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Alec Hardy's Happy New Year

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Alec Hardy thought his old boss in Broadchurch was asking a lot. She had conned him into attending a New Year's Eve charity function at a top London hotel hosted by Rose Tyler and her mother and he really didn't want to go but since all expenses were being paid, he begrudgingly agreed. Then he was introduced to Rose herself and he knew his life would never be the same again.






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Chapter 1
Alec Hardy was summoned to his old boss's office the day after Boxing Day and since he'd nothing in particular planned, knocked on her office door just after eleven.

"So, what did you want me for Elaine?" he asked, already regretting it since the desk sergeant thought he was back at work and had handed him a pile of messages.

"Happy Christmas to you too Alec," Elaine Jenkinson half smiled, getting a folder out of the top drawer of her desk. "I'd like a favour Alec, if you will take a look at this folder. The chief constable wants a representative from our area to attend a charity function for the police benevolent fund hosted by the Vitex chairman's stepdaughter, Rose Tyler on New Year's Eve."

"Are you joking Elaine? You threw me out, remember?"

"Yes, I thought you would have got over that Alec, it's been three months and you're on sick pay. It could have been worse, they could have refused to pay you for not declaring there was something very wrong with you so count yourself lucky."

"Why can't someone else attend?" Alec asked, opening the folder to see a press picture of Rose in evening dress smiling for the camera. "Just look at her, who does she think she is?" he asked sarcastically and closing the folder.

"The Vitex heiress?" Elaine grinned. "Read the rest Alec before you slam the folder back in my face? The chief wanted me to go but I have another engagement that night. The hotel the event is taking place at is one of the top hotels in London and headquarters are sparing no expense. A room has been booked in central London, taxi fares will be taken care of and yes, they know it will be double rates."

"That's very generous of them then? Just for one night?"

"They checked that some trains will be running on New Year's Day, someone will send you the details of the times and you can pick up your tickets at Dorchester railway station before the train to London is due on the morning you are leaving. Get a taxi to the hotel and get a receipt and the same from the hotel, in Leicester Square to the venue in Park Avenue and back."

"If my geography is correct, that's quite a ride?"

"Yes, they are aware of that and Mr Tyler himself will reimburse expenses for those who make a claim. It's for a good cause Alec."

"Well I don't get any of it," he grumbled.

"Are you struggling Alec?" Elaine asked him as he looked at the details.

"If I were to say yes? No, I am managing now I don't have that hotel to pay towards. So, everything is paid for? I suppose I can pay for the taxi rides if I am getting it back?"

"As soon as you return, hand the receipts to personnel and I will make sure you are paid. Anything else you want to know?"

Try as he might, he couldn't think of any reason why he shouldn't go though charity events were far from being his 'thing' but it would be one up on Tess and may even impress his daughter, since she followed the Vitex heiress on social media and was forever going on about her.

"I'll go then but under protest. When I come back, will you reconsider me working for a few hours, at a desk or something?"

"I'll see what I can do but it may not be here, the new DI may not take kindly to giving up your office."

"I thought he was only part-time between here and Exeter?" Alec replied.

"Yes, he is and he's almost more grumpy at being here than you were. I suppose you could share some of the responsibility with him, if we can agree something? It may take a while to arrange though and the CMO will have to approve you coming back for a few hours."

"I can't see how he can object. Anything else?"

"No, I'll let you make any arrangements. You'll have to get to Dorchester station on your own."

"I half expected that. Why is there no station here?"

"It closed a long time ago, the government didn't think small towns such as ours needed public transport."

"Typical then. Do you want me to get Rose Tyler's autograph while I'm there?"

"Very funny Alec, even for you. If Ellie Miller was still around, no doubt she would have wanted it. Have you heard from her?"

"Why should I have? I arrested her husband."

Alec got up, picking up the folder. How had he talked himself into this? He didn't even have a black tie let alone a black suit but as long as he wore his dark grey one, he should get away with it and he didn't have to stay beyond midnight, did he?

At the Tyler residence, Rose, was taking advantage of the holiday season and not going into work and was going through the acceptances for the charity event in three days time. Her mother was supposed to have been doing that but somehow, she had got roped into it and she was sorting through the various emails and written invitations that had been returned to the PO box number her mother used.

