduct the investigation if he was there with her.  Just leave it with me, Carter will not get away with this, I promise you."

"Thanks Lester, we'll see you there and I know not to discuss it with her before we get there.  Hardy wouldn't discuss too much last night, just the basics."

Ellie Miller was not pleased to get a call at just after eight, in the middle of trying to feed her two year old son then finding out Rose Tyler and Alec Hardy were involved, Rose because she knew her well enough and Hardy because he was a pain in the rear and she wondered if he'd erupted after being goaded into taking Martha Jones to the dance.  What had she been thinking, taking Martha's side when she should have considered Rose a better candidate but being the arcade owner's daughter that Hardy had taken to visiting to get them to comply with the law, she hadn't thought they should meet.

Now it seemed they had since she'd been told to report to the station before ten to charge Nigel Carter with the kidnapping and assault of Rose Tyler and that last night, Hardy had told the arresting officers that she was his girlfriend.  How had that happened so fast?  Had they been secretly meeting and did Pete Tyler actually know about it?  He must have known they'd been at the dance together, since he was bringing her in to be interviewed but Hardy was doing the right thing by distancing himself and insisting she took the lead in this.

Hardy got to the station early and was writing out his version of the events in the presence of a male DS, giving details after Rose had excused herself to the ladies room.  He felt no need to disclose what had taken place before the incident had occurred since he'd not been present while Rose was talking with Smith and the nurse but he had to put down he had seen Carter using threatening behaviour towards a younger man outside the venue when he'd been returning from his car.

Then he thought that was what had provoked Carter to go after Rose but he didn't think the man had enough sense to take his revenge out on Rose.  He had just finished when Ellie entered the room, telling the other DS he could stay, she wanted no mistakes since Hardy was her boss.  He handed her the written statement as she turned on the voice recorder.

Rose and Pete had arrived, being told DS Miller would be with them shortly and Rose was shown into another interview room to talk with her solicitor.  He asked her to go through the events after she had gone to the ladies room, ending with her defending herself and Alec arriving.  Then Ellie entered the room and apologised for keeping them waiting.

"So you led Carter to believe that if he didn't let you go, DI Hardy would be looking for you?" Ellie asked her as she went through her notes.

"Yeah, he did come looking for me but I asked Martha to go get him as I was being dragged out, she just stood there.  I think she was just as surprised as I was, I would have done the same."

"But he came looking for you anyway?"

"Yeah, Carter had forced me into a corner and had pulled my purse off my shoulder and was about to go for my dress."

"Was that when you retaliated?"

"If you mean I kneed him where it hurt then yes, what was I supposed to do, let him assault me?"

"I understand Rose, really I do.  You were scared, you did the right thing but was Alec Hardy present when you did so?"

"Yeah, he'd just arrived and told Carter to back off but he just continued like Alec wasn't there.  I was scared Ellie."

"Of course you were Rose.  Do you think you can write everything down for me?"

Rose nodded.

"Mr Baxter, do you have any questions?" Ellie asked as she got up.

"Just one.  Has Carter been interviewed?"

"Another DS is doing that now, he refused a solicitor."

"Then I will be informed of the outcome and if there are any denials?"

"Of course."

"When can I see DI Hardy?" Rose wanted to know.

"He's been interviewed and given his statement so as soon as you're finished, I'll go check how Carter's doing then you can see him."

Rose wrote everything down she could remember after she'd gone out to the ladies, wishing now she'd never done so or gone earlier.  Alec was pacing up and down the other interview room when Ellie walked back in.

"You want to interview Carter with me?  You've given your statement, there's no reason why you can't ask him as Rose Tyler's boyfriend why he attacked her especially as you seemed to have been there in an official capacity, warning Carter off earlier.  Care to tell me how that happened so fast with you two?  Is that why you wouldn't admit who you were going with?"

"Yes, at that point her father did not know.  Shall we see what he has to say for himself?"

Ellie went in first, relieving the duty officer.

"Well Nigel, what have you got to say for yourself?  Since when did you start attacking women?"

"She asked for it, sitting with that new DI all night and dancing with him."

"So you got jealous?"

"Me?  No, she was making Mickey and Martha jealous so she needed teaching a lesson."

"What gives you the right to teach my girlfriend a lesson?" Hardy asked as he'd been listening at the door and entered, sitting across from Nigel.

"I didn't know she was your girlfriend, did I?"

"Well why were we dancing all night then?  She is bringing charges against you."

"She kneed me."

"I was there, she was defending herself.  You dragged her outside, against her will with the intent of sexually assaulting her."

"What?"

"You had her in a corner Carter, you said I would not want her when you had finished with her then you went for her dress."

Alec had Carter and he knew it but he had to think about Rose, putting her on the witness stand and having the whole town knowing about it.  Nothing had actually happened but who was to say Carter wouldn't do it again?  Harkness had to be behind this.

"Tell me who put you up to it?"

"No-one.  She let my best mate down and she stopped you asking Martha to the dance."

"That is completely untrue.  I never had any intentions of asking Miss Jones to go to the dance.  Whatever she told you was her version of why I refused to go with her.  That is no excuse for abducting Rose Tyler in front of a witness.  I suggest you get yourself a solicitor."

"I can't afford one.  You lot kept dragging me in and fining me."

"That was your own fault Nigel," Ellie told him.  "You were let off with warnings and you ignored them."

"Come on Carter.  You mean to tell us you were feeling sorry for your friends?" Hardy asked him.  "Tell me why you were really willing to go after her, with your past record and a witness?"

Nigel knew if he told on Jack Harkness he was done for.  He was on his own and Jack wouldn't pay him now for trying to get to Tyler through his daughter.  When he'd been approached a few days ago with the promise of five hundred pounds to drag Rose outside and rough her up a bit, not actually harming her, he thought it was easy money but he had to do it and not get caught.  He'd thought Martha had gone off and Rose was on her own but she must have told Hardy where he was.

"Yeah, like I said, Mickey's my mate, she deserved it."

Outside, Martha had been asked to attend and was giving a statement that Carter had dragged Rose outside and she'd been about to go find Hardy to tell him when he'd rushed through the door and asked where Rose was and she'd rung the station.  She added that she then went inside to get Mickey, shouting Rose had been dragged outside by Nigel and a few people had followed.

"Can I go now?  I had to call the hospital to say I'd be late."

"When DS Miller has interviewed you," Frank told her.

Ten minutes later, Ellie entered the room where Rose had been interviewed, followed by Hardy, to Martha's surprise.

"Care to tell me why you delayed telling me Carter had dragged Rose outside?" Hardy asked her.

"He took me by surprise, I was coming to get you."

"According to Rose's statement, she asked you to go get him," Ellie reminded her.

"I was, honestly, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  He came out before I could get back inside."

"So you were not deciding if she deserved it or not?" Hardy asked.

"What?  No, I wouldn't do that.  I may hate her for what she did but she didn't deserve to be dragged out like that."

"No, she did not.  Your delay in warning me though almost got her assaulted.  Do you dislike her that much?"

"No," Martha whispered, wishing she'd never even bothered going last night.

It had been bad enough seeing the two of them together, then Rose had bragged she and Alec had spent the previous night together, then they wondered why she'd had to stop and think about helping Rose but now she'd had time to think about it, Rose could have been hurt and that hadn't been her intention.

"Tell her I'm sorry I delayed things.  Is she ok?"

"Yes, she is but if I'd not gone out when I did, who knows?" Hardy asked, shuffling the contents of the folder and tapping the edge of it on the table.

"You can go now, you may be called as a witness if it goes to court," Ellie told her, looking sideways at Hardy, whom she could tell was itching to get to his new girlfriend.

She still wanted to know how it had happened so quickly and was Pete Tyler against it?  Rose and Pete were waiting in the informal interview room, drinking their second cups of coffee, Rose pulling faces at it.

"Not your usual brand eh?" Pete smiled, trying to lighten the mood as Mr Baxter went through a folder just handed to him. 

Baxter thought that Pete would have given anything to read the contents as shook his head.  What had that miserable specimen been thinking of attacking Pete Tyler's daughter?  Hardy had left out the part of his altercation with Nigel before taking Rose's flat shoes inside but had said he'd been out at her request to fetch them and a band-aid for her sore toe, then she'd applied it and excused herself to the ladies room.  Hardy had then said he'd noticed Carter leaving the hall but assumed since he'd been seen with one drink after another that he'd also had a call of nature but when Rose had been more than five minutes, he'd got worried, especially when Carter had not returned either and Mickey was still drinking.

He'd assumed Martha Jones had got tired of trying to get his attention after they'd spoken in the doorway and that she'd called a cab and gone home but he'd been surprised to see her staring at the front entrance when he'd gone out to see where Rose had got to.

"So, she was that jealous of you she delayed telling DI Hardy?" Baxter wondered out loud.

"I guess so.  Does this have to go to court?  Can't they just fine him or something?" Rose asked, anxious to see Alec.

"That's up to the chief superintendent, she's been called in as far as I know though I doubt she'll be happy about it, about as much as anyone else here today.  It will then be down to you if you want to have him charged with assault and kidnapping or with attempted sexual assault.  No doubt that was his intention," Baxter told her.

"I seriously doubt that," Pete replied, not being able to drink any more of the station's coffee.  "I think someone put him up to it, probably Harkness."

"Would he go that far?" Baxter asked, looking over the top of his rimless glasses that reminded Rose of Alec doing so over their lunch.

"What other explanation is there?  I was told not to trust anyone and what other reason would Carter have for doing it?  He doesn't know Rose that well and Rose was with Hardy all night.  I don't think he was jealous or anything, just greedy and Harkness offered him money to do it."

"Maybe he was getting his own back, for being caught so many times for poaching, he was getting back at Hardy?" Baxter offered, looking up again.

"He wasn't even here then," Rose corrected him.  "No, I think Mickey and Martha moaning all night about us sent him over the edge but he should have had a go at Alec, not me."

"Maybe he did and he's not saying love?" Pete suggested.

Rose sat back, also having enough of the station's coffee and wondered where Alec had got to so when the door opened and he was standing there, she didn't care who was in the room or the fact Ellie was just behind him as she went up to him and put her arms around his neck as he pulled her close.
Chapter 15
When they had finished interviewing Nigel Carter, who had now realised he'd taken on more than he had bargained for, Hardy was impatiently waiting to get to see Rose.  She'd responded to his text earlier though he hadn't quite known what she'd meant by she wished she'd stayed with him, even after her second message but now, as she clung to him, he knew they were still ok.

Very aware of her father, her solicitor and Miller, he gently pulled her arms from around his neck.

"Rose, are you ok?  I am really sorry I could not get to you earlier."

"You have a job to do Alec, I know that.  Can we go now?"

"I'm afraid not Rose," Ellie told her.  "Carter is refusing to admit anything and we're waiting for a solicitor who will work for free and they all know him.  We've formally cautioned him but until you say so, we can't charge him.  We have to get this right."

"Yeah, well how can he deny it with two witnesses?" Rose asked Alec.

"He is trying to claim he was doing it for his friends but between us, I think Harkness is behind it."

"That's what I said," Pete turned to Baxter.  "We can't prove it though."

"Well if we charge him and he gets a solicitor, maybe he'll confess.  He will not want to go to prison if he was paid to go after Rose."

"You really believe that?" Ellie asked.  "I don't know much about Jack Harkness but would he go after Rose to get to you Mr Tyler?"

"Yes, he would and it shows he's getting desperate."

"What does he want?  Does he want your arcade?"

"Not only that, he wants in on what I have planned and he won't give up that easily.  He could go after my wife and my son next.  I already suspect he's got to Mickey, in certain ways and I bet you anything Mickey is trying to get Tony to turn on me."

"We already suspect the man who had lost his memory was sent here to trick Mr Tyler, Miller.  You have to keep all this quiet, don't go telling the chief when she gets here," Hardy warned her.

"So what do I do?" Rose asked, sitting back down.

"Go ahead and press charges against him, you won't have to appear in court, I'll see to that," Hardy promised her.  "Your solicitor can handle it.  We'll get Carter booked and sent on remand, it will take some time to process everything, trust me.  We'll just need you to confirm everything to the chief, she will then leave it to us to gather the evidence and we can delay as much as possible."

"Will he stay locked up?"

"Well he can't afford a solicitor let alone bail," Ellie smiled.  "It won't do him any harm to serve some time, we can keep him on remand for as long as it takes but we have to be seen actively investigating.  That means we'll have to keep re-interviewing you from time to time but don't worry, we'll keep it simple."

"What do you want me to accuse him of?"

"We should go for the charges of abducting with intent to sexual assault, he may even confess he was hired by Harkness and save us the trouble.  Right, Miller and I will go have him charged and he'll be transferred to Exeter today or tomorrow."

"Do you need anything else from Miss Tyler?" Baxter wanted to know.

"No, she can go now but the chief may want to get more details.  Since DI Hardy was a witness that Carter never actually touched her, she won't need to be examined but we can prove the intent was there, if he'd not been interrupted," Miller told him.

"I dread to think what he was going to do," Rose shuddered.  "I mean, I can usually take care of myself but he was too strong for me to struggle.  I got lucky when he was distracted.  If Alec hadn't arrived when he did, I may not have got the chance."

"Yes, well he did arrive Rose, be thankful for that or you could be in hospital giving your statement," Pete told her.

"What about when I defended myself?"

"That's exactly what it was Miss Tyler," Baxter told her.  "I doubt he would have stopped even with DI Hardy being present and by the time officers got there, had Miss Jones not already called them, he could have also attacked him and hurt you."

"Yeah but if she'd not delayed or tried to alert someone, he wouldn't have even got me outside."

Hardy thought if that had been the case, they'd never have thought Harkness was behind it but this was Rose they were talking about.

"Come on Rose, let's get you home," Pete insisted.

"I was gonna wait for Alec."

"I will be a while yet Rose, I have to speak with the chief.  You go home and I will collect you as soon as I am able to get away."

"Promise?"

"Excuse me Sir but the chief might be a while yet.  You know she'll say something about you being involved with Rose and with what happened."

"Then she will have to accept we are involved, won't she?  I am not going to deny anything.  Rose, just go home, leave this to me."

"Yeah, ok then.  I'll see you later."

"DI Hardy, a word before I leave," Baxter asked him.

Rose and Pete left with Ellie, who escorted them back to the main desk.

"Sure you're ok with this Rose?" Ellie asked her.

"Yeah, whatever you think is best.  If Jack's behind it, you need to prove it."

"Well he made a very big mistake going after you," Pete assured her.  "I never thought he'd go so low."

"I'll get Hardy to fill me in on the details but why would he instigate an attack on Rose?"

"Because he thinks it's an easy way of getting to me.  Somehow I think he was after getting Tony to take his side but that may have been spoiled when I came back.  Rose, I doubt Carter would have actually assaulted you, he will have been trying to scare you but what did Harkness hope to gain?"

"Maybe enough to get you to leave the arcade for him to go after Mickey and Tony?" Rose suggested.

Ellie turned to leave.  "Right, I have to get back and don't worry Rose, we'll keep Carter locked up as long as we can."

As Rose and Pete were leaving, a slight man wearing rimmed glasses entered the station, going up to the desk.

"Bet that's his solicitor," Pete nodded towards the man leaning on the counter.

Back in the room Rose had been in, Baxter had just finished talking to Hardy.

"So I trust you will keep Miss Tyler out of the local news?" Baxter asked him.

"Well the local reporter was present last night, I will have to call his editor but I will get her to keep Rose's part in it to a minimum, saying there was an incident where the police were involved.  I won't let them print what really happened, not until it is decided if we go to court or not."

"You don't want it to go to court?  Why not?"

"Don't get me wrong, I like Rose, a lot and we have been seeing each other over the last week but if this gives Mr Tyler and I the chance to rid this town of Harkness, then we should take it.  Rose was just a bit shaken up but she was not hurt.  If he had got any further while I was there, bigger than me or not, he would not have touched her."

"Well I can believe that, you were concerned enough to have gone looking for her.  Be careful how you handle Harkness, he's dangerous when riled."

"I have had enough warnings to stay away from him, now is the time to meet him."

"Well just don't do it on your own."

"I do not intend to.  I will make Smith an offer he can't refuse."

"Why not use Carter against him as well?"

"I may just do that."

Ellie appeared in the doorway.

"A solicitor has turned up to see Carter."

"Right, let's see what we can get out of him then.  Are you staying?" he asked Baxter.

They went to the interview room once Nigel was led back from the holding cells.

Mr Baxter looked at the man sitting there.  "I'm Mr Clarke, I will be representing Mr Carter."

"Baxter, representing Miss Tyler.  I have some questions for your client when DI Hardy has finished."

"Mr Carter said she attacked him."

"When she was being held by him, I saw what happened," Hardy told the solicitor.  "We have a witness who will swear she was told to go back inside while Mr Carter taught Miss Tyler a lesson."

Clarke consulted with Nigel, who had neglected to tell him that bit.  Hardy continued.

"Carter also told me I would not want Miss Tyler once he was finished with her.  So, he is being charged with attempted rape and kidnapping."

"What?" Nigel asked.  "I want to confess."

"Mr Carter, let me do the talking," Clarke told him.

"No, it was Harkness, he said he'd pay me to rough up Rose Tyler, I never intended to assault her, I was supposed to just scare her."

"Well you did a good job there Carter," Hardy told him.  "Did Harkness tell you why to take Miss Tyler outside?"

"No, I swear he didn't.  He offered me 500 quid if I roughed her up and told her to keep her mouth shut or I would come after her and finish the job."

"How were you going to be paid?"

"I was to wait until tomorrow, they're coming back up from Weymouth, to see Mr Tyler.  I was told to make sure she got to tell her father that if he told anyone what happened, his arcade would be attacked.  So are you gonna charge me?"

Clarke consulted with him again.

"My client will accept a charge of kidnapping and assault."

"As Miss Tyler's solicitor, I can say she will go for that," Baxter agreed.

Hardy got up and called the officer outside the door to take Nigel away and book him, to be released on police bail on the premise he stayed away from Harkness and his associate plus he stayed away from the Tylers.

"I will inform her right away," Baxter told them.

Carter was led off and Hardy was keen to go and find Rose, who had just got home.  Pete got a call as they went inside.

"Right, I'll tell her then," Pete replied to the news Carter had admitted Harkness was behind it.

Rose had gathered as much.

"So what do we do now Dad?"

"You do nothing love, me and Hardy will be doing all the work."

Hardy was just about to leave after calling the chief to say she wasn't needed when Ellie went into his office.

"We never got time to talk," Ellie told him.

"About what?"

"You and Rose Tyler.  Are you serious about her?"

"None of your business Miller.  You do know you may have caused some of what took place last night?"

"Seriously?"

"Yes, you encouraged Miss Jones to follow me and annoy me.  She does not seem to take no for an answer."

"You should have told me who you were going with then."

"Her father did not know at the time, I already told you that.  Who I see outside work is no-one's business but mine."

"Well people will know after last night."

"That was our intention, for people to see us together though no doubt we were seen around the harbour over the last few days.  I did not want an interrogation over it.  Why did you encourage the nurse?"

"Because Rose can get any man she wants, Martha always loses out to her, until that incident last year.  She told you about it?"

"Yes, she did."

"I just thought Martha deserved a break."

"Well you should have backed off because her complaining last night almost got Rose hurt."

He went to the door, Ellie following him as he left the squad room.

"I'm sorry, what can I say?  So are you going after Harkness?"

"Yes, now I have something on him."

"You won't get Carter to go up against him."

"I don't need to, I have his confession Harkness set it all up."

"I don't know that much about Harkness but he is dangerous."

"Tyler and I think that man from the hospital was coming to see him to set him up for something.  Every time he gets called away, Harkness comes to town but he's got wise to it."

"I expect you showed him the error of his ways?"

"I made him aware of the possibility, he will be on his guard now and if I can persuade Smith to forget taking Harkness's side, we stand a chance of him not wanting to come back."

"That will take some doing, if Harkness is coming to town tomorrow."

"Well, he won't be expecting Tyler to be here.  As long as Carter does not contact him, he'll think his plan worked.  I want a word before Carter goes."

"Best be quick then," Ellie indicated as they reached the front desk and Carter was being let go.

"Carter, a word.  Do not contact Harkness, understand?"

"Why would I want to contact him?  I'm staying out of his way.  The officer said I could go."

"You can go but you stay away from the Tylers, especially Rose.  Think yourself lucky she got away last night because what she did was nothing compared to what I would have done."

"You heard him threatening me Ellie."

"Heard what?  Get out before he changes his mind and locks you up again Nigel and if I were you, I'd keep away from Mark and Beth, especially Beth, she and Rose are friends."

As Carter huffed and walked out, Hardy nodded to one of the DC's to follow and make sure he went home.

"Are you going off to see Rose now?" Ellie asked.

"I have to go pick up my car, I promised to take her out so we can talk.  She wanted to see the view from my patio."

"She lives overlooking the sea," Ellie smiled, suspecting it was more.

Hardy went home and picked up the flowers and the chocolates and got changed into more casual clothing, well casual for him.

Rose was pacing up and down on the patio, the dog wagging it's tail waiting for the rubber bone that was her favourite toy to be thrown.  Her mother came out and sat in one of the chairs.

"So what happened last night then?"

"Stupid Nigel Carter happened, that's what."

"Did he cause trouble?"

"I was with Alec all night and just because Martha was moaning about me to him, Nigel decided he'd give her a shot at Alec by getting me outside, stupid idiot."

"Did he hurt you?"

"Nope, I hurt him, I kneed him when he wouldn't let go when Alec came looking for me."

"Serves him right then.  So why were the police involved?"

"Alec got a bit over-protective when he couldn't find me and made Martha call the station."

"Well he came after you, that's what matters.  So when am I gonna meet him?"

Rose heard the doorbell ringing and dashed back inside, the dog following her and Jackie calling her back, knowing what Missy was like with strangers.  Tony was just about to answer the door.

"It's for me Tony, don't be so surprised who it is."

Alec was standing at the door, flowers in his hand and the chocolates under his arm and Rose would surely think they were both for her.

"Alec!  Hi, come in.  I hope those flowers are for my mum?"

"Of course but these are for you," he smiled, handing her the chocolates.

Rose kissed his cheek and accepted them.

"Aw, thanks, I love these, we can eat them later.  So, did you have to let him go?"

"I have someone watching him.  He admitted Harkness was behind it."

Pete had just come back downstairs.

"You were right then, now what?  Baxter called me."

"We wait for Harkness to come to town and I talk with him.  Now, excuse me, I should meet your mother, Rose."

She led him onto the patio, the dog watching him carefully but not barking.

"She must like you, she usually barks," Rose told him as Missy came up to him.

Jackie took her sunglasses off.  "So, this is him?"

"Mrs Tyler, a pleasure to meet you.  I apologise for not meeting you sooner.  These flowers are for you."

He had been hoping to hand them to her after he'd brought Rose back home but that had been spoiled.

"So, where are we going?" Rose asked as her mother took the flowers to the kitchen.

"Will you stay for lunch?" Jackie asked him as she walked off.

Rose shook her head mouthing, "No" to him.

"Thank you for the offer but I had planned to take Rose out for the rest of the day," he replied while mouthing a "Why?" back to Rose as Jackie turned back to continue to the kitchen.

"Trust me, you don't want to taste her Sunday lunch."

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

"Rose, I want to make up for last night, if you will allow me?"

"Yeah, I look forward to it.  So, let's go before my mum talks us into staying."

Alec drove them up to the next seaside town, taking a walk along the harbour.

"What did you want to talk about?" Alec asked her as they sat down.

"About last night, I was very disappointed I didn't get to your cottage so will you take me there when we get back?"

"I said I would.  Nothing has changed Rose, I want to still see you.  Is that what was worrying you?"

"Sort of, yeah.  I wasn't sure."

He put his arm around her and kissed her cheek.

"It will take more than what happened last night and Miss Jones to put me off.  To clear things up, Rose, will you consent to being my girlfriend?"

No-one had ever asked her that before.

"Yeah, let's show Martha we mean business though I think she might stay away from us."

"Did you warn her off by telling tales again?"

"No, I swear I only told her that to make her give up.  It seems to have worked.  Did you talk to her?"

"Yes but I cannot discuss it with you."

"Seriously?"

Alec smiled at her.  "Relax Rose, she knows not to bother us.  Now, are you hungry?  Why did you not want to have lunch at your house?"

"Mum's cooking leaves a lot to be desired.  The housekeeper prepares dinner before she leaves but she doesn't work at weekends."

"So how do you manage Christmas dinner?"

"We buy a pre-cooked turkey and all the trimmings.  Why?  Plan on being around?"

He pulled her close so her head was resting on his shoulder.  He took her hand and squeezed it.

"I may.  Rose, you should know I have a teenage daughter and I will need to go see her soon."

"Yeah, you should.  I won't stop you.  What's her name?"

