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A chance meeting

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Rose Tyler and the Duplicate Doctor were together for 4 years before his single heart gave out, leaving Rose with their 18 month old daughter Camille. Rose buys a beach cottage down in Broadchurch, thinking Alec Hardy would have left town but they meet on the way and Camille thinks he's her dad. Alec then discovers he does indeed look like her dad and doesn't take it very well.







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Chapter 1
The day Rose and the Duplicate Doctor got back to London after the other Doctor brought them all back, they promised each other they would never be parted again. He took the name James Noble, after Donna, who if it hadn't been for her, he might have never existed or he wouldn't have her personality, which Rose told him made him so different to his twin.

It wasn't long before they settled down, Rose working alongside James at Torchwood and no-one questioned them but outside work, they tried to keep out of the media. Despite Pete's attempts to quash any speculation, the reporters made up stories Rose was out on the town every night and dating different men.

So the time came they decided to go public and announce their engagement, to keep the newshounds from the door and although James bought her an engagement ring, they never actually did anything about it but to fool the press, Pete announced they had got married in a private ceremony at the mansion.
James though was always camera shy and would never allow any photos of them to be published, his argument being someone may remember his twin from the last time he had been there so Rose had to be content with the photos they took themselves and the few Jackie had hired a photographer to take at their engagement party.

When Rose discovered she was pregnant, they were all over the moon and James was keen to find out what Rose was having and was delighted it was to be a girl, after he'd told Rose about Jenny.

There were many late night discussions about names but they both finally settled on Camille, after their romantic holiday in Paris where she was conceived and he spent all his spare time on the nursery, not letting Rose see it until it was complete. Well he had a bit of help from doting surrogate uncles Jake and Mickey.

James was encouraging Rose all through labour and finally, they were able to take their daughter home but James had not told her he suspected something was wrong with him so he had confided in Pete.

"You wanted to talk to me James?" Pete cornered him on their Christmas visit to the mansion when Camille was just nine months old.

"Yeah. Pete, you can't tell Rose but I think something's wrong with me," James confessed.

Pete smiled. "What? How can there be? You just became a father," he patted James on the back.

James put on a weak smile. "I don't mean in that regard Pete. No, I think there's something wrong with my single heart, maybe it's just my imagination but well, sometimes it seems to be beating like it's trying to make up for me not having two of them."

"Have you been to see Owen?" Pete asked him.

"When Rose watches me like a hawk? Still, now she's not working there any more, I may be able to sneak off to medical," he grinned.

"Good, go see him before you go jumping to any conclusions eh? You have a beautiful baby daughter so stop the doom and gloom."

"Yeah, it's probably nothing and I don't want to worry Rose, she's having a tough time with Camille keeping her awake. She won't let me get up and see to her even though I've got the holidays off."

"You can have more time off if you need it, you know that? Look, why don't I call you in for a meeting and tell Owen to expect you, say the day after Boxing Day? I'll appease Rose for you," Pete offered.

"Thanks Pete but she might not be so mad if her mother takes her shopping?" James smiled.

"I'll tell Jackie to keep her occupied at the shopping mall, they'll be after all the bargains," Pete laughed.

Everyone doted over Camille and since they were meant to go home the day after Boxing Day, Pete suggested they left the baby while mother and daughter went shopping. As soon as they'd set off, Pete took James to the medical bay at Torchwood.

"It's not good news James," Owen told him as he was putting his shirt back on and what made it worse was that he'd met this world's version of Martha Jones and she was still eyeing him up despite the fact he was meant to be married to Rose and they'd just had a baby together.

"Then tell me how bad it is?" James asked him, managing a weak smile at the dark-skinned trainee as she walked off.

"Your heart is trying to compensate James, it's strange though, since the rest of you appears human. Does it sometimes feel like it's going slower or just faster?"

"Just faster at times and no, it's not when I'm lying in bed naked with my partner," he grinned.

"I never said anything," Owen grinned back, holding up his hand in defence. "I'd like you to come in for regular check-ups, I'd say it was heart arrhythmia but since it's only going faster and not slower, it's hard to determine. When do you come back to work?"

"After the holidays, Rose will be kicking me out anyway. She's gone shopping with her mother today, that's why I was able to sneak out."

"She's got you well and truly hooked my friend and don't worry, no-one else here knows about you. Come and see me when you're back at work but in the meantime, if your symptoms worsen or change, call me right away and get to the nearest hospital, I'll put a note on your file for them to contact me."

"Rose will go crazy if she finds out Owen."

"I know but you can't hide it from her forever James, she wouldn't want you to either. Tell her, you're going to need her."

As they spent Camille's birthday together at the mansion the following March, Rose knew she was losing him. Owen had advised him to stop working, which he had no problem with and money was nothing to worry about as Pete kept him on full pay but neither of them knew how long he really had. When Camille had been settled in her cot, they lay together in bed, Rose resting her head near his single heart.

"I wish you wouldn't do that Rose," he told her, kissing her forehead.

"You know I like to sleep like that? It's just a habit now," Rose replied.

"You don't get enough rest, worrying about me love. I'm not giving up just yet, I have you and Camille to think about. Owen thought he might try a new treatment on me next time."

"You already said but there's no guarantee is there?" she asked him.

"Is there with anything eh? Maybe we should give it a try?" he offered.

"Did he say what had caused it?"

"I was thinking about that. Maybe it was when Davros zapped me?" he told her.

Two weeks later, Owen was shaking his head again as he went through the diagnostic readings.

"I could try it James but it's only 50/50 and if it goes wrong, there's no way out."
"What about that pacemaker Owen?" Rose asked him, having left their daughter with her nan.

"Rose, the pacemaker won't work, I already told you that," Owen tried to explain. "Look James, the medication you're on is keeping you stable and since you stopped work and taking it easy, let's leave it a few months and in the meanwhile, I'll keep working on this device and see if I can better your chances."

"Tell me how it works Owen?" Rose asked him.

"No-one knows exactly Rose, it brings up a picture of the heart and you can send a pulse to regulate it, a bit like a pacemaker I suppose, the rest is a bit hard to explain."

"So how can ya work on it?" Rose wanted to know.

"A bit more precision, a stronger pulse, I'll get a full team of experts on it but if it fails? James will continue to have a strain on his heart, I'm sorry, both of you but if the device doesn't work, it will just make him worse, because of the attempt."

"How long do I have Owen?" James broke his silence as he'd fastened his shirt and glad Martha wasn't there, since she'd disappeared when Rose had arrived with him.

"After the attempt, if it doesn't work, a few days, a week at most and you'll have to stay immobilized, either here or at home with a full-time nurse and medical equipment."

"I don't want that Owen, what would be the point?" James asked. "I just want to be with Rose and our daughter."

James put the procedure off a while longer, taking it easy and relaxing by their pool in the warmer weather, watching Rose and his growing daughter as Rose held her in the water, waving at him. Camille was now almost walking, Rose had worried she should be already but her mother told her she'd been late in doing so but Camille was crawling everywhere, often getting herself up by James's legs.

Rose could see it was getting a strain for him to even help the toddler climb onto his lap but she was starting to talk, just baby-talk and James could hold a conversation with his daughter, which made Rose smile and Camille clung hold of the toy dog he'd bought her on their last trip out together.

The day came for James to go to Torchwood to let Owen try his enhanced device that didn't really have a name so Pete had collected them, dropped Camille at the mansion and he'd had a chair waiting for James but he refused and insisted walking down the corridor to medical. As he got undressed behind the curtain, Rose took his things and told him not to worry but he couldn't help but do so.

"Do you think he knew?" Rose asked him.

"You mean the other me, that there would be something wrong with me?" James asked her. "I doubt it Rose. If we still had the Tardis, this would never have got so bad but hey, at least I'm trying to get it fixed and Owen said resting these last months has increased my chances. That's got to count for something love? Now come here and snog me before Owen gets back."

Rose and Pete were waiting at the other side of the curtain as Owen wanted just him and James to be alone, with no distractions such as Rose asking any questions. They were talking quietly as Owen concentrated.

"So Doc, what are my chances?" James joked.

Owen just looked sternly at him. "Better than they were the last time but there is still a chance it won't work and you won't get a second chance. If it fails, well we've been through all that. You won't feel any worse at first but the strain on your already weak heart will be tremendous, like having a massive shock so afterwards, I want you to lie still and let it pass, I'll send Rose in."

Before any of them knew it, James let out a yell and Pete had to hold Rose back.
"It's no use dashing in there Rose, we knew what to expect and it means Owen's taking the shot, so to speak. It will be a few minutes before he knows if it's worked or not."

"It's not fair Dad, I get him back just to lose him again because he can't cope with being human. Did he tell you about when he hid for three months from those aliens?"

"Yeah, you can imagine what he felt when he met the Martha here?" Pete smiled.

Owen had a grave look on his face as he checked the heart monitor he'd adapted for James's condition. James had just opened his eyes as the shock slowly passed.

"Sorry, couldn't help it," James tried to grin. "Well?"

Rose didn't take the news very well as she broke down in Pete's arms. He led her over to James and sat her down, James reaching out to her.

"We knew it might not work love but hey, Owen could be wrong, I could suddenly grow another heart," he joked.

"Stop it James, it's not funny. What am I going to do without you?" Rose asked him tearfully.

"Rose, Owen may have miscalculated how much time I have, I could still live to give our daughter away at her wedding. Rose, marry me, properly, right now?"

"Yes, do you have to ask? You mean here?"

"Yes, I mean here. Get Pete to go find a minister, I don't care if it's legal and binding, I want to hear you say the words, never mind all the paperwork. Everyone thinks we're married anyway and Camille has my name but I want you to change it to yours, when I'm gone, I don't want you having any complications. Promise me?"

"If that's what you want? Dad thinks we should go stay at the mansion, so there's someone to watch Camille while I look after you."

"Yeah, good idea, I want to spend every moment I have left with the two of you. I love you Rose, be my wife, for real, even if it's only for a few days."

"I'll get dad to send for the minister and my mum, she can bring Camille."

Two hours later, Rose was sort of officially Rose Noble but James didn't want the complication of any certificates so Pete said he would take care of everything and as they sat together when everyone had left, James wanted to go back to the mansion. He spent the last week or so lying on the comfy sofa Pete had moved to their room, watching TV with Camille on his lap, smiling at her gurgling when a cartoon was on. Rose sat with them, his legs over hers.

He passed away just as everyone who was gathered around left the three of them, James closing his eyes after telling Rose and his daughter how much he loved them. After the cremation and Rose scattering his ashes in the garden of rest, she got Jake and Mickey to clear out the house and Pete put it up for sale and she moved back home, Jackie trying to comfort her as much as she could but she felt sorry for her daughter.

She had got him back and they were so happy together and Jackie just hoped Rose wouldn't do anything stupid like try and get back to the other Doctor again so in the middle of September, Rose had sold the house and bought a cottage by the sea but Jackie questioned where.

"You can't be serious Rose?" her mother had asked her. "A two bedroom cottage in Broadchurch? What do ya want to go there for? There's just been a murder there."

"I do know Mum, I might have been busy sorting things out but I saw about it. It's just what we need, a fresh start and Camille will love all the sand and the water. I'll keep everything else in storage and take what I need, Mickey said he'd hire a van and take everything down that I need for now and have it ready for us. I need this Mum, I have to get over James on my own."

Her mother wasn't sure about that but Rose had made up her mind. Neither she or Pete, Jake or Mickey had pointed out the recent death of a young boy had been investigated by Alec Hardy, who himself had been through a similar illness as James, was the same age and could have been another twin.