Jackie had wandered into the kitchen where Rose was occupying the large table and the cook was looking at her, wondering where she was going to serve lunch.

"Hey Mum, I've been going through all these invitations. Everything's set for the night isn't it?"

"Yeah, I talked to the receptionist earlier, everything's ready, you just have to call them with the final number before tomorrow morning."

Rose had just opened an email from the Wessex police and was reading it with interest.

"I don't believe this Mum. Tell me I'm not going loopy," Rose called her mother to look.

"Crikey, I thought he was out on sick leave?" Jackie asked, confirming Rose wasn't seeing things when it read Alec Hardy would be representing the Wessex police force. "Rose, are you sure you can handle meeting him? I mean it's one thing seeing him on TV and in the papers but him being there?"

"I've coped all this time Mum, I can handle it. I'm not backing out now. Besides, I got over it a long time ago, it's not remotely possible the Doctor got here and he's ignoring me, not unless he's had his memory scrambled or something."

"Well that Alec Hardy turned up out of nowhere Rose, during that Sandbrook case."

"Don't be daft Mum, he has an ex wife and a daughter, how can it be the Doctor? Unless he got sent back in time? No, that's me being daft, sorry. Right, I think that's the last of them, I'll call the hotel and give them the final number, I know dad hates paying for more people than will actually be there. Did I tell you about that party here me and the Doctor gate-crashed?"

"Repeatedly Rose," Jackie smiled. "You said it bothered you more there was a dog called Rose."

"Don't remind me Mum. I'd best clear this lot away, Mrs Bridges is looking daggers at me for using the table."

Alec was up early on the morning he was setting off for London. His train was at ten, his taxi booked for nine fifteen since he had to collect his tickets and he'd had several emails with the details of where he was going once he got there and hoped his salary such as he got was in the bank already to pay for the taxis. He had planned on getting back to Waterloo station via the underground after checking it was operating on New Year's Day but on a Sunday service, which he rather thought compared to the rest of the country was normal.

His journey was uneventful, he arrived at Waterloo station and made his way up the escalator and to the taxi rank, giving the name of the hotel in Leicester Square and luckily for him, he didn't get charged double rate for the ride but he knew he would later. He booked in and got his room key and asked the receptionist if she would order a cab for him for seven thirty to take him to the venue.

"Yes, I can try and arrange that for you but it may not be dead on seven thirty Mr Hardy, the taxi companies will be stretched at that time."

"Well can you try and get me one close to that time and let me know?" Alec asked, putting his overnight bag on the floor.

"You said Park Lane, right?" the woman quizzed.

"Yes, I am attending an event there and I need to book one to pick me up from there just after midnight."

"Well I'll ask but seven thirty is going to be difficult enough, you may have to wait there a little longer after midnight, taxis are usually booked well in advance."

Now he was really wishing he'd stayed in Broadchurch.

Rose was standing in front of her wardrobe trying to decide what to wear. She hated these events, having to wear a strappy dress and heels but she was expected to look the part, mingle with the guests and sponsors and have photos taken with them. She hated seeing her picture on the front page of the tabloids even more when it was insinuated a photo she had taken with a male celebrity had blossomed into a romance. She never got that lucky except for those trying to use her to gain some sort of fame for a few days until it all died down.

The time came to meet her mother and Pete downstairs for the car to take them to the event and Jackie had been fussing over her young son and had just beaten Rose to the reception area. They arrived just after seven since Rose was expected to greet all the guests as they arrived, Jake was on the door with two of his Torchwood security team ready to check invitations and 'escort' any gatecrashers from the hotel and Mickey was trying to talk Rose into dancing with him later.

"Come on Rose, once everyone's had a few drinks, you won't be expected to dance with every bloke here," he tried to argue.

"Maybe one dance then, if you've not had too much to drink. It's okay for you, I'll have to go easy on the champagne."

"Don't see why," Mickey grumbled as Jackie was watching him.

Jackie nudged her husband.

"Forget it Jackie, there is no way she'll take him back," Pete told her.

"Well I wish she'd settle down Pete, she's not getting any younger and Mickey's tried his best."

"She won't forgive him for staying here when she went back Jackie, you know that."