"Promise not to laugh when I say Daisy?"

"Really?  That's a nice name.  Don't ask me how I ended up being called Rose.  Why don't you like being called Alec?"

"My ex, amongst other things.  Somehow it sounds better when you say it."

"Aw.  I could probably think of a few other names to call you?"

"I am sure you could.  Maybe you can give me some examples tonight?"
Chapter 16
When they got back to Broadchurch, Alec let Rose go up the steps first, assuring her there were only thirty six and she insisted on counting them, stopping halfway.

"Rose, I am not joking," Alec told her as she carefully turned around to face him, two steps above him.

"What made you take this place?"

"Why did your parents choose your house?"

"Good point.  Still, at least you don't have any neighbours."

"Yes, that is a distinct advantage but like you said last night, sound carries."

"Are you implying I may get noisy?" Rose smiled.

Alec gently steered her to face the other way.

"Do you want to stay here?"

"OK, I'm going," Rose replied, resuming her count from twenty and almost level with the low wall of the patio.  "Stupid place to put some steps, why couldn't it have just been a path or a roadway?"

"It did not bother me at the time, now I see the disadvantages."

Alec was soon unlocking the side door, allowing Rose in first.

"Nice," she remarked, looking around at the interior.  "It's very deceiving from the outside.  How many bedrooms are there?"

"Two, one is only tiny though.   Planning on staying?" he asked, referring to Rose's remark about Christmas dinner earlier.

Rose ignored him and went to the patio door, Alec moving her aside to open it.

"You need some furniture out here," she told him, going to sit on an old wooden chair and Alec warning her off.  She went to sit on the wall instead and he sat beside her.

"So, the view?  Not as spectacular as from your patio eh?"

"It's different and my parents won't be watching our every move.  How long have you got this place for?"

"At least a month, I needed somewhere furnished."

"See that thatched roofed cottage down there?  Next to there is a smaller two bedroom one.  My dad's friend owns it and he keeps offering to rent it to me.  I keep turning him down 'cos I don't want to leave home on my own and I've no real friends to speak of."

"So you and the nurse were never friends?" Alec smiled.

"You could say that, more like rivals for the attention of men."

"I can see you always win.  What happened Rose, to put you off them?"

"I told ya, the rat who was married.  Thankfully I found out before I made an idiot of myself but when I got asked out, I tried to put them off, especially if they were on holiday.  I'd just let them buy me a few drinks then disappear."

"Maybe you should have given them a chance?" he asked, moving up to her and pulling her up.

He put his arms around her and Rose leaned into him.  He kissed her forehead as she put her arms around his slim waist.  She knew he must keep himself in good shape, all that dancing last night proved that. 

"I gave you a chance."

"Yes, you did though I do not know why.  Are you sure the arcade owner's daughter wants to be seen with the local DI?"

"Well my dad knows about us and he's not told me to stop seeing you, as if I'd take any notice.  Let's just forget about that.  You wanted me to cook something?"

"Well not now, maybe on your day off?  I could give you the spare key."

"I bet you can't get a takeaway delivered up here?" Rose smiled.

"We could try later but I may have to go down to collect it so in that case, I may just be better off going myself.  I know this place is not practical for more than a month so I will start looking for an alternative.  You say your father's friend rents out his cottage?"

"To friends and business associates but I wanted to leave home at one point and he said if I changed my mind to contact him.  Did you find this yourself?"

"No, Miller found it for me so I guess I deserved it."

They talked a bit longer, Rose wanting to know about his daughter and about his last big case.

"It could have turned out differently, had I not found the missing evidence.  I could still be looking to solve it."

"Well, you did find it so let's hope you never have to go through finding a child in the river again?  Did it affect you, I mean being in the river?"

"It threatened to, then when the other cousin was still missing, I was determined to find her.  No-one wanted to find her where she was, buried in a churchyard and killed by her own uncle.  Change the subject eh?  Are you staying tonight?"

Rose pretended to think about it.  "Well if I stay, I will have to leave early to get ready for work in the morning.  My friends won't leave me alone after what happened last night."

"That reminds me, I have to contact the local paper in the morning."

"Just go on their social media account, Olly lives on it."

"Has he asked you out before?  I heard you saying he had better not ask you to the dance."

"Yeah, he's too immature for me and my dad would have liked it less if I'd gone out with Olly than the thought of me going out with you.  At least you won't be sending messages of 140 characters about what sort of date we've had."

That made Alec smile.  "Shall we go for a walk, we will come back before it gets dark and we can call for some food afterwards."

"Good idea, we can work up an appetite."

Going carefully down the steps with Alec taking the lead, Rose took him down the lane that led to the next village and as they came back out onto the main road, they were opposite a pub.  After they had something to eat, Rose showed him how to walk back along the beach, taking her sandals off and Alec offering to carry them as she wanted to walk in the sea, him holding her hand but not going in.

"Does the thought of going in water bother you?" she asked as they stopped.

"As long as I don't go too deep but you go ahead."

"It won't be as good without you," she told him, putting her arms around his neck.

A cool breeze was blowing off the water as Alec dropped her sandals and his shoes onto the beach as they kissed.  Rose had a pink top and a floral long skirt on so she hitched it up and stepped into the cool water, stepping back twice as fast.

"Ooh, that's cold.  Coming in?"

Alec shook his head, remembering the icy water of the river.

"Maybe another time we will bring a towel?  We should be getting back before it begins to get dark."

Rose had been enjoying herself and not bothered with the time but the sun was setting over the sea so she came out, having got used to it being cold.

They were almost back to his cottage when his mobile rang, just before nine.  It was the DC who had followed Carter.

"Sir, just reporting that Carter went out and he joined Smith and another man at the pub.  You said you wanted to know if he met Smith."

"Yes, I did, you can leave now, he'll be there for the rest of the night.  If you go back to the station and Smith starts a fight, lock him up until morning."

"But Sir, he always gets let off with a caution."

"Did you not get the message that was no longer the case?  No bail, no solicitor until morning, we can hold him overnight for disturbing the peace."

"Yes Sir," the DC reluctantly agreed.

"What are you planning Alec?" Rose asked as she indicated she wanted her sandals as they reached the edge of the beach.

"If Smith gets himself locked up, I will deal with him in the morning, then I can give him a choice to face being locked up every time or help get rid of Harkness.  Do you know why he would turn away from your father?"

"No Alec, I have no idea, honestly.  Jack must have made him a good offer.  I just hope he doesn't turn Tony against him."

"That will be his next move Rose, unfortunately for your father.  Why is Harkness so intent on finding out what's going on around here?  Did it all start when your father said he was planning something big?"

Rose didn't answer him as they climbed the steps, the light fading.  When they got inside, Alec went to get the wine out of the fridge but Rose didn't want anything else to drink.

"To answer your question Alec, now you mentioned it, I think that's when Jack started hanging around and the trouble started in Weymouth.  Please, can we leave this for now?  Please tell me you're not going out with me to find out what his plans are?" she asked, going towards the door.  "If you are, I'm leaving right now.  I want Jack to go away and leave us alone but you can't just use me like that."

"Rose, that was not my intention but think about this.  Your father cannot deter Harkness on his own but if we join forces?"

"I'm getting caught in the middle again Alec," she told him as he opened his arms.

He pulled her close.  "I am sorry you are involved.  It will soon be over, Harkness cannot go up against both of us combined.  You won't get down those steps safely in the dark you know?  I should never have taken this place nor brought you up here.  You can have the spare room, if you want?"

"Is that the best you can offer a girl?  I'm sorry too Alec but you can see my point of view.  What am I supposed to think?  If he'd told me, I couldn't tell you anyway.  You'll have to just ask him, if he wants your help getting rid of Jack."

"Why did I not think of that?  You think he would be willing, as the price to pay for my help?"

"Only one way to find out.  If Jack comes back, you have to be ready for him but be careful."

She reached up to kiss his cheek and where his beard was growing back, putting her fingers on his cheek.

"Does this mean you will stay with me?"

"I want to be mad at you but I can't.  Maybe this is what dad needs, instead of bribing the senior officer, getting to work together but don't bring it home with you."

"Yes Ma'am, understood," he smiled, going to kiss her.  "So, how does this work?"

"You leave police work at the station, I won't talk about my friends at working talking about you and us.  Oh and you don't tell me what my dad's up to either, I don't want to know.  Jack won't dare come after me again even when he knows he's failed.  I'm just worried he'll go after my mum or Tony.  Mum said he called to see her last Monday, she has a bit of a crush on him."

"Does he know?"

"Probably and guess where he'll visit first when he gets here?"

Down in Weymouth at the plush apartment on the seafront that Jack and Ianto shared, they were making their plans.

"First thing when we get there, find that Carter guy and see if he did the job properly, then we'll pay Jackie a visit, give her chance to tell us if she got Tyler's plan out of him like I suggested to her."

"You think she fell for it Jack?" Ianto asked.

"Hopefully, it was only a suggestion so that Pete would spend more time at home.  She likes me, what can I say?  Shame about Rose taking up with the DI though, me and her could make something of it, well outwardly.  Don't get jealous Ianto, it would be a union of convenience, I'd set her up comfortably and visit once in a while, business and all that.  It could still work."

"After you got Carter to rough her up?  I'm all for violence but not a woman, I'm surprised you got him to agree.  I thought after Jones losing his memory you would have gone off that idea."

"Don't put that on me Ianto, that was entirely you.  Where did he get to anyway?"

"Who knows?  If Tyler heard about it, he'll think he was either there to warn him or join him.  He won't know which."

Rose was in Alec's bathroom, looking in the mirror.  She should have been here last night after enjoying herself at the dance with the handsome detective but no, it had been spoiled by the village idiot, she had thought the trouble would come from Mickey or Martha so it had been unexpected.  Still, Carter had come off the worst and she hoped it still hurt.

In the bedroom, Alec was getting nervous, something he shouldn't be.  Would she change her mind and take the spare room?  She had borrowed a t-shirt and a pair of new boxer shorts and when she came into the bedroom, his nerves disappeared.  She walked into his open arms and put hers around his neck as they kissed.  He led her across to the bed where he had turned down the white sheets and the blue floral bedspread.

"Do you want me to take the precautions, if this gets serious?" he asked, trying to be the gentleman.

"You're so full of it Alec.  Let's just see how it goes, yeah?"

"Agreed.  After you."

As they kissed, taking turns to go on top, all their worries were forgotten, Rose assuring him she took her own precautions as he removed his t-shirt from her.  As he hovered over her, his fingers on the waistband of the shorts she'd borrowed, Rose whispered her consent.

"I want you Alec, I don't care about anyone else."

That was all he needed as he removed his own shorts and Rose pulled him down.  As they lay afterwards, Rose with her head on his chest and making patterns with her finger, he had something to ask her.

"Rose, I don't want to rush you but we have to decide how often we see each other."

"Mmm, every day's just fine with me.  You're at work all day, so am I and I want to come and cook for you on my day off.  Maybe we should cut out every lunchtime though and make it just on my day off and Saturdays?"

"Fine, we will do that, if you are sure you want to see me every day.  I will start to look for another place but I will have to stay here a few more weeks."

"I want to see you every day.  You could always get a caravan?"

"I told Miller I hate them, they remind me of family holidays though you being there would make it tolerable.  If you were to visit every night, it would not be too bad.  The police would save some money.  Now who is getting ahead of themselves?" he smiled as he went to kiss her tummy and he flipped her over onto her back.

After more kissing and Rose going to clean herself up a bit, she fell asleep on him, only waking when his alarm went off at seven.

"Morning darlin'" he greeted her as she rubbed her ear where she'd been sleeping on him.  "May I kiss your ear better?"

"Mmm, that would be nice but I need the bathroom first.  Don't go anywhere will you?"

"Thought you had to get home to get changed?" he queried, kicking himself for reminding her.

"I only live five minutes away and it takes me ten to get to work, I'm halfway there."

She went off and Alec took his phone and turned off the repeat alarm.  If Rose wanted a morning snuggle, he was all for it and didn't want any interruptions but today, he knew he shouldn't do anything stupid like start asking about her father's plans, he'd almost screwed it up last night.  He wouldn't have blamed her for walking out but the combination of going down the steps in the dark and him trying to apologise must have been enough.  She was soon back, getting under the covers.

Half an hour later, Rose was disentangling herself from him again, having just kissed and laid close together.

"No lunch today then?" he asked, sounding disappointed.

"Meet me in the other pub at seven.  If we meet every lunchtime, you'll get tired of it and besides, you might be busy and have to cancel, then you'll feel guilty."

"Quite true but if I am free, maybe I will wait outside the shop?  Did I tell you some girls ran off last week?"

"No, when was that?"

"When I was taking a look around the town, before I really knew you, last Monday."

"Oh, I sorted them out, I'm an expert.  They were after taking a few items but I told them they should try the new florescent tops we got in, you can see them a mile off."

"Well call me if you have any more trouble."

"Were you trying to guess where I worked?"  He looked guilty.  "You were, weren't you?  Were you thinking about if I would say yes to going to the dance with you?"

"Rose, I was thinking of asking you when you left the arcade.  I regret it took another two days to actually ask you but I thought you may turn me down, what with me visiting the arcade to give them warnings about not complying with the law.  Now I realise I made a mistake in waiting, since you said you have little to do with the place."

"I was only watching out for Tony, Mickey can be a bad influence.  I think he's too young to be trained to take over."

"I did mention that to your father," he told her as Rose tried to get out of bed.

He moved onto his knees as she sat there, kissing her shoulder as he pulled the t-shirt away.

"Alec, I think I'm gonna ask my dad's friend about that cottage.  I said if I ever left home, I had to live by the sea."

"This is by the sea but I am not staying here, it is impractical, especially in winter.  I was looking at those riverside cottages but I would be punishing myself moving there, next to the river."

"Alec, you couldn't even walk in the sea with me yesterday, how are you gonna live by the river?"

"To help me get over it?  You could help me?"

"I will, I promise but that cottage faces the sea, I went to look around, it's all furnished and he'll let me have it for next to nothing."

"You said you did not want to be on your own."

"Yeah, I did but you'll be my neighbour, we can take it in turns?  Well at least until your month is up.  Then I'll help you find somewhere else but it has two bedrooms, we could share?"

"Rose, I have never moved in with anyone apart from when I got married, this is all new to me so until my month is up, I will have to consider it carefully but please, do not take it the wrong way or that I am saying no to you."

"I won't, this is a big step for me too Alec.  You may decide it's not for you but I won't get upset if you do, we can work on it.  I'll call him later and ask about it, he might have let it for the summer anyway."

"Who exactly owns it?"

"Some businessman dad knows from London.  I used to call him Uncle Harry when I was younger.  He's half the reason we came here, he helped dad get set up.  I've not seen him for a while though, he comes down every so often and he meets up with dad.  He's always asking if I changed my mind."

"Maybe you are just used to having people around?  Everyone leaves home in the end."

"Yeah and speaking of home, I have to get going but I have time for breakfast, if you have anything."

Rose was home in five minutes since Alec insisted on driving her, kissing her goodbye outside.

"I will see you tonight then unless I miss you at lunch?"

"You're gonna be busy today, remember?  I wonder if Mickey got locked up?"

"I have not heard anything, he would have been complaining we were being unfair.  Pity really, I could have negotiated with him better."
Chapter 17
Rose dashed upstairs as she got inside but her father caught her.

"You're going to be late for work."

"I know Dad, can we talk later?"

"Don't come down to the arcade today, will you?"

"No, I'll stay up in the town, I'm not meeting Alec as far as I know."

"Well I'm going to ring Baxter and see what's happening," Pete told her.

"Alec's calling the newspaper but if Olly's already got hold of it, it will be too late now."

Alec had got to the station, getting a few looks which meant everyone had heard he'd locked up the town's poacher again.  Ellie almost followed him in but had been caught by her nephew outside.

"Aunt Ellie, did you hear about Rose and Hardy on Saturday night?"

"Don't you dare print anything Olly, it's an ongoing investigation.  Hardy will be fuming if you do."

"I was there, she was with him all night and I saw Nigel go out.  The next thing I knew, Mickey went dashing out when Martha dragged him off the chair.  I heard sirens in the distance and Nigel was taken away.  What did he do?"

"You know I can't discuss it with you and stay away from Rose.  There will be a statement later on today.  I'm warning you, don't print anything yet."

Olly went off, he knew most of it anyway that Martha was always jealous of Rose Tyler and it seemed she was annoyed Rose had bagged the new DI but what did Nigel have to do with things?  He'd looked though the photos he'd taken of the dance and had got several of the two of them 'dancing' closely so he made his way up to the newspaper office to make a start.  Maggie was already there.

"So what have you got for me Olly?  Anything happened at the dance?"

"Plenty, I'm working on it."

"Good but go down to the arcade, I heard Mr Tyler had made a few alterations and rumour has it they're to do with the new DI."

"Ah, he was with Rose at the dance and they seemed very friendly," Olly smiled as he downloaded the photos to his laptop.

Maggie put her glasses on and smiled at one Olly highlighted where Rose was resting her head on Alec's shoulder and smiling.

"Interesting petal, you would have thought she'd have been warned by her father to stay away from him.  I wonder if he knows about the two of them?  Go on, get to the arcade and ask him."

"If Mickey's there, he'll throw me out."

"Grow up Olly, stand up to him."

Maggie went back to her office, she had other problems and the dance combined with Rose getting tangled up with the town's senior detective would go a long way to boosting the paper's dwindling sales.  She was busy trying to find smaller premises to save money and who to hand notices to.  She thought if Olly didn't start being tough, he'd be the first one.

Down at the arcade, Tony and Pete had opened up, Tony half expecting his dad to be going away again.

"Not going to Weymouth today?" he asked as Pete turned off the alarm.

"No son, I think the trouble will be coming to us rather than me going to it.  We can expect a visit from Jack and his boyfriend at some point today and you stay away from them, understand?"

"I try to Dad but he always finds me.  He knows where there are no cameras."

"Then don't go where there are no cameras then, don't think I don't know where you disappeared to the other day, sneaking a play on the slots.  Hardy will also be in at some point, when those signs arrive, I want you to supervise them being put up, take whoever you need to do it.  I also want some of the stools taking away, just leave two at each bank of slots."

"But Dad, we'll get complaints."

"If Hardy catches anyone under eighteen sitting at them he'll be the one complaining again.  Apologise to anyone who mentions it and get one of the girls to take them a drink.  Now go let the cleaners and the staff in."

Tony went off in a huff.  As if seeing Hardy at home yesterday when he'd called for Rose hadn't been bad enough and she'd not come back until after eight then had to dash around to get to work on time.  Then there was what had gone on in the morning, his dad and Rose going out early and his dad on the phone when he got back, they didn't go out a lot together these days.

He supposed now Rose was dating the detective and his dad seemed calm about it, not giving Rose a lecture, he was doing as he'd been asked.  Was he giving up or planning something?  He went to the door to wait for the cleaners, looking out across the harbour.  He was getting to like the town less and less these days and never mind taking over the arcade from his dad or if Jack got control, he was heading out as soon as it was his birthday.

Tony perked up when Mickey walked in just before ten.

"Stayed out of trouble last night?" Tony asked as Mickey helped him open all the doors as the cleaners moved to the back of the arcade.

"I always try and stay out of trouble, it's the punters who start it.  How was your sister this morning?"

"In a rush as usual.  I think she'd been out all night."

"With Hardy?"

"She never said but I'm guessing since he called for her yesterday?  How did the dance go?"

Mickey debated telling Tony the full story but he'd probably already heard about it.

"Didn't Rose tell you?"

"I said she was in a rush and she'd been somewhere with dad yesterday morning.  Did something happen?"

"Ask your dad mate, if I tell you he'll go crazy.  Look lively, we have customers."

"Can't understand people who wait for us to open at ten in the morning."

"Be thankful they do.  When Hardy comes in, make yourself scarce."

"What for?"

"Just find something to do kid, trust me."

"Oh alright, I have to wait for the signs to be delivered anyway.  I have to take some of the stools away as well but there's not a lot of room in the storeroom."

"Then put them in the corner by those video machines.  Is that Olly in the doorway?"

He left Tony to get on with his dad's instructions and made his way to the front as Olly decided to take Maggie's advice.

"What are you doing here?" Mickey asked him.

"I came to see you and Mr Tyler.  What happened on Saturday night?"

"You think I'm gonna tell you?  You were there, make it up."

"Were Rose and the new DI having a row?"

Mickey burst out laughing.

"If only mate.  No, he was rescuing her from Nige."

"So why was he in the back of that police car?"

"Do I have to draw you a diagram?  Nige got her outside and Hardy went nuts.  He told Martha to call for backup and Nige got arrested but he was let go yesterday morning.  I saw him last night, he was only having a bit of fun."

"You wouldn't have thought that if she'd still been your girlfriend."

Mickey thought about it.  Still, she was no longer his problem, she was Hardy's.

Ianto was driving Jack up to Broadchurch to see how things had gone on Saturday night and see if Jackie had got anything out of her husband, though he doubted it and didn't know why Jack was wasting his time with her or her daughter, though he'd been jealous at her mention.

"Where to first boss?" he asked as they approached the roundabout to turn off.

"Let's go call and see Jackie first, see if Rose told anyone what happened on Saturday night apart from Pete.  That big oaf had better not have gone too far."

"I doubt it, he'll just have some fun with her, I'll see to him myself if he really hurt her."

"Says you who likes roughing up men huh?"

"I draw a line at picking on a woman, even though you are thinking of shacking up with her."

"Don't sound so disappointed, I told you it was only a thought, to get at whatever Tyler's planning.  Here, turn off for the Tyler house," Jack told him as they reached the harbour and the mini roundabout.

Jackie was in the kitchen drinking tea with the housekeeper and catching up on the weekend's gossip when the doorbell rang.

"Mr Harkness is here to see you," Sadie the housekeeper shouted back to the kitchen.

"Jackie, nice to see you again so soon.  How's that daughter of yours, I always miss her when I call," Jack told her as she came out into the hallway.

Jackie fluffed up her hair.

"You here again Jack?  People will start to talk about us," she laughed.

"Ianto, make yourself scarce, go call our associate, you know and tell him I want a meeting, pronto."

"Yes Jack."

Ianto never called him boss in front of anyone.

"So Jackie, did you get that information for me?  You know I only want to help you spend more time with Pete."

"He's not saying anything Jack and Saturday night, I really tried to get him in a good mood but something had happened earlier."

"Why, what happened?  You can tell me Jackie."

"Rose got caught up in something at the dance, spoiled her night out and she's just got a new boyfriend."

"Shame.  Is she ok?"

"Yeah, the police are taking care of it, since he's the new DI and he was involved."

Twenty minutes later, Jack had come to the conclusion he couldn't trust anyone around here.  He said goodbye to Jackie and they got back in the car.

"Seems we were wasting our time Ianto.  What happened to Carter?"

"Don't know boss, his phone's going to voicemail."

"Then we'll have to drive around and find that blue van and have words with him.  He let me down."

"Well at least you don't have to pay him," Ianto grinned.

"Take that grin off your face unless you want it there permanently."

"Sorry boss."

In his office, Hardy was waiting for the arcade to open and thinking about Rose.  If he could get to the arcade and be done by half eleven, he could wander up to where she worked but what had she said about meeting at lunchtime?  Whatever it was, he didn't like the thought of eating alone although he'd managed it once or twice.  Should he text her and have her come to meet him, if he was running late?

Then there was him saying he'd have to think about sharing, if she could rent that cottage on the beach, what was he doing?  Still, it was a big decision for both of them.  Rose had never lived on her own and he'd just got used to being single again but they could agree at first to have separate rooms if need be and there would be room downstairs to stay out of each other's ways but they'd only been actually dating a few days, he'd never in his life made a move on a woman as fast.

It seemed too good to be true, Rose accepting his invitation to the dance and the two evenings out had been an unexpected pleasant bonus.  Miller interrupted his thoughts as he sat with his arms behind his head.

"I can see that you're busy, shall I come back?"

"Don't get smart with me Miller.  What do you want?"

"The chief wants to know what we're doing about Nigel Carter and the incident at the dance."

"Tell her I am dealing with it, tell her it's related to another matter I am investigating."

"Is it?"

"Yes Miller, Harkness wants Tyler to play things his way by getting to Rose.  Can't you see that?"

"I suppose.  So how are you going to deal with it?"

He felt like saying by seeing Rose every night and moving in with her but even she would tell him he was an idiot for contemplating such a thing.

"See if Harkness turns up at the arcade to find out if Tyler is there.  If Carter failed and he finds out, he won't be pleased.  It could force his hand to use other methods and then there's that accident victim with the memory loss.  Where did he get to?  He won't have gone back to Weymouth if he had any sense."

"True, he'll be wanting to leave the area but what was he doing up here?"

"To see Tyler for some reason though whether it was friendly or otherwise we won't know.  Now, I have to call the newspaper and make sure nothing is printed about the dance."