Rose had indeed heard about it on the radio but had never seen any photos of him or seen him giving interviews on the TV but unlike James, Alec Hardy had been suitable for a pacemaker and his daughter had encouraged him to go for it. So he'd travelled back near Sandbrook and she'd gone with him to the hospital and to his surprise, he'd come through it so now, he was at a loss what to do.

As he met Daisy one evening, she was still a bit off with him.

"So, you don't want me to stick around then?" he'd asked as they ate in her favourite place.

"Dad, I said I'd go with you to the hospital but you know mum won't have you back, I've accepted she's with Dave and I'm really sorry I got mad at you over what happened. I know it wasn't your fault."

"Aye, I know Daisy but I think maybe I'll go back to Broadchurch, I rang the chief, she'll take me back when I've passed the medical and I found a place to rent before I came here, not that I expected I'd actually go back, I just thought you might want me around?"

"I'll come and visit you, if you want?"

"Aye, I'd like that. Best get you back then?"

"Should you be driving Dad?" Daisy laughed.

"I never gave up my license, did I? I'm fine, honestly, you fuss more than your mother. I leave in the morning."

"Look after yourself Dad," Daisy told him as he dropped her outside where he used to live.

So the next morning, Rose was strapping her daughter in the baby seat, her cases were in the back of her silver sports model SUV and the day before, Jake and Mickey had got back from furnishing the cottage for her and had handed her the keys, giving her details how to get there and where to park in the resident's car park behind a block of apartments.

"You should have gone to see it first Rose," her mother was telling her.

"Mum, I saw a virtual tour of it, it was like being there and it would have been too much going twice. Mickey said everything's set up for us and he'll come back next weekend with our other stuff, not that we need much more apart from toys and things. Come down for a visit."

"We will and you're coming back for Christmas?" Jackie asked her.

"Yes Mum but it won't be the same, not now."

"I know sweetheart but you said that when you first got here. You made a Christmas wish that first time and look what you got? You could make another one."

"I did, I got Camille," Rose smiled at the toddler, who was talking to her toy dog.

When she got halfway, she decided to take a break and pulled into a service area just as a black SUV with tinted windows followed her so she didn't bother reversing. As she got out and taking no notice of the driver, whom she thought was showing off and making a point of parking next to her, she went around to the back to get the stroller out.

She'd had a bit of trouble with it and had meant to ask Pete to take a look at it and was now regretting not doing so as she put it on the ground and it wouldn't open.
Alec had followed the silver car in after he'd set off and realised he should have stayed for breakfast or at least a drink but he'd got up late and had to pack. He saw Rose struggling with the stroller and glanced in the shaded back window and saw a baby asleep.

"Having trouble with that?" he called out as he saw Rose attempting again to battle with the stroller.

Rose looked up when she heard the Scottish voice and almost dropped it on his foot. She hadn't expected to see who could be her husband's other twin staring at her and attempting to pick up the fallen stroller. She tried to recover but it was obvious she was taken aback.

"Did I frighten you?" Alec asked, going in his pocket and Rose stepping back. "It's fine, I'm a police officer, well I will be again soon, I've been on medical leave. I'm DI Alec Hardy," he told her, opening his ID card. "Let's have a look at this eh?" he offered, going for the stroller again.

"I meant to get it fixed but I've sort of been busy lately," Rose tried to explain, not that the initial shock of looking at him had yet passed.

Then she heard Camille murmuring.

Alec heard. "Go see to your daughter, I will have a go at this. Do you have any lubricant in the back of your car?" he asked.

"Yeah but the can's under all that lot, I wasn't expecting to have to use it," Rose called back to him.

"Well I don't have any in mine, I just hired it a few days ago and this part will not budge," he indicated to the slider.

"Guess I'll have to carry her in then," Rose sighed. "The car seat comes out but it's more of a pain getting it back in."

Alec put the stroller back on top of the cases.

"Going on holiday?" he asked as he closed the back door, since Rose had gone to get her daughter out.

"No, we're moving," Rose replied as Camille was squirming to get out when she saw Alec.

The toddler was now trying to get to him and he instinctively held his arms out.
"Let me take her while you get her things?" he offered.

Rose nodded and getting the baby bag and her handbag from under the seat Alec noted, she locked the doors and offered to take her daughter back but Camille seemed quite happy to stay where she was.

"Sorry about this," Rose told him as she held her arms out and Camille stayed holding the dog by it's ear.

"It's quite alright, I have a teenage daughter, they can be very persistent at this age. Shall we go inside?" Alec smiled.

"Yeah, I have to go change her first, we've been travelling for a few hours."

"I only stopped off because I had missed breakfast, I was visiting my daughter nearby, well amongst other things," he told her as they walked to the entrance.
He didn't think she would be bothered in knowing the real reason he had been there. He carried Camille inside and they located the rest room and baby change station and Rose tried to get her back.

"What's her name?" Alec asked as the toddler looked at him.

"It's Camille, I'm Rose."

"Well Camille, why don't you go get cleaned up with your mum eh?" Alec spoke softly to the toddler.

With that, the youngster held her arms out for Rose to take her.

"That's what her dad used to do, he always carried her and then if she didn't want to come back, he'd say that."

"When you say used to?" Alec dared ask as he passed the young girl back. "Sorry, none of my business," he added as he looked around.

"No, it's fine. He died a few months ago, it was his heart," Rose told him sadly.

"Oh, then I am the one who is sorry for asking. I had a similar problem, I recently had a pacemaker fitted," Alec tried to apologise.

"He couldn't have one, it was complicated. I really have to see to her now," Rose said as Camille was squirming to get away.

"Yes, of course. There is a queue for the coffee shop, may I get you a drink to save you waiting?" he offered.

Rose wasn't so sure about this but he was a police detective. She nodded.

"I will find us a table and a baby chair while you are gone," Alec suggested.

"Thanks, you're very kind Alec, just a latte, thanks. I won't be long."

When she got out, Alec was trying to find a table but Rose pointed to one where she was and he made his way over. He put the cartons on the table and located a spare baby seat, carrying it back.

"Da, da, da," Camille was gurgling before he reached them as she saw him.
"No sweetheart, he's not your dad." Rose told her sadly.
Chapter 2
If her daughter was going to keep doing that with every man who looked like her dad, Rose was going to get nowhere fast trying to get on with her life. She had not expected to have so little time with her new Doctor, they had stood on the beach in Norway, hand in hand as the Tardis had disappeared and he had turned to her and told her he was never going to leave her. Well he had and this time, there was no looking for him and no getting him back.

This universe was playing a cruel trick on her, leaving her with a now eighteen month old baby who wanted her dad back and they'd just met a man who could be one of triplets, not counting the other Doctor as Rose had often joked with James about him looking like a certain actor.

She had heard of the detective who was in charge of finding a boy's killer but hadn't taken much notice of who he was and now, he was smiling at Camille as she tried to get away from Rose again. Alec put the chair down as Rose got up, then reaching for the toddler and placing her in the chair he fastened the belt. Rose went in the baby bag and got some juice and a baby biscuit out.

"So Rose, you are moving from, where, London?" he asked.

"Yeah, a fresh start, my mother smothers me but she means well. I have too many memories staying with her, James and I moved in there when he got really ill so there was someone to look after Camille. He had some treatment but it didn't work."

"I am really sorry to hear that Rose, my condition was the same, they did not know if I would survive or not," he admitted.

"I'm glad someone did Alec. Can we change the subject?"

"Yes, sorry. So, she must be a bit of a handful then?" he asked, helping Camille with her baby cup. "Is she walking yet?"

"Holding onto the furniture and her baby walker. My younger brother has her chasing him with it, he can't get around the fact he's her uncle when he calls my friends uncle."

"I can imagine. Rose, please don't take this the wrong way but I think I know who you are. I may have been in the middle of a murder investigation but I did read the newspapers, well one, that happened to accuse me of being the worst cop in Britain."

"We just put a notice out, well Pete did, there was a press embargo on us, after what happened before we got married. Well, we should be on our way."

"How far do you have to travel?" he asked, Camille trying to give him the remains of the biscuit.

"Down to Dorset. Where are you going?" Rose asked, getting some baby wipes out.

"Back to Broadchurch, to get my old job back," he replied, holding his hand out for the wipe.

Camille pulled a face as he cleaned around her mouth.

Rose wondered if she should tell him but he would see them there. He saw the look on Rose's face.

"I would have thought you'd want to leave there Alec," she told him as she went to get Camille out of the chair.

Alec got up and unfastened the belt and the youngster held her arms out to him.

"Leave her here, if you need to go to the ladies room," he suggested.

"Thanks, if you're sure?"

"We will be fine, go ahead."

When Rose got back, he carried the baby out to the car while Rose opened the door.

"Well thanks Alec, it was nice meeting you."

"You never told me where you were going Rose," he reminded her as he handed Camille to her.

The toddler began to protest. "Da!" Then she tried to struggle back to him.

"Allow me?" he asked, taking her back. "So, why don't you let me fasten you in eh?" he asked the youngster.

Rose watched as he fastened her back in and she hit him gently with her soft toy.

"Sorry, she used to do that to James, he used to pretend to take it from her and make growling noises at her."

Alec thought he was no good at making growling noises to someone's else's child.
Rose continued as she put the baby bag on the floor.

"That's where we're going, Broadchurch," Rose had to admit.

"Really? Why there?" he asked, smiling back at Camille.

"I told you, to make a new start. I bought a beach cottage there."

"The pink one?" Alec had to ask, raising his eyebrows at imagining anyone living there.

Rose smiled as she closed the door. "No, next door, the one in the middle."

"Then I may see you around? I have rented a place by the river. I will have to stick around for the hearing anyway, it seemed as good a place as any. Remember to fix your stroller when you get there."

"Yeah, I will and thanks for your help. Well I'd best get going, I have to drag all my luggage inside then go shopping."

"Rose, I could help you, when you get there. How will you manage to get everything out of your car?" he asked.

"I'll be fine, you've gone to enough trouble already. I can't ask you to help when you've just recovered from surgery."

"Well the offer is there, I will be at the blue chalet, you can't miss it."

"Yeah, thanks. Bye then," she told him as she opened the driver's door, Alec moving out of the way. "Say bye Camille," she told the baby.

Alec leaned down and gave a little wave to her and Camille began chattering away.

"Take care on the road, watch for the roundabout before you reach the town, it is always busy," he warned her. "It was nice to meet both of you."

He stood back and guided her out of the parking space, then Rose opened the window.

"The paper was wrong Alec, you're not the worst cop in Britain, you're the kindest."

With that, he watched her drive off, hoping he would indeed run into her when he got back but she was still upset from her husband's death. She could use a friend though, surely? He could be friends with her, she wouldn't know anyone else in the town but he should keep his distance, let her seek him out. He got back in his car and waited a few moments, he didn't want her thinking he was following her but she was waiting to join the motorway traffic and he caught up with her.

Rose saw him in the mirror and saw Camille was falling asleep again. She knew she should stay away from Alec Hardy, it wouldn't do the toddler any good thinking he was her dad. When she next talked to Pete, she was going to ask him why everyone had failed to tell her the infamous detective looked just like James.

She knew Danny had died a few days after James had passed away so she'd been really out of it but towards the end of the investigation, she'd seen and heard about it. She hoped he wouldn't follow her down to the end of the motorway as she could see him waiting to get out himself but then she saw him passing her.

Alec had decided she would keep to a certain speed in view of the baby and he would be best passing her so as not to un-nerve her any further. He thought she'd looked a little out of it when he'd gone to ask her if she needed any help. He had seen it in the paper that she was coping with the death of her husband and the family had issued a general statement but there had been no pictures of her with him.