Alec was standing outside the hotel at seven fifteen, the only time the receptionist had been able to get someone to pick him up and she'd tried just about every cab company in the Greater London area for almost an hour inbetween seeing to other guests requests.

The journey took around twenty minutes since most of London seemed to have gone home to prepare for their own celebrations so asking for a receipt, the cabbie mumbled something back at him about Alec being Scottish but he let go. He walked up the few steps and into the lavish foyer and saw a board to his right leading to a ballroom that had the name of the charity and then saw three men stood by the door, one of them giving instructions.

"Right, you all know what to do," Jake was telling his men.

Jake turned around to come face to face with Alec and thought he was seeing things but Rose had warned him when she'd found out Alec was attending and in no uncertain terms told him not to let on who the detective looked like nor to stare at him.

"Good evening, Detective Inspector Hardy," Jake greeted Alec in his native accent.

"You know who I am then?" Alec had to go and ask, handing the invitation that had hastily had his name added to it by someone in the personnel department.

"Of course I do, I saw you on TV. Well done for catching that boy's killer. Go right in, you're a bit early."

Alec shook off any feelings he had that made him wonder how many others were going to congratulate him on catching Joe Miller and locking him up, hopefully for a very long time. One of Jake's men opened the door for him, taking the invitation from him and Alec wondering how they would recognize anyone going out and trying to get back in again but they wouldn't have a problem with him.

The ballroom was decorated with blue and white lights and a large net held numerous blue and white balloons but until everyone arrived, the main chandeliers were fully lit over the dance floor. Rose was just talking to her mother when she looked around and tried not to faint.

"Rose, you should be at the door with me by now," Pete told her, grabbing her arm.

"I thought me and mum were doing it?" Rose asked him as he led her to the door.

Alec was still looking around for the hostess of the evening and then saw her walking towards him. She was even more stunning than her photographs gave her justice for in her royal blue silky dress and her hair done up and held by a silver clip. The ruffled neckline of her dress showed just the right amount of cleavage to be decent for the occasion but Alec somehow knew she wouldn't fail to be the centre of attention all night and men would be clamouring to dance with her or drag her into a dark corner.

"Detective Inspector Hardy," Pete greeted him as Rose let go of his arm.

"Mr Tyler, a pleasure to meet you. I seem to be early."

"Don't worry about it, you were lucky to get a cab, I hope you have one booked for later?" Pete asked him.

"So do I." He looked towards Rose, who was trying not to get flustered but failing miserably at it despite what she'd repeatedly told herself and her mother. "Miss Tyler, a great pleasure to meet you," he continued as he felt his stomach doing somersaults all of a sudden.

He took her hand and kissed the back of it.

"Nice to meet you, can I call you Alec?"

Although he told everyone he hated the name, somehow it sounded different when Rose said it.

"By all means. May I have the pleasure of a dance later, when you have greeted your guests?"

"Yeah, I'd like that but that could take a while. I mean they'll expect me to stop and talk and dance with the men."

Alec tried not to look disappointed but Rose saw he was.

"Then I will find a table and wait until you are free," he smiled, finally letting go of her hand.

Pete went across to the door as some more guests began to arrive and looked back at Rose. He knew then he was hardly going to see her all night and it would be all he and her mother could do to get her to even talk to the other guests let alone dance with the men, which he suspected was half the reason they had come to the event. Rose was very popular at these functions.

Alec was about to find a table, he had the pick of the empty ballroom but he knew it would get busy and he didn't fancy talking to a bunch of strangers all night and be reminded of who he was.

Rose called after him as Pete was trying to get her attention.

"Alec."

Alec turned to face her.

"Come and rescue me if you see someone dragging me onto the dance-floor or keeping me talking."

Alec took her hand again and didn't see Jackie and Mickey watching him.

"It will be my pleasure to rescue you Rose."

Mickey had nudged Jackie when he'd seen them talking.

"That didn't take her long then," Mickey complained.

"Then do something about it Mickey," Jackie huffed and taking a glass of champagne from the table.

"A bit too late for that by the looks of it Jackie. Why did they have to send him?"
Mickey asked, wondering if Jackie should be drinking this early in the evening.

"How would they know he looked like someone Rose used to know Mickey? Why are you looking at me like that? It's your own fault if you won't do anything about it."