"Oh.  Did I mention the reporter is my nephew?"

"What?  Why did you fail to tell me?"

"I didn't think anything of it, he caught me outside earlier.  I just told him it's an ongoing investigation and we'd make a statement later."

"Well for that, you can write it and give it to him.  What's wrong with you Miller?  Keep it to a minimum, something like a young woman was lured outside and I got to know about it and had him arrested.  Keep both their names out of it, understood?  I don't want Harkness to know."

"Why not?"

"Because if Carter is staying out of his way, he'll think he failed and he'll not dare try again.  I am hoping he does personally though I will not put Rose in any danger but I will have to wait and see who he goes for next, probably Tyler's son.  Tyler thinks they've already got to Smith in some ways, maybe Harkness will send him after Rose?  It does not matter which way he does it, I will be ready for him Miller."

"So you and Rose are serious then?"

He leaned forward and pushed his chair back.

"Oh yes Miller, we are serious.  That was why I was so annoyed with you pushing the nurse onto me.  I expect she'll be calling you to thank you for all your help."

He got up and took his jacket from the back of the chair. 

"Right, I'm off to see if Harkness has turned up, I want two officers waiting outside if there is any trouble but tell them not to enter the arcade until they see me by the door."

"You're just asking for trouble."

"No, they are by thinking they can come in and mess up the town.  It will not stop with Tyler's arcade Miller.  Tyler is planning something really big and Harkness wants it, all of it.  There will be a war Miller and we have to be ready for it just as the season gets started."

"Great, arcade wars during the school holidays.  All the kids hang around in there."

"Then they will have to find something else to do.  Are there no activities for them around here?"

"My eldest goes to the sports camp at the school with his friend but not all parents can afford it."

"No but they can afford to give their kids a few pounds a day to spend in the arcade though."

"You shouldn't judge how they treat their kids – Sir.  Have you any of your own?"

He was searching in his pocket for his phone so he could text Rose later.

"One fifteen year old daughter who lives with her mum.  Happy?  I would not be pursuing Rose if I were married, she has had enough of that."

"She told you?"

"Yes and if I find out who it was and he comes back to town, I will tell him what I think of him."

"He started out chasing Martha and as usual, Rose got involved and he switched sides.  Luckily she found out in time."

"I know all about it.  I will leave the media to you then, since you are on good terms with the reporter."

"I'll think of something.  What did she think of your cottage?"

"That she should not try and get down those steps in the dark.  I will be looking for somewhere else before the four weeks are up."

Rose was having to be careful what she told her two friends about Saturday night.  They'd heard something was going on outside and a few people had been leaving when the police had arrived.

"Come on Rose, tell us, we're friends, right?" Alice had asked her before Amber had even got there.

She had managed to fend her off until Amber had arrived and the manager had called Rose into her office.

"Seems you did have fun on Saturday night?" she asked, having heard Alice say something about trouble at the dance.  "Are you feeling ok?"

"Yeah, I'm fine.  It was just one of the locals messing around and Alec took it personally.  I don't recommend anyone crosses him."

"Well if you're sure?  Just try to keep the chatter to a minimum, ok?"

So when she went for her break, Alice saw her chance.

"So beside the trouble, you and Hardy?" 

"We were having a really good time.  I went to the ladies and someone grabbed my arm and pulled me outside.  Alec was looking for me and called the cavalry.  He's very protective."

"Seems like it then.  So when are you seeing him again?"

"Tonight.  I hope he's kept it out of the paper."

"You've no chance if Olly was there."

At the arcade, Pete was going through his paperwork and the security company had just been to collect the weekend takings.  His weekend staff were responsible for emptying the machines, followed closely by his own trusted security.  He had just glanced at the CCTV monitor when he thought he saw Jack and Ianto by the door.  He thought about calling Mickey but Harkness would hear.

He could always stay in the office and hope they went away but he doubted that would work as both Tony and Mickey knew he was there.  He looked again and one of the girls was pointing them to where someone was on a stepladder putting the signs above the slot machines and Tony was watching.  Why were they asking about Tony and where was Mickey?

Mickey was trying to get hold of Daniel Jones but he was getting no answer.  He should have followed up the day after taking him back to Weymouth and he'd be long gone by now.  He'd never get to know what the ex employee of Harkness had wanted and even more annoying, not being able to take advantage.

All Pete had to do now was hope Hardy would decide now was a good time to visit to see if they were complying with his wishes over the signs and the stools.  Hardy was already walking around when he saw the two men enter the arcade and hurried before they changed their minds and left.  As Jack and Ianto made their way to the office, Mickey saw them and debated whether to stay out of the way, since he'd not been able to convince Tony to join them and Nigel had no doubt been under the illusion he'd get paid for going after Rose, if that had been his intention.

Harkness could get anyone to do a job for him at a price and no matter what Nigel had said, he didn't go after Rose for his or Martha's sake.  Nigel had failed and would have gone to work to stay out of the way and the only other chance they had of going after Rose was through him or through Hardy and he didn't fancy their chances of going up against the detective, since Rose was now seemingly his girlfriend.  Hardy would want a piece of Harkness for threatening her.
Chapter 18
Tony had reluctantly gone with Jack and Ianto to the office, the cashier tutting as Jack smiled at her.  Where was Mickey when you needed him, Tony was wondering.  Pete had seen them making their way to the office and thought of calling the station and requesting Hardy's presence but he knew he had to deal with this on his own, Harkness had broken the golden rule and gone after his daughter, whether Hardy had been there or not and saved her.

Hardy would want his own revenge for Carter daring to threaten his girlfriend in front of him, Carter would never have gone after her if he'd not been paid to do so, the large man was a poacher, not a threat to women.

Tony opened the door and as Pete turned from the multi-screen, he thought he saw Hardy at the entrance.  Hardy stood and looked around, finding the office door and someone going in and closing it.  He hoped the office was bigger on the inside, since he was about to join them but as he approached, Tony came out and Hardy collared him.

"Where are you going?  Deserting your father?"

"No he told me this isn't involving him, it's about Rose."

"Is it now?  Well since you already know, I can confirm Rose is now my girlfriend so I think it involves me.  There are two officers outside, Harkness won't get very far.  Call the station, ask for DS Miller and tell her to contact those officers to watch for any signs of trouble.  I saw you'd put the notices up, leave them there."

Yes Sir," Tony replied, finding his trainers interesting.

"Where's Smith?"

"Dunno, not seen him since we opened up."

"Go find him and stay with him.  Open that door first."

Tony did as asked and as Hardy entered, Ianto was behind the door, Hardy making him jump out of the way as the door handle dug in his back and Hardy pushed his way in.

"What's this then, a mother's meeting?" Hardy asked sarcastically.

"You must be Hardy?" Jack turned away from where he was stood over Pete.  "We were just having a nice little chat.  Did you send for him Tyler?"

"No-one sent for me Harkness, I thought this was a good time to meet."

He turned to Ianto who suddenly realised he was slumping against the door and stood straight.

"Make yourself scarce and leave the kid alone."

Ianto looked at Jack, who just nodded and indicated for him to leave.

"He's a little protective of me."

"Well I am protective when it comes to Rose's welfare.  Know anything about what happened on Saturday night?"

Pete was sitting there hoping this wasn't going to get violent.  He had no idea how Hardy was going to play this but whatever he had planned had better be good.

"How would I know?  I was in Weymouth, with Ianto, we had a quiet night in, if you get my drift?"

"Yes, well I had planned a nice night out and it got spoiled and I am not happy about it.  Do you know Nigel Carter?"

"Don't think so.  Why?"

"Well never send the village idiot to do a man's job.  What are you doing in my town?"

"Same as last week, I saw you wandering around and sitting with Rose."

"You got jealous?  Not another one."

"No, she's not my type.  That doesn't tell me why you're here now."

"I am here to tell you to leave Broadchurch and stay away from Rose.  I have enough on you to send you back to Weymouth or wherever else and the next time Mr Tyler here gets a call about his arcade down there, it had better be to say how well it is doing.  I have contacts down there who can tie you up in so much red tape over your own arcade, it will make a spiders web look like a kids attempt at knitting."

"Think you're tough Hardy?  My associate out there thinks otherwise."

"Don't go up against me Harkness, I just put three killers behind bars, I will eat you for breakfast.  Now if you have legitimate business with Mr Tyler here, finish it and leave town."

"Or else?" Jack asked with a cocky look on his face.

"Why do so-called tough guys always say that?" he wondered.

"Just hope you are not around to find out.  Come back at your own risk but any more trouble down there or here, you will know about it."

"Come on Hardy, why are you defending his arcades?  Oh, you and the little blonde are tangled up?  Did you know about them Pete?"

Pete tried not to think about Rose being out all night but that had been a first for her.  She'd come home a few times at one or two in the morning after a party but Hardy must be really taken with her to keep her out all night.  At least he'd had the decency to bring her back and he'd already met her mother.

"Yes I know about them."

"So there's no point in trying to bribe you into leaving things as there are huh?" Jack had the nerve to ask Hardy, who stood with his arms folded.

Outside in the arcade, Tony had found Mickey after calling Ellie, who wanted to know if it had got violent yet.  Mickey was skulking in a corner, having seen Hardy make his way to the office.

"You got kicked out then?" Mickey asked the teenager.

"What do you think?  Ianto got thrown out as well, he left just after me, I got told by Hardy to call Ellie Miller."

"What for?"

"He's got officers outside, told me to tell her for them to watch out for trouble.  What's going on Mickey?  Is this over Rose?"

"Some of it, Jack's stupid to think going after her will get your dad to tell him what his plans for the town are."

"He won't even tell us, he's got no chance.  So was Jack at the dance?"

"No, he got Nigel but nothing happened, relax, Hardy was outside like a bat out of hell according to Martha.  She wished it had been her he was rescuing."

"She and Rose always go for the same blokes, I bet Martha was fuming?"

"You could say that.  The last I saw of them, he was driving her off."

"I was in my room but I heard them talking downstairs.  He came around yesterday for Rose and they went out.  She thought I didn't know but after seeing them last week, it was bound to happen.  What I don't get is why dad's ok with it."

"Who knows Tony?  Maybe he thinks by working with him, he'll finally get his plans off the ground.  How long has it been?  The old Pete would have completed them by now.  Hasn't he even told your mother?"

"She's not said anything to me.  Mickey, I'm thinking of leaving town, after my birthday."

"What for?" Mickey asked, thinking this was his chance to turn the boy but with Hardy on their case, there was little chance Harkness would get a look-in.

"I don't want to spend my life emptying slot machines I'm not allowed to play on and he'll never let me take over, not properly."

"What about if Jack was the boss?  Would you work for him?" Mickey asked, watching for movement from the office and seeing Ianto playing the machines where there was no camera coverage.

"Huh?  Jack will be out of here when Hardy's finished with him.  He seemed furious when he came in if Jack sent Nigel after Rose.  I've never seen her like she was earlier, she looked really happy."

"Yeah, so would you if you got yourself a girlfriend.  Chloe Latimer's chucked Dean out again."

"She won't go out with me, she's too stuck up and she's always out with her baby sister that anyone would think it was hers."

Mickey let out a laugh, the teenager liked Chloe, that he was certain of.  He slapped Tony on the back.

"Well you could go play happy families with her."

"Stop it Mickey.  Watch out, Ianto's coming over, he must have lost money."

"Here we go again," Mickey mused.  "Why do punters who lose always blame me?"

Back in the office there was a stand-off between Hardy and Harkness, with Harkness trying to reason with the DI.

"Why don't you back off about what happens in Weymouth and there will be no more incidents with your girlfriend?" Jack asked him.

"So you admit you sent Carter to scare her?"

"Not in so many words but I can make sure he gets the message."

Hardy had no doubt the message would be the same as he was going to deliver when he got his hands on Carter outside the safety of the police station.

"I'm warning you Harkness, do not attempt to go after her again.  What did you hope to gain?"

"It was all Ianto's idea."

"You'd better not try anything with Tony or my wife," Pete spoke up, having left the other two to get on with it while he scanned the images on the monitor for Tony.

"Your wife is too dedicated to you," Jack told him flippantly.

"You've seen her?"

"Relax, I just called to pay my respects while I'm in town.  Ianto and your housekeeper were there."

"Stay away from my house Harkness or next time, you'll be going down the cliff path head first."

"You heard him threaten me Hardy," Jack protested.

"Heard what Harkness?  You expect me to defend you when you send that oaf after my girlfriend?"

"Yeah, you can't trust anyone these days.  Ianto specifically told him to give a her a message for you, Tyler.  If he went too far delivering it, I'm hardly responsible."

"Well I am holding you responsible, the next time it will be you who is the one to get locked up," Hardy spat at him, pointing his finger and the other man.

"Let's all just calm down eh?" Pete asked as he saw Tony talking with Mickey and Ianto.

Jack raised his hands in defence.  Where was Ianto when you needed him?

"Hey, tell him, not me.  Ok.  I'll go back to Weymouth but I can't promise I won't be back.  Pete, it seems our little meeting is over?  I'll be in touch over that other matter we discussed before Hardy here burst in and went all Bruce Lee.  You can keep Rose, she's really not my type."

That was a white lie, he'd had girlfriends before Ianto had come along, just for appearances sake and that's exactly what he had planned for Rose now but Hardy was in the way.  He knew violence against a police officer was out of the question, even Ianto wasn't that stupid to go after Hardy but there were plenty of other ways and he'd just got Tyler worried he was going after Jackie. 

He would give him a choice, hand Rose over to him or steal his wife though Ianto would be a bit upset at either idea but he'd already assured him it was just to get Tyler to admit what his plan for the town was and let him in on it.

"Just one thing Harkness," Hardy asked as he stopped him from leaving.  "I want no more trouble here, you leave Tyler's son and family alone and if he gets one more call about the Weymouth arcade, I'll have police swarming all over that and your arcade.  Got it?"

"Yeah, Yeah, I get it.  You take all the fun out of things, what does Rose see in you?"

"I treat her with respect, unlike some men around here."

Pete was glad to hear what Hardy's intentions towards his daughter were as the detective moved to one side to allow Jack to leave.

"So long Pete, we'll talk soon."

"Not face to face I hope?" Pete replied, glad to get his office back.

After Jack left, Hardy leaned back against the wall.

"What was he talking to you about before I got here?"

"I can't tell you that.  You know he'll be back?"

"I am counting on it.  Now I have to deal with Carter.  You know about that man who had lost his memory?  He has disappeared, seems strange?  He must have failed what Harkness had sent him here for and he got Carter to do it instead."

"Jack hates failures.  I don't think you need worry about Nigel Carter, Ianto will find him."

"I have to be seen doing something, my chief and Rose will be expecting some results and while I can pacify my chief, I doubt Rose will be happy he was let go."

"She'll get over it, do what you have to do but I can get her to drop the charges."

"He has already had a warning, one more incident and he goes down.  Now if you will excuse me, I will go tell the chief why I had two officers outside the arcade.  Then I may just have time to take your daughter to lunch."

"You could have asked my permission to date her," Pete joked.

"We are both adults and before you read anything about me that the local reporter may try and dig up, I am divorced, well and truly though I have a teenage daughter."

"Is that why you went easy on Tony?"

"He is only two years older than her, judge for yourself but in my book, forcing someone to follow in your footsteps is not always as easy as it seems.  Have you asked him if that’s what he wants?"

"Tony was running around the arcade as soon as he could walk, my wife said it was the coloured lights and the sounds that made him fascinated.  Rose used to lift him up to put pennies in the coin flipper and they used to laugh when they won anything.  He took more interest than Rose did, she was ten when he was born and when she reached thirteen, she had other hobbies," Pete remembered. 

"She mentioned something to me."

"I then taught him the value of making money, though he could take it a bit too far sometimes but whenever I gave him money to play, he always made a tidy sum and each Saturday morning, I would take him to the bank to put it in a savings account."

"That is very commendable but he's growing up, he won't want to stay forever."

"Detective, why do you think I try and keep him away from Harkness?  He's easily led and Mickey was supposed to watch out for him but I'm not even sure about him now."

"You think Harkness has already turned him against you?  Did you mention that before?"

Pete ran his hands over his face and shook his head.

"I may have done, Rose sort of distracted me.  Don't let me keep you and you can call me Pete, since you are dating my daughter but don't you go upsetting her."

"That is not my intention.  I will take good care of her.  I think she may want to talk to you later."

"About her staying out last night?" Pete grinned.  "I've never known her to do that before."

"Well maybe the fact that there are thirty six steps down from my cottage to ground-level had something to do with it, after it got dark."

"You mean the white cottage?"

"Yes, I did not give it proper thought when I took it for a month.  I suppose I only wanted to get out of the hotel."

"I have a friend who keeps offering Rose his cottage on the beach."

"She pointed it out to me."

"Is she considering it?" Pete asked.

"You will have to discuss that with Rose."

"She likes you, you respect her unlike others from her past.  I think between me and you, she might want to make a go of it."

"I hope so, I had never imagined that after my divorce I would find someone like her.  It took everything in me not to lose my temper on Saturday night and let the uniformed officers take Carter away.  He may have only intended scaring her but I can assure you, had the patrol car not arrived, onlookers or not, he would have had to deal with me, not a defenceless woman who was half his size."

Pete laughed at the thought.

"I'm sure you would have dealt with him but he's the least of my problems.  I may not get any more calls about trouble down in Weymouth but Harkness will find another way to get me to tell him what I have planned."

"Then tell me?" Hardy suggested, looking at his watch and seeing it was already after eleven, the chief would have to wait.

"I don't think so, if it's all the same to you.  I have to keep it quiet and this week, I have some very delicate negotiations with my would-be backers and the council."

"Then tell me this, where are your plans going to take place because I cannot figure out where you could possibly be planning them for."

"That's my secret weapon and the beauty of it which is why Harkness can't get to know because he'll take it over.  I expect you've heard I have the attention of a few councillors?"

"So I have, nothing can be proved, can it?"

Pete shook his head.

"No but if it were to be proved, it would give Harkness the chance he needs to take my place.  You were right about not trusting anyone, I saw Ianto talking with Mickey and Tony."

"It may be too late for Smith but you should talk to your son.  Maybe if you take the pressure off him, he won't turn against you?"

"You mean not make him the manager when he reaches eighteen?"

"Consider it, get someone more experienced, maybe your manager down in Weymouth or one of the others?  Rose never told me how many arcades you own."

"Ah, the manager in Weymouth can't even handle Harkness and his goon.  Fat lot of good he is in a crisis."

"Yes but maybe that is because you insist he calls you when there is trouble instead of letting him deal with it himself?  Bring him up here and give him a try.  That way your son may not listen to what Smith is trying to tell him, if he thinks himself that he's not ready."

"I could get Wayne to train his assistant manager to take over in Weymouth.  He's no family and lives in Dorchester, it's just as easy to get here as it is to Weymouth.  I'll consider it after my series of meetings but I'll mention it to Tony."

"If you do, he may tell you what Smith has been saying to him?"

"Go on, go take Rose to lunch," Pete told him as Hardy started fidgeting.

"I will send her a message, she may not want to have lunch with me."

"Don't be so daft, of course she will."

"She suggested we kept to seeing each other in the evenings and only meet twice a week for lunch and today was not one of those times."

"She'll change her mind when she gets your message.  It would have been a whole different matter if I didn't approve of you, not that she'd actually take notice of me.  So she mentioned that beach cottage did she?  I hope you're not thinking of moving in with her?"

"That you will have to ask her, no decisions have been made yet."

"Well you have a few more weeks on your rental cottage, take my advice and use them to think about it, carefully because when Rose makes up her mind she wants something, there's no stopping her, trust me."
Chapter 19
It was approaching Rose's lunchtime and she'd had no text during her break from Alec so she assumed he was either busy of he'd heeded her words of only meeting twice a week for lunch.  She was rather hoping he would think otherwise of their agreement.  Amber and Alice were whispering in the corner.

"She's got it really bad for the DI," Amber said to Alice.

"Ya think?" Alice laughed.  "She wouldn't tell me anything, we'll just have to wait until she wants us to know.  Funny about that incident outside the school though, I bet there'll be something in the paper about it."

"We can hope, with Olly being there," Amber laughed back.  "I heard rumours Rose was involved."

Rose went to join them.

"I'm off for my lunch then, don't talk about while I'm gone."

"Would we do that?" Amber asked innocently.

"I can bank on it."

She went off to the staffroom and got her jacket then checked for any missed calls or messages.  There was one from Alec that read 'Join me by the harbour when you get out?'

Rose smiled.  It seemed he just couldn't resist meeting after they had spent the best part of last week having lunch together.  She replied with a quick 'Yes' followed by her order so it would be waiting, since it would take the same amount of time as her getting down there.  She hoped her mother wouldn't be sitting outside and call her back, she wanted to spend lunchtime with Alec despite saying to him they should limit their daytime meetings.

She had intended calling her father's friend to ask about the cottage but it could wait until her afternoon break.

Hardy got the message and got up from the wall by the harbour he'd been sitting on for twenty minutes after seeing Mickey on his way out of the arcade, who had wanted to know what had been going on.

"You will have to ask your boss yourself Smith.  Where were you when Harkness was in the office?"

"Had something to do," Mickey huffed and sniffed. 

"Did that include talking to Harkness and his friend?"

"I didn't talk with Harkness.  I saw him come out of the office, yell for Ianto and they left.  They probably went looking for Nigel."

Hardy thought he may just as well leave the man to Harkness, it would save him the trouble.  He went to the food stand he'd been to last Saturday and placed his order and hoped Rose wouldn't get caught by her mother on the way past her house, her having to pass it was the only disadvantage.  As he saw her cross the road, he waved her over.

Their food was just arriving so Alec waited to greet her, leaning over to kiss her cheek.

"Couldn't eat lunch without me?" Rose asked.

"Something like that.  I thought maybe meeting twice a week could be extended somewhat."

"What are we talking?"

"Maybe three or four times though maybe not on Saturday, well not every Saturday."

Rose smiled.  What was she going to do with him? 

After they'd eaten, Alec walked her to the corner, sitting her on the wall opposite the cliff path.  They had five minutes before Rose had to walk back up.

"We're still meeting at the pub aren't we?" she asked as he put his arm around her.

"Of course but it is not a good idea for you to stay every night if you have to rush off, unless?"

"Unless what?"

"We will discuss it tonight and I think you and your father have something to talk about.  He mentioned that beach cottage and wanted to know if we were moving in together."

"Trust him, I've not even rung about it yet.  Why did he mention it?"

"He wanted to know how I had managed to keep you out all night.  I told him about all those steps."

"I have to go now but I'll put my dad straight when I get home.  The cottage may have already been booked for the summer.  Bye, see ya later."

They kissed goodbye and he watched her make her way up the cliff path.  He was becoming more attached to her every day and the thought of someone, even Carter hurting her was tearing him up.  He should launch a search for the man and get it over with but why should he care if Harkness got there first?  Carter would just get off even if Rose pressed charges.

When Rose got back, she didn't have time to call about the cottage so during her break, she was about to when her phone rang.

"Hello Rose, it's Uncle Harry."  He still called himself that to her even after all that time.  "Your father called me earlier, are you still wanting to rent that cottage down where you live?"

"Well I was thinking about it but you've probably got loads of people wanting to use it, the schools break up next week."

"I have other cottages but you expressed a liking for that one.  It's yours if you want it?  I thought you didn't want to be on your own though?  Found someone to share with, such as a certain detective?"

"Has my dad told you that?  I was only thinking about moving there because my new boyfriend lives close by."

"Not that white cottage on the cliff?"

"Yeah, why?"

"That's one of mine.  I leave most of them to the agency but the one you want, I'm fussy who I rent it to.  Someone's in it until the weekend, my wife's cousin but they'll be gone by Saturday.  I send a local cleaner in to tidy up afterwards, I can have her meet you and give you the keys."

"Well Saturday's a bit sudden, I'll be working.  How about next Wednesday on my day off?"

"Fine with me unless you want your boyfriend to collect the keys?  My cleaner will know him if he shows his ID."

"Can I call you back when I've talked about it him?  How much rent are you wanting?"

"The first week's on me then say around seventy five pounds a week and I can have the cleaner come in once a week for you."

"Wow, I thought it would be three times that."

Harry laughed.  "I can send the rest of the bill to your father if you want?"

Rose saw the funny side. 

"I'll call you tomorrow then?  I have to go now, my break's almost up."

"Yes, your father said you had one at this time.  You've looked around it before but if your boyfriend wants to see it, I'll call Jenny and tell her you might be paying her a visit one evening, they won't mind.  Just watch the kids, they're a bit of a handful, a bit like you and your brother used to be"

She said goodbye, missing her afternoon mug of tea but it had been worth it.  She just had time to send Alec a text and tell him she wanted to talk to him about something else when they met.  Hardy got the message during a meeting with the chief, whom he'd put off earlier.