He wondered what she had meant when she'd said in view of whatever it was that no photos were ever printed of them. Maybe it was because of who she was men were claiming to have been going out with her when she had been seeing her future husband and he'd not wanted to be branded with being one of them. He did know they had married privately around two years ago, Camille must have been their only child. Funny how he couldn't bring himself to call Miller 'Ellie' when he was already using Rose and her daughter's names.

Rose found out what he'd meant when she came to the first roundabout as she approached Broadchurch, the second one was slightly better and she drove down the narrow road, passing the sign. Following Mickey's directions, she turned into the car park as she reached the harbour and drove around the block of apartments, going to the far end and seeing some parking spaces marked 'Residents only'.

Since using the stroller was still out of the question, Rose could only hope Mickey had left the playpen up like she'd asked him to and struggling inside, she noted the door locked behind her so she went to put the newly woken Camille into it.

"Right, let's get sorted then?" she asked her daughter. "You stay here while I bring the cases in yeah?"

She had noted she could see right to the other end of the short passageway so she could see anyone coming the other way and if the door locked, the baby would be fine for a few minutes at a time. Now though, she wished she'd taken Alec up on his offer of help but it would have been unfair to do so, since Camille, who was sat in the middle of the playpen playing with the toy dog, had kept thinking he was James.

It took a few trips to get everything into the kitchen, including the useless stroller, since the can she'd wanted was empty so she'd have to follow the sign for the superstore she'd seen up on the main road and whilst getting her groceries, get another can. Putting Camille back in the car, she drove back up and locating a trolley with a seat, parked at the side of the shelter.

She soon had everything she needed and realised she was hungry after feeding the young girl and decided the unpacking could wait and carried Camille over to the nearby catering stalls. Once seated, putting the youngster on the next chair, she could see what she thought was Alec's rented home.

It was now mid-afternoon and Alec had been to the mini-market for the few things he needed and having made himself a drink, went to sit outside and saw who he thought was Rose fussing over who could only be Camille. He debated whether to walk over then decided against it but she saw him and waved.

Getting back to her new home, she set about organizing things and elected to take their clothes out of the cases then drag the rest upstairs since Camille had fallen asleep in the playpen. She had forgotten to get the spray can of lubricant and meant to go get some the next day but just after six, there was a knock on the door.

Rose was really hoping it wasn't someone telling her to move her car, she'd told the sales office she had a car and she'd been assured it was fine for her to park where she had. She was just coming downstairs after settling Camille in her cot for the night and wondered if she should be answering it but she had to get used to living on her own.

So putting the chain on, she unlocked the door to find Alec standing there. He'd sat the rest of the afternoon battling himself against going to call on her. He'd told himself to leave her be, let her get settled in and she knew where he was if she needed any help but seeing her earlier had done nothing to help him convince himself. So he'd given in, gone back to the mini-market and bought a can of lubricant and a bottle of wine and found himself knocking on Rose's door.

"Alec, hi. Come in," she greeted him.

"Have you fixed the stroller yet?" he asked, thinking it was a reasonable excuse for calling on her.

"No, the can was empty when I finally got to it and I forgot to get some," she told him, wishing she'd tidied the place.

Alec held up the white plastic carrier bag. "Then allow me to fix it for you?" he asked, getting the blue and yellow can out. "Oh and I thought you may like this," he added as he got the bottle of wine out.

Rose smiled. "How did you guess?"

"When I saw you earlier, you looked like you needed it. The stroller?" he asked, looking around and seeing it in the corner by a tall cupboard. "I will take it outside into the garden or you will smell this stuff for a week. You put your daughter to bed?"

"Yeah, poor thing, she's never really been on that long a journey by car. We went on holiday last year to Brighton, it's not that far from London but she wasn't very old then. That was before James got really ill."

"How long had he been ill Rose?" Alec asked her as he picked up the stroller.

"He realised something was wrong when I'd just had Camille. Maybe if he'd realised sooner, they could have done something more for him."

Alec realised he was on very shaky ground and took the stroller and the can outside and Rose went to make some tea. He was back inside a few minutes later, minus the stroller.

"Best let the smell go away?" he told her as he accepted the mug she gave him. "Have you eaten yet?"

Rose shook her head. "I was gonna order a takeout. Care to join me?"

After their food arrived, Alec went looking for wine glasses and brought out two tumblers. Rose stood in the kitchen doorway.

"Sorry, I should get some the next time I go shopping."

"You have just moved Rose, it is understandable. These will do just fine. Have you done your unpacking?"

"Just about. When do you go back to work?" she asked,trying to make conversation.

"I have a medical tomorrow, then I can go back a few hours a day, just as long as I don't chase any more suspects," he smiled.

"Why, what happened?" Rose wondered.

"You did not read about it?" he asked, a bit surprised.

"I was busy, making arrangements to move, sorry."

"I had another attack and almost died, it brought me to my senses. I asked my daughter to go with me, that was why I was on my way back here today, I had to stay resting for a few days. What happened to your husband Rose? Could they not do anything for him?"

"They tried, it was complicated. You won't tell anyone who I am, will you?" she asked as he poured the wine.

"Of course not, who have I to tell?" he asked, opening the door to the decking. "You should not leave the key in there Rose."

"I know, I was just standing outside with Camille earlier. I'll take her on the beach tomorrow, she'll love it here."

They stood against the railings and drank from the tumblers for a while, Alec not wanting to upset her any further.

"I am sure she will like it here. Well, I should let you finish unpacking. You know where I am, if you need anything."

"Yeah, it looks nice there. Thanks for fixing the stroller," she told him as they went back inside and Alec locked the door.

"My pleasure, I only wish I could have fixed it earlier for you," he told her as he sat by the window.

"My friend Mickey must have used all the can up the last time he checked the car over for me. He used to be a mechanic."

Alec got up to leave. "Very useful. Keep it, I will get another for my car, you may need it again."

"Alec, maybe I'll see you around the harbour?" Rose asked as she got up with him.

"Yes, no doubt but you should make some friends Rose, you should find it easy. At least the press have left town now."

"Yeah, I made sure they had, my friends bought all my stuff down yesterday, they can spot a reporter a mile off."

"Well watch out for the local one, he's the nephew of my old DS," he warned her.

"I'll remember that, thanks. Goodnight Alec."

Rose thought she should let her mother know they had arrived safely but not that she'd met Alec Hardy.

The next few weeks, Rose settled down to life in a small seaside town, taking Camille for walks on the beach and around the harbour. The youngster was fascinated with all the boats and they would sit on the harbour pier for hours, it was just at the end of the short passageway but she often wished there was a way down onto the beach from the decking and thought about asking Jake or Mickey to find someone to make some steps for her.

It was four weeks before she saw Alec again to talk to. He would wave if he saw her walking past his riverside home when he'd finished work but she'd not seen him the last week or so and thought he must have got more hours. One afternoon, she'd taken her daughter to the end of the esplanade and they'd watched the waves below foam over the rocks.

For the middle of October, it wasn't really that cold so she stopped on the way back at one of the other catering stalls opposite the police station to get a drink and enjoy the last of the autumn sunshine. She looked up from helping Camille with her baby cup to see a woman sitting down at the next table.

"What a cute little girl," the woman told Camille, holding her hand out.

"Thanks, looks like you're expecting one, or a boy?" Rose asked politely.

"A girl, I had a scan. I have a while to go yet though. How old is she?"

"Nineteen months, just about. She's still teething and driving me nuts," Rose admitted.

"My other two were just the same. Is she your only one?" the woman asked her.

"Yeah, my husband died a few months back, we only had her."

"Oh, sorry, I had no idea. If you don't mind me saying though, I thought I recognized you."

"I thought no-one would down here," Rose sighed. "It was bound to happen though and I got warned to stay away from the local reporter."

"Olly's not too bad now it's all died down but I can't forgive him for starting a lot of what happened here."

"Oh, what did he do?" Rose asked.

"Released my son's name before the police did," Beth told her sadly.

"Oh, you're Danny's mum? I'm sorry, my husband died at the same time, I was well out of it," Rose apologized.

"Sorry, it must have been difficult for you, with the baby? You are Rose Tyler, right?"

"Yeah, guilty. I came down here to escape my mother, she means well but she was driving me crazy."

"My mum's not well, not since the funeral, I'd just been to see her and thought I'd get some fresh air before I went home. Seems we have a lot in common?" Beth asked her.

"Yeah, someone told me I should make some friends."

"Well, I'd like to be friends with you, I lost my best friend, her husband killed my Danny."

"Oh, that must have been awful. I still don't know that much about what happened. Why don't you come over sometime or we could meet somewhere? I live just next to that pink cottage."

"Yeah, I'd like that Rose. I'm Beth. Watch out, here comes DI Hardy, though he's not been as bad since he got himself fixed."

"Yeah, we've met. Hi Alec, how are you?" Rose asked as he approached the tables.

Camille spotted him and held her arms out to him.

"No sweetheart, you stay there for now," Rose told her but the toddler was trying to get to him.

"Hello Rose, Beth. Hey there little one, where are you tryin' to go eh?" he asked Camille.

The youngster made a noise and grinned at him, covering her mouth with the baby cup.

"She seems to know him," Beth smiled.

"Long story. Come and join us Alec," Rose encouraged him.

"Can I get either of you a refill?" he asked, taking Camille's hand and blowing into it, making her laugh.

"Yeah thanks, another latte," Rose replied.

Beth shook her head. "Not for me, I should be getting home. Nice to have met you Rose, I'll call in sometime."

Alec went off for drinks and Rose was thinking she should go change her daughter but she could probably wait until they got home.

"How are you doing Rose?" Alec asked when he sat opposite her and Camille tried to hand him her cup, which he took, looking at Rose.

After the last time he'd visited Rose and taken her the bottle of wine, he'd hardly seen her, having decided to respect the fact she was trying to get over her husband's death and she wanted some time to herself but he had missed the young baby. She reminded him of when Daisy had been that age, before things had gone sour between him and Tess.

"Oh, you know, getting on with things. I'm starting to like it here, we go for walks and sit and watch the boats and she likes to watch the swans on the river. We've not seen you in your cottage, are you still there?"

"Yes, I increased my hours slightly so I have been finishing later. You look tired," he observed.

"Yeah, she's teething again, I should get her something."

"Yes, you are no good if you are getting your sleep disturbed, trust me. Are you going home?"

"Yeah, we've been out a while, I should get her back and get her tea."

"What about you? Tired of baby talk?" he smiled.

Rose managed a smile back. "James was the expert in baby talk, he teased me he had a degree in it. He'd sit for hours with her when he got really ill, they used to fall asleep watching TV but he'd never let me take her."

"Then I must remind your daughter of him a lot then? I don't mean to be rude Rose but there are no photos of you and your husband to be found anywhere."

"You've been looking me up?" Rose asked him, thinking she should be annoyed about it.

"I was concerned about you and I wanted to know what had really happened to him but you were right, you really did keep him out of the press."

"When we started dating, it was in the news every week that I had a different boyfriend and they even got some men to say they'd been out with me, which was a lie. There was no-one else after I met him so we got engaged and made it public but Pete wouldn't let the press near us and he had the power and the money to do it."

"So you got married quietly, with no fuss?" he asked, picking up Camille's toy dog.

Rose nodded, she wasn't ready to tell him the truth just yet. Camille was playing with her toy dog again having taking it from Alec.

"May I walk back with you Rose?" he asked as she finished her second drink.

"Thanks, she'll like that, won't you sweetheart?" she asked the toddler.

"May I?" he asked, going for the handle of the stroller.

"If you don't mind being seen?" Rose smiled.

"I am quite used to small town gossip. I asked you if you were tired of baby talk, you never answered me."
Chapter 3
They set off across the harbour.