"Rose barely agreed to dance with me later, let alone anything else. Should you be drinking that stuff yet?" he asked as she was about to take a sip.

Jackie put the glass back on the tray. "Get me a tonic water with lemon then, since I'm gonna have to stay sober to keep an eye on him," she relented, eyeing Alec, who had found a table by the wall with just two chairs and was hoping no-one would notice him.

Alec had sat at the table after getting himself a non-alcoholic beer and intending to make it last all night, he didn't like the stuff at the best of times but mixing alcohol with medication was a big mistake as he'd learned to his cost after drinking wine at the Miller house.

He could see the door and watched Rose greeting all the guests, the men all taking their time and he knew she certainly would be in high demand in the dancing department and wondered if she'd really meant for him to rescue her or she was just being polite. What would she be wanting to dance with him for?

Most of the guests had arrived, the ballroom was filling up and waiters were carrying trays of drinks to the tables. Pete had taken a minute to join Jackie, Rose and Mickey after he'd been caught several times by the main sponsors of the event. The DJ was playing music in the background, some guests were already dancing and Mickey saw his chance.

"Come on Rose, before everyone comes over here and asks you," he pleaded with her.

"Rose, I hope you're not gonna sit here all night and be a misery," her mother told her as she didn't make any attempt to get up when Mickey did.

"I'll dance later Mum. Mickey, go find someone else to dance with, I'm not stopping you."

"Rose, you've been looking around for the last hour or so," Jackie told her. "You're not looking for that detective are you?"

She was but wasn't going to admit it. She had spotted him a while back before people had begun wandering around the tables but she couldn't see him now. Alec had done the same and now someone on the table in front had taken the extra chair after asking if it was occupied and he couldn't see her.

Finishing his drink, he decided to go find her but when he saw her, she was getting up to dance with an older man who was a friend of Pete's. He waited until the song was almost over then made his way to the edge of the dance-floor and Rose was just thanking the man for the dance.

"Alec, I was looking for you," Rose greeted him as the man went off. "Dance with me?"

"Do you need rescuing?" Alec asked her as luckily for him the next tune was a slow one and Rose indicated for him to hold her correctly.

Before he knew what was happening, Rose was leaning into him.

"I wondered when you were gonna ask me to dance."

"I'm not much of a dancer Rose," he admitted as they swayed to the music.

One dance led to another and three songs later, Rose was dragging him back to their table.

"Mum, this is Alec Hardy, you know, the detective."

"Mrs Tyler, a pleasure to meet you," Alec told Jackie, holding out his hand.

"Rose, you're supposed to be dancing with the guests," she reminded Rose.

"I am, Alec's a guest," Rose quipped, reaching for her silver chained evening bag.

"Where are you going?" her mother asked as she took her black velvet jacket from the back of the chair.

"To get some air Mum, it's stuffy in here. Alec, would you escort me?"

"With pleasure," Alec replied, slightly stunned Rose had chosen him when the man sat opposite was looking daggers at him.

They headed for the double doors, Rose stopping as people stood up to greet her. Once in the foyer, she saw Jake had disappeared and one man had remained on the door then headed for the entrance.

"It will be cold out there," Alec reminded her.

"I'm not going outside Alec, it was just a bit too warm in there."

Alec doubted that, given what she was wearing but wasn't going to object since she'd chosen to leave with him and mostly everyone would have seen it. After half an hour, Alec revealing how he'd got elected to attend the event, they went back inside and almost bumped into Jake, who grinned when he saw Rose holding onto Alec's arm.

Alec found another table in a corner with just two chairs and helped her off with her jacket. He caught a passing waiter and ordered some drinks and sat opposite her.

"It seems the event is successful," he remarked, not knowing what to say to a gorgeous twenty-something rich blonde who seemed intent on keeping him around.

"Yeah but I have to go on stage soon to thank everyone for their generous donations and the police officers who are attending."

"I hope you won't drag me up there?" Alec smiled as their drinks arrived.

"It's not compulsory Alec. So, where are you staying?"

"In Leicester Square, I hope my cab turns up," he replied, watching her carefully.

"That's a fair bit away? Do you go home tomorrow?"

"They only booked the hotel for one night. I can get back but it will take some time."