"Something better to do Alec?" Elaine Jenkinson asked just after four as his message tone went.

He shook his head, thinking it could only be from Rose, it wouldn't be from his daughter, unless she wanted something.

"It can wait.  What do you want me to say about Carter?  He attacked my girlfriend and taunted me over it, of course I was going to have him locked up."

"Did he actually hurt her?"

"He never got the chance but the intent was there.  It was only when I was going to charge him with more that he confessed someone was paying him to do it."

"Don't tell me, it has something to do with the arcade, one of Mr Tyler's rivals?"

"How many does he have?"

"So his daughter is your new girlfriend?  Were you planning on telling me?"

Why were people so nosy over his private life?

"I would have thought the whole town knows by now?  That cottage I rented is impractical, I will be looking for somewhere else."

"A caravan would save the department some money," Elaine smiled.  "No, I can see that's not an option for you.  Just keep it within your allowance or you'll have to make some contribution towards somewhere.  Where did you rent anyway?"

Hardy thought she was the only one who didn't know where he lived.  He got out after telling her he would speak to Rose about dropping the charges, he didn't want to drag Carter in and find he'd already been roughed up.  He sent a text to Rose to say he was intrigued as to what they needed to talk about and went to wait in his office for home time.

Olly Stevens hadn't been idle, trying to find Nigel to get his version of the incident but he was nowhere to be found.  Even Mark Latimer hadn't seen him or heard from him after he'd rung in sick.  All he could do now was wait for a statement, which had been put off.  It wouldn't do any harm though to make something up from the dance, a scuffle involving two men and a woman outside the school, no names but he could publish a few photos including Hardy and Rose dancing closely.  He just had time before Maggie had to go to publish, the beauty of doing it all online, well he did, Maggie did things the old-fashioned way.

Rose got home, her mother watching the contents on the stove the housekeeper had prepared, shepherd's pie in the oven.

"That smells good mum."

"You don't say that on Sundays.  Why don't you invite Alec this Sunday?"

"If you promise to get Sadie to come in and prepare it," Rose laughed.

"Well call him now, what can I do to shepherd's pie?"

"Not tonight mum, maybe another time?"

"Well on your day off then?"

"We already made plans.  Ok, I'll call him but he'll probably have made himself something."

She picked up her phone, wondering if she should subject him so soon to a family meal but it was as good a time as any .

Alec had just called in the harbour stores to get some milk and some bread, in case Rose decided to stay over after all, well he was hoping she would but her dashing off to get home in the morning was the only thing getting in the way.  His phone rang so he balanced the bread and the carton of milk and pressed the green button when he saw it was Rose.

"Hello again, miss me already?" Alec asked, approaching the car park.

"You can talk, you couldn't even last until lunchtime."

"Neither could you since you accepted my invitation.  Can I do anything for you?"

Rose wanted to answer but her mother was close by.

"Have you eaten yet?"

"No, I just called for a few things."

"Then come round for tea?"

"You warned me about your mother's cooking," he reminded her, standing by his car.

"The housekeeper prepares it all.  So, how about it?"

"Give me twenty minutes, I have to put a few things away."

"See ya soon then."

After telling her mother to set another place, she dashed upstairs to get changed as Pete and Tony were on their way home.

"We need to talk Tony," Pete had told him on their walk home.  "I was thinking of getting Wayne up here for a while."

"What for?"

"You're not ready to take over from me, are you?"

Tony was taken by surprise.

"I tried to tell you Dad but Mickey doesn't help."

"Why, what's he been saying to you?"

"Something about would I work for Jack?"

"Did he say where?" Pete asked, knowing full well where.  Jack was either paying Mickey to get to Tony or Mickey was hoping to get a fat bonus for telling him Tony was turning against him.

Tony stopped at the bottom of the street, looking around.

"I think he meant here."

"Tony, Jack is not going to take over, trust me.  Now, can you work with Wayne?" 

"What about the arcade down there?"

"He can train Steve, we won't have any more trouble from Jack down there, he'll concentrate here."

"Did he really go after Rose?"

"Yeah, he did, why do you think I'm going along with her making Hardy her boyfriend?  Who else can look after her?"

"I knew you weren't going along with him to keep him quiet.  Why didn't you try to bribe him?"

"There was no need.  He was just showing who the boss is around here and when Rose told me she was seeing him, I let him think it was working but now, I think he genuinely wants Harkness out of the way after what he tried to have done to Rose."

"So we'd better get used to seeing him then?" Tony grinned as Alec pulled up opposite as they walked towards the house.

"He's keen I'll give him that.  You're here early Alec."

"I hate being called Alec.  I was invited for tea so here I am."

"Well you'd better hope my wife isn't cooking," Pete smiled.

Rose was already back downstairs setting the table in the dining room.

"Are you serious about him then?" her mother asked.

"Yeah, why not?"

"Are you staying out every night?"

"Not every night Mum.  I have to talk with dad when he gets home, Uncle Harry called me today, about that beach cottage."

"Rose, are you thinking about taking it?"

"You know I thought about it before Mum, I'll be fine down there, Alec's close by.  He said I could have it cheap for as long as I wanted it."

Jackie was about to reply when the door opened.  Rose went straight to Alec.

"Hi, glad you could make it.  What are you staring at Tony?"

"Dunno, it's just weird, you dating him."

"Don't be daft Tony.  You'd better get used to it."

Alec was taking it all in as they talked over tea about everything and nothing.

"Jackie, we need to talk later," Pete told her as she got up with Rose to clear the table.

Jackie knew he'd found out Jack had been to see her, the charmer must have been bragging earlier.

"Is it about Jack's visit?"

Alec looked up.  She was obviously trying to hide something, was she having an affair?  He shook the thought off, Jack seemed out to annoy Tyler as much as he could by going after his family despite their warnings.

"I heard he'd paid you a visit.  Don't let him in next time."

"He was only being friendly, honestly Pete."

"Yes, well in case you forgot, he was the one who put Carter up to attacking Rose on Saturday night and goodness knows what would have happened if Alec hadn't been there.  What did he want anyway?"

"I'll tell ya later," Jackie said quietly and carrying on gathering the plates.

"You can talk in front of Alec, he was with me in the arcade when Jack paid me a visit.  What did he want Jackie?"

"He wanted to know if I knew what you were planning.  You never said Jack was behind what happened to Rose.  She was attacked?"

"I knew it," Pete replied.  "Why were you even talking to him?  Yes, he paid Carter to scare her, thankfully Alec got there in time.  I don't think Carter would have done anything else but Alec got him to confess Jack put him up to it.  How did you make him confess?" he asked Alec, who was now holding Rose's hand as she stood beside him.

"I threatened him with more serious charges, put it that way.  He had no choice but to tell me who was behind it, there was no logical reason he would have done so on his own."

"I thought it was because he'd got tired of Mickey and Martha complaining about us all night," Rose told him.

"That was his first excuse.  I knew it had to more than that, Carter's more interested in how much he can make in his spare time and since Smith wouldn't be likely to pay him, that left Harkness.  You should all be on your guard."

"Won't he go after Rose again?" Tony asked.

"Not with me around he won't," Alec promised.

"Is that why you mentioned that beach cottage to me?" Pete wanted to know.

"She would be closer to me," Alec replied, still not sure if he should move in right away with her though the thought was becoming more appealing.

"I wanted to talk to you about that Dad," Rose told him.

"Yes, I bet you do.  Why did you think I had Harry call you?  Personally, I think you would be better staying here for now."

"I will take responsibility for her," Alec assured him.

"Yeah?" Rose asked.  "We have to talk about this as well Alec."

"I know and we will.  I have three weeks left on my cottage, we will use that time to see how things go."

"Well the cottage will be ready on Saturday but you'll have to collect the keys."

"I can do that.  You can move in on Sunday, I will help you."

"Hang on, you never said he'd be moving in with you," Jackie objected.

"He's not moving in with her Jackie, he'll just be closer, won't you Alec?" Pete asked.

They looked at each other.

"That's what we have to talk about Dad," Rose admitted.

"I'm all for him looking out for you but don't you think it's a bit soon to be moving in together?" Pete asked, trying to calm his wife down.

"Yes and that is something Rose and I have to talk about.  We are not talking about Rose going into hiding here, I see no need for that.  Harkness won't be stupid enough to try again."

"Well he's tried before," Pete mused.

"What?" Jackie wanted to know.  "What do ya mean?"

"Pete, we are not sure that other man was specifically after Rose."

"Well we'll never know, since he's left town.  Did he get his memory back?"

"Not fully, no," Alec answered him, surprising himself at using the man's first name.

"Who lost their memory?"

"Rose, it was nothing, we believed Harkness had sent someone with a message for your father, we had no reason to believe he was sent to get to you."

"But he's gone now, right?  That's why he sent Nigel after me."

"Well yes but he's failed twice, he won't risk a third time, right Alec?" Pete asked.

"I sincerely hope not.  Rose, are you ready to go out, we need to talk and so do your parents.  I trust then you have no other objections to Rose taking that beach cottage?" Alec asked Pete.

"If that's what she wants and since Harkness can stroll in my house whenever he wants.  Jackie, this is serious, what were you thinking eh?"

"He said he could help me Pete.  He said if I helped him find out what you were planning, you'd find more time to spend at home, instead of going away all the time."

"Jackie, I only went away more often because Jack was causing trouble and all that has stopped, now he knows it didn't work.  The only time I'll be going away is on my monthly visits."

"Well that's ok then, at least something came of it."

"I suppose so.  You two, go have your talk.  Did Harry say how much he was charging rent for that place Rose?"

"Hardly anything though he joked he'd send the rest of the bill to you.  Oh, he wasn't joking, was he?  Did you tell him I was going out with Alec?"

"He asked how you were Rose, I told him I believed you were serious and no, I'm not paying anything towards it, you're on your own with that."

"Well he's been more than generous, I don't know why?"

"He's doing it as a favour to me, I owe him for what we have here, you know that?"

"Who exactly is this Harry?" Alec wanted to know.

"A very successful businessman from the north of England who just got lucky.  He moved to London, where we met, I did him a few favours and he said if I needed anything to contact him.  He helped me set up down here, Broadchurch was my first arcade.  The health drinks business was not doing so well so I sold up and took the arcade.  Harry helped me out and the drinks side got swallowed up by a famous brand."
Chapter 20
After Rose and Alec left, Pete had to find out exactly what Jack had wanted.

"So he was trying to tell you that by you telling him what I had planned, I'd spend more time with you?" Pete asked her.

"Well you're always away, what do ya expect?"

"Jackie, I told you, he was the reason I was going away so much but he was just making trouble.  It's done now, I promise so don't have anything else to do with him, ok?  If he comes back, you call me or Alec at the police station."

"I didn't think anything of it Pete, honestly.  He can be really charming."

Pete expected Harkness would be but what did the man want to be trying it on with Jackie for?  It was more likely he'd go to Rose but maybe Ianto would get too jealous.  He knew Alec was convinced that man with the memory loss was after Rose but he might not have been, he might have been trying to warn what was going to happen, Ianto found out and sabotaged his car.  Well that or send someone after him or followed the man himself.

He hoped now Harkness would have the sense to leave them all alone.  Rose and Alec had got to the pub and Alec sat her down then getting some drinks after parking his car.

"Seems we have a lot to talk about?" he asked.

"Yeah, I was about to call about that cottage when he rang me.  He only wants seventy five a week, it's a bargain and he'll send a cleaner in once a week.  I'll have to get a few more details though, like if bills are included but I can still manage."

"Well, we will see what happens if I spend some time there?  Rose, I'm not opposed to the idea of sharing but we have only known each other a week.  Why don't we just agree that if I do move in, I use the spare room?"

"I'm not so keen on the idea but at least you'd be there?  We might both have changed our minds by Saturday.  So you'll get the keys and help me move?"

"I said I would.  So do we get back to my place before it gets dark or am I taking you home?"

"How about you take me home tonight and I'll stay over tomorrow night then Wednesday, I'll stay and cook for you and bring a few things with me."

"That sounds like a plan I can go with.  It will be Saturday before you even know it.  We have time to go to my place and I will have you back on ground level before it gets dark.  Was there something else you wanted to talk about?"

"No, I think that covers it." 

"Then drink up eh?"

"You were saying about our lunchtime meetings?"

"I was already out this lunchtime, maybe I am just too keen?"

"Aw, I know you are but it's a trek back up to the shop that way and too far to walk the other way."

"Then I will come and pick you up, when I am able to and if not, I will leave you a message and you come over to my place after work and we will cook something or get takeout.  It will only be until Saturday, you take a few things to the beach cottage then get the rest on Sunday."

As they walked to his cottage, Rose wanted to know if this was all a bit much.

"No, it is not too much.  Sometimes Rose, you know when something is right and I have come to the conclusion that you leaving home is right and we have a few more weeks to decide if you think it is right, with my moving in with you.  I am willing to take the spare room, after my month is up at my current place, if need be."

"I don't think that will be necessary but it's all happening so fast."

"Tell me about it.  Now, are we leaving or staying here all night?"

"Haven't you asked me that before?" Rose smiled.

When they got back to Alec's cottage and climbed the steps, Rose went out onto the patio, Alec going up behind her and resting his hands on her shoulders.

"We could do this every night Rose, if you wanted?  Either here or down there.  I noticed the wooden decking at the front."

"Yeah, he said he'd had a doorway put in and the decking a few years ago.  We could go look tomorrow night, when I've told him I want to take it."

"I insist on paying though."

"Why?  I can afford it."

"Rose, please, just let me pay?  Well actually it will be the police, we may as well take advantage of my allowance."

"Well only after you move in.  We never had time to talk about what happened last night."

"No, we should find the time though.  I never expected anything like that, you seemed reluctant at first."

"Alec, it's a long time since I felt comfortable with anyone."

"You are comfortable with me then?" he asked, taking her hands and putting her arms around his waist then putting his around her neck.

"Yeah and last night was amazing, you were so gentle and caring."

"No-one has told me that before," he admitted, going to kiss her neck.

"Wednesday morning, I won't be in a rush to get to work."

"True and I will give you the spare key since they gave me two for some reason.  You call about the cottage tomorrow and I will go with you to look around, if you think I need to see it?"

They kissed out on the patio then Rose led him back inside.

"What time will it be too late to get down those steps and you get back before it gets dark?"

"I have a torch, I can get back up though it stays light until around ten.  Did you have something in mind?"

"Mmm, you can bet on that."

Alec locked the patio door and took her hand as she indicated she wanted to go to the bedroom.  They began kissing, Rose then unbuttoning his shirt and admiring the view.  They carried on until Rose was down to her underwear and Alec his shorts, there would be no t-shirts tonight as Rose scrambled into bed giggling as he crawled after her, having pulled the curtains over.

As he began kissing her cleavage, Rose lay smiling at him, her hair fanned out across the pillow.

"I wish I could take a photo of you like that but I am afraid someone else would see it."

"Then take one, just don't get caught."

He smiled and reached for his personal phone, all fingers and thumbs locating the camera 'App' and knelt in front of her.  She was only wearing a flimsy pair of panties which were slung low on her hips as he looked down at her.

"You won't have me arrested will you?"

Rose giggled.  "They can't arrest you for taking pictures of your girlfriend.  Just don't put it on the phone's lock screen or screensaver."

"Smile!" he asked her, trying the get the right angle as he leaned back.

Rose obliged and raised her arms above her head once he'd taken one then he took another.

"I want to take some of you," she told him.  "Pass my phone?"

"Later, just one more, why don't you sit up a bit for me?"

"You mean lean back on my arms?"

"Yes, that would be nice.  You really want to take one of me like this?"

"Yeah, you can't have all the fun.  Be careful where you keep those."

"They are in a folder, I will not bring them up by accident."

"Good 'cos I don't want them on the front page of The Echo with allegations you have a collection of photos."

"I will be careful, trust me."

"I am trusting you Alec, I've never posed before."

"I would never have known.  You should have some taken professionally, for me of course."

"I'll bear that in mind.  My turn."

After Rose took a few of him, he put the phones on the bedside table and hovered over her, going for the waistband of her underwear, then to kiss her cleavage again.  She put her arms around his neck then whispered to him.

"Now Alec, I want you now."

Before they knew it, Rose was lying on him, his arm around her.

"It will be getting dark soon, I should take you home."

"Yeah, though after tomorrow night, you may have trouble getting rid of me."

"Is that so?  Then bring enough clothes with you for two nights and Thursday morning I will take you to work."

Rose was drawing a circle on his chest with her finger.

"Everyone will see me getting out of your car and assume we spent the night together," she giggled.

"I thought that was the idea?  If you want me to move in with you, you are the one who had better get used to it.  It is what you want?"

"Yeah Alec, it's what I want and I know you do, since you couldn't even last half the day.  So, tomorrow lunchtime, you come up and meet me?"

"As long as I am not busy but I will let you know if I can't make it."

"Then that's settled.  I'd better get dressed then?"

"If you want to get down those steps safely?"

"I've had enough lucky escapes, thanks.  Do you think I'm safe from Jack?"

"Yes love, I think you are safe enough with me."

They managed to make it to the car, Rose letting him go first and holding onto the wooden rail.  He drove her home and they sat kissing for a while.

"See ya tomorrow then?"

"Yes, until tomorrow.  I will give you the spare key, I forgot in the rush to get you down those steps in one piece."

"It's ok, no hurry.  I'll go to the supermarket on Wednesday to get something to cook for you though I don't promise anything fancy and it may be already prepared."

"Then I will let you cheat.  Goodnight Rose."

"Night.  Text me when you get back up those steps."

"I have a torch, I will be fine."

"Well as long as Jack doesn't start on you."

"He would not dare.  No doubt he will have gone to plan something else."

While they had been enjoying a pleasant evening, Jack and Ianto had spent some time in the Weymouth arcade, seeing what improvements they could make to entice customers away from next door.  When they got back to their apartment, Jack was pacing up and down.

"We need another plan Ianto."

"I know Jack, let me have a go at roughing Tony up a bit."

"No, he's just a kid.  You could go after Mickey?"

"We already have him in our pocket.  He's useless, he can't even turn the kid from his father."

"Tell me about it.  We could try Jackie again?  I know it makes you jealous but it's purely business."

"You know I don't like it when you flirt with either men or women but if it comes to it, I'd rather know who it was and I know why you're doing it."

"Give it a few days, then I go try Jackie again so make sure the housekeeper is otherwise occupied.  Tell her some of your jokes and amusing stories."

"You got it Jack.  What if that doesn't work?"

"Then we use our ace, an offer Pete Tyler can't refuse.  I'll get his plans if it's the last thing I do Ianto."

"I know you will.  Fancy an early night?"

Pete was surprised when Rose came home early.

"Nothing wrong between you and Alec is there?"

"No Dad, he was just concerned I had to rush this morning to get to work."

"Well if that's all?  Have you decided anything?"

"I'm gonna take that cottage, Alec will stay where he is for now.  Are you ok if he moves in with me?"

"It's time you left home Rose, you can't stay here forever.  I think I've sorted Tony out."

"He's scared of taking over."

"I know which is why I'm going to get Wayne up here, at least for a while."

"Good because Mickey's a bad influence on him, he's easily led."

"I agree with you.  Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to let him wander the arcade when he was younger?"

"He made money out of it," Rose laughed.

"I taught him well then so now I don't know where I went wrong.  I'll take care of the cottage, I'll call Harry for you, I have to speak to him about something else."

"Is Uncle Harry in on your plans for the town?"

"I can't tell you that Rose.  I can tell you this much, I should know by Monday if I'm going ahead.  I have a lot of calls to make tomorrow."

"Yeah, good luck then and whatever you're planning, don't let Jack be part of it.  Alec's tried to discourage you, hasn't he?"

"Yes but he's concerned with the trouble it will bring from Jack.  If I go ahead, it means Broadchurch will never be the same again."

"Where are you planning this for?"

"I can't even tell you that Rose, you'll tell your boyfriend," Pete smiled.

Alec was waiting for Rose the next day when she got out at lunchtime, both Alice and Amber watching through the window and nudging each other.  After work, Rose got home and packed a small holdall for her stopover at Alec's cottage.  Pete had called his friend and made the arrangements for Alec to collect the keys for the beach cottage from the cleaner and they had talked for a good while about what Pete was planning and the alternative.

"I'm with you all the way Pete," Harry had told him.  "In the end, family is more important and if that's what it takes to keep them safe?"

"Thanks Harry and thanks for letting Rose have that cottage."

"So, she's involved with a detective inspector is she?"

"She's never acted like this before over a man and while I'd like to find fault, I can't.  At least he cares about her which is something and he's inadvertently helping me with my problem.  So, if my plans fall through, we'll discuss my alternative in greater detail?"

"Yes, we will and I'm very interested Pete."

He had then called his contacts on the council to tell them he would be counting on their support if he'd got word from his backers to go ahead.  Everything was set in place by the end of the day and all he could do was wait.  The following Monday would be make or break but little did he know what was going to happen concerning his family in the coming days.

Alec arrived just after Rose got home and was waiting downstairs for her, being grilled by her mother.

"I never expected you to call for me," Rose greeted him with a kiss on the cheek.

"It was the least I could do, after I let you leave early last night.  I thought we could call for a takeaway, in view of us cooking tomorrow night.  Is it too early?"

Rose handed him her holdall.  "No, we could always warm it up or we could call for a drink first?"

"Good idea, it was warm in the station today."

"It'll get warmer, the summer's hardly started yet, what ya gonna do then?"

"Overheat?"

"You already have your top button undone and you never do up your tie properly."

"Miller thinks I look scruffy."

"Aw, no you don't, you look cute," she told him, rubbing his cheek then kissing it as her mother came out of the kitchen.

"You two not staying tonight?"

"No, sorry Mum, we're off now.  I won't be back until Thursday night, think of it as a practise of me leaving home."

"I wish you weren't leaving Rose."

"Mum, I have to do this or I'll be here forever and besides, Alec will be there to keep an eye on me, won't you?"

Alec nodded his agreement, eager to get out before her mother started on him again, he'd been grateful she remembered she'd left something on the stove.  They went to one of the other pubs just up on the main road and then called in the Chinese takeaway on the High Street just after eight.

"You are really staying tonight?" Alec asked as she got her holdall out of the back of the car.  "Let me take that?"

"You have the takeaway cartons, I can manage.  Can I go first?  I'm not keen on those steps.  Are you gonna keep this place for another three weeks?"

"Well the police are paying for it but I doubt the agency will be pleased if I move out before the month is up."

"Well, I can help you with that.  Uncle Harry owns it, I only found out yesterday but he can set things up with the agency, if you want out?"

"Why does that not surprise me?  He owns a few holiday cottages then?"

"They're not all for rent as holiday cottages as far as I know.  We could look at the one down there tomorrow night, if you want?"

"I trust your judgement if you like it.  Is there someone in there now?"

"Yeah, his wife's cousin."

"Best not disturb them then, I can look around when I get the keys.  I'm not saying I'm moving in right away but I will take a few things there."

Rose would have kissed him if they'd not been halfway up to his existing home. 

It was nice, the next morning, Rose waking up and not having to rush to work and Alec only having a five minute walk.

"When we get the beach cottage, we can sit out and have breakfast," Rose suggested as they cuddled in bed, Alec minus his t-shirt and Rose with a cami-top over her skimpy underwear.

"During the summer, aye.  How far does the sea come onto the beach though?"

Rose laughed.   "It doesn't get high enough over the decking I don't think.  If it's getting that way, we just take everything in, there's a cellar from what I remember.  There is parking around the back of those apartments, you might need a permit?"

"I have a police sign, that should be enough."

"Well, there's a narrow passageway at the back, a paved garden so we shouldn't get people walking past.  I can't wait to get moved in there."

"Does that mean you won't be coming back up here?"

"That depends, doesn't it?  Will there be any need?"

"I suppose not.  I did promise I would look after you.  Let's see what happens this weekend?"

"Yeah, so how about another kiss?"

"I can do better than that."

As he was about to leave for work, he gave her the other key so she could go back later for when he got home.  They had decided to kiss properly before they left and Rose would walk down to the station with him.  It was just his luck that Ellie Miller was arriving at the same time as they crossed the road.

"About time I saw you two together, hello Rose, getting over Saturday night?"

"Yeah, we've not really talked about it.  Alec, what's happening over Nigel?"

"I think we can leave him to Harkness.  By the way, the chief wants you to drop the charges, if you are willing?"

"I don't know Alec, maybe he needs teaching a lesson?"

"I think Harkness will do that.  Still, it is up to you."

"Well if you think it's best and nothing will happen anyway, he's a regular up at the court, he'd only get another warning."

"Probably.  Right, I will meet you for lunch, we will have a bit more time today."

"Yeah, no rushing around.  See ya later then."