Rose answered his question. "Yeah, a bit, I talk to people on the pier when we go and sit out, they make a fuss over her."

"Do you like Chinese food? I could bring some over later," he asked as he pushed the stroller.

"Yeah, I'd like that, thanks. Look, if you're not busy, maybe you could stay and keep Camille amused for an hour while I sort out my laundry?"

"I would be happy to, I'm sure we'll find something to keep her amused."

After Rose had put her to bed, Alec went out for some food and Rose got the remainder of the wine out of the cupboard. She still wasn't ready to be any more than friends with him but she was dying for some real adult conversation that didn't involve her mother asking how she was coping. While he was out, he'd called at the mini-market and got something to sooth Camille's pain from teething.

"If she wakes up, just rub that on, then you will both get a good night's sleep. I've been through it Rose, I do know what it is like."

"Thanks Alec, you always seem to be coming to my rescue."

"It's what I do Rose, I try to help people so please, don't think anything of it. I understand you are still trying to get over your husband but Camille seems to have accepted me. I really don't mind she wants to keep coming to me but I thought you may think it too much?"

"No, she likes you and she was used to my friends being around."

"Ah but did she keep calling 'Da' to them?" he smiled, taking another drink.

"No, sorry, she wasn't really talking much then anyway. She only used to chatter away to James."

"You said he had a degree in baby talk," Alec smiled, noting she'd got some wine glasses and pouring more into hers.

She didn't even try to stop him. "Don't ask me how he seemed to understand her," Rose smiled.

"My ex wife said I should have learned how to talk to our daughter. Still, they soon pick up the odd word or two and before you even know it, they are asking you all kinds of things."

"I suppose so and I'm sorry she seems to go to you a lot."

"Don't apologise Rose, there is no need. She is too young to understand I am not her dad. Does she not go to your friends?"

"We don't see much of them now, they have a fair way to travel. I can't believe I've been here over a month already."

"Time soon passes, I have been back at work a month and my chief will still only let me work six hours a day. I don't know what she thinks I may do," he smiled.

"Chase another suspect? I'm sorry I didn't know much about the case when I first met you."

"You had other things to worry about than what was going on down here Rose. You seem to have made another friend anyway, in Beth Latimer."

"Yeah, you said I needed to make some but we talk to a lot of people while we're out and the woman in the icecream kiosk makes a fuss over her, not that we've gone there the last week or so, it's turning a bit colder now."

Alec finished his drink and decided he shouldn't overstay his welcome.

"I should make a move, my cottage will take some warming up since I left the heating off."

"Sorry, I waylaid you when you were on your way home."

"You looked like you needed the company and don't forget to use that gel if Camille wakes up."

"I won't, thanks. Night then and I really enjoyed some adult conversation."

Alec got up to leave, hoping it wasn't too cold over in his chalet but what did he expect when it was next to the river? He just hoped he wouldn't need a boat to get to it during the bad weather or he was in real trouble. Rose got up to walk him to the door and surprised him by kissing his cheek.

"Thanks for the company Alec."

"You are most welcome. I will see you around again but maybe you won't be sitting out as much?"

Rose smiled at him. "As long as it's not raining or snowing, we go out at least for a few hours and we've started going in the café outside the police station, if it starts to rain. They make a fuss over Camille."

"I can imagine. Well goodnight Rose and if I see you when I am leaving, I will maybe join you?"

"Well if you see us? The people who work there may get the wrong idea if she goes to you. I wonder what Beth made of it earlier?"

"I would not worry about what other people think Rose, I thought you would already know that?"

"I did, until I lost James. Sorry, I'd best let you get home."

Alec was reluctant to leave, not just because he would have to wait for his chalet heating up but he seemed to have made her sad again, something she certainly didn't need. It was another two weeks before they spoke again, Alec had got another hour at work, with another review in a few weeks time after he'd gone to see the chief.

"I can't let you back full time yet Alec," she had told him. "You can start going over the Latimer case if you want something else to do? Make sure nothing was missed out, we've no idea when it will go to court and then as long as he doesn't change his mind, it should be over in a few minutes."

"How can he change his mind?" Alec asked her. "I caught him with the phone in his hand and he confessed."

"Yes, I know that but we have to be careful, since you arrested him then called for back-up. You should have just cautioned him then arrested him when other officers arrived. We all know it was difficult Alec and you were running out of time but you had best hope it does not backfire on you."

Having been suitably warned, he'd gone off and had wandered out onto the veranda with a mug of tea in his hand just as Rose was passing on the other side of the road. He wished he had the nerve to shout across to her but it wasn't very fitting to do so and what would she think of him? He'd only seen her passing his chalet once or twice the last few weeks, she knew where he lived yet never called in but who could really blame her?

If he kept the door open though while he was in over the weekend, she might take the hint and cross over the footbridge and figure out how to reach the chalet but who was he trying to fool? She was a young mother trying to raise her daughter and get over her husband's untimely death and she certainly didn't need him around when her daughter thought he was her dad.

He had begun to wonder why the youngster was still doing that, after seeing him only a few times and that day he'd stopped next to them in the service station, the way the little girl had taken to him had been rather unusual and it had been quite by chance he'd followed them into the car park.

He went back inside and tried to get back to work and wondered if he should casually call and see them but he'd now run out of excuses to do so. He didn't want her thinking he thought it okay to just drop in whenever he wanted although he'd already extended that invitation to her to call in on him but she'd seemed to have declined it so far.

On the Saturday though, they bumped into each other in the main supermarket and Camille had immediately wanted him to take her out of the trolley seat so they had gone into the café. It was now the end of October and Rose was thinking about winter clothes for her daughter and had decided to go down to the next town to the larger superstore to get them.

As Alec brought the tray to the table, Rose having put Camille in the baby chair, he asked how she was.

"We're both good thanks. I was going down to the larger supermarket tomorrow to get Camille some winter clothes."

"They grow so fast at that age," he smiled at the toddler. "Would you like to meet for lunch tomorrow, when you get back?"

"Oh, well I was going to go look around the town as well but maybe we could meet for tea?"

"Say around four in the harbour café then?" he asked as Camille offered her baby cup to him.

Alec just smiled and handed it back.

Once the groceries and Camille were in the car, Rose leaned back on the door as Alec stood with his shopping trolley.

"See you tomorrow then?" she asked.

"I look forward to it. Take care."

He waved to Camille as Rose opened the driver's door.

"Dada," Camille laughed, holding the toy dog out to him.

"She wants you to make it growl," Rose told him.

Taking the dog, he attempted a growl, which some of his work colleagues would say he barked orders at them anyway and Camille grabbed the toy from him but Alec pulled back on it and growled again, making her laugh even more.

"Bye little one, you be good for your mum eh?" he told her as he let go of the toy.

"Sorry she called you that," Rose apologized.

"Not to worry. Bye Rose."

He waved them off then put the groceries in the back of the car, now looking forward to the following afternoon. When Rose got home, she wondered if Alec would find an excuse to come over but he was sat at home thinking maybe it wasn't such a good idea to invite himself over when she'd agreed to meet him the next day.

After getting what she needed from the store in the way of winter clothes and tights for Camille the next day, they walked through the precinct and looked in some of the shops then Rose made her way back to put everything away to go meet Alec. She was just walking to the end of the block of apartments when Alec was coming the other way.

She had let Camille walk a little and as soon as the young girl saw him, she wanted to go to him, holding an arm out for him to pick her up. He did so and carried her inside, Rose going for the baby seat and Alec fastening the youngster in securely. After some tea and scones, they walked back to Rose's cottage, holding Camille between them.

"Sorry about the mess Alec," Rose apologized as toys were all over the living room.
"It's fine, she has to play, don't you eh?" he asked Camille as he put her on the floor to take her coat off.

"Can you watch her while I make her something to eat?" Rose asked him, taking the coat from him as he held it out.

Rose went off and Alec wondered what he was going to do to keep a growing baby amused but Camille handed him another dog that when switched on walked across the floor and she set off after it, sitting near the playpen as the toy dog made a yapping noise. After her tea, Camille wanted to go back to him and Rose switched the TV onto the cartoons but as Alec sat with her daughter on his lap, Rose couldn't help but be reminded of James.

"Do you want to stay for something to eat?" Rose asked him, clearing a lump in her throat.

"I should be getting back, I don't want to be in your way," he replied, sensing it was bothering her.

"You're not in the way Alec, it's nice to have some company. Beth's called over once or twice, I've not met Chloe yet though, Beth was going to ask her if she'd babysit for me sometime if I wanted to go out but where would I go?"

"It's no good staying in on your own all the time you know?" Alec smiled as Camille watched the cartoons.

"Yeah, I know but I'm not ready to be chatted up in a bar. Come on you, time for bed," she told the young girl. "Say goodnight to uncle Alec."

"Da!" Camille turned to him and trying to stand up.

To Rose's surprise, when she came back downstairs, Alec had been in the cupboards and found the pasta and had the pan on a low heat, the jar of pasta sauce on the counter top.

"Someone's been busy?" Rose managed to smile.

"I thought I would make a start, I would only be on my own cooking for one if I went home. If you take Chloe up on the offer, maybe you would like to go for a drink with me next Saturday night?" he dared to ask as he leaned against the counter.

"I can ask, Chloe might not agree though since she doesn't know me."

"She knows me," Alec grinned.

"Maybe but she might get the wrong idea," Rose grinned back.

When the meal was ready, they sat down after Rose got the rest of the wine out, there being just enough left but Alec insisted on clearing away the dishes with her despite Rose's protests.

"So, you will ask about Chloe's availability then?" he asked, thinking he'd best not overstay his welcome.

"Yeah, if I give her enough notice. I enjoyed your company tonight."

"I see you passing my place sometimes, why do you never call in?" he asked as he got up.

"I don't want to bother you and have Camille calling you 'Da' all the time."

"I'm sure no-one would think anything of it. Maybe we could meet one afternoon in the café in front of the police station?" he suggested.

"Well if you can put up with us? How about Thursday? What time to you finish?"

"I will be finished at four, I work a bit longer now. Thursday then?"

"Yeah and I'll ask Chloe. Night then, thanks for helping with dinner Alec."

"My pleasure. It will be getting colder soon though, you may not be going out as much."

"Oh, we will, unless the weather is really bad and then we'll just go for a drive somewhere. I think they have some indoor shopping centres in Exeter, it'll get us out for a few hours."

"Well maybe next Sunday we could go out, before it gets really cold?" he dared ask, hoping he wasn't seeming to be too pushy.

"Yeah, maybe but you might have had enough of me on Saturday night?"

"Rubbish," he smiled, wondering if he dare kiss her cheek.

Thinking it might put her off for good, he backed off but Rose kissed his cheek instead.

"Night Alec, see you on Thursday."

The next day, she bumped into Beth, who introduced her to Chloe.

"Nice to meet you Rose," the teenager told her, making a fuss over Camille. "Mum said you might want a babysitter sometime?"

"Yeah, are you free on Saturday night?"

"Sure, got a date?" Chloe smiled.

"Not exactly, more of an invite since I hinted I'd no-one to go out with."

Beth smiled. "Stop being so coy Rose. She's friends with DI Hardy Chloe."

Chloe also smiled. "There's hope for him then?"

"It's nothing," Rose insisted. "Camille's taken a liking to him and she misses her dad. We're just friends."

"For now," Chloe giggled, going to tickle Camille, who wanted to be off.

That sorted, Rose finished getting a few things she needed and walked down the path to the esplanade, wondering if Alec was in his office or out somewhere but she'd told him Thursday and she was already edging out of her comfort zone with him. For the next two days, they managed to get out for a few hours and on Thursday, they set off later, just settling down in the café when Alec walked in.
Camille struggled to get out of the stroller and Alec unfastened the strap.