It soon reached the time for Rose to be called on stage and Alec really hoped she wouldn't ask him to join her but she thanked everyone without mentioning him and excused herself as soon as she could, joining him back at the table.

"Come on, a few dances before midnight, yeah?" Rose asked him, getting up and holding her hand out.

"You do know about my medical condition?" he asked as she left her jacket but put her purse over her shoulder then headed for her mother's table.

"Look after this Mum," was all she said before dragging Alec towards the crowded dance-floor.

"Well, did you see that Pete?" Jackie asked.

"Relax Jackie, she's happy, just look at her."

"Well you won't have to pick up the pieces when he goes back to that seaside town Pete."

"Leave it Jackie, come on, I'll get some champagne, it's nearly midnight."

Mickey had unsuccessfully asked a young woman to stay on the dance-floor with him and she'd wanted to go back to her friends so he had just come back.

"Have you seen Rose out there?" he asked Jackie as he tried to drown his sorrows with a glass of lager.

"How can you miss her, in the middle with the spotlight on her?" Jackie huffed back.

"Well he's just standing there while she dances around him, holding onto him," Mickey continued to complain.

"Are you two going to stop complaining Rose is actually having some fun out there?" Jake joined in.

"Well said Jake," Pete smiled when he returned. "Honestly Jackie, have you seen her that happy all the time she's been here?"

Jackie had no answer to that, which was something for her. Out on the dance-floor Alec was feeling pleased with himself Rose had chosen to let him stand still while she danced around him. Whatever he had thought about spending the evening at the event and questioning Rose's motives for organizing it had gone out of the window several hours ago.

Now the DJ had stopped the music to announce it was five to midnight – a new year.

Jackie was still grumbling.

"It's a far cry from that new year before Rose met you know who," she said to no-one in particular.

"She never showed up for my party," Mickey joined in.

Rose had stopped and was holding onto Alec's arm as people waited for the countdown. He had been hoping she wanted to sit down but he was feeling okay for the time being but getting out for twelve thirty when the hotel receptionist had been able to arrange his cab to arrive was now looking impossible unless she went back to her parents and the man who had glared at him both across the table and the dance-floor.

"Have you enjoyed the party Alec?" Rose asked him, rubbing her hand up and down his arm.

"Yes, better than I expected. You seem to be having a good time."

"I'll let you into a secret Alec, this is the first time I've actually enjoyed one of these charity functions."

"Is that so?" Alec asked, stroking her other hand that was by her side. "Why is that?"

Rose thought it was rather obvious but humoured him.

"The company and my dance partner," Rose smiled.

"Really? I hardly moved."

The countdown started and at zero, the balloons were let loose and Rose grabbed hold of him, reaching to kiss his cheek but missing.

"Happy New Year Alec."

"Yes and to you Rose, you made my evening more pleasant. I should return you to your table, I have a cab arriving outside at twelve thirty."

"Oh. You were lucky to have got one ordered then. You'd better hope it turns up?"

"Yes, I hope so. One more dance?"

As the tune stopped, Rose was reluctant to let go. Her mother had been right, it was the first time she'd relaxed with a man for a very long time and now it was coming to an end. He was about to take Rose back when she stopped him.

"Will I see you again Alec?"

"I would like to think so but we both come from very different worlds."

Rose thought he'd no idea how true that was.

"You know how to reach me, just call the Broadchurch police station," Alec continued as they stood in front of Pete, Jackie, Jake and Mickey.

"Yeah. Goodnight Alec."

"Yes, goodnight, it was nice to meet you Alec," Pete told him as he stood up, Jake having been over to get Rose's jacket, thinking she would forget it.

"Walk me out Rose?" Alec got the courage to ask her.

"Let me grab my jacket."

Rose lost her courage when they got to the door.

"Bye then Alec, it was really nice dancing with you."

"I will leave you here then?" he asked, sounding disappointed again.

Rose managed to nod, reaching to kiss his cheek but he caught her, kissing the side of her mouth.

"Goodnight Rose, have a great new year."

With that, he let go and walked across the foyer to the main entrance with just a few minutes to spare. Rose turned around to go back to the table but Jake was on his way towards her.

"What are you doing Rose?" he asked, seeing a sad look on her face. "Don't be so daft and go after him," he told her, bringing her evening bag from behind his back.

"His cab will have arrived by now Jake."