She kissed his cheek as he turned to walk up the steps and set off home, passing the holiday apartments on the sea front.  Ellie was waiting for him when he got inside.

"What Miller?  Am I not allowed to walk with my girlfriend?"

"No, it's just this time last week you were a proper misery, now look at you.  Shame she can't persuade you to shave and fasten your shirt and tie properly."

"I will have you know she likes me like this, she says I look cute."

Ellie snorted and burst out laughing as they walked up the steps.

"Must be love then?  I'm surprised her father hasn't said anything."

"We have an agreement, since Harkness is trying to get to her."

"Is she staying with you?"

"Up all those steps?  She will be there today but she is moving into her own place nearby at the weekend."

"Really?" Ellie asked as they reached the next floor. 

He got away with not saying any more as he walked to his office.  He had just got settled when he got a call from Pete.

"Am I disturbing you?" Pete asked when he was put through, having rung the station.

Twenty minutes later, Alec was in the arcade.

"What did you want to discuss?"

"I want to pay for Rose's cottage but she insists she can pay it herself, I just wondered if the two of you had decided anything yet?"

"No, I am going to stay over the weekend but I am tied to the agreement on my cottage.  Then I can get my allowance transferred and I insist Rose lets me pay."

"Leave that to me, I'll call Harry and he'll call the agency.   Just move out when you want.  Rose did tell you it was one of his properties?"

"She told me this morning.  No sign of Harkness today?"

"A bit early to tell.  He won't give up."

"I do not expect him to.  I talked Rose into dropping the charges against Carter, let Harkness catch up with him."

"I'll go along if she's agreed.  I wanted to tell you that I'll know by Monday if I'm going ahead with my plans."

"So Harkness will go away should your plans fall through?"

"Something like that.  I've made other arrangements, if they do and to keep Harkness away.  I think though if I go ahead or not, he'll still be around so I need to take drastic action to protect my family."

"You take care of your wife and your son, I will take care of Rose."

"Well, I'm relieved to here that, you can protect her better than I can because one way or another, Harkness won't give up."
Chapter 21
A/N: I got the idea of hiding Pete's plan for the town from 'Rose' where the Nestene Consciousness hid their transmitter in plain sight.

Rose had got home, she was surprised her mother was out on one of her shopping trips.  She'd only called in to get a few CD's to play later, since Alec had said there was wine in the fridge and they could relax without Rose having to rush around in the morning since he was going to take her to work.  She heard the door buzzer and told Sadie she would see who it was, since the other woman was covered in flour.

She was unhappy when she opened it, forgetting to look through the small glass panel, not that you could see much.

"Jack.  What do you want?"

"Hello to you too Rose, long time no see huh?  Is your mother at home?"

Lucky for Jackie, she wasn't.

"No, she went out, I've no idea when she'll be back.  Like I said, what do you want?"

"I heard there was an incident at the local school dance?"

"Bad news travels fast.  How did you know about it?" As if she didn't already know.

"I make it my business to know.  So are you gonna invite me in?"

Rose shook her head and looked around.  "Where's your other half?"

"In the car, why did you want to say hello?"

"No thanks.  You should leave, I'm going out soon."

"Maybe I could take you somewhere?"

"No thanks, my boyfriend wouldn't approve."

"Ah, the detective inspector?  We've met."

"Then you know what you have to contend with if you don't leave?"

"Why, are you gonna call him just because I decided to pay you a visit?"

"Should I?  If you leave now, I won't have to call him, will I?"

"He's getting in my way, teaming up with your father."

"He's not teaming up with him, he's doing his job."

"If you say so.  I'm gonna make your father an offer he can't refuse."

"So?  What's that to do with me?"

"You'll find out.  Been nice seeing you, don't stay away so long next time."

Jack walked off to the car where Ianto was waiting.

"Well, I take it she wasn't in then?" Ianto asked, relieved.

"Never mind, it was Rose I wanted to see, it must be her day off.  We can use that to our advantage next week."

"Why wait until next week?"

"Because I have to work on her father, away from her boyfriend, he spoiled things last time, I have to get Tyler on his own for my plan to work.  In the meantime, you keep an eye on her, drop me at the arcade then if she's going out, find out where."

"Right boss, then I'll go back and pick you up shall I?"

"No, I'll walk back to Weymouth, what do you think?"

Alec had left the arcade after assuring Pete he could handle Harkness if he went after Rose and he was hoping the man wouldn't risk going after her again and once she got moved, neither Harkness or his goon would know where she was.  He went back to the station to tell the chief Rose had agreed to drop the charges against Nigel Carter.

"I'm pleased to hear that Alec," the chief told him, tossing the file on her desk.  "You must have some influence with her."

"If you mean by her being my girlfriend, I was not advising her as that.  It would be in her best interests if she did not have to testify in court, Carter is a waste of time.  Did I tell you I believe Harkness put him up to attacking her?"

"I believe so but he didn't exactly attack her from the statements.  If his intention was to send a message to her father, maybe he deliberately delayed to give you time to find her?"

"I doubt that, he was just too slow and I should have realised she would not be gone that long.  If he had hurt her in any way, we would not be having this conversation."

"I can understand you want to protect her.  Do you think Harkness will try something else?"

"Undoubtedly but I will be ready for him.  Now, about these plans Mr Tyler has for the town.  I tried to get him to confide in me but even now I am going out with his daughter, he is not willing to trust me.  I think I will pay a visit to the council offices after lunch and find out who is on his side."

"Don't go upsetting the councillors Alec, they won't thank you."

"I got Miller to find out how the arcade got extended opening hours, it was very clever the way he did it."

"Care to enlighten me?" Elaine asked, looking up from another file.

"Not at present, my investigations are still ongoing, I will tell you when I have completed them."

"Well don't take too long with them, the schools break up next week and the town will get busy."

"So will the arcade.  Surely the town council could provide some alternative entertainment for the kids?"

"They've never bothered before and it's too late now."

"When I was a kid, we found things to do beside spend our pocket-money on arcade games."

"Times have changed Alec, you might have gone out playing football but boys prefer to play with their game consoles or on the arcade games."

"Well, if Tyler plans on going ahead, we'll have even more to worry about though it beats me where he's going to carry out his plans."

"Yes, I was wondering that, I'd heard rumours a while back he was planning something big but wherever it is, it's right under our noses."

"That is what bothers me, why can't I see it?" Alec wondered.

"Maybe we do and don't want to admit it in case we are wrong?"

"You mean maybe one of the car parks?  It would make sense he wants to stay close to the harbour."

"It's as good a place as any, it depends how big his plan is."

"As long as it is not the car park near me and my girlfriend is moving down that way."

"Maybe that will put him off then?" Elaine asked.

"I sincerely hope so."

He went back to his office until it was time to go meet Rose, which he was looking forward to and found that now, he'd not be happy at the thought of not meeting for lunch.  She had been right, how had this happened so quickly?  He managed to avoid his DS but as he was leaving the station, Olly was waiting across the road by the wall.

"Have you seen this week's 'Echo'?" Olly asked Alec as he crossed over.

"Should I have done?"

"I did an article about the dance, since you never gave a statement."

"I told your aunt to do that, did she not take care of it?"

"She issued a statement but it was too late, I had to go to print on Monday night."

"You had better not have mentioned any names."

"Don't worry, I didn't but there are a few photos of you and Rose dancing."

"They had better not be close-ups then," he warned the reporter just as Rose came around the corner on the other side and waved.  "Now, disappear and if I see any photos of us having lunch there will be trouble."

Olly grinned and waved to Rose then turned to go back towards the town but as Alec and Rose greeted each other, he'd turned around and taken a photo of Rose with her arms around Alec's neck and kissing his cheek.  He thought it was a pity she never chose to snog the detective in public.

After lunch, Alec making her smile by wearing his rimless glasses to read the menu, they walked around onto the seafront and sat on the wall.

"You could have got one of those apartments over there," Alec indicated.

"They're tiny and beside, you should see the waves coming over the wall when it's stormy."

"No thanks.  That was why I asked about the beach cottage.  Rose, I found one of those girls in the river, I can't look at water in a friendly way, well not like as in it coming up the beach to where I am considering living."

"We'll be fine, don't worry.  Can't you go in water at all?"

"I managed the other day but that is my limit."

"We could go to the swimming pool one day?"

"I will think about it.  I told the chief you were dropping the charges though I did not say I thought Harkness would take care of it."

"Alec, he came around this morning, wanting to see my mum."

"What?  You should have called me right away.  What did he want?"

"He never said but he knows about us."

"Well he would, since we've been in the paper this morning."

"I hope it was nothing much, my mum will go mad.  He left anyway, I never let him in, I bet he went to the arcade."

"I was there earlier, trying to persuade your father to let me in on his plan.  I am going up to the town hall later, see what I can find out, if he's put in for permission anywhere, it should have been published in the paper so who is hiding it?"

"Speaking of hiding, we shouldn't hide from the paper Alec, we should let people see we're happy."

"Well maybe I just want to keep you all to myself eh?" he smiled, putting his arm around her.  "Are you going shopping?"

"Yeah, I'm off up to the supermarket, I think I'll get a taxi from home.  Want anything bringing back?"

"No, just anything that you want.  I will be back just after five, all being well.  I will call if I am going to be late.  I hope you did not put one of those photos you took of me on your phone screen?"

"Guilty.  No, just kidding, they're only for me.  You got me thinking, about where my dad's planning something."

"The chief and I reckon it is one of the large car parks but since there are three, it could be any of them but I doubt it is the one furthest away.  You could be moving close by."

"No, I don't think it's a car park, they're all council owned."

"Exactly, what better way if he has friends on the council?"

Rose was staring at the apartments.

"Alec, look over there."

"Where?" he asked, seeing the apartment blocks.  "What are you looking at?"

"Just look," she nodded across the road.

"All I see is apartments but a lot of them look empty.  Do they fill up during the summer?"

"I think so, I don't take much notice.  I saw some old photos of the esplanade from the 1920's, this part was known as 'Bungalow Town' because of all the shacks and chalets.  It gets packed here during summer, especially when there are events on."

"What sort of events?  No-one has told me."

Rose smiled and kissed his cheek.  It was nice to sit without thinking she was going to be late back to work and Alec could please himself, he could always claim he was making enquiries for one thing or another.

"You think it's quiet?  Make the most of it, trust me.  There are loads of events coming up, lifeboat day, they play water polo in the harbour, in August there's the carnival up in the town that comes down here, then power boat racing, trips around the harbour and the coastline and not forgetting the fair and the agriculture show."

"Finished?"

"Oh, I forgot the music festivals nearby."

"I expect you attend most of them?" he smiled, squeezing her hand.

"Yeah, most of them.  We can go together, you'll get away with attending in an official capacity."

"So I will.  So, what are we looking at then?" he asked as she stared across the road.

"Alec, it's in front of us."

"What is?"

"Call yourself a detective?  It's staring us in the face.  My dad's plans."

"No, are you certain it's not one of the car parks?"

"I'm not sure but it's a great place and at one time, like I said, it was all housing before these apartments were built.  I doubt anyone will miss them."

"No, if he builds here, it will get busier, where will people park?"

"Alec, there's a car park on the corner that's free overnight.  We can't say anything to my dad, I could be wrong."

"Well I have a bad feeling you are not.  I should get back to work, some of us have not got the day off."

No-one was around so he turned and put his finger on her chin, angling his face to kiss her.  Rose felt herself melting as their lips touched for a few moments, not nearly long enough for either of them.  Rose knew she was falling in love with him.

"Well, if your father plans for something here, it will take some doing.  I will see you later then.  Do you need money for groceries?"

"Nah, I'm fine.  We'll have to talk about the arrangements for the cottage when I get moved."

"Well at least we won't have another arcade on our doorstep."

"Alec, he won't be planning on just an arcade, trust me."

"You mean worse?  Maybe a casino?"

"At least."

"It can't happen Rose, this is a quiet relaxing seaside town, he will be turning it into the southern version of Blackpool."

"I'm sure there are casinos down this part of the country?"

"That is what Harkness suspects, that's why he is so interested.  Rose, he won't stop if he thinks it will happen.  Promise me, if he comes near you again, you will call the station and say I said they have to send someone to you and get them to tell me.  Don't stay on your own for too long either, stay where there are people."

"Alec, that's going a bit far."

"Is it?  He has tried to get to you twice already, maybe a third time.  Rose, I am moving in with you on Saturday, I am not leaving you on your own."

"Fine but that's not the only reason you're moving in, is it?"

"No.  I hate all those steps," he grinned, kissing her again.

They kissed goodbye and he watched until she walked through the side gate of her house, Rose waving.  Now he had to go tell his chief he thought he had a reason Harkness was going after her but he couldn't tell his chief their theory.  He should go and confront her father but they could be completely wrong but what if they weren't?

After Jack and Ianto had left Rose, Jack disappointed Jackie hadn't been there for his plan to work, they went down to the arcade as Alec had just left.  Mickey had seen them outside and he knew he should go warn Pete but surely he'd seen them on CCTV?  Tony was in the change desk because Mavis was having the morning off and he couldn't wait to get out so when he saw Jack walking towards him, he felt like he was on display.

"Hey Tony, enjoying yourself?" Ianto laughed.

"Stay out here Ianto, I need to talk to Tyler on my own, no interruptions today, got it?" Jack told him.  "Don't go wandering off yet, I might need you."

"Yes Jack, got it.  Don't go calling your sister's boyfriend Tony," Ianto told him as Jack knocked on the office door.

"I wasn't going to."

"We just came from your house, your mum was out."

"It's her shopping day, dad goes mad when he gets home."

Pete knew who it was when he heard a knock on the door.  "What do you want Harkness?"

"You're the second Tyler who's asked me that today."

"Were you bothering my wife again?"

"No, she was out but I had a pleasant chat with Rose, she looks more beautiful every time I see her."

"You stay away from her, she's spoken for."

"Yeah, I already know.  Nice photos of them both in the paper."

"What photos?"

"Of the dance, them getting all smoochy.  I'd go get a copy if I were you.  There were no names about that scuffle outside but I'm guessing it was what Rose was involved in?"

"You know it was and I told you to stay away from my house."

"Relax, Rose never even let me in."

"Well you stay away from her and the house.  What did you come here for?"

"Some negotiations without being interrupted.  You've been planning something for a long time now, when's it gonna happen?"

"Like I would tell you?  You're wasting your time Harkness, you won't find out."

"I could if I went to the council, see who's helping you."

"Like anyone's going to admit that," Pete scoffed, wishing for some interruption but Ianto would be preventing Mickey coming in.

"Well, maybe if I ask around, go to the planning department and see what they have on file or are they hiding it?"

Pete remained silent.

"Oh, well if I ask about planning permission for an arcade, they'll have to admit someone else has already applied.  I will find out Tyler.  You have until Monday to think it over, then I want an answer.  Let me in on your plan 50/50 and you talk to Rose about ditching Hardy.  That way if he gets dumped, he'll stay away and hopefully get a quick transfer out of town."

"Rose won't do that, they're moving in somewhere together at the weekend."

"Where's that then?"

"Where you won't find her Harkness and I'm not encouraging her to dump him either."

"You listen to me Tyler, I can ruin everything for you if I wanted to but whatever you have planned must be big to have taken all this time.  Tell me where you're planning it for."

"No chance, now get out before I do call Hardy."

"Weren't you lucky you never had to pay him?  Oh, I get it, you told Rose to make a play for him so you'd save some money, right?"

"No, she didn't need any persuasion, trust me.  Besides, I was away when he started work here, you should know, having me go down the Weymouth."

"You went there because of me?" Jack asked, pointing back at himself.

"Your little game's up Harkness, I won't be going off every time there's some minor incident down there, I know you're behind it."

"Who came up with that theory, Hardy?  It won't have been you."

"I worked it out when you went after my wife."

"You leave her alone too much, what can I say?"

"Well I won't be from now on and Rose is settled with Hardy, you won't turn her against him."

"We'll see, won't we?  I'll leave for now but I'll be back on Monday and I want your answer, I've given you more chances than I was going to, well than Ianto wanted to."

"I know about your plan to get to me before, that man who landed in the hospital."

"Don't know anything about it."

"Yeah, sure you don't.  Now get out, you make the place look untidy."

"Think of a way to get Hardy out of the picture before I do."

"Is that a threat?"

"No but he's on your side and I don't like that.  Work on Rose, turn her against him, tell her what you like or I will.  I can dig up a few things from his not so brilliant past, trust me.  Once he's out of the picture, we can begin more delicate negotiations."

"What do you mean by that?"

"One thing at a time, business before pleasure."

Jack got out, dragging Ianto away from the machines.

"You were supposed to stop Smith getting in the office."

"I was."

"Playing the machines?  Take the car and go park down below the Tyler house, tell me if she meets Hardy at lunchtime."

"Where are you going?"

"Drop me at the council office first, I want to see if Tyler has actually submitted any plans."

So Ianto dropped Jack at the town hall and had gone to park where Jack had suggested, seeing Rose walk past and Hardy walk across the road to talk to the annoying reporter.  Then he'd seen them greet each other and disappear around the corner.  They had just walked past him forty five minutes later and were sat on the wall talking.  Rose had then walked off and Hardy had gone back to the station and he realised his time was up when Jack called to be picked up.  He hoped Jack had found what he wanted.
Chapter 22
Ianto saw Jack waiting outside the council offices.

"Well, did you see her?" Jack asked as he got in the car.

"Yep, they had lunch and got all kissy.  You would think he would know better.  You have no chance of splitting those two up."

"Don't bet on it Ianto.  Whoever is helping Tyler on the council is giving nothing away, no-one would admit anything about his plans, most of them said they know nothing about it but I found out how he'd managed to get the hours extended."

"Care to tell me?"

"No, not yet.  So, what were they up to?"

"They went around the corner after Rose greeted him but he was talking to that reporter."

"Did you hear anything?"

"No, I was too far away but when they were sat on the wall, Rose was all over him."

"I don't want to hear that Ianto, we're meant to be splitting them up.  Let's go back and see if we can get a room for a few nights where we were last time and sit in the bar, see if they venture in."

"Right, is that why you told me to pack a few things?"

Jack wondered at him sometimes.  Jackie was home by the time Rose got back to call a taxi.

"Thought you'd gone out for the day?" her mother asked her.

"I'm going out again.  Jack came to call while you were out, did you know he was gonna visit?"

"No, why should I?  Your dad told me to stay away from him.  What did he want?"

"To see you.  You shouldn't keep encouraging him Mum, he'll get the wrong idea.  Right, I'm gonna call for a taxi to the supermarket, do you want to come with me?"

"No, not today, I've already spent too much."

"You know dad will be on to you again.  If he told you what he has planned for the town, would you tell anyone?"

"No, 'course not."

"Yeah, he would go mad then.  He won't tell me because of Alec.  Don't you go mad but he said he's moving in with me because he's worried Jack will go after me again.  I told him Jack came around this morning and he said I should have called him.  He said Jack won't give up and I believe him but why is he so interested all of a sudden?  Did Jack say anything to you when he was last here?"

"No, he just asked if I knew anything and your dad should pay more attention to me.  Oh, hang on, he said his family, not just me."

"So he's been planning to get to me since last week then?"

"Why you though?"

Rose shrugged her shoulders.

"I wasn't even going out with Alec last Monday.  Jack must have changed his plans, he must have seen me and Alec last week, when Alec was chatting me up or was I chatting him up?" Rose grinned, remembering  accidentally 'bumping' into the handsome detective last Monday lunchtime.

"Knowing you, that's more likely it was you doing the chatting up," her mother laughed.   "So you're staying overnight again?"

"I said I was Mum, I said he's moving in with me."

"Are you sure it's what you want ?"

"Yeah, I have to do this or I'll never leave home.  I'm only moving down to the harbour, I'm not off to another planet or a parallel world Mum."

"Well it'll seem like it."

"You know which cottage it is, you can come down any time.  Alec's getting the keys on Saturday."

"What about his new place?"

"It's one of uncle Harry's, dad's sorting it out.  I think he feels better knowing Alec will be there to watch out for me.  I'd better call for a cab to take me to the supermarket."

"Why not just go to the mini-market on your way down?"

"They don't have a lot of choice, I want to make him something nice when he gets home."

"Don't go spoiling him," Jackie laughed.

"He said I'd know if this was right, us moving in together."

"Does it?"

"Yeah Mum, it feels right but I never expected to be given a push into leaving home."

"We all need a push sometimes sweetheart."

After Jack had left Pete, he'd called Mickey into the office, determined to find out whose side he was on and terminate his employment if necessary.  He'd only taken Mickey on when he'd decided to stay in the town and going out with Rose but seeing them together lately, he knew there was nothing left of their relationship and now, Alec Hardy had taken his place.

Mickey had been trying to stay out of the way since Ianto had prevented him going in the office while Jack had been in there.  He knew what was coming, Pete would be asking where his loyalties were and he'd have to give him an answer but where were his loyalties?  He knew that man from last week could have had information he could have used but he'd disappeared without a trace, which annoyed him because he'd taken the man back to Weymouth.

Now, he had a few minutes to decide whose side he was going to take and since neither Pete nor Jack were going to be able to reach an agreement, his loyalty was still split.  He went to the office door, glancing at Tony.

"Mickey, get someone to take over, I want a break."

"Yeah Tony, when I've been to see your dad.  Have you thought about what I said to you?"

"No but I talked to dad and Rose is leaving home."

"What?  When?"

"Weekend I think, she's moving in with Hardy, dad told me on the way down."

"What's she doing that for?" Mickey huffed as Pete called him over the loudspeaker system again, Mickey wishing he wouldn't do that.

"I think it's over Jack getting all pushy and sending Nigel after Rose.  Mind you, it could be because she's fallen for him," Tony grinned, knowing what Mickey and Rose used to be like when they were together and he'd only been young and had teased them.

Mickey shrugged his shoulders and opened the office door.

"You wanted to see me boss?"

"Yeah.  I'll come straight out with it Mickey.  I'm concerned as to where Harkness is getting his information from.  It wouldn't be coming from you, would it?"

"Me?  Why would I be giving him information?"

"Maybe he's paying you?"

"You're accusing me of taking bribes?  I'm hurt by that, how long have you known me?"

"You've just admitted it Mickey, I can tell by your reactions."

"Did Hardy give you the idea?"

"Why does everyone suddenly think I'm getting my ideas from him?  Come on Mickey, just admit it.  You have two choices, quit now or come back to my side and I doubt Harkness will offer you a better job, well not around here, even if he does find out my plans.  I know you've been trying to get to Tony, back off, he's off limits and so is Rose, though you won't get to her now, she's moving in with Hardy at the weekend, he just told me.  He's thinking of giving up his new place to look after her and I'm not stopping him."

Pete was now fairly certain that was what the detective was getting at when he'd said he would take care of Rose.  Normally, he wouldn't trust the law, especially when you could buy their silence but Hardy was different and more than that, Rose had taken to him after only a few days so who better was there to look after her?

Mickey folded his arms

"Tony just told me.  Is that such a good idea?"

"Don't question it Mickey.  Harkness is after her, who else can take care of her and don't say you, she was over you a long time ago.  Now, I'll give you until the end of the day, forget taking Harkness's side and give me your word you'll stick by me or don't come back tomorrow.  As for Tony taking over, that's been put on hold but don't think for one minute I would trust you with it, not when you're easily tempted.  If you ever want to take over here or in any of my arcades, you'll have to gain my trust."

Mickey stood his ground – he was being given an ultimatum and he didn't think Pete Tyler would be messed around, not with Harkness after Rose.

"Now, go do something useful and leave Tony alone, if I hear you've been trying to turn him against me, you won't get a choice, you'll be out by the end of the day.  Don't mess with me Mickey."

When Mickey left to go relieve Tony, Pete picked up his mobile to call his friend and soon to be business partner – well he hoped Harry would agree with his proposal come Monday because that was make or break day.  Monday would be the day Broadchurch stayed the sleepy town it had always been or be changed forever and it was all in his hands. 

Some very delicate negotiations would be taking place over the next few days and Harkness wasn't helping but if the man continued to go after Rose, things could change drastically in a short space of time.  If he let his rival hijack his plans, what he had planned for the town would be a picnic as opposed to what would happen, even if Harkness stuck to going 50/50 but he doubted the man would keep his word, he'd want all or nothing.

There was only one thing that would prevent him taking over and that depended on Harry Saxon.  He'd been quite surprised all that time ago that the man hadn't pursued a career in politics but now, it was just as well he'd become a successful businessman with many areas of expertise.

Alec found the rest of the day boring, in fact every day between saying goodbye to Rose and meeting her for lunch was boring, then there was the rest of the afternoon to contend with but inbetween the boredom, he was gathering information on Harkness and had almost given up going after her father's arcade though he couldn't be seen going easy just because he was now moving in with her.

What had made him tell her though?  He was worried about her but from him maybe moving in to telling her he was had come as much as a surprise to him as it had to her.  Ellie Miller decided she was going to find out why her nephew had printed pictures of them from the dance on the front page of the newspaper.