"Hello there Camille, you are in a rush to get out eh?" he asked her. "Hello Rose, how are you?"

"Fine, work been keeping you busy?"

"Yes, I've actually been out a few times. I should get back full time soon enough. This one keeping you busy?" he smiled as Camille was hitting him with the soft toy.

"She's waking up a bit with teething."

"Aye, they tend to do that. Just keep rubbing that gel on. I should go get a drink," he told her, trying to hand Camille back.

When they'd finished, they walked back across the harbour and Alec indicated he should go home.

"See you on Saturday night then?" he asked her, bending down to Camille. "Bye little one, be good."

"Dada," she called to him, holding out the dog.

"You started something last time," Rose smiled as he took the toy.

"I can see that."

Saturday came around and Rose was trying to decide what to wear after putting Camille to bed. She'd seen Alec at the supermarket and Camille had surprised them both as they sat in the café.

"Mama, da here," Camille giggled, holding her hand out to him.

"Stop it Camille, sorry Alec, I keep trying to tell her. I thought she'd have realised by now when we don't see much of you."

"It's fine Rose, she will grow out of it soon, it's not like I see her all the time. Can I ask though, why did she take to me right away, the first time we met?"

Rose knew the answer but dare not admit it. "I've no idea but I'm trying to teach her that her dad's gone away, which seems to be making her worse," she told him as Camille grinned at him when he gave her the cup back.

"Well never mind, at least you are trying."

So now Rose was waiting for Chloe to arrive, hopefully before Alec got there. Once in the pub, they had a few drinks and Alec hoped she was going to relax around him.

"So, how about going out for a few hours tomorrow Rose?" he asked her, his arm around the back of the seat.

"Yeah, why don't you come over around eleven? We can go up to the next town."

"That would be nice, Camille can see some different boats eh?"

Just after ten, they walked back over to Rose's cottage and Alec didn't think it was such a good idea just yet to invite himself in when Chloe Latimer was there.

"Goodnight Rose, I had a pleasant evening."

"Yeah, me too, thanks. See you tomorrow?" Rose asked.

This time he did lean down to kiss her cheek. "I look forward to it."

Once inside, Rose was grateful Chloe didn't ask too many questions as she'd arranged for Mark to come and collect her.

"Thanks Chloe, sure I can't pay you?" Rose offered.

"No, it's fine, as long as you enjoyed yourself?"

"Yeah, I expect that's because I spend most of my time with a nineteen month old toddler?" Rose smiled.

The next day, Alec drove Rose's car up to Lyme Regis and they walked around the harbour and the shops, Alec staying outside some of the time and Rose showing him what she'd bought which included a pair of bright boots for Camille and a scarf for herself. Once back home, Alec decided he should leave before both Rose and Camille thought he was overstaying his welcome.

"We had a great time Alec," Rose told him as she put Camille in the playpen.

"She seemed to enjoy herself when she got out of the stroller," Alec smiled as the youngster played with her toys. "Maybe I will see you during the week?" he asked hopefully.

"Alec, its not a good idea, it will just encourage her even more if we start meeting you after work. Look, if you want, why don't you come out with us next Saturday, maybe we could go to Weymouth?"

"Yes, I would like that Rose, I would have called on you but I was not sure about it. If I might be so bold, would you come out again and spend the evening with me perhaps? Maybe next Saturday night when we get back from Weymouth?"

"That might be a bit much Alec. How about next Friday night, over at the pub? Chloe said she'd babysit again, not that I've had anywhere to go."

"Yes, that would be good, just a few drinks again? We could get something to eat as well though?"

Rose agreed and once Alec went off Rose called Chloe.

"Yeah, I can come over on Friday night for a few hours. Got another date Rose?" the teenager asked cheekily.

"Don't tell your mum but Alec asked me out for a drink again."

The teenager had to laugh. "Thought you were just friends?"

"We are and don't you go reading anything into that Chloe Latimer," Rose joked. "It's just a few drinks and it's been a long time since I actually went out. Can I trust you not to say anything?"

"Yeah but if you make a habit of it, my mum will ask questions."

Friday though wasn't the only time they were going to see each other that week as on the Thursday afternoon, Alec had been called out to the harbour in the afternoon and Rose was just getting back from a walk as she approached the passageway to her cottage.

"Hi Alec, been somewhere?"

"Yes, there was an incident at the end of the pier but it was soon sorted. How are you both?"

Camille was asleep so Rose indicated for him to go inside with them and made some tea.

"Do you have to get back to work?"

It was already after three so he got his phone out and told the desk sergeant he was calling it a day.

"Guess that answers my question then?" Rose asked. "I got Chloe to come and watch Camille tomorrow night."

"Good, I look forward to it. Maybe we can have a meal while we are there, if it's not asking too much?"

"No, I'd like that, Chloe's coming at seven but I told her I'd be back by ten and I've insisted I pay for her to get a taxi back home, she won't take anything for babysitting."

Just then Camille stirred in her stroller.

"Mama, go to dada?" the young girl held her arms out to him.

"She's still doing that, sorry Alec."

Alec smiled and went to unfasten the straps. "I am getting used to it but it may be hard to explain if she keeps doing it while we are out. Rose, do you trust me with her?"

"Of course I do Alec, why wouldn't I? Why are you even asking?"

"I wanted to be sure, if you ever feel like a few hours on your own?"

"Thanks Alec, I really appreciate that. Can you get her in the chair while I get her tea ready?"

He ended up staying as Rose made them a simple meal and Alec saying he would have been more or less cooking the same but as he felt he should be leaving, he asked if she would let him cook for her one night.

"Get Chloe to come over and I will cook for you at my place?" he dared ask.

"Yeah, I can ask her, she fell out with her boyfriend so she's in most evenings. Mind you once Beth has her baby, I expect I'll have to find someone else to watch Camille."

"Well I already told you I would be more than happy to do so. Goodnight Rose, I will see you tomorrow night then?"
Chapter 4
It was raining the next day so to pass a few hours, Rose just went to the supermarket for a few things and did some browsing then went home to get ready for her evening out, choosing a black sparkly dress with thin straps and a black velvet jacket to go under her winter coat. Chloe arrived just before seven, Camille already in her cot.

"I could have put her to bed for you," Chloe told her. "She knows me by now."

"Yeah, you have my number though in case she won't settle again and I've left that gel if she needs it. She seems to have settled down for now with her teething."

"She'll be fine Rose, I'm getting practice for when my baby sister arrives. Mum swears she's going to come early, the way she keeps kicking."

Rose smiled. "Yeah, my husband was checking every five minutes when I was having Camille."

"You must miss him Rose?"

"Yeah but he made me promise I wouldn't get all gloomy, well not all the time."

"You seem to be getting on well with DI Hardy," Chloe grinned.

"We're just friends Chloe, we don't see each other that much."

"Nigel said he saw the two of you yesterday, he was fixing someone's boiler across at the apartments."

Rose had failed to see the blue van she knew was Chloe's dad's.

"We often see each other while we're out Chloe, we don't always stop and talk though."

Chloe smiled. "Mum said she was talking to you when she first met you and he came to join you. She said Camille wanted to go to him?"

"Yeah, I can't seem to get her to stop doing that," Rose smiled back and checking her phone was on as she put it in her small shoulder bag with the gold chain.

"She must like him then or does she think he's her dad?"

Rose knew she had to be careful how she answered that. "She's just at that age, he doesn't seem to mind too much."

"Well have a nice time and don't worry if you're not back by ten, just enjoy yourself for a change."

"I'll try, just give her a drink if she wakes up."

Alec was just setting off to walk over the footbridge to the pub on the corner, wishing he'd said he'd walk across for her. At least it was dry weather even though it was cold and he wondered whether to invite her back to his chalet or not but thought he'd see how things went. They got to the pub at the same time as Rose was crossing the car park in front of it.

"Hi Alec, seems I'm just in time?" she smiled.

They found a corner table and Alec got them a menu, Rose taking her time looking at it.

"We could go some place else?" he offered as she handed it to him.

"No, it's fine, I'll have the special.

"That's two then," he glanced at the menu, since the special was listed in large letters so he didn't need his specs.

After their meals, Alec thought he'd be at a loss what to talk about apart from her daughter and getting over her husband but Rose wanted to know what had brought him to Broadchurch.

"After Sandbrook, I had a limited choice as to where I could be transferred. I promised the main suspect's wife I would hide her somewhere, she is just down the coast a bit but I hardly see her. She gave evidence against her husband and she is afraid he will come looking for her. I had no idea I was going to walk into another murder."

"You had a tough time, I read up about it recently. So, have you seen your daughter again?"

"No, she calls me, when she remembers. Do you miss your family Rose?"

"Yeah, especially my little brother, I'm looking forward to going back for Christmas. I'll have to think about getting all my presents in a few weeks, now we're in November. I wish there was an indoor shopping mall somewhere."

"There are several in Exeter, so I have been told. Maybe we should go there tomorrow instead of Weymouth?"
 
"I couldn't ask you to traipse around the shopping malls with us Alec," Rose smiled.

"How are you going to get the stroller in and out of the stores eh? I would be quite happy to go with you."

"No, we'll just go to Weymouth, then at least we can go for a walk on the seafront afterwards."

"Well, how about you go off to Exeter on Sunday and I will stay here with Camille? I could take her out if she wants?"

"Well if you're sure?"

That agreed, they walked back over to Rose's cottage, though Alec wasn't sure about Chloe Latimer seeing them go back together.

"She was fine Rose, she had some milk then went back to sleep. Had a good time?"
 Chloe asked as Rose took off her coat.

Alec had tried not to stare at her all evening and had failed miserably at it since her scooped neckline never seemed to reveal anything and he was hoping she may let down her guard and lean over. Rose called a cab for Chloe and Alec said he would walk her over to the car park. As they waited, Chloe was dying to know if they'd enjoyed themselves.

"It was a pleasant evening, thank you for looking after Rose's daughter."

"Ah, as soon as she said you'd invited her out, how could I resist? She said you two were just friends though."

"Aye, we are just friends so don't go spreading any rumours eh? Rose doesn't need that just now Chloe. Here comes your cab."

"Yeah, she even gave me the money to pay for it," Chloe grinned as the cab pulled up.

Rose was making drinks when he got back inside even though he'd not indicated to her was actually going back, it had just been assumed he was. As he tapped on the door, he was getting more nervous. They'd seemed to have made a little progress while they were out, well he thought he had, telling her something about his past. He still wished she would talk to him about what had happened though, she was still reluctant to let go.

Rose let him in and they went to sit down, Alec putting his arm across the back of the sofa.

"Why not put some music on Rose or are you tired?" he asked, finishing his drink.
"No, I'll find something. I had a nice time tonight Alec, thanks."

"You must get tired of cooking for yourself?"

"Yeah, James stayed away from the kitchen though, he was always breaking things."

Alec didn't know what to say. "Tess said the same about me," he smiled as Rose got up.

"Can I tell you something Alec?" Rose asked as she chose a CD she thought was suitable, if he were to ask her to dance.

"Of course, you can tell me anything Rose, who have I to repeat it to?"

As the music started, Alec got up and held out his hand.

"Care to dance with me?" he asked.

Rose nodded and took his arm, she was beginning the steps of crossing over from being his friend to something more romantic and she knew it. She knew though she should try to resist a little longer, she still missed James very much. She tried to keep her distance but as the second tune played, he put his arm around her.

"Relax Rose, I won't bite," he smiled.

"Yeah, I know but I just feel guilty sometimes."

"Of what? You are trying to move on Rose, I know that, I thought having a friend would help?"