"It's the new year, it won't be on time."

Rose grabbed the small bag from him, kissed his cheek and despite wearing heels, ran for the main entrance.

Alec had been waiting just inside the doorway and saw a cab pull up and since no-one was around, assumed it was his. He looked around but Rose had disappeared so he resigned himself to leaving and maybe never seeing her again unless she took the hint and called the station. He intended to tell the desk sergeant to give his number out if she did call.

As he got into the cab after checking it was actually his, Rose had reached the door and saw the cab pulling away from the curb but Alec took one last glance back and saw her watching the car drive off. He opened the glass partition to the driver.

"Can you just go back for a moment?"

The cab driver had seen someone standing on the steps through his mirror and smiled to himself. He checked the road and doing a u-turn, pulled up at the hotel steps. Alec opened the window as Rose was going back inside, she'd not seen the car turned around.

"Wait here, I will only be a moment."

"You're the one paying," the driver stated. "Don't be long, I have another job after this one."

Alec went back inside and called after Rose. She turned around as he caught up.

"Come with me?" he asked, taking her hand.

"To your hotel?"

"Yes, if you don't want to stay then fine but please?"

"You got the driver to come back?"

"Yes and he's waiting but not for much longer. Come with me Rose?"

Rose knew right then that she'd almost let the Doctor go when he'd first asked her and Alec might not come back like he'd done. She took his hand and they walked back to the cab, the driver just looking in his mirror as they got in.

"Still going to that hotel Sir?" the driver asked as Rose rested her head on Alec's shoulder.

"Yes, I will also need a receipt for the cost."

After they got back to the hotel, Rose was feeling slightly light-headed after the champagne but knew what she was doing as she took her jacket off and kicked off her shoes then grabbed Alec around his neck.

"I don't make a habit of this Alec," Rose smiled.

"Neither do I. It will be some time before you can get another cab."

"I could stay until morning then get our driver to collect me," Rose smiled as Alec kissed her neck. "I know there's something wrong with you Alec and you probably hate people feeling sorry for you."

"You are right about that though you don't seem to have been one of those, judging by the amount of time you kept me dancing. I tried to get out of coming here tonight."

"Well I'm glad you decided to attend, you have no idea how many blokes would have asked me to dance, they'll probably all be complaining to my stepfather I was hogged by one all night."

"Then I am only too happy to take the blame. Are you staying with me then?"

"Yeah, I think you might survive," she smiled.

To his amazement he had. When he woke the next morning and Rose was only wearing his spare t-shirt that he'd intended wearing and a pair of skimpy knickers, his first thought was as soon as he got back, he was booking a date for his pacemaker fitting and to hell with the risk.

"Hi Alec," Rose greeted him with just one eye opened.

"Good morning Rose, did I disturb you?"

"Nah, your beard tickles though. You were the only one last night that didn't stop me for a photo or an autograph."

"I noticed though I have a teenage daughter who would die to meet you, she follows you on that tweeter thing."

"Well don't tell her but I have a social secretary who does all that, sorry. Come back with me, for breakfast?"

"In a hurry are you?" he grinned, diving down to pull off his t-shirt she was wearing.

After Alec let her go and Rose got dressed, she called for Pete's driver to collect them and went to face the music and her mother's interrogation but it wasn't as bad as she'd thought it would be.

"You could have called Rose," her mother scolded her as Alec stood back out of the firing line.

"It was entirely all my fault," Alec offered.

"She was supposed to dance and mingle with the guests and you hogged her all night," Jackie accused.

"Mum, leave him, I hogged him all night. Alec, will you stay for lunch?"

"I will have to check on the train times back to Broadchurch."

"Never mind that, I can take you back tomorrow, stay tonight?"

Since his ticket was pre-paid, he doubted the police would know if he'd used the return part. After the celebrations were over and he'd made friends with Tony, Rose sneaked him to her room.

"Don't tell my mum we're sharing," Rose teased him as they prepared for the evening and a few guests, nothing like the night before.

"I would not dare," Alec smiled, glad he'd packed some extra clean underwear in case he'd not been able to get back to Broadchurch.

As the evening went on, they managed to escape and Rose asked him his plans for the new year.

"Seeing my daughter more often if possible and getting my surgery."