"Olly, you should have waited for my statement," she was telling him.

"I had to get to print or it would have been old news and besides, I mentioned no names about that incident.  I saw him earlier with her anyway, they're not exactly hiding the fact they're together."

"Tell me about it, I was coming back from lunch and they were kissing on the corner."

"I caught them when she crossed the road.  I might just print it next time, he only told me not to print any of them having lunch."

"Well you're asking for trouble Olly."

Rose had got out of the supermarket and was standing at the cottage window, looking down at the beach and her soon to be new home.  Was she ready to move in with the man she was falling for?  He'd said she'd know if it was right but talking to her mother, well she could be being a bit hasty and she'd been justified asking him if he was only moving in because of Jack's attempts to get to her.

He wouldn't have been prepared to move already if he wasn't also ready, would he?  Now, she was waiting for him getting home, another step further in their relationship so it was a move in the right direction.

Jack and Ianto were in their room above the pub, plotting how to get information on the detective.

"Let's find out about his past?" Ianto suggested.

"Do ya think Ianto?  What about that last case of his?"

"Someone fouled up, his ex wife I think but he recovered the missing evidence."

"What about those he locked up?  Wasn't it two men and a woman?" Jack asked.

"Yeah, it was a right mess, they were neighbours and they kept each others secrets, until Hardy figured it out."

"How did he do that?"

"He got the woman to turn on her husband, she played innocent but the evidence that went missing, she'd grabbed it."

"So she wasn't pleased when after turning on her husband that Hardy figured it out?  I wonder how he got her to do that?"

"Maybe he was up to something with her, he was getting a divorce?" Ianto smiled.

"We can use that to get to Rose then.  Tell her he was involved with, what was her name?"

"Claire Ripley.  Either we can tell her that or he'd been having an affair while he was still married, Rose might think she can't trust him."

"Good idea Ianto.  We need to get her away from him though before he moves in with her.  We have to act fast so tomorrow, we'll go pay Rose a visit at work, we'll wait outside the shop for her since she'll be setting off to walk down to meet him."

"Won't he come looking for her when she's late?" Ianto asked.

"By the time he gets up there, she will have heard enough, trust me, once we've sown the seeds of doubt, we talk to her father again, tell him all the advantages of a merger.  Don't worry Ianto, I'll hardly see her."

"I hope not Jack."

"Well for my plan to work, we have to get her away from Hardy first.  Let's go downstairs and see if they come in later?"

Hardy was about to leave the station when the chief stopped him.

"I have a job for you tomorrow."

"What's that then?"

"You and DS Miller should go see the organisers of the music festival that starts this weekend."

"Rose warned me about that.  Why does it take two of us?"

"You have to go over the details, how they're organising their own security, make sure they have the music licences and how they are dealing with the traffic, though we'll have to send a few traffic officers."

"All for a music festival?"

"Yes Alec, that's not the only event going on, July and August are busy months."

"So I have been told.  We will go in the morning then."

"No, there'll be no-one there until twelve, get there as near to that time as possible, it could save a lot of trouble before they get set up and they have to change things."

Alec was annoyed, he'd miss his lunch date with Rose but he was the one who had changed the rules to make it every day, not her.  He walked the short distance to his cottage on the cliff, looking up to see Rose waving from the patio.  She was waiting at the door when he'd climbed the steps and greeted him with a kiss.

"I could get used to this," he smiled, his arms around her neck.

"Yeah?  Well you wanted to move in with me?  We can do this every night.  I had a call from my dad, you can move out of here whenever you want, he talked with uncle Harry."

"Well, maybe we will get you settled first, then I will move in?"

"I've got a better idea.  I have to pack on Sunday so I'll go do mine while you do yours and you can meet me there or come and pick me up.  If you wait around for me, mum will only question your intentions again."

"Yes, she already has and I have not even moved in with you yet.  I won't be able to meet you for lunch tomorrow, I have to go see the organisers of a music festival on the showground."

"Aw, well I did warn you.  It's ok, I'll get something for my lunch and eat in the staffroom."

"Well I will pick you up just after five so wait for me.  So, are we sharing the cooking?"

After they had eaten, Alec got the wine from the fridge and they stood on the patio for a while, leaning on the low wall.

"I can't wait to move now," Rose told him as she finished her wine.

"I have moved too many times of late.  You are sure about this?"

"I keep telling you I am Alec, why are you so worried?"

"Because I do not deserve this, with you.  I did not particularly want to move here but I am glad that I did."

"Of course you deserve this Alec, why don't you?  I thought you'd told me everything about your last case and your divorce?"

"Most of it, there are things we need to talk about," he told her, taking her empty glass and putting it on the wall.

Then he stood her up and put his arms around her waist, making her put hers around his neck.

"They can wait though because tonight, there is something more we need to say to each other.  You must know how I feel about you?"

"Yeah, you make me happy Alec.  I still think you're worrying too much about Jack coming after me again."

"I can never worry enough about you and I am sorry I did not get to you sooner on Saturday night."

"Alec, he didn't hurt me, I knew how to handle myself, Mickey taught me a few things.  I was gonna kick him where it hurt whether you were there or not, I was waiting for the right moment.  Mickey told me to relax and when they thought they'd got me, well, you saw."

"You let me think you were in danger."

"Sorry, I didn't want to spoil your rescue but I can look after myself.  Are you mad at me?"

He pulled her arms away and looked at her and Rose thought it was all over.

"No Rose, I am proud of you but it does not mean to say you can take on Harkness.  Promise me you will not be in a position where you are on your own."

"Ok, I promise to call you the next time he bothers me.  Dad said Jack had been to see him this morning and gave him an ultimatum."

"Did he now?"

"Yeah, Jack gave him until Monday to think about letting him in on the plans for the town but dad says he's got a trick up his sleeve."

"Did you tell him we thought we knew what his plans were?"

Rose noticed he still wouldn't put his arms around her.

"No, I thought it best not to."

"Good, let it stay that way until we are sure."

"Do you want me to leave?"

"What?  No, I do not want you to leave."

"I thought you were mad at me."

"Rose, I told you I am not mad at you."

"Come back here then?"

"I was hoping we could go inside where it is more private, in case that annoying reporter is sneaking photos of us again."

"Best get used to seeing us on the front page Alec, if my dad gets his way and his plans go ahead, are you going to object?"

"I have to be seen doing something, you know that but I won't give him as hard a time as Harkness is giving him."

"Well if Jack gets his way, he'll have some say in the plans but I can't see my dad giving in easily.  He also told me he's given Mickey until morning to decide whose side he's on."

"About time as well.  That just leaves your brother."

"Once Mickey's decided, Tony will come to his senses, now he knows he doesn't have to take over."

"That may make things easier for him.  Who will your father get in his place?  Surely he will not give it to Smith?"

"Nah, he'll get the manager up from Weymouth and trust me, once my dad gives him free reign, even Jack won't bother him."

"Then why did your father keep going down to sort things out?"

"Because he didn't know it was Jack.  Now he does, Wayne can take care of things and Jack won't bother down there now, he'll stay up here until Monday."

"Then you be extra careful, promise me?  You must know how I feel about you Rose?"

"Yeah, I know.  Let's go back inside and make out on the sofa?"

"Sounds like a perfect way of winding down.  After you."

"Alec, you know how I feel about you then?"

"Aye, I do because I am falling in love with you, Rose Tyler."
Chapter 23
Rose didn't know what to say.  She felt exactly the same way but would he think she was just saying that?  He was looking at her, his brown eyes saying he was telling the truth.

"Alec, I don't know what to say.  You might change your mind when you move in with me?"

Then he did go to put his arms around her.

"Never.  If anything, it will only make things better.  I did not plan on this, when I moved here, to Broadchurch.  I wanted somewhere quiet after my last case and to get away from the messy divorce.  I'm not the easiest person to get along with."

"Neither am I, trust me.  I didn't mean to spoil your rescue, I shouldn't have said anything.  I did spoil things, didn't I?"

"No, I did not mean it to sound like I was disappointed.  I would have been more upset had you been hurt.  Just promise you will not try that with Harkness or his partner."

"Ok, not when there are two of them but if Ianto comes after me, I can't promise I won't give him something to think about."

"Well you gave Carter something to think about, no-one has seen him but he may be hiding from Harkness.  Speaking of which, Miss Jones seems to have gone quiet, I think I gave her enough of a warning."

"She does it every time Alec, she thinks she's better than me, just because she's a nurse and I'm the arcade owner's daughter."

"I am sure she does not think that."

"Yeah, she does.  If someone new is in town, she makes a point of making a play for them, then she wonders why they back off.  I mean, men don't like being chased, do they?"

"Personally, then no.  Some men may like it but not me.  She seems now to have got the message."

"I hope so, at least she's not been in the shop making a scene but there's still time yet.  I think I was flirting with you in the arcade."

"Well I did not notice."

"Aw, are you just saying that?" she asked, leaning into him.

He kissed her forehead and looked down at her.

"I was the one who went to sit with you outside the arcade, I came after you."

"So you did.  I'm glad we settled that then."

Even though it was still light outside, after they had kissed, Alec pulled the curtains over as they laid on the sofa.  When they finally got up to go to the bedroom, Rose had only just managed to keep her underwear but had her bra unfastened as was Alec's shirt.  As they lay in bed, Alec hovering above her and kissing her cleavage as she had her hands on his shoulders, she realised she should tell him before it was too late.

"Alec you said you were falling for me but I think I'm more than falling for you."

"Is that so eh?  I was only saying that, in case it was too early to say what I wanted to say."

"Then what did you want to say?  That you love me?"

"Is it too soon to say I love you?" he asked, going to kiss her neck.

"Definitely not, if I was to say I love you too Alec."

She pulled him down and went for the waistband of his shorts.

"Show me exactly how much Alec."

"The pleasure would be all mine."

They woke to Alec's alarm going off, well he was trying to silence it without waking her, with no success as she smiled and moved for him to reach his phone.

"Morning love," he greeted her, checking he'd set the right time for the alarm.

"Hi, handsome, I wasn't dreaming then?  It's gonna be tough the next two mornings, waking up without you."

"Then stay here for now?  We can stop off for you to get your things on the way back, well enough for two more nights.  I do not want to wake up on my own either."

They kissed and Alec went for her thin cotton knickers she had put back on but instead of removing them, he moved them to one side, meaning to tease her.  As she murmured beneath him at his delicate touch, any remaining doubts she had about it being too soon to move in with him disappeared.

"Alec, I want to move in with you, tonight."

"Oh, well I imagine you want me to do this every morning then?"

"Only when we have to go to work, Sundays, you won't get away with just that."

"Then it will put me in a good mood for the day.  Did I tell you how boring it was from kissing you goodbye until meeting for lunch?  Then there are the afternoons to contend with."

"I'm sure you'll manage.  So why do you have to go see about the music festival?"

"That is what I asked the chief," he told her as her face lit up at his touch.

Rose took some time to recover, Alec laying on his back and pulling her on top of him.

"That was wonderful."

"That was amazing to watch.  You are so beautiful Rose and I am very lucky you chose to flirt with me in the arcade that morning or I may never have invited you to the dance."

"I wasn't flirting with you for you to ask me to the dance," she told him, glancing up.

"Whatever you were doing, you are here now, with me," he told her, his arms wrapped around her.

"You'd never have considered asking Martha, even if you'd not met me?"

"No, end of story.  She thinks she knows where I live but if she has still been following me, she will know you are here and we will be gone by Sunday."

"Yeah, we will, won't we?  Time for another kiss before breakfast, since I don't have to go home or walk to work?"

"Oh yes, there is time for another kiss.  Come here gorgeous."

Rose was even five minutes earlier than normal with getting a ride to work.  Her manager let her in, looking at her.

"Had a good day off?"

"Yeah.  I'm moving on Saturday, I'll need to change my address with you."

"Good for you Rose.  Living on your own?"

"Not exactly but I'm not ready to admit anything yet."

"Well that's up to you, what you tell people.  Be careful though, the word will soon get around and people will jump to conclusions."

"Yeah, I know what you mean.  Did Martha come in yesterday by any chance?"

"No, should she have?"

"We both wore the same dress on Saturday night, I thought she might have come for an exchange or a refund."

"Not once the dress has been worn or if there's a fault.  Did you know you'd bought the same dress?"

"Yeah, that was rather the point but loads of women have bought the same one."

"Were you two the only ones at the dance though?"

Rose smiled.

Alec got to work, annoyed about the task of sorting out the music festival and even more annoyed he wouldn't get away with not going and meeting Rose instead.  Ellie knocked on his office door to set off just before twelve and she saw he wasn't pleased.

"Why has it fallen to us to go?" he asked, getting up.

"We're the senior officers around here.  I had to take Frank with me last year, the other DI wouldn't go see to something like a music festival."

"Well aren't you lucky you got me then?" Alec asked dryly.

"I supposed you're here to give me the benefit of your experience then?" Ellie quipped back.

"Just get on with it, I am missing having lunch with my girlfriend and I am not in a good mood."

"I saw you with her yesterday, it's not such a good idea to go snogging her opposite the police station."

Alec thought it was a good thing Miller had no idea about the questionable photos of Rose on his phone.  He would have to be very careful but why shouldn't he be able to kiss his girlfriend outside?

"Don't go watching then," was all he could think of as they walked out of the station door and across the harbour to the showground.

Pete had a fairly peaceful morning.  Mickey had turned up for work so he'd said nothing more about their conversation yesterday, unless Mickey was still playing both sides.  He'd talked to Tony on the way down saying things were being put in place and everything would be revealed one way or another by Monday.

Ianto had been on his tablet PC, looking up Alec Hardy and apart from the so-called missing evidence incident, which was deemed as not the detective's fault, he didn't know where else to look.

"We have to find something Ianto," Jack urged him just before eleven.  "Rose gets out around twelve, we have to be there waiting for her, away from the shop.  Come on, dig something up.  What about his divorce?  Were there any accusations, well apart from her having an affair?"

"Not that I can find.  The divorce was a bit messy, she threw a few accusations back at him when he found out but nothing came of it after Claire Ripley was arrested."

"So, he could have been cheating with her, before the divorce?"

"There was no actual proof but Rose doesn't know that, does she?"

Jack slapped Ianto on the shoulder.

"That could be just the thing to get her doubting him.  Just go along with what I tell her then, I may exaggerate a little."

"Just how much?"

"I'll make it up as I go along.  Now all we have to do is wait until Monday and see what Tyler decides.  If Rose is all upset and Hardy keeps going on at him between now and Monday, he'll be only to glad to accept my offer."

Rose was being quizzed by her part-time workmate Amber as it was Alice's day off.

"Come on Rose, how are things really between you and the detective?  I did see the paper, you looked really cosy."

"We were just dancing, well putting on a bit of a show for Martha.  Shame you weren't there."

"I knew it.  I said to Alice yesterday you'd lay it on in front of her.  Did you have any more trouble with her?"

"No, she's keeping out of the way though I dread to think what she's been saying about me.  Shame you won't be here at five, he's picking me up."

Just on twelve, Rose was preparing to go get something from the bakery to bring back with her since going down to the harbour wouldn't be the same with Alec not being there but she'd had a message from Pete, asking her if she was free for lunch and to meet him across from the arcade.

She text him back saying she was on her way and waved to Amber as she went out.  She was about to cross over to walk back to the path leading to the esplanade at the side of the hotel when Jack and Ianto got out of their SUV type car and walked up behind her.

"Hello Rose, going somewhere?" Ianto asked, taking her arm.

"You have five seconds to get your grubby little hands off me Ianto.  Did you not hear what I did to Nigel last Saturday night?"

"Relax Rose, come and sit with us in the car," Jack invited her, steering her back to the car.

"Get off me Jack, I'm going nowhere with you."

"You will when you hear what I have to say about Hardy."

"You are joking, right?  Let me go Jack or when he gets to hear about it, you two are finished."

"Five minutes, then we'll leave you.  Fair enough?"

"I have a lunch date and if I'm late, someone will come looking for me."

She felt no need to tell him she wasn't meeting Alec.

"Then we'll give you a ride down to the harbour, won't we Ianto?"

"Yeah, just listen to what we have to say."

"If you're trying to find out what my dad's planning, you already know he's not told me."

"We're not talking about that, I have something to tell you about your boyfriend.  After you?" Jack indicated for her to get in the back seat.

Rose was hoping Amber would be being nosy and see her getting in the car and call the station but Alec was out.  She knew she should call herself but Jack was preventing her going into her shoulder bag.

"You know I'll call him when you let me go."

"Good," Jack replied as he made her fasten the seat belt and Ianto drove off.  "You'll have plenty to talk about.  Ask him about his ex wife, how he was cheating on her, before they got divorced."

"That's rubbish Jack, she was cheating on him."

"Why was that then?  He must have given her cause?  Has he mentioned Claire Ripley?"

"She got locked up for her part in his last case, she stole the evidence to protect herself and her husband."

"That's Hardy's version, she stole it to get his attention and she got it, until he figured it out, well so he told everyone.  What do you think really happened?  She felt sorry for him and turned it in, then he betrayed her by arresting her."

"I'm not listening Jack," she told him as Ianto stopped in the harbour car park but Jack wouldn't let her out.

"Ask him about it, she had an abortion, why would she do that if it wasn't his?  She didn't want her husband to find out, it's on record he took her to a clinic."

Jack was hoping she wouldn't check, since Claire had actually had one but just days after Lee was arrested and she'd gone home to tell him the night the two girls were killed but he could see Rose was listening.  He knew she wouldn't actually check.

"Let me out Jack, I have to go see my dad."

Jack was hoping it was about Hardy.

"I'll let you go but think about it, Hardy doesn't care about you, he's using you to get to your father, your father thinks the same though he's not said in so many words.  You're free to go, no charge for the ride but I'm here, if you want to talk?"

Rose got out and stood for a few moments as Jack and Ianto drove off.  She couldn't believe Jack would actually try and turn her against Alec, why was he doing it?  She walked across to the arcade where Pete was pacing up and down waiting for her, looking in the other direction.

"Rose, where have you been?"

"I got delayed, by Jack."

"What?  You were supposed to call Alec if he tried anything."

"Alec's gone out to the music festival, I'm fine, really.  I'll just grab something quick and take it back with me.  Why did you want to meet?"

"To see if things were ok, with you and Alec.  I just wanted to clear something up, I'm not encouraging you to go out with him so he'll leave me alone you know?"

"I know that dad.  You can't tell Alec that Jack just tried to get to me."

"What did he say?"

"Some rubbish about Alec cheating on his wife with the wife of the main suspect in his last case."

"Don't believe anything that man tells you."

"I won't.  Come on, I just have time to get something to eat."

They got their orders and walked around the other side of the harbour so it was nearer for Rose to get back.

"You have to tell Alec what Jack said, you're moving in with him on Saturday."

"I'm staying tonight as well, he asked me.  Yeah, you're right, I can't keep something like that from him.  He'll go crazy, I didn't have chance to call him or the station."

"Then I'll call him for you, we're both worried about you.  Go back to work and wait for him, Jack abducted you, he'll take that very seriously."

"I don't want him to make a big deal out of it, that's all."

"He will make a big deal out of it but I'll make sure he knows the full story, leave Alec to me.  Harkness was foolish to try something, so close to him telling me I have until Monday to let him be part of it.  Don't worry, I do have a plan."

"You won't try and put Alec off will you?"

"No, now get back to work or you won't be able to afford to move, even if he does want to pay for it."

"I told him only when he moved in and now, he's moving in the same time as me, well if this doesn't put him off."

"It'll take more than that," Pete assured her.

Rose just hoped he was right as she set off back to the shop, to ask Amber if she'd seen any of it.

"Were you looking out of the window when I left?" Rose asked her as they tidied a display.

"No, I had a customer, why?"

"Nothing, don't worry about it."

"I thought you weren't meeting Alec, did he surprise you?"

"No but someone else did."

She had to take her afternoon break early due to Amber leaving and found a message from Alec – 'We have to talk' and Rose thought that was a bit of an understatement.

"Alec, hi.  Did my dad call you?"

Pete had indeed called Alec via the station and reminded himself he needed his mobile number.

"Alec, listen don't go mad with Rose but Harkness was waiting outside the shop for her at lunchtime."

"What?" he asked as the music festival's organiser turned to attend something else and Miller was looking at him.  He stepped away from her and continued.  "Is she ok?"

"She's fine, just a bit upset.  Apparently he tried telling her a few things about your past."

"She knows everything."

"Well I hope so.  She thought you'd be annoyed she didn't call you herself but by the time I met her, she was upset and just wanted something to eat, I don't think she could face calling you herself after what you said for her to do if they tried again."

"I understand.  I will send her a message for her to call me during her break but she should have at least called the station if I didn't answer, she has all three numbers."

He dreaded to think what she was using as the contact photos after the ones she'd taken, one was more risky than what he'd taken of her as she'd caught him unexpectedly as he was moving.

Ellie had been half listening.

"Something wrong?"

"Harkness tried to get to Rose again.  If I'd not been dealing with these morons, he would not have got near her.  That was the last time, trust me."

He caught up with the festival's organiser, Craig.

"Right, now listen.  You comply with that list I gave you, I'll be back tomorrow to check and I'll cancel it if you do not comply.  Got it?"

"We never had a problem before," the man protested, looking at Ellie.  "Ellie, tell him."

"It's DS Miller and I know, that was when Hunter was in charge.  Do as he says, we'll be back tomorrow."

They walked off and Ellie stopped him.

"Sir, you're being a bit hard on them."

"Am I, really?  The public's safety is paramount, so is traffic control or there will be queues all the way back to Weymouth."

"You don't think you are putting what happened to Rose above everything else?"

"Is that what you think?  You think I should step back and let you deal with it?"

"I usually do.  Call her, she might not have gone back to work yet."

He looked at the time, it was almost one so he just sent her a message.  He was in his office when she called back.

"Rose, yes, your father was concerned you went off with Harkness, after what I told you.  What were you thinking sweetheart?"

"He made me get in the car, there was no-one around and he knew it, well not anyone that would care he was holding my arm and steering me to the car.  I told him to let me go and you told me not to do what I did to Nigel."

"Yes, I know I did.  Rose, they could have hurt you love, we need to talk about this.  What did he want this time?"

"To talk about you.  I'll tell you when you pick me up."

"Yes, don't you go anywhere until I get there.  Rose, what made you go with him?"

"I'm sorry Alec, I had no choice and I knew he wouldn't hurt me, dad said he's so close now to finalising his plans, Jack wouldn't risk it."

"I hope not.  I should let you get back to work.  Rose, we are still good are we not?  You are staying at my place again?"

"We'll talk, about what he had to say."

"You don't believe what he says?  Was it about me?"

"Yeah, Alec, did you have an affair with Claire Ripley?"

"Of course not, she tried to make out she was innocent, she asked me to help her if she turned against her husband but she got desperate and stole evidence we found.  You know all this Rose, when did I have time to have an affair with her?"
Chapter 24
Rose said a hushed 'Bye' to him and put her phone away.  Alec was still holding his phone, wondering what the hell had just happened.  Who did Harkness think he was, trying to get to Rose this way?  He got his jacket, meaning to go see her father and Ellie was about to stop him when she saw the look on his face.

"Going somewhere?" she asked, standing in the doorway.

"Out of my way Miller, I am not in the mood for your endless questions."

"Is this about Rose again?"

"Yes, now out of my way."

"Don't do anything stupid about Harkness."

"Miller, the mood I am in, stupid does not even come into it.  Do you know what he tried to do?"

Ellie had no idea but she could guess Tyler's nemesis was trying to get to him through Rose and using Hardy to get to her, to leave the way clear for him, whatever his plans were.

"No but I can see you're going to try something stupid – Sir."

"If by going face to face with Harkness again, then yes, call it stupid if you want, he is not getting away with this.  Close the door behind you."

She watched him walk out, shaking her head.  If he wasn't careful, he'd be the next one she would be visiting in the hospital.  Alec made his way to the arcade, Mickey seeing him enter but too late to do anything as Alec knocked on the door.  Pete opened it.

"I wasn't expecting you today, is this about our phone conversation?"

"Yes, Rose just told me.  Where is Harkness staying?"

"I can do better than that, I can have him come here.  If you want a piece of him then so do I."

"Rose asked me if I'd had an affair with Claire Ripley, the woman in the Sandbrook case."

"Yeah, I followed that.  You arrested her along with her husband and their neighbour, a sad case."

"Yes, I made the mistake of trying to get her to turn on her husband, she thought it would protect her.  She had nothing to do with my divorce, my ex wife was already cheating on me at that point."

"I don't need to know that Alec, you should be talking to Rose."

"No, I should be talking to Harkness, can you get him here, on his own?"

"No, they come as a pair but I can get Mickey to entertain the other one.  Show him a new slot machine and he's anybody's."