"It does Alec, really. I wanted to say, about what was said in the press about me and James. Pete only put that story out to keep them quiet. We didn't get married then, we only married a few days before he died."

"I see. Well I cannot blame you for keeping things quiet, I have been in the papers more than once myself. So you just got engaged then?"

"Yeah, it never mattered to us, even when Camille came along. He had some treatment Alec and it made him worse."

"I am sorry to hear that Rose, was it experimental?"

"Yeah, something at Torchwood, that's what we used to do Alec, we worked at Torchwood. We knew it might not work but we had to try, he was already getting worse at that point."

"They thought I would not survive," he said quietly as another tune started.
He took a chance and pulled her nearer, making Rose lean on his shoulder.
 "I don't expect you to forget him Rose but please, let me help you?" he asked.

"I want to move on Alec but sometimes I think it's too soon, it's only been a few months. How long am I supposed to wait before I can?"

"When you feel comfortable Rose, that's the only answer since there is no set time it takes someone. Having a good friend helps."

He led her to the sofa and they sat down.

"How did you get over your divorce Alec?" Rose asked him.

"Work but that is not the answer for you, you have a very beautiful young daughter to think about. My situation was very different to yours. Life is unfair Rose, I was like him, I had heart arrhythmia but you mentioned his was only fast, not slow?"

"Yeah, he used to joke maybe he was meant to have two and the one he had was trying to make up for it."

Alec smiled. "I used to wake up after the nightmares of finding that young girl in the river."

"So you were both suffering at the same time but you had no-one?" she asked him, hovering her hand over his heart. "I used to go to sleep after him, listening to it racing."

"He was a very lucky man to have you Rose," Alec told her, taking her hand and placing it on his chest.

Rose flinched slightly and tried to pull away but he kept hold and Rose could feel his heart beating steadily.

"I know it is not fair he was taken from you Rose but let me try and assure you, I am not going anywhere."

"That's what he told me, when we met again. We knew each other before mum married Pete, we got separated but when he came back, we both knew we never wanted to spend time apart again."

That was as near to the truth as she was willing to go.

"He left you again though and that is what you are afraid of now?"

"Don't Alec, please?"

"Then what are you afraid of Rose?" he asked her, leaning forward until their noses touched and he put a finger on her cheek.

"Stepping over the line I drew, my comfort zone. I can't do this Alec."

He nudged with his nose again and Rose tried to turn away. "Yes, you can Rose, you have to cross that line sooner or later."

"I feel like I'm going too fast Alec."

"No, we can take this as slowly as you want Rose, you need someone."

He moved slightly and tried to kiss her but she tried to back away. He put his finger on her chin and tried again, this time, their lips met very briefly but then on the third attempt, Rose began to relax, so he thought but she pulled away again.

"I'm not ready for this Alec," she almost cried, leaning into his shoulder.

"You never will be if you do not try Rose, trust me."

He tried again, touching her cheek again as a tear ran down it. Rose knew she had to try to move on but how could she, with a man who could be her husband's twin and she could never tell him?

"Shush Rose, let me help you?" he asked, brushing her cheek.

He leaned her against the cushion, putting a hand out on the arm of the sofa to avoid leaning on her, the other arm around her shoulders and went to kiss her again.

"I hate being on my own Alec," Rose confessed. "He promised he'd never leave me again."

"I know and I am sure he did not want to. How long had he known Rose?"

"I found out just after Christmas last year, when he'd been for some tests. He said he didn't want to spoil things, our first Christmas as a real family. He told Pete before though, he arranged the tests."

"He maybe thought it was nothing, that was how I started. He had a reason to want to get well again."
"You didn't? No-one was there for you Alec."

"Shush, I am still here," he assured her, brushing her lips with his finger and Rose kissing it.

He nudged her again and she let him kiss her a little longer but her own heart was racing. She knew her comfort zone was fading away and she was out of her depth. After she'd lost the Doctor and until getting his twin back, there had been no-one and now, she could back away or try again with another man who looked like him. Was the universe actually trying to get things right this time?

"Alec, I don't know how much longer I can do this, being on my own."

"I know, I was the same so I buried myself in the job. Believe me, working does not make things any better. My daughter kept me going, just like Camille gives you a reason to go on."

Rose let him dry a tear on her cheek. "What's her name Alec?"

"It's Daisy and yes, tell me about me making friends with a woman called Rose?" he smiled.

"Can I tell you something else? James, well he had loads of degrees, everyone called him The Doctor. I used to call him that when we were on our own."

"You will never forget him, you have your daughter. You look tired, when was the last time you slept properly eh? I know all the signs, I used to wake up in a cold sweat before I got myself fixed. Would you let me stay tonight, to see you get some sleep? I can deal with Camille if she wakes."

"I don't expect you to see to her Alec."

"You are doing neither yourself or her any good if you are tired, you said you trusted me."

"Yeah I do trust you Alec. If you stay and you go see to her, she'll get used to it."
"We can deal with that. You said you made sure James was okay before you went to sleep, let me do the same for you?"

"You'd do that? Just let me sleep?"

"Aye, I would Rose, you and Camille are becoming part of my life. I miss you both when I don't see you for days or even a week and it bothers me. I try to think of excuses to come over but I ran out of them and you said it was not a good idea to start meeting after I get out of work."

"Yeah, I'm sorry I said that Alec, Camille would get used to it."

"Would that be a bad thing eh?" he asked as he tried to kiss her again.

Rose was still all mixed up but having someone with her after all this time wouldn't be such a bad thing. If she had to get over James, at least Alec knew what he was up against. Once upstairs, they both checked on the sleeping youngster, Alec resting his hand on Rose's shoulder.

"Does she always sleep with that globe on?" he asked, pointing to the glitter globe that hung over the cot.

"Yeah, my mum got it for her, it's a nice soft glow if she wakes up. I'll just use the bathroom, you go into the bedroom."

"I will have to go back in the morning, to get changed before we go out," he told her as Rose went to the bathroom.

Rose stood looking at herself, her cheeks still wet and red from the tears. Alec had been a good friend when she needed it and she just hoped she wasn't going to spoil things by saying anything but he was a detective, he was bound to start asking a few more questions. She just had to hold him off a bit longer and hope Camille wouldn't call him her dad for much longer.

Alec kept his word as he sat up in her bed but him having no t-shirt on did not help Rose try and forget it was Alec and not James who was waiting for her.

"Sorry, I should have worn a t-shirt," he smiled as he apologized.

"Don't worry about it, I was married, well technically. We never did the paperwork, we sort of got married in a rush, after the treatment failed. We were married less than a week."

"You loved each other, whether you had a piece of paper or not, that is what counts. Just sleep Rose, there is no pressure with my being here. You don't have to keep checking on me, let me look after you."

Rose settled down facing him and fell asleep but when she woke up, she was alone. She thought maybe it had been too much for him and he'd sneaked out but then she heard Camille laughing at something.

"You are going to wake your mum," Alec was telling her as she jumped up and down clinging onto the side of the cot, holding out the toy dog for him to growl again, which he thought he was getting better at.

"Gen, Daddy," Camille was laughing.

Rose stood in the doorway to see Alec in his shorts and his shirt half fastened.

"I told you you'd wake your mum," Alec told the young girl. "Sorry, we woke you."

"It's okay. Hey you, who's making all that noise?" she asked her daughter, Camille trying to get her toy back as Alec was gently hitting her nose with it.

"Mama! Daddy give back?"

"I'm really sorry she keeps calling you that. No Camille, it's uncle Alec."

Camille sat down after Alec gave her the toy back.

"It's fine Rose, she is too young to understand and you were right."

"About what?" Rose asked, getting a clean disposable pair of nappypants from the drawer and some clothes.

"Rose, I can't keep seeing her and not expect her to think that I'm her dad, I asked you why you avoided me during the week, she is getting used to calling me that."

"I tried to warn you Alec. Come on, let's get you dressed Camille."

"I will go and make her breakfast, what does she have?" he asked.

"Chocolate Readybreak, not too hot."

"Sounds good, I may steal some from her," he grinned, leaning down to pick Camille up and handing her to Rose.

"When you get dressed," Rose smiled at him with his shorts and bare feet.

"Yes, well I was unprepared for a sleepover. Feeling better?"

"Yeah, thanks. Don't let us stop you," Rose smiled, looking down at his bare feet and his hairy legs that weren't bad for a man's.

"You find this amusing after you slept on me last night?" he asked.

"I did? Oh, did I move?"

"You could say that, I only just got out when I heard Camille on the baby monitor and then only because you moved."

"Oops, sorry, James used to say I hogged the bed and the duvet, you should have just moved me."

"That would be defeating the object of me staying, waking you up, eh Camille?" he asked the toddler who was trying to get back to him.

He went off, wondering if he had just started something neither of them could finish. Rose had sprawled herself over him at some point, which had been nice when he woken up but forced him to devise a way of getting from under her when he'd heard the youngster talking to her toys. He'd made some of it out but unlike her dad, he didn't have a degree in babytalk but he'd heard da and daddy a few times.

He could only surmise Rose was trying to teach her to call him uncle Alec but was clearly fighting a losing battle with it. Rose got her daughter dressed then took her downstairs and put her in the baby seat.

"You get dressed Rose, I will feed her," Alec suggested. "Is this all too much for you?"

"A little but I'm trying not to let it bother me. I'll make some toast when I come back down."

After breakfast, Alec went home to get changed, saying he wouldn't be long and they were soon on the way to Weymouth, parking just by the railway station.

"I should start thinking about presents," Rose told him as he put Camille in the stroller after waking her up.

"Well you go wander around, I can take care of her for an hour or so. Is it a bit early to be Christmas shopping?"

"You sound like James, he hated doing it."

"Well getting dragged into shops playing Christmas music in November is enough to put anyone off, eh Camille?" he asked, taking the baby bag out of the back seat and putting it over the stroller handle.

"They're not playing Christmas songs yet are they?" Rose smiled as he locked the car and took the stroller handles.

"They start earlier every year," he told her as he saw a large department store and a passageway at the side and assumed that was where the shopping area was.

Rose put her arm in Alec's and they walked off, Camille chattering away to her toy. Alec told Rose to go ahead and look in some shops while he headed into the department store.

"I need a few more things if I am going to stay over," he smiled as Camille looked at the trimmings that were already up in the precinct.

"Okay, we'll meet in an hour? Do they have a coffee shop here?" she asked as they stood near the doorway.

"I expect so, I will make my way there, Camille and I will go look at the toys. Go on, we will be fine won't we princess?" he asked Camille.

"Don't buy her anything Alec, there's really no need."

"Aye, we can just see what she wants for Christmas then?"

"If you want. Alec, are you okay with this?" she asked as they moved to one side away from the entrance.

"Yes, you go do your Christmas shopping Rose. What are your plans anyway?"

Rose had been talking to her mother about arrangements for the holidays and it had been decided she would travel up to London on the 23rd and if the weather was bad, Mickey would come down for them.

"We're going back to London for the holidays. What have you got planned?"

"I may go and visit my daughter on Boxing Day, I have yet to arrange it with her. So now are you going shopping?" he asked as Camille held her cup out for him to take.

"I can see when I'm not wanted," Rose smiled, bending to kiss Camille's forehead then going to kiss Alec's cheek.

"Be good baby," she told Camille. "Alec, don't let her call you dad or daddy."

"She seems to have other ideas," Alec grinned as Camille began to say 'Go daddy'.

"Sorry, I'm gonna have to get her to stop doing that."