"You need a pacemaker?"

"Yes, I keep putting it off, I have no-one to go with me."

Rose took his hand. "Yes, you do Alec, I'll go with you."

The next morning, Rose packed what she needed for a week, saying she could come back if need be. Alec called the hospital before they left.

"Well?" Rose asked him as he put his phone away.

"The consultant will see me on Monday morning, with a view to fitting the pacemaker. I have to be there for seven thirty, in Exeter. If all goes well, I will have it done then."

"That's great. Come on then, I'll just say goodbye."

When they arrived at Alec's riverside home, he apologized the place was cold. He went into his bedroom and putting a sweater on, joined Rose in the kitchen making a hot drink.

"Leave the stove on for a while," Rose smiled as she handed him a mug of hot tea since he'd got her to stop at the store on the way in.

He put the mug on the counter and held his arms out, Rose walking into them. He kissed her forehead as they huddled together until the place was warm.

"So, what have you been doing to occupy yourself then?" Rose asked.

"Going over the Sandbrook case."

"Maybe you need a fresh approach?"

He went to the drawer and pulled out all the folders and stood back.

"I did not ask you here to solve my problems Rose."

"I know but I love a challenge."

After taking a walk to the newsagents and coming back with coloured pins, sticky notes and a roll of green twine, his back wall became an incident board as they pieced things together and by early evening, Rose had a picture of what had happened.

"So, what about the suspect's wife? Where did she go?" Rose asked, holding his arm.

"I know exactly where she is Rose. When her husband comes looking for her, I'll have them both."

Rose smiled. "Want me to pay her a visit?"

The next morning, Alec showed her where Claire's cottage was but she wanted him to stay in the car. Claire though saw him as she answered the door.

"Who are you then?" Rose was asked.

"Agent Tyler, Torchwood. I'm helping DI Hardy with the Sandbrook case."

Twenty minutes later, Rose was back in the car.

"She's such a liar Alec."

"You think I don't know that?"

"Have you ever thought she stole the evidence, trying to throw you off the fact they were both responsible for Pippa's death?"

Alec raised his eyebrows as Rose started the car. "The thought had crossed my mind but why?"

"Something happened to Lisa in their house, Pippa saw or heard it, they needed to keep her quiet and it went too far."

They got back to the chalet and Alec phoned Tess.

"Are you serious Alec?" she asked him. "You got all the files from that case?"

"Yes and now, I have reason to believe Claire Ripley stole the pendant."

"You worked that out on your own?" Tess scoffed.

"Not exactly, I had some help. There is someone I want you to meet."

"Tomorrow then, I want positive proof though and who do you want me to meet?"

Alec turned to Rose.

"Tell her then," Rose smiled.

When Tess turned up the next morning, she got a surprise as Rose let her in.

"So, you're the Torchwood agent?" Tess asked her as that was all Alec had told her.

"Yeah and I can get Claire to talk, I'm not the police, am I?"

By mid afternoon, Claire had given Lee Ashworth up and they had implicated the younger girl's father and Tess and Alec were comparing stories.

"Admit it Alec, you couldn't have done it without her help," Tess chided him.

"I am not saying I could, she deserves the credit. So, you are going back to where Ricky said he left Lisa?"

Tess nodded and was about to leave when Alec called after her.

"I go into hospital next Monday, for a pacemaker."

"Crikey Alec, why didn't you say something? Do you want me to go with you?"

"No, Rose is going with me, tell Daisy."

"Rose is more than a Torchwood agent to you then?"

He turned to see Rose coming out of the room Claire was in.

"Yes, she is."

When Monday morning came around, Rose was waiting for Alec to be seen by the consultant, having been told to get undressed in preparation. As she waited by his bedside, she took his hand.

"So, are you staying then?" Alec asked, squeezing her hand.

"Yeah but we need a bigger place to live Alec."

"For your wardrobe?" he smiled.

"Yeah, well I'm used to living in a larger place but I can compromise."

"Anything you want Rose, just be here when I wake up."

"Yeah, looks like they're here for you."

"Then I will see you later?"

"Not if I see you first," Rose smiled, kissing his forehead.

"You solved that case in two days. I have a feeling it is going to be a great year."

"Yeah? Alec, it's gonna be fantastic."

The End!

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