Pete called the number he had for Jack.  Jack was watching the sports channel when his phone rang.

"Tyler?  Made your mind up already?"

Alec had told Pete not to say he was there.

"Come to the arcade, I have something to ask you."

"We'll be right there."

Alec had also told him not to say anything about coming alone.  Pete called Mickey to the office.

"Right Mickey, this is your last chance to choose sides.  Harkness will be here soon, keep Ianto entertained for us, Hardy and I want to talk to Harkness alone.  Did that new slot machine get plugged in?"

"No, it's still being tested."

"Get it switched on and let him see it, it'll keep him amused for a while."

"Yeah and when it cheats him, he'll come down on me."

"Thought you liked getting into fights Smith?" Alec asked him, crossing his arms.

"I don't start fights, how many more times?"

"Mickey, just do it, you've already caused me enough trouble.  Prove you're really on my side for once.  Go get it switched on, now."

Mickey went off, muttering to himself.

"You still do not trust him then?" Alec asked him as Pete watched for any signs Jack had entered the arcade.

"Honestly?  I don't know who I can trust, how do I know Harkness hasn't got to anyone else?"

"Can you trust your son?"

"I hope so, for his sake but he's young and easily led.  Now, about this business with Rose, what do you want Harkness for?"

"You will find out.  Why would he want to turn Rose against me?"

"I was wondering that and I came to the conclusion, to get you out of the way or to make you so mad, you'd find an excuse to close down the arcade and make me mad, either way, it would end badly.  That's what he does, when he doesn't get his own way.  Watch out, they just came in, they must be staying next door."

Mickey saw them, just as he and one of the staff had switched on a new machine being tested, not that he really cared if it worked properly or not.

"Mr Harkness, what are you doing here?"

"Get out of my way Smith.  Ianto, no interruptions."

"Got it Jack, no interruptions."

Jack carried on and Mickey stood his ground.

"Want to see the latest slot?  You'll be the first to try it?"

He led a smiling Ianto away, knowing the man couldn't resist as Jack knocked on the office door and was admitted.

"What's this Tyler?  Afraid to face me on your own that you need police protection?"

Alec stood by the door.  "I asked him to call you Harkness, you just made a very big mistake."

"What are you talking about Hardy?"

"You went after my girlfriend and this time I have proof it was you.  Did you not think she would tell me?"

"Tell you what?  Oh, you mean the little chat we had with her?  I was just telling her a few home truths, she deserves to know."

Pete got up when he saw Alec clenching his fists.

"Come on Harkness, this is my daughter you're talking about, you knew she'd tell me."

"This is between me and Harkness," Alec warned him.  "You stay away from her or I will find something on you and have you locked up.  Just so you know, it did not work, you wasted your time."

He wasn't entirely sure Rose had believed it or not, that was to be determined later and it would take everything he had to convince her how he felt about her.  Just when they had finally made some progress, this had set it back a week and they were meant to be living together from Saturday.

"Did I?" Jack asked, looking at Pete then at Alec.  "She seemed to believe it, has she asked you about Claire Ripley?"

"There was no me and Claire Ripley and for your information, my ex wife was cheating on me long before the investigation into those two cousins' deaths.  Say what you like Harkness, she does not believe you.  From now on, you go nowhere near her or I will have you arrested for attempted kidnapping."

"She got into the car on her own Hardy."

"Because you scared her.  Think yourself lucky I told her not to do what she did to Carter the other night.  You heard about that?"

He hadn't, since Carter had gone to lie low somewhere and his first attempt had failed.  Things were already going wrong and now his latest attempt had back-fired on him, leaving him no choice but to bring his plan forward to tomorrow, leaving Tyler nowhere to go.

"I can imagine she deflated the man's ego but you can't prove I was the one to send Carter after her.  It was in the paper, quite an amusing story really."

"She could have been hurt.  Lucky I was there to rescue her."

"Sounds to me like she didn't need rescuing."

Alec thought he didn't need reminding of that but it had disappointed him that she hadn't really needed him but he should expect no less from her.

"You had better warn your friend out there if I see him anywhere near her, I will deal with him myself."

Pete was wishing he hadn't said that.

"Ianto doesn't like being threatened. "

"Well keep him from making any mistakes.  I will not have you upsetting Rose, she is my girlfriend, she chose to go out with me.  Now leave while you can before I haul your ass to the station for attempted kidnapping."

"You can't hold me on that Hardy."

"I can if Rose makes an official complaint, which she will do when she gets out of work.  Now, give me your assurance there will be no more attempts of going after her."

Jack shrugged his shoulders and Alec knew that was all he was going to get.  He opened the door, tempted to take it further but it wouldn't do Rose any good and if he turned up to meet her and Harkness had taken a swing back at him, Rose would be even more upset, well he hoped she would.

Jack looked around for Ianto, who was over in the corner trying to beat this new machine.

"Ianto, what the hell are you doing?  Do you want me to leave you here?"

"Sorry Jack, no.  You owe me Smith, you fixed that machine to lose."

Mickey shook his head.  "I told you it was still being tested, I take no responsibility."

"We'll see Smith."

"Yeah, yeah and Mr Harkness, I won't be working for you any more."

"No-one leaves me Smith, I don't need you any more, you're fired.  The next time you see me, I'll be running this place and you'll be out of a job."

Mickey knew better than to answer back but from what he'd gathered from Pete, that wasn't going to happen, which was why now, he needed to show he was back on his side.  He knew now it had been stupid to think Harkness would actually win, that had as much chance as he had of getting Rose back.

Alec was pacing Pete's small office.

"You don't think Harkness will take any notice of you?" Pete asked him, hoping he'd stay still for a minute.

"What do you think?  That was just to let him know whatever he was planning with Rose is not going to work."

"I hope you're right, for her sake, she's had enough lately with him trying to scare her and she's usually quite tough but that incident with that married bloke put her off."

"I know, I am trying very hard to assure her that does not matter to me.  She made a mistake, so did I by letting my ex get the better of me, right under my nose.  I hope Rose and I can help each other.  I told her I loved her last night, I did not want her thinking I was just after her to get to you."

"I know now you wouldn't do that.  Come back tomorrow, I can reveal my plan then because it may not go ahead anyway.  I have a phone call to make to my soon to be new business partner."

"You mean the man Rose calls uncle Harry?  Who is he?"

"He likes to keep a low profile but he's a very successful businessman.  He'll probably come down for a meeting and Rose will want to see him but we can do most of it on the phone.  Make sure you collect Rose from work later."

"I intend to, just let them try anything while I am there though her getting caught earlier was partly my fault."

"No it wasn't, you have a job to do, I don't expect you to watch her all the time."

"I should have insisted on going after lunch to the music festival, it could have waited but I didn't mean that was the reason, I told her not to try with Harkness and Jones what she tried with Carter."

"Ah, Mickey actually taught her something?"

"Is that who I can thank?  I thought I was rescuing her, she obviously didn't need it and she thought I was upset because she didn't really need me."

Pete smiled.  "Well she needs you now, until I can get this sorted and trust me, Harkness will not want to go up against Harry Saxon."

"He's your new business partner?  You have nothing to worry about then.  Did you tell him about Harkness going after Rose?"

"Some of it but it's just become more serious, I thought we could handle it but Harry will be upset, he treats her like she was his real niece.  He was very impressed she was dating a detective inspector, especially after so long.  We all thought she was well and truly off men."

"Well, she took a bit of persuasion I was not using her to find out what your plans were but she would not have told me, even if she had known.  I have to be honest with you though, we both have a theory as to what your plans are."

"Have you now?  What do you think I have planned then?"

"I am not sure I should say, it was Rose who pointed it out to me, it was there, right in front of us and no-one could see it, like some kind of deception or hidden in plain sight."

Pete let out a laugh.  "I'd best not confirm or deny it then but yes, that's the beauty of it Alec, something that no-one would miss or would think nothing of it if the landmark disappeared and hoardings went up with a 'Coming Soon' notice.  By then, it would be too late for Harkness to have done anything about it.  I take it you tried to find out how I was keeping it all so secret?"

"I am sure you have your ways but whoever is helping you is very good at not betraying you."

"That's just it Alec, no-one is actually helping me by doing anything illegal, all they are doing is delaying it from public records, which by law, the plans do not have to go public if there are no initial objections.   My negotiations are ongoing and it will be tomorrow when I reveal if it's going ahead or not, it depends on my backers and other parties."

"The people who own the land?"

"Yes.  I know you think you and Rose are right, where it is and you probably are but I can't confirm or deny anything at this stage.  When I've spoken to Harry, I'll know more but there is nothing to be concerned about, if it's not going ahead, the sea front will not be disturbed but I won't be the last one to think about transforming the area, trust me."

"Harkness will make a play for it?"

"No, he won't be able to, Harry will see to that.  He'll respect what I decide but Harkness will try to get permission elsewhere and he'll try and take over my business and that can't happen.  He gave me an ultimatum Alec but once I have Harry on my side, Harkness is finished in Broadchurch, perhaps in Weymouth too."

"Then I just hope you're right.  I had best get back to work, I will leave it with you.  Rose will be calling home for a few things, I asked her to stay with me until we move on Saturday, well if she is still talking to me."

"She won't let Harkness put her off with his foundless accusations.  I know my daughter Alec, she's been in love with you since you met, trust me."

Alec went back to the station, there wasn't long to wait until finish time but Ellie was eyeing him as he tried to concentrate on what was happening with the music festival and hoping Rose wouldn't drag him there on Sunday.  Then he saw the list of musical acts and found his one-time favourite Scottish band from the eighties who were apparently still going strong even after all this time and thought when he went back to the showground tomorrow, he would try and impress Rose by showing an interest and getting some tickets.  It would give her a break from all that was going on and from moving and put her in a good mood.

Ellie stood in his doorway.

"I can go back to the showground tomorrow and I'm sorry you were made to go with me today.  I can take Frank with me next time.  You should have said you were meeting Rose for lunch."

"It is no-one's fault Miller, I have to accept I won't always be free to meet her.  She was the one who suggested we changed from meeting twice a week for lunch and I readily agreed."

"You do have it bad then – Sir.  Everyone who knows her thought she'd never get over that other thing, she's just surprised me, I never meant to be hostile with you over it, I didn't want the same to happen to her again."

"Never mind Miller, I am not like that other man.  I do not know what she will be like when I go collect her soon, she was upset when she called me back and now, in twenty minutes I have to set off and face her over something Harkness said to her."

"Get her some flowers and some chocolates, assure her whatever he said was completely untrue.  It was, wasn't it?  What did he say to her?"

"That I had an affair with Claire Ripley, while I was still married but I never even knew her before Tess started cheating on me."

"Then she'll know it's a lie.  Oh, the damage has already been done?  She's already asked you if you did?"

"Yes and no matter what I say, it will always be there, she will always wonder."

"Just listen to yourself.  Tell her you love her."

"I already have Miller, I hope that is enough.  I am leaving early, to get up there before Harkness decides to go back.  We will go back to the showground tomorrow but when I say, I want to get some tickets, it may cheer Rose up."

Ellie could just imaging him going to a music festival and singing along to some of the latest songs, until she saw the list on his desk and they were mainly bands from the seventies and eighties, which would be right up his street.  She sat in his chair once he'd left, holding her cup in one hand and trying to glance through the folders on his desk without disturbing them to see if he had officially reported what had happened at lunchtime or any other time apart from the incident last Saturday night but there was nothing.

He was keeping it all very quiet and dealing with it himself but why hadn't he asked for her help?  She'd known Rose Tyler a long time but lately, well since Fred had come along and she no longer asked Rose to look after Tom if both she and Joe were overlapping shifts or wanted to go out, Rose had become a bit distant.  Maybe she should invite the two of them over one night?  Well that depended if he could persuade Rose he'd not been guilty of having an affair with one of the Sandbrook killers but was that really what Harkness was getting at?  Not the fact he was having an affair but who with?  It could do his career a lot of harm if it ever got out, did he even realise that was what Harkness intended? 

Maybe she was making something out of nothing, she didn't exactly like him when he'd first arrived but Rose was doing him some good and if it ever came out, Rose would be mixed up in it.  She decided to wait and see what happened but maybe she should try warning him, it had been bad enough when Mark Latimer had been accused by his wife of having an affair with the hotel owner and she'd seen them looking at each other and had to keep quiet.
Chapter 25
Rose had been staring out of the window after Amber had left for the day, her manager shaking her head and wondering what had come over her employee.  She'd never had a complaint about Rose, from the shop owner or any of the customers and the women on holiday loved her because she was always friendly even when some women were obviously in the wrong sort of fashion shop.  Just before five, Rose was cleaning the floor and tidying up, which she and Alice took turns at and normally, Rose would put the hoover away and get her things and wait for the clock to reach five.

As a safety precaution, whoever was there always waited until the shop was locked up and the security grill was closed but Eileen saw she was keen to get out.

"Go on Rose, I'll be fine.  What's wrong with you today?"

"Someone upset me a bit earlier, that's all."

"Your new boyfriend picking you up tonight?"

"I hope so but I don't know how much longer he'll be that."

"Someone interfering?  Martha Jones maybe?"

"No, she's given up I think.  No, it's nothing, really, we'll straighten it out."

As they stepped out into the evening sunshine, she could see Alec standing a few doors down, a bunch of flowers in his hand and something tucked under his arm.  Rose stood while the shop door was locked after the alarm was set and he stepped forward.  On his short walk up to the High Street, he'd called at the mini-market and got what he needed to show Rose he still cared about her despite what she had asked him earlier.

If anything, he should have been hurt by the accusation, he'd had enough when Tess had accused him of the same thing.  Rose caught up with him as she turned and waved to Eileen.

"Your boss?" Alec asked, handing her the flowers and kissing her cheek.

"You saw her the other night Alec," Rose replied, accepting the flowers and smelling them.

"There was another woman, it could have been either of them.  These are also for you, unless I should give them to your mother again?"

Rose gave him a weak smile and took them, saw they were her favourites and handed them back for him to carry as she looped her arm in his.  He smiled back and they crossed over to the path leading to her house, well her parents house, since she seemed to have already moved out but now, she was probably calling off the move and going back.

"Can we sit in the garden a while?" Rose asked as they passed the street at the back of the property and she headed for the gate, hoping the dog wasn't out, or her mother.

Missy was sat in the patio doorway, her favourite toy at her paws, waiting for Tony to come back to play with her but Alec would do as she saw him behind Rose and growled a little.

"Missy, don't start, Alec's a friend.  Come and say hello."

Alec hadn't had much to do with the small dog and didn't want to make a start but the dog had other ideas as she picked up the toy and padded over to him as he stood by the wooden table.

"Have a seat Alec, I'll go get some iced lemonade or something.  Play nicely you two."

Alec wasn't keen on being left on his own with the Yorkshire terrier, who had a pink bow tied into her fur, Jackie's idea, he thought.  He sat on one of the wooden chairs and Missy dropped the bone at his feet, nudging it with her nose and he picked it up, carefully and threw it back to the gate.  He wondered if that was all the exercise the poor thing got but it was probably down to Rose or Tony to take her out along the path for a walk, he wasn't going to volunteer.

Rose was pouring two glasses of lemonade and putting ice cubes into them and slices of lemon as her mother watched.  She didn't want to alarm her by saying Jack had made another stupid attempt to get to her, well not until her father got home.

"Everything ok Rose?"

"Yeah, Alec's out in the garden, I'd better go rescue him from Missy."

"If he's staying for tea, I hope he likes fish pie."

"I'm sure he does but I'll ask him.  Mum, I came back to pack a few more things, to stay over again but I'm not so sure now."

"Why, what happened?"

"Jack Harkness happened.  He was outside the shop at lunchtime and he tried to tell me a few things about Alec and I don't know whether to believe him or not."

"Alec wouldn't hide anything from you, would he?  This is Jack we're on about, Rose, he came after me first, tried to get me to tell him what your father was planning but Pete made me realise that's what Jack does, he uses people to get what he wants.  Don't believe a word of it sweetheart, Alec loves you, it's written all over his face.  Go on, take him that drink and talk to him, then you kiss that man.  I know I didn't want you to leave home but he makes you happy, that's what counts."

"Thanks Mum, I know he does but it hurts, to hear things about him."

"You're still hurting over Mike and Jack knows that, it's why he's doing it, to get you to doubt yourself and Alec, to break you up."

Rose knew her mother was right.  She picked up the drinks and went outside to see Missy laid by Alec and him stroking the dog's head.

"Aw, I should take a photo of you, I've just seen another side of you.  Do you want to get a dog when we move?"

"No, who will look after it during the day?"

"You could call in at lunchtime?  Well, maybe we both could?  Alec, I'm sorry, about what I asked you."

She handed him one of the glasses but he took them both and put them on the table.  He took her hand and sat her on his lap, trusting the chairs were fairly strong but the Tylers, well Jackie wouldn't buy cheap garden furniture.  Rose instinctively put her arm around his neck to keep her balance but found herself leaning her head on his shoulder.

"I know you never meant it Rose, Harkness is playing mind games with you, getting you to doubt me.  I went back to see your father after you called me, we've had words with Harkness."

"He won't back off Alec, he'll keep on doing it until something gives."

"No, he won't love, I promise.  I love you Rose, you know that and if I'd had an affair at all, it would not have been with Claire Ripley, trust me.  I used her to get to her husband, she thought she was being clever and it caught up with her but as I told your father, that was long after I found out about Tess, she just threw that at me to get back at me for finding out."

"I know Alec, I should believe you, not what he makes up but it hurt."

Forgetting anyone who cared to look over the garden gate could be watching or if her mother was standing at one of the windows, he touched her cheek then pulled her into a kiss.  Jackie was watching from the small sitting room patio window and smiled to herself.  She'd never have believed her daughter could ever go out with another man let alone dare to kiss him in front of her.  She'd only gone to see if Rose had followed her advise and pleased with herself, went to get the dinner table ready.

Alec smiled at his girlfriend – Harkness had failed to break them up and now, nothing would, well he hoped not anyway.  He passed a drink to her then picked up his own and offered it to her, Rose giggling and doing the same to him.

"You're supposed to do that with champagne Alec."

"Well, the drink has bubbles in it," he grinned as they untangled their arms and drank from their own glasses.  "We are ok then?"

"Yeah, we're good.  I hate him Alec, I should have tried harder to get away from them."

"Don't blame yourself Rose, you could not have taken on both of them and they knew it.  Your father may have something to tell you when he gets back."

"About his plans?"

"Amongst other things.  Your uncle Harry may be paying you a visit."

"I've not seen him or Lucy for ages.  Did my dad tell you they're like proper family to us?"

"He mentioned it, yes.  Don't make any plans for Sunday though."

"Why not?"

"I am planning a little surprise for you."

Still holding her glass, she kissed his cheek, then rubbed at his scruffy beard.

"That is not going anywhere Rose, you had best get used to it."

"I think it makes you look cute and sexy."

"Good, that was what I expected you to say.  I think you have upset your dog, she was enjoying me making a fuss of her."

"I can get mum to let us borrow her when we move."

"Very funny Rose."

"Just kidding.  I'd better get up before dad says we're breaking the garden furniture.  So, what's he got to tell us then?"

"I can't tell you that love.  Are we staying for tea?"

"Yeah, hope you like fish pie?"

"That depends what kind of fish it is, nothing exotic?"

"I doubt it, knowing our housekeeper.  Don't worry, mum only does the veg during the week, you're reasonable safe."

They got up, Alec sneaking another kiss and handing her the flowers then following her inside with the chocolates, hoping her mother wouldn't think he was trying to bribe her to allow him to stay.

"I'll put these in a vase then after tea, I'll go pack a few things.  I thought dad and Tony would be back by now."

They would have been, had Jack and Ianto not been waiting at the end of the street for them.

"This isn't over Tyler," Jack called out as they passed.

"Come on Tony, ignore them," Pete told him.

"Hey Tony, want to be on the winning team?" Jack called after him.  "That arcade could be yours, if you wanted?  Didn't Mickey tell you?"

They had both stopped, Pete looking at Tony.

"So Mickey did try to get to you?"

"No Dad, honestly.  I don't want the arcade, you know that."

"Come on Tony, you wouldn't turn down an offer like that, would you?" Ianto asked him, Jack leaning over.

Pete knew they were only taunting them because they were getting desperate, like when they'd been after Rose at lunchtime, which Pete had told his son about on the way back.

"Is Rose ok?" Tony had asked as they'd walked along the harbour.

"Yeah, just a bit upset, more because they tried to tell her lies about Alec.  I think Alec will persuade her not to take any notice, they'll be ok.  What do you think of her leaving home?"

"Can I have her room?" Tony had grinned.

So now, Pete had stopped to confront Jack and Ianto.

"I'm giving you one last chance to leave us alone Harkness.  This is it.  It'll all be over tomorrow."

"One way or another Tyler, I will get what I want.  I came to offer you an alternative, to end this."

"It will end, trust me Harkness.  Tony, go on home, tell your mum I'll be there in a few minutes and if Rose's boyfriend is there, don't tell him where I am or who I'm talking to."

"But Dad," Tony objected.

"Go on Tony, I won't be long."

"Yeah Tony, we won't keep him long but don't bring Hardy back with you."

Tony walked the short distance to the house, wishing they'd come back the other way but he knew his dad hated walking up that cliff path.  He went inside to see Rose with her arms around Hardy in the small sitting room and so he went into the kitchen.

"Where's your father Tony?" Jackie asked him, the door still open.

"He's on his way Mum."

Somehow, Alec overheard, even though Rose was busy nipping at his neck, since she'd unfastened another shirt button and taken off his tie, without him noticing.  He took her arms from around his neck and stuffed his tie into his pocket, hoping she'd not un-knotted it.

"Tony.  Where did you leave your father?"

"He'll be here in a minute Alec, chill."

"Tony, do not play games with me.  Rose, come with me and bring your phone.  If I see him near Harkness, you call the station."

"Tony!  How could you just leave him?" Rose wanted to know as she followed Alec out of the door.

"He told me to," Tony called after her.

Alec looked out, seeing a black SUV at the end of the short street and Pete standing talking.

"Rose, make that call now then go back inside."

"Be careful Alec, please."

"You should be more worried about them.  Tell the desk sergeant I said for him to get a unit up here now."

Rose was already pressing the number for the front desk, which Alec had already given her, bypassing the incident room and the emergency operator.  She was just being answered as Alec approached the car.

"This is Rose Tyler, up at The Beeches, DI Hardy says to get a unit up here now, I think my dad's in trouble."

"Right away Miss Tyler, what's going on?"

"Two men are arguing with him, DI Hardy's gone to see what's going on and he needs backup."

"I have a unit on it's way, Miss Tyler, stay where you are safe."

Rose intended to as Tony came out, followed by Jackie when she realised what was going on, having closed the patio door and turned off the stove.

"What's happening Rose?" she asked.

"It's Jack and Ianto, Alec's gone to find out.  I already called the station."

At the station, the duty sergeant had just caught two officers who had come back in.

"Get up to the Tyler house, Hardy needs backup, someone's bothering Mr Tyler."

"Sarge, we were just taking a break," the female officer objected.

"Tell that to Hardy if you don't get your asses up there now.  Just you two remember, he's not Hunter."

"Yeah Sarge, don't we know it?" the male officer replied, turning his colleague around.

"I bet it'll be nothing Bob," the WPC said to him.

Alec had stopped just at the side of the car, Ianto seeing him and turning around, nudging Jack.

"Seems like you can't even trust your son Tyler."

"Yes I can, he knew what to do.  You were saying?"

"Might as well hear this Hardy," Jack called, not caring they were out in the open where the neighbours would be coming home.

"Get on with it then leave Harkness, before the patrol car arrives," Alec told him, coming level with Pete.

"I tried to keep you out of this but you'll find out.  Jack here just made a peace offering," Pete tried to explain.

"What sort of peace offering?  Going back to the rock he crawled out of?" Alec asked, hoping the patrol officers had the sense not to have the siren wailing all the way there, not that it was far so they should be here any minute.

"It doesn't matter, I told him no."

"Aw, come on Tyler, tell the man," Jack egged him on.  "If you don't then I will."

"Tell me what?  Is it about Rose?"

"What do you think Hardy?" Ianto asked him, getting him a scowl from Jack.

"I made Pete an offer, half of his plan for the town and I leave him alone apart from one small detail."

"I already told you no Harkness," Pete answered.

"Think about it Tyler, where are you gonna get a better offer?  Just in case you wondered what the small detail was Hardy, it involves your little girlfriend.  Half of what Tyler here has plans for and he gets Rose to agree to marry me, a merger of the two rival arcades."

"What?" Alec erupted, thinking the man had to be joking but he didn't look like he was.  "Are you insane Harkness?"

"No, being practical, my door does open both ways you know and Ianto's agreed not to get jealous, well not too much, we can be a threesome."