If Alec were to admit it, he quite liked it but wasn't sure he should tell Rose if she wanted him to take the role, he would consider it carefully. The idea was growing on him and it was quite appealing.
Chapter 5
Rose had almost forgotten what it was like to go around the shops without either being limited to the ground floor or getting frowned at by other shoppers for taking the stroller in so she almost got carried away and forgot she was meeting Alec and Camille in the department store's coffee shop. She had at least got something for Tony and her mother in the way of presents although when she thought about it, maybe Alec had been right and it was a bit early.

They had exchanged phone numbers in case one of them got delayed so as Alec got himself a drink and got Camille's juice out of the baby bag, he looked around to see if Rose was making her way to the corner of the store.

"Where's your mum got to then eh Camille?" he asked the toddler as she took the cup.

"Where Mama?" Camille asked him as she smiled at him.

"Let's find out shall we?" he asked her, getting his phone out. "Hello Rose, where are you?" he asked when she answered.

"Sorry, I got a bit distracted, I'm on my way. You two been okay?"

"Yes, we have been fine and I did not buy the whole toy department although they were probably watching on camera."

"Sorry, I'll be there in a few minutes. Did you get what you wanted?"

"Yes, you may have a house guest again tonight," he smiled at Camille, who was watching him.

"Who says I'll object?" Rose smiled to herself.

After Rose made a fuss over her daughter, who squirmed as Rose tried to shower her with kisses, Rose went to get a drink and told Alec what she'd bought.

"Well we will take everything back to the car then go for a walk along the seafront before the sun goes in," he suggested.

As they walked along, Camille fell asleep again and Rose walked with her arm in Alec's, stopping at a café to get something to eat, which Camille woke up for and shared some of Rose's, then they walked towards the little park at the end with the carousel, Camille pointing to the horses.

"Take her on Rose," Alec suggested as the ride was stopping.

"Aw, it's okay, we'll just watch."

Camille had other ideas as she tried to get out of the stroller and pointed again.
"Go Mama?" the young girl asked.

Alec saw some other strollers by the control desk and went to get Camille out.

"Here, take her, the stroller will be fine over there," he pointed to the others.

The ride came to a stop and taking Camille from Rose, climbed the few steps and then indicated for Rose to get on the front part of the horse, putting the girl in front though it was a tight squeeze. He then climbed on the back after getting some money out of his wallet but there was no charge for Camille.

Since the ride wasn't yet ready, he got off again and took a photo of them.

"Wave Camille," Rose told her as the girl was looking at the other horses and the lights and to see where the music was coming from.

"Camille, look over here," Alec told her, trying to get her attention.

Rose whispered in the girl's ear, "Smile for daddy," and Camille looked up.

She knew it was a mistake, what if he didn't really want the job but it had got Camille to pay attention though the last few months had been hard work trying to convince her young daughter that Alec wasn't her dad.

Camille was laughing as the horse went up and down and Alec had wondered what had possessed him to get on the back but as he held onto the strap with one hand and the other around Rose, he stopped questioning himself. This was the first time he'd felt part of a family again in a very long time as he and Tess had grown apart.
Little did he know it was all going to come to end in such a short space of time as the ride finished and Camille wanted to stay on.

"Come on, we have to get off," Alec was telling her as the young girl gripped hold on the gold-coloured pole.

"Camille, let mummy off," Rose told her as Alec let go of her for a second. "We can come back another time."

Alec was rather hoping they would, if Rose let him stick around. They made their way back to the car and Alec fastened Camille in her seat.

"That was good, wasn't it Camille?" Rose asked her as she put the baby bag in the other side.

"Again?" Camille asked, hitting Alec with the toy dog that Rose had taken off the stroller strap where she'd fastened it earlier.

"No princess, we are going home now," Alec told her as he held his hand up to catch the toy.

"Grr!" Camille laughed as she tried to take the toy back.

"She is catching on," Alec grinned.

"Yeah, she's picking up a lot of things now, she notices when you're not around."

"How are you going to explain to her now Rose?" he asked as they both got in the car, Rose getting the ticket out to get them though the barrier as they had paid on the way in.

"It's not been easy Alec, trust me. She's talking a bit more now, still baby words but I can understand most of it by her actions."

"Shame that her dad never taught you babytalk then?" Alec smiled as he put the ticket in the barrier.

"I'm sure he would have done but he got really tired really fast," Rose replied sadly.

"Sorry love," Alec smiled, putting his hand on her knee as he waited at the junction.

Rose looked through the mirror at Camille in the woolly hat that looked like a cat Alec had bought for her while waiting for Rose.

"She seems to like the hat Alec," Rose smiled, playing with the seatbelt.

"Well considering she didn't want to take it off, I would say so. You told me not to buy her any toys Rose," he smiled.

"She'll be getting enough when we go see my mum, she'll have stock-piled them and that's apart from what she'll get her for Christmas. Alec, if you've no real plans, you could come with us, it's just that I arranged things before, well before I saw you for the last few days."

"I understand Rose, you don't have to include me in your holiday plans."

"Yeah but if you're not doing anything? Maybe on the way back we can call and see Daisy?" Rose asked as they reached the main roundabout.

"Let's see what happens eh? When I talked to her last, she was still not ready to spend much time with me. I suppose a lot of it is my own fault, I felt like I should stay away, just like with you and Camille."

"We were just friends Alec, I didn't expect to see you all the time," Rose replied as she saw Camille nodding off.

"You were the one who said it was not a good idea, meeting me after work," Alec reminded her, smiling at the sleeping girl.

"I said I was sorry for that Alec, I just didn't want her to get too used to it, that's all."

"Why? Is that the only reason Rose or was it you yourself who didn't want to get used to having me around eh?"

"I don't know any more Alec, I said I was tired of being on my own and I was scared of letting my feelings be known."

"You don't have to be scared Rose, it's only natural you are still all mixed up. We can talk about it tonight over a meal and I'll call and get us another bottle of wine."

"Yeah, that would be nice Alec. I still don't want to talk about a lot of things though, I'm not ready yet."

"I understand that Rose, just tell me when you are ready eh?" he asked as he joined the main road back to Broadchurch.

The road started getting busy so he turned off and went the other route, taking them through a few villages then turned off towards the town. They saw a sign for 'Hive Beach' and Alec asked if she'd taken Camille there.

"No, I didn't know about it. It would have been a nice walk along the beach but I didn't want to go too far with her. Maybe we can just drive back sometime?"

"While the weather is still fine. Are you going shopping tomorrow?" Alec asked as he followed the road and once at the harbour, drove across to her parking space.

"If you don't mind having Camille for a few hours, she likes to go and watch the boats."

"I think I can survive watching them as long as I don't go on one," Alec smiled as they got out. "Come on princess, wake up," he told the sleeping Camille, the woolly hat over one eye.

"You take her in," Rose told him, giving him the key.

Getting the stroller out and Alec laying Camille in it, he went off while Rose got the shopping bags out and locked the car doors as Alec let himself in and left the sleeping girl.

"She'll want something to eat when she wakes up," Rose told him as she handed him the carrier bag with his new shorts and two t-shirts he'd bought, then she noticed some striped socks like James used to wear. She decided to tease him as she took them out.

"I wouldn't have thought you were a striped socks kind of person?" she smiled as he tried to take them.

"They were all I could find in the time I had while waiting to pay for the other things," he defended himself. "Besides, no-one notices what kind of socks a person wears, do they?"

"Probably not, James had several pairs of cartoon character ones, including some Spiderman ones my mum bought him," Rose grinned, thinking back.

"Well I draw a line at that, thank you," Alec replied, going for the cups and putting teabags in them then filling the kettle.

"No cartoons on the shorts then?" Rose teased again, getting them out of the brown paper bag.

Alec moved towards her as she held them away from him. "Stop it Rose, I do not wear cartoon shorts, just plain ones and I was planning on maybe leaving them here, if you invite me to stay beyond tonight."

Rose put them down then reached to put her arms around his neck.

"Yeah, maybe I will? Just give me time to get used to this, yeah?"

"I said so last night Rose, there is no rush but I would like for you to talk to me a bit more."

Rose leaned her head on his shoulder and he put his arms around her, just as the kettle switched itself off but neither of them were in a hurry to attend to it as he kissed the top of her head and she rested against him. She had missed the closeness of James, how they'd been when they'd got back to London after being left on the beach in Norway but she couldn't be certain Alec would want to stay if Camille still insisted on thinking Alec was her dad.

She had lost one man she'd loved twice, technically and she'd never really thought about how she would explain that to anyone other than her friends and family but Alec was becoming more than just a friend over the past few days and she knew it. If she stuck to the basics and missed out the whole other universe part, she might get away with it but when Camille started asking questions, what would she tell her?

They were snapped out of it by Camille waking up and Alec went to amuse her while Rose got her tea ready since it was already after four. He sat her in the chair and got her a drink while Rose prepared some food for her and Alec was making faces with the toy dog.

"She has more toys yet she always favours this," Alec pointed out.

"Yeah, James got her it when we were out, before he got really sick. They played for hours with it when he stopped working. He stayed at work a while, trying to improve on the device they wanted to use on him but it got too much. My stepfather made him give up and put him on full pay and I carried on for a while but I couldn't concentrate."

"What device was it Rose? Was it alien? I know what Torchwood is."

"Yeah it was alien in design but they put a lot of work into it to try to improve his chances but we knew the risks."

"I knew the risks, having a pacemaker fitted and I almost put it off too long to have a chance of surviving. Daisy made me see sense but now, she's still distant," Alec told her, taking the dish from Rose and blowing into it to cool it off.

"I swore Camille wouldn't suffer when he passed away, I tried to make up for it, devoting all my time to her. I lost my real dad when I was a baby and it's really sad she's growing up without hers."

"Rose, we need to talk about this, seriously," Alec said as Camille took the spoon that he offered into her hand and he helped her put the mashed potato and the fish onto it. Camille however just put her fingers into the dish and picked up a pea and held it out to him.

"Yes, you eat that eh?" Alec asked as Rose smiled.

"She wants you to try it first," Rose laughed.

"Very funny Rose, so I am her food taster?"

He let Camille put the now squashed pea in his mouth and she seemed happy enough to take the food on the spoon and put it in her own mouth.

"Think yourself lucky I didn't give her spaghetti in tomato sauce," Rose giggled.
"She has that on Monday, care to join us?"

"I will give that a miss thank you and let you feed her."

"You take all the fun out of it Alec. You'll have to give her lunch tomorrow if I go off, I'll give you the spare key my friends used when they brought my stuff down."

"We can always go to the café or wait for you coming back. You did not have to turn up on time earlier you know?"

"You didn't have to call me then?" Rose smiled, slipping her arm in his as they watched Camille.

"Are you sure this does not bother you, me feeding your daughter?" he asked as Camille offered him another pea and he shook his head at her. "No, you eat that one."

The girl looked at him and offered it to Rose, who leaned over and made Camille laugh as she took it. Alec put his arm around her and kissed Rose's cheek, then trying to avoid the spoon, kissed Camille's forehead. After Camille got cleaned up, Alec said he'd go get a bottle of wine and a takeaway while Rose put her to bed but Rose surprised him by asking him to stay.

"You can help me put her to bed, if you want?"

"I would like that very much Rose, then I will order some food and go to the off-license and get a bottle of wine for us, since I have no work tomorrow. Is this too much though?" he asked, just to make sure.

"No, I have to get over this, things will always keep reminding me, you're not to know what they are."

"Well if you are sure? Come on Camille, let me see how you climb the stairs. Just one more thing Rose, don't try to teach her to say uncle Alec eh?"

"Alec, that's a big decision you know and a big responsibility. If I don't stop her and she starts saying it in front of people we both know, you know they will ask questions."