"She'd never agree and you know that Harkness," Pete managed to say, hearing a car coming up the other road.

"Then you talk her into it, I did try and get Hardy here out of the way."

"Did you think that was going to put her off?" Alec asked, seeing the familiar patrol car stop on the corner, Bob driving.

He nodded for the officers to stay where they were.

"Can't handle this on your own Hardy?" Jack asked him.

"Just a precaution, so things don't get out of hand.  You've said what you have to say now I am telling you, leave town and don't come back.  The officers there will escort you to Dorchester, make sure you carry on."

Jack just laughed.

"Forget it Hardy, me and Ianto are going back to our room to wait for Tyler's real answer."

"You go back and pack your things, they will wait for you.  I am not playing with you Harkness, now go."

"You can't run us out of town Hardy."

"Yes, I can.  Mr Tyler, did you make that call earlier?"

"Yeah but I never got chance to tell him."

"Tell me what Tyler?" Jack asked, watching as the two officers got out of the car.

"Sir, is everything ok?" Bob asked.

"Yes, just get ready to follow these two back to the pub next to the arcade then escort them as far as Dorchester."

"Yes Sir.  We'll wait in the car."

"Come on Tyler, tell me," Jack urged him, watching the two officers.

"You won't be dealing with me any more."

"Seriously?  You're handing things over to Tony?  Don't make me laugh."

Pete had to let out a smile at his conversation with Harry after Alec had left.

"So, do we have a deal Harry?" Pete had asked him after he'd outlined is backup plan.

"Yes Pete, I like what I've heard so far.  I'll come down on Monday after my legal team have drawn up the agreements.  You are sure you want to do this?"

"Yeah Harry, my family are more important and I'll still have something to do with it although Jackie won't object to me taking a back seat.  You will stay and see Rose and Tony won't you?"

"Of course I will.  Is she still moving in with the detective then?  You did tell him he can hand the keys back for his own cottage any time he wants?"

"Not yet but I will.  They had a bit of an upset earlier, Harkness again which is what prompted my call to you, well partly.  Meet me here on Monday, we'll go out for lunch and sign the agreements."

"I expect you to read them first Pete," Harry laughed.  "You're too trusting."

"Not lately I'm not Harry."

Pete turned to face Jack, hoping he was doing the right thing and doing a deal with Harry, rather than Jack Harkness.

"No but you'll find out on Monday."

"I'm only giving you until tomorrow Tyler."

"No, you are not," Alec said firmly.  "You are finished here Harkness.  You make one more attempt to go after any of the Tyler family and you will regret it.  Mr Tyler made a phone call earlier and trust me, when you find out who it was to, you will be glad to leave."
Chapter 26
Jack and Ianto looked at each other.

"Come on Ianto, we're leaving."

"Go on Harkness, get out of here, you're done."

"But Jack, you said it would be easy to get him to agree."

"Forget it Ianto, I know who he's talking about."

"Good, then you know he means business," Alec told him.

Pete stood back as Ianto started the car.

"I won't forget this Tyler," Jack warned him.

"Tell that to my new business partner Harkness, he won't take too kindly to your threats."

As Jack and Ianto drove off, Ianto wanted to know why he'd given in so easily.

"Because Ianto, no-one goes up against his new partner."

"So who's that then?"

"Only Harry Saxon, heard of him?"

Rose was still watching, keeping her distance and wishing Alec would hurry back to her.  She'd been stupid to believe that moron Jack Harkness over her new boyfriend, she could have lost him but he'd not given up on her, just like he'd not given up on her father.

Pete and Alec were about to walk back towards Rose but Alec stopped him.

"You did make a deal with Saxon then?"

"Yeah, he's drawing up the papers.  I'll explain everything inside, my family need to know why I'm doing this."

"You did well to stand up to Harkness as long as you did but you are doing the right thing.  Broadchurch is not the south of England's Blackpool, well so your daughter informed me."

"So, where did you think I had plans for?" Pete asked, placing his hand on Alec's shoulder as they walked back to an impatient Rose.

"Where those apartments are on the esplanade."

"I guess it was Rose?"

"I said it was.  What did they include?  Another arcade, casino?"

"Much more than that Alec, much more but the town will stay peaceful, you have my word.  Now, don't tell Rose what Harkness suggested, she's been through enough, agreed?" Pete asked as they stopped, Alec seeing Rose with her hands to her mouth.

"Agreed, I have only just got her to agree to still move in with me on Saturday, I don't want to set her off again.  Do you think we are being hasty?"

"No, now go tell her you love her and it's all over.  Oh, and don't worry about your cottage, just give the keys back when you're ready."

"I take it you talked about it again?"

"He wants to meet you, I persuaded him to wait around on Monday so come for dinner, not tea, I'll get the housekeeper to prepare something special.  Don't worry, my wife won't be cooking.  What's for tea?"

"Fish pie I believe.  Excuse me, someone is waiting for me."

Alec went up to Rose and put his arms around her and kissed her as Pete walked past.

"It's over love, Harkness is gone."

"For good?  How did you manage that?  Did you run him out of town?"

"No love.  Your uncle Harry did, sort of.  Your father has something to tell you all."

Over tea, Pete explained how he'd talked his old friend into buying most of the business, Pete retaining twenty five percent, enough to keep his home and his family together, paying off the mortgage early, which pleased Jackie and allowing him to take more time off.

"Just one question Dad?" Tony asked, Rose looking at him.

"No Tony, I don't expect you to take over, I've already told Wayne, now they'll be no more trouble in Weymouth, Harkness won't dare take on my new partner."

Rose made her excuses and went to pack what she needed then changed her mind, packing as much as she could then Alec could move it with his things.

Alec knocked on her bedroom door.

"Hey, I wondered where you had got to.  Not changing your mind?" he asked, seeing the almost full suitcase on the bed.  "Oh, I can see you haven't.  Got enough?"

"I thought it would save me coming back on Saturday night, I can just finish off on Sunday, you said you had a surprise for me?  Was it that uncle Harry's taking over dad's business?"

"No love, though I am looking forward to meeting him.  I hope you have not tried to get tickets for the music festival?"

"They sold out within minutes of going on sale online.  I was gutted when I tried when I got home, they were all sold out weeks ago.  Why?"

"Leave that to me love, I hope you like Scottish bands?" he asked her, going for a kiss.

"Alec, come and see the view from my window."

He followed her to the window, putting his arms around her waist and kissing her neck.

"We will get just as good a view from our new cottage."

"I know but this is the last time I will see this one."

"You are not regretting this are you?"

She turned back to him, opening another shirt button, revealing his hairy chest.

"No, never Alec.  How can you forgive me for asking you about Claire Ripley?"

"Rose, forget it love, it was Harkness.  You never would have asked me on your own if he had not suggested it."

"You know I'd never do that Alec.  Do you still love me?"

"Yes, I still love you, Miss Tyler.  Now, you are not going to get anything else in that case, unless it is bigger on the inside?"

"Like a Mary Poppins bag?"

"Something like that or something that when you open it goes into another dimension."

"Alec, I'm getting worried about you."

That night, they forget about what had happened earlier, Rose sighing under her lover, who was taking his time over her.  Friday passed without incident, Alec still meeting her at lunchtime then he went to sort out the music festival and having the nerve to ask for two tickets and a backstage pass to meet his old favourite band.  He did have to make a compromise to get them but Ellie smiled, knowing he was trying to please his girlfriend.

On their way back to the station, she invited him and Rose for dinner.

"Not Monday night Miller, her parents will have a visitor."

"Right, Tuesday then, no excuses.  I heard you were moving again?"

"Yes, I am moving in with Rose tomorrow, how did you know?"

"You told Madge in personnel, big mistake."

"Can't a person have any secrets in this place?"

"No.  I wanted to warn you, that thing over Rose.  I think Harkness was trying to get to you, not her.  Think about the accusation of you having an affair with a murder suspect?"

"It's over Miller, Harkness is out of the picture.  I can't tell you how it happened, just be glad he is.  He won't go after me, he has no reason and he'll be going up against someone with more power than me."

"I thought you were the highest power around here?" Ellie laughed, passing the arcade.

"Stop it Miller and no, I am not telling you where I am moving to, you'll only go telling Martha Jones or your annoying nephew."

The next morning, Alec agreed they would still meet for lunch, then he would pack and go collect the keys at the agreed time.

"So, who am I meeting again?"

"Someone called Susan Wright, she cleans all uncle Harry's properties.  Did I mention he owns that hut up on Briar Cliff?"

"That brown coloured one?  No Rose, I am not going to live up there."

Rose giggled, kissing his bare chest then getting out of bed.

"Oh no you don't, come back here you."

"You are going to make me late Alec."

"I will take you up there, relax love.  I got those tickets for you for tomorrow and a backstage pass.  Rose, I will introduce you to the best Scottish band to have ever existed."

"Oh, I think I know who they are?  500 miles?"

"Yes, you know of them?  Are you a fan?"

"No but I think I might just be beginning to.  I love you Alec."

So Alec packed after he'd dropped her at work, got bored and went for a walk on the High Street to wait for her getting out of work.

"What am I going to do with you?" Rose asked when she'd greeted him just after twelve, relieved her two co-workers were both busy with customers.

"Keep me happy?" he smiled as she got into his car. 

While he'd waited for her, he'd spotted a menswear shop and went to look around, getting himself a red, grey and blue long sleeved t-shirt and a pair of jeans that Rose would probably think were a bit 'snug' for want of a better word but it would please her no end.  Now, he wanted nothing more than to keep on pleasing her and tonight, they would be in their first home together.  After he'd taken her back, he found an off-licence, got a bottle of good wine and then drove down to the supermarket and got a few groceries to last for a few days.

He remembered to take the other route back, the crowds would be arriving for the first day of the festival but he was actually looking forward to it, having Rose with him would make him feel like he was sixteen again and back in Scotland, going to his first concert, the group they were going to see tomorrow.

Just before the arranged time, he was about to cross over to where the cottage was when he saw Martha walking on the beach.  He hoped she wouldn't see him, he thought she was finally gone from their lives.  Luckily, he sneaked around the corner of the apartments without being seen, a lucky escape and knocked on the door.  A small woman with a sour disposition answered the door.

"Are you Alec Hardy then?" she asked, looking him up and down.

Alec went in his top pocket and brought out his ID.

"You have to sign for the keys, I don't want any trouble."

"Fine.  Where do I sign?"

She disappeared back inside and came back with a set of keys and a notebook.

"Show me that ID again."

Alec gave a little smile and opened his ID card again, the woman scanning it then looking at him.  He thought she would have made a good police officer.  Satisfied, she handed him the book and a cheap blue pen and he signed where she indicated, thinking everyone had gone through this, including Saxon's wife's relatives.  She looked at his signature and compared it with his ID then handed him the keys.

"I'll be round every Saturday morning, at ten to clean up, Mr Saxon's orders.  I only come in late when someone's leaving and I stay for two hours so if you're in, you might want to stay out of the way, I do a thorough job, never had any complaints."

"I'm sure you have not.  I will make a point of getting out of your way, I may have to work anyway."

He didn't but he could always find something to do.  The woman picked up her shopping bag and left, just nodding as she passed him.  He locked the door behind him and looked around the kitchen, finding it neat and tidy, the woman was obviously good at her job then.  He went upstairs into the small bathroom then the back bedroom with twin beds, well that wouldn't be used, not at present.

He walked across the small landing and into the larger bedroom, the mauve curtains looped back and the matching roller-blind halfway down.  Everything was either cream, such as the walls or mauve, well some of it was purple.  He imagined Rose would be pleased, what he'd seen of her room was pinks and reds.  He went back downstairs into the living room and finding the right key, opened the door onto the decking, putting a hand on one of the chairs and looking around.

It was better than the patio he had where he'd been staying, now all he had to do was get everything down those stupid steps and he had Rose's case to carry as well but he was going to be lazy and pile everything into the back of the car and drive the short distance, since he'd passed a parking spot that was reserved for the cottage.  Then he had a better idea, since it was now almost two and thought if he just brought the groceries over and some small stuff, Rose could help him with the cases.  Walking back up the steps to his old place, he heard someone calling behind him and carefully turned around.  It was Martha, just when he thought he'd got away with not being spotted.

There was no way he was having a conversation a dozen or so steps up and he was not going back down so he just ignored her and carried on, thinking she wouldn't follow but she did, calling after him.

"Just let me explain will you?" she called.

"Go away Martha, there is nothing to explain," he called behind him, reaching the cottage, Martha catching up with him.  "You are wasting your time, you know I am with Rose," he told her, hoping no-one was watching and getting his key out, not that he was going to open the door with Martha there.

"I wanted to say sorry, for delaying you last Saturday night."

"Rose could have been hurt, you delayed and you think apologising helps?"

"I saw you two in the paper, I thought you were just putting on a show for me."

"Go back down the steps, I am not having any conversations with you about Rose and myself, we were not putting on any show, she is moving in with me today so you had best stay away.  If you want to apologise, go tell her, not me."

Martha was about to turn as Alec opened the door to the cottage.

"She wasn't hurt though, she fought back.  Do you know what it's like to have her steal men from under your nose?  She does it every time.  I moved down here from London because that was what my sister used to do, then I find I walk right into the same situation with Rose Tyler."

"Maybe you try too hard?  Men do not like being chased Miss Jones, the attraction has to be mutual in most cases but sometimes you have to accept the fact whatever you feel, the other person does not respond.  You are too persistent, you should back off once in a while."

"So with Rose, it was mutual?"

"Yes, we both flirted with each other in her father's arcade and that was all it took, I had already decided to pursue her before I went to the hospital that afternoon, which was why I said no when you asked about the dance.  I know DS Miller encouraged you but I had not told her of my meeting with Rose earlier that day."

"Oh.  Well, I'll be off then but if you hadn't met her earlier, would you have gone with me?"

He knew he was going to hurt her feelings but what else could he do?

"Sorry but no, I would still not have gone with you, in fact, I would not have gone at all, I am not one for going to dances normally but I made an exception.  Rose made me see I should get out more."

With that, he went inside, leaving Martha to think about what he'd said and it made her feel like throwing herself down the steps because she'd been rejected yet again.  Maybe she should take the advice of trying her luck with Mickey Smith, what had she to lose?

Alec was watching out of the window as Martha walked back to the road and disappeared out of sight, then he went to gather the groceries plus things from the fridge and freezer and began the process of taking everything down to the car, leaving just the cases by the kitchen door.  It had taken him two trips already and although he was reasonably fit, it had been enough.  He was just putting everything away when Rose called him so he went to sit out on the decking.

"Hello," he answered, in his sexy Scottish accent that Rose said she loved.

"Hi, have you moved in yet?"

"Yes, I am in the process but I am going to need your help love, there are just the cases to bring over."

"I already packed everything Alec, you still need help?"

"It will take another two trips, do you want to wear me out on our first night in our new home?"

Rose would have said something back if Alice hadn't been giving her a funny look.

As they were leaving, Alec parked close by, still not taking any chances Jack Harkness was lurking around somewhere, Alice was teasing her friend.

"I hope you're gonna have a house-warming party?"

"I doubt it.  We've got tickets for the music festival tomorrow."

"Wow, lucky you, they were all sold out, how did you get some?"

"The advantages when your boyfriend is the local DI.  He had in incentive, a Scottish band is the headline act."

"Nothing to do with that phone call earlier?"

Rose got into his car, kissing his cheek and then kissing him properly.

"That's a first love," he remarked, a smile on his face.

"Yeah?  Get used to it, I'm not hiding any more.  So, let's go get our things and settle into our new home then?  Sure you don't want a dog?"

After they'd eaten and Alec had opened the good bottle of wine, they sat on the decking as the sun set over the sea then he locked the door and led her upstairs, their cases still not unpacked properly but neither of them cared.

"So, we are staying here?" he asked, as Rose took his shirt off for him.

"Yeah, unless you want that hut up on Briar Cliff?"

"Very amusing Rose.  I bought some jeans and a t-shirt for tomorrow."

"Wow, where are you hiding them?"

"In the wardrobe.  Do I get a reward for getting them?"

She reached up and put her arms around him.

"What do you think?"

Their first night in their new home turned out to be extra special, well for Alec it was.  He didn't know if Rose had realised she hadn't stopped him when she had been doing, maybe they were both so carried away, sharing a proper home together or the fact Jack Harkness was finally out of the way but she let him continue and he knew he was privileged she had just had her first time with him.

As they lay afterwards, Rose insisting he pulled the blind up and let the moon reflecting off the sea bathe the bedroom in the soft light, she told him how much she loved him as he hovered over her, kissing her delicate skin and telling her she was perfect as she ruffled his hair.

"I can't wait to see you wearing those jeans tomorrow," she giggled.

"Don't you go making fun of me Rose Tyler."

"Aw, I wouldn't do that but I want photos."

There were to be plenty of photos taken as they walked up to the showground the following afternoon, Alec not envying anyone on traffic duty as they walked past and into the main arena, showing the tickets and being conducted to the VIP area.

"Just how did you manage all this, Mr 'you will comply with the law'?"

"I have my ways.  Are you complaining darlin'?" he asked, sneaking a kiss to her cheek.

They had decided to go to the café and have something to eat before setting off, Alec saying he was not going to stand in line for a grotty half-cooked burger that was over-priced.  They enjoyed the musical acts, Rose swaying next to him with his arm around her but when the main act was announced, it took Alec back a few years and Rose smiled at him.

"Bet ya wouldn't have even brought me if they'd not been playing," she teased him as the crowd greeted the band.

"Maybe not love but if it makes you happy being here, it makes me happy."

The band played a few newer songs Alec had never heard before but it didn't stop Rose from dancing along until they announced their last song, the one the crowd cheer at the most and Rose jumped on his back and waved as one of the lead singers announced there was a special guest in the VIP area and a security camera showed Alec on the screen, Rose now clinging hold of his arm and pointing while sneaking photos of him.

"Rose, what have you done?" he asked seriously, looking at her then at the stage.

"Yes, we have a VIP in the crowd today, Alec Hardy, give everyone a wave," the man urged him, Rose grabbing his arm. 

Rose just giggled as the man continued with a stronger accent than Alec himself had.

"We hope you enjoy this Alec, being an old fan of ours from way back when we first got started and you can thank Rose for this."

"How did you manage this?" he asked as the band got ready to play, the camera still on them.

"Uncle Harry."

"I only told you the other day, when did you have time?"

"I didn't waste my morning break yesterday, I called him, he called their manager now hush, this is for you.  I love you Alec Hardy."

As the band played, Rose jumping up and down with Alec's arm still around her and him joining in, waving his free arm and singing to her, the camera still switching back to them, the song came to an end and the crowd cheered as Alec pulled Rose to him and kissed her just as the camera caught him and the crowd cheered even louder, the band also applauding them.

They made their way to the backstage area and the two main band members, Charlie and Craig were waiting to greet them.

"That was quite some kiss you gave your girlfriend Alec," one of them teased.  "Are you two on holiday here then?"

"No, we live here, well I just moved here but it's my home now," Alec replied, still stunned Rose could pull off a stunt like this but that was who she was, amazing.

"Well good luck you two, send us a wedding invitation, we'd be happy to play at the reception," the other brother told him.

They made their way through the crowds, Rose taking him the shorter route to the catering stalls and sitting down on the wall where they had met, not quite two weeks ago when he had, maybe not quite by accident bumped into her in the arcade.  Rose was teasing him, showing the photos she'd taken of the look on his face as he'd realised his name had been called.

"I still want to know how you did that.  Just who does your uncle Harry not know?"

"He knows everyone and you'll meet him tomorrow.  Betcha weren't expecting that?"

"You are very sneaky Rose Tyler and I may just have to do something about that."

"Yeah?  Betcha can't top my little surprise?  I was only saying thanks for getting the tickets but if I'd really wanted, I could have got some, I didn't think you'd want to go."

"Well I did not until I found out they were the headline act.  You would not have gone without me then?"

"Nope, you're stuck with me, ha!"

3 months later


It was the wedding of the year in the sleepy town of Broadchurch and Rose was standing nervously in front of the full length mirror in her mother's bedroom, since Tony had claimed her old room the night she'd moved out.  Jackie was making a fuss, Daisy, Alec's teenage daughter was in her bridesmaid's dress and just as nervous since the two of them had only managed to meet a few times previously.

"Daisy, be a dear and see if the flowers have arrived," Jackie asked her, to assure the teenager she was now part of the family.  "And call me grandma Jackie," she shouted after the girl.

"She's just nervous Mum."

"And you're not?  The cars will be here soon I hope they don't expect us to walk to the end of the street?"

"I'm sure the drivers know how to reverse a car Mum, you should have seen Alec the first time, when it was getting dark."

"I can imagine.  I'm so glad you chose my wedding dress sweetheart, Alec will be stunned when he sees you walk up that aisle.  Shame you couldn't have a church wedding."

"You know we can't but Paul will be there to give us his blessing.  I hope uncle Harry will get here in time."

"He wouldn't miss this sweetheart, you know he wouldn't.  I'd swear him and your dad are like long lost brothers sometimes, maybe he's been hiding something from me?"

Rose smiled.  Daisy came back with Rose's bouquet and handed it to her.

"Rose, do I have to start calling you mum?"

"Oh Daisy, of course not sweetheart, I'd never ask you to do that.  How's my dad?"

"Pacing the hallway and looking at his watch," the teenager smiled.  "He asked me if I was nervous, my dad getting married again."

"Are you?"

"A bit I supposed but he loves you.  I bet he's just as bad."

Down at the wedding hotel a mile or so away in the village of Symondsbury, Alec was pacing the room they had hired for the weekend, him having to leave Rose after their family party there last night and Rose staying in Tony's old room for the night.  Poor Ellie had been persuaded to look after their white poodle Misty, who didn't get on at all with Missy for some reason and Ellie had told her earlier that Fred had never stopped trying to catch her.

Tony, who was Alec's best man and now just turned eighteen, was trying to calm down his almost brother-in-law.

"Chill Alec, at this rate, I'll have to drive you to the registry office."

"You are not driving my car Tony, I don't even let Rose drive it yet, not until she passes her driving test and even I am not brave enough to give her lessons.  How come you already passed yours?"

"Mickey gave me extra lessons but he said he wasn't stupid enough to try to teach Rose."

Alec had to smile.  As much as he loved his almost wife, there were some things he stayed clear of and giving her driving lessons was one of them.  It was almost time as he checked Tony had the rings and he enquired that Jackie was already on her way to the registry office from which it was just a short walk for the guests to the reception at the old picture palace.

Jackie had fussed over the décor but Rose had loved it when they'd been to look around and been shown photos of how it looked, all decorated.  Harry had of course contacted Alec's favourite group and the stage was to be cleared later to allow them to set up for the evening reception while Rose and Alec went off to get changed and people who were only able to attend in the evening could make their way.

As Rose was left alone with Pete, Daisy having gone out to the wedding car, the neighbours watching, he asked if she was ready.

"Yeah Dad, I think I've been ready since the day I bumped into Alec in the arcade."

"Tony told me about that.  I wish I'd been there," he smiled as she took his arm.

"You might have put him off asking me to the dance Dad."

"Oh, I doubt that very much love.  Let's not keep him waiting then, when I called Tony, your future husband was a nervous wreck and if Tony has to drive him to the registry office, he'll be twice as bad."

Alec was still pacing, it didn't help that Mickey was watching him as people arrived at the old Georgian building, half of them he didn't even know but he noticed Harry and his wife Lucy were there, which would please Rose and was the reason the wedding had been arranged for three in the afternoon.

Rose got into the waiting decorated white car and the neighbours waved, most were going to the evening reception as the main one was limited to family and close friends.  As she sat with Pete and Daisy in the back of the plush car, she pictured Alec that day at the music festival when she'd pulled that stunt on him and still wondered how he was going to get her back for it.

She was about to find out as when she got out of the car, everyone had come outside to see her in her wedding dress, Alec had arranged with the traffic division to close the road for a short while and put a diversion in place when her car had arrived and a small regiment of Scottish pipers began to play as Pete helped her of the car.

"Please tell me Alec's not wearing a kilt?"

Daisy began to laugh.  When Alec heard the pipers outside, he knew there was no turning back.  The photographer caught images of her as Daisy straightened the wedding dress and her mother came forward then she took her dad's arm, Daisy picking up the back of the dress.

"I'm ready Dad," she told him as Alec came out from the back of the waiting area and Olly sneakily took some photos of her for the paper.

The registrar greeted them and Pete put her arm into Alec's, who was standing there in the kilt Daisy had brought with her that Rose didn't know about, him having taken it and hidden it in the spare room.

Rose whispered to him, "So, you finally got me back?"


"You knew I would."

"She's all yours Alec.  Care to tell me where you're going on your honeymoon?" Pete asked.

Alec gave him a wicked grin.

"Anywhere except Blackpool."

The End!

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