"Rose, I do not care what the town's residents think, I only care about you and Camille. Beside, Chloe will have told her mother I stayed last night, it will be all over the town by now but there are things you need to know about me and things you still have not told me but that will give us something to talk about. Let's get her settled eh? Does she like stories?"

Rose left him sat in the rocking chair, his specs perched on his nose and Camille kneeling and holding onto the cot, watching him. He was down twenty minutes later and reached for his jacket, picking up Rose's car keys.

"I said I should have brought my car over," he smiled as she stood in the room doorway after tidying up. "Where is that menu?"

He rang to place their order then set off, passing Nigel Carter and Mark as they were entering the pub around the corner.

"Was that Hardy?" Nigel asked as they went in.

"I think so, Chloe said he was at Beth's friend's house last night, she went to babysit and he came back with her."

"You mean the blonde I saw him with the other day?" Nigel laughed as they joined Olly at the bar.

"What blonde's that then?" Olly asked, having escaped playing a football game with his younger cousin, who was staying with them.

"We just saw Hardy coming from behind the apartments, Chloe went to babysit there last night," Mark told him.

"That's interesting, do you think he's got a girlfriend over there?" Olly smiled.

"Yeah, a girlfriend with a baby or a toddler, I think Beth mentioned something, when she talks to me," Mark admitted.

"I'll have to do some digging then," Olly grinned.

While Alec was out, Rose dashed to her room to put a dress on and some perfume then combed her hair back and looked at herself in the mirror. Was this too soon, to be thinking about Alec more than as just a friend? He'd kept his distance and only asked her out occasionally, mostly with Camille but it now sounded like he was serious and she was just a little bit scared of being out of her comfort zone.

She had called her mother earlier while waiting for Alec to get back from getting changed but had told her he was still just a friend.

"I hope you know what you're doing Rose," her mother had told her when she'd said they were going out for the day.

"So do I Mum but Camille likes him and he offered to look after her while I go shopping, it's been ages since I went on my own."

"Well if Camille likes him, just be careful Rose, you said she keeps thinking he's her dad. What if he finds out?"

So now Rose's own heart was skipping a beat as she went downstairs to get the plates and the wine glasses out and she heard the door opening. She'd never had to go out on 'dates' with James, since they already knew each other but he'd still liked to take her out to quiet places where they could be assured no-one would bother them but somehow, the press had always speculated Rose was going steady with a fellow Torchwood member which had prompted them to get engaged.

James had always said he didn't want to be tarred with the same brush as the long list of so-called 'Hopefuls' who wanted to see their names printed next to hers. As Alec poured the wine after emptying the cartons onto the plates, he said she should have lit some candles.

Rose smiled. "Not very romantic in the kitchen though," she replied at his suggestion.

"Then get Chloe to babysit next Friday night and come to my place, we can sit by the window with just the light from outside and the candles. I'll have you back by ten. You should live a little Rose, Chloe seems very responsible."

"Yeah, I can ask her to stay a bit longer."

"You do that, she won't have college the following day. So, we have a lot to talk about eh?"

"Yeah, you go first though."

Alec smiled, moving his plate to one side and resting his chin on his hands.
"If that's what you want? Well you know about my divorce and my daughter, there is not much else to tell. Now I am well again, I intended going over that other case again but someone has become more important than doing that."

"Oh, who's that then?" Rose smiled as she moved her plate and Alec reached for her hand.

"Well two someones actually though how I have managed that I don't know. I respected the fact you were trying to get your life back Rose, I stayed away and let you seek me out and when we came across each other, well it made my day. Forget the fact Camille wants to call me her dad, I'm happy to let her."

"I'm sorry it seemed like I was avoiding you Alec," Rose told him as she took a drink. "I was just trying to teach Camille that she shouldn't get used to seeing you."

"Well now, you have no need. Look Rose, I want to see you, not just the odd day during the week or the odd weekend but I respect you are trying to raise her on your own but maybe you need some help? I can't go back to hoping I see you walk on the other side of the road when I'm on the balcony at the police station or I see you walking across the harbour bridge. Maybe you think that's asking too much?"

"I just need time to adjust Alec, I was trying to get used to being on my own but I don't think I want that."

"Neither do I Rose. Leave the dishes and we can discuss this more comfortably?"

Sitting on the sofa after turning on the baby monitor, Alec loosened some shirt buttons and Rose leaned on his shoulder, playing with one by twisting it around her finger.

"You were driving me crazy last night Rose, when we were out."

"Was I?" she smiled, looking up at him.

"You know you were teasing me, the top of your dress seemed to cling to you. You changed while I was out," he smiled, Rose kicking off her shoes and curling up beside him in her blue jersey dress with the v-neck. "That is very nice perfume also."

"My favourite, I always wore it when we went out. Sorry, I keep doing that."

"You will Rose, stop worrying, I will not be insulted. My divorce was quite different to you loosing your husband, both Tess and I parted mutually even though at times, I thought about asking her to try again but I keep being reminded she is with someone else and I can't forgive her for what she did. You however, you had no choice."

"I lost him twice Alec," Rose said quietly, not sure how she was going to avoid leaving the other universe out. She'd never had to come up with such a story before.

"You said but did you fall out?" he asked, leaning to kiss her neck and smell the expensive perfume.

"No, we got separated when he went to work away but when he came back, we both knew and it never bothered us that we got engaged or anything, we did it to keep the press away."

"You told me already. You said about Camille, growing up with her father, she is young yet, maybe that is why she took to me?"

"They spent a lot of time together but after he was gone, my mum had her a lot while I tried to get over it. Pete had to sell the house and make the arrangements, I was devastated even though I knew it was coming. How do you prepare for something like that Alec?"

"Shush, you got through it Rose, it must have been hard on both of you, he did not want to leave you on your own."

"I know that Alec, I got him back just to lose him again."
Chapter 6
Alec put his finger under her chin and saw tears on her cheeks again. "Rose, let me help you? I want to be there for you and Camille, you've both become very important to me, you know that? She does not have to grow up without a father but for now, I will just be around when you want me to."

Rose managed a nod and buried her face in his shoulder but he made her look at him, not knowing what it was doing to her. She was sad about loosing James but being comforted by his double was a bit disturbing. He leaned to kiss her and this time, she didn't resist as he tried to pull her closer. She put her arms around his neck and he put a hand under the shoulder of her dress, moving her bra strap out of the way as the kiss deepened and Rose found herself getting lost in the moment.

He moved his hand to under the bra fastener but kept it there as he touched her through the dress then down the neckline, touching bare skin at the top, placing a kiss there when their lips parted.

"Rose, tell me one thing though," he asked as she leaned back on his shoulder again and he put his arm around her. "Why do you have no photos of him around the place? There are just one or two of you and Camille. Did you take them down so I would not feel I was intruding?"

"No Alec, I have photos upstairs, in albums and some back at my mother's house. They make me sad so I only look at them from time to time but I know I can get them out when I want. I'm gonna show them to Camille when she gets a bit older, like my mum used to show me photos of my real dad. I was lucky, she found someone else and we're a family again."

"Yes, you were and Camille can have that too Rose. I know it will take time but since she is already used to me being around, that will help and she's too young to understand but I don't get one thing."

"What's that?" Rose asked, going for another button on his shirt.

"Hey, you are getting to like that, maybe I should not have bothered with the t-shirts eh?" he smiled. "Well most youngsters are a bit off when they meet someone, I saw Camille when you were with Beth Latimer, she was acting all shy around her but with me, she let me pick her up and carry her around."

"She just took a liking to you Alec, she's just a baby, they can be off with some people but not with others. She goes to Chloe, when she wakes up."

"Yes but it still puzzles me, that and the lack of photos, like you don't want to remind her of her father. Is there something you are not telling me? What was the real reason James kept himself out of the press Rose?"

Rose sat up and looked at him. "I told you, I was in the papers all the time, I wanted to keep him out of them."

"Rose, it has to be more than that, more than James working with you. Why were you protecting him? Did he think someone would recognize him? Rose, did he look like someone famous or something and he didn't want to it cause any problems?"

Rose knew he'd have worked it out sooner or later, now she would lose the man she had grown to trust. She sat up properly, trying to put her shoes back on.

"Yes, he looked like someone, he didn't want the press to get them confused. Does it really matter?" she asked, trying to hold her tears back.

She knew at any moment he would get up and leave, just as they had about to become more intimate but who was she kidding, he was a detective.

"No, that depends who he looked like Rose. Tell me he didn't look like that Scottish actor I used to get teased about? That explains how Camille came to me so easily though. Is that who he looked like Rose?" he asked, fastening his shirt buttons.
He got up, placing one hand on his hip and fingering his beard.

"I tried to stay away from you Alec," Rose replied, almost loosing it. "Yes, James hid himself away because the actor had got more famous when James came back but who did people say you looked like Alec? It could have been someone else."

He hoped he was wrong about this but things were now adding up in Alec's mind. He'd had an excuse for not seeing a killer under his nose and Tess was seeing someone else but not now he was well again. So that was the reason Rose had let him make friends with her and Camille thought he was her dad? Even at such a young age, babies knew their parents.

"I need to think about this Rose," he told her as he reached for his jacket and taking her spare key out of the pocket. "You thought seeing me would help you get over James but did you think about how I would feel about it?"

"Alec, that's not why I wanted to be friends with you."

"Really? No wonder you had that look on your face the first time we met, you thought you had seen a ghost. Yes, I know who that actor is but no-one ever even mentions it to me now he spends more time abroad than he does here and yes, my daughter teases me about it sometimes, that I can deal with but this? I thought we had something Rose but you just wanted some comfort from losing your husband with someone who looked like him and at this moment, I don't know how I feel about that. I should go."

"I'm sorry Alec but how could I tell you? I tried to stay away but we kept bumping into you."

"I watched you walk past me and you never called in Rose, I stayed away to let you come to me but all this time, you were staying away because you couldn't face telling me. I can't do this, not now, I'm hurt Rose, that you couldn't trust me enough to be honest with me."

"I wasn't using you Alec."

"Not for yourself maybe but letting Camille think I was her dad?"

"I tried to tell her, really I did," she started to cry.

Alec went through to the kitchen and picked up his carrier bag with things he wasn't really going to need now.

"I will stay away Rose, I trust for Camille's sake you will do the same and not lead her on. Goodnight Rose, take care of yourself and your daughter."

With that, he let himself out and Rose collapsed on the kitchen chair, the plates and wine glasses still on the table from earlier. She didn't know how long she sat there and cried until she got up and cleared everything away, putting the bottle in the cabinet and thinking she'd never use the rest of it.

Alec had been right, how long did she think she'd be able to fool him but if she'd told him straight off, would things have been any different? Yes, it comforted her that he looked like James but that wasn't the reason she had started to fall in love with him. Alec had gone out into the cold night air and walked back to his chalet and had the misfortune to almost get caught by the three men who were just coming out of the pub.

"Been seeing the girlfriend?" Nigel shouted from the corner.

Mark nudged his workmate. "Shush Nigel, maybe he's keeping it a secret, eh Olly?"

Olly joined in. "Want to give me the exclusive, DI Hardy?" he laughed.

Alec just ignored them and crossed the road and walked to the gap in the wall to cross over the footbridge. He was deeply hurt by what had just happened but maybe it was for the best, before they had got too far. He certainly didn't want to be the only reason Rose was getting over her husband of a few days.

Rose just watched some TV, tears still in her eyes but when she got to bed, she couldn't sleep. The night before had been the first time since James had got ill that she'd slept properly and she was hoping Alec would have stayed over again to do more than just kiss her goodnight. Yes, she missed James and Alec was right, she had to start to get over it but it wasn't going to be with him now.

November turned into December, it got a little colder and Alec had so far restrained himself from standing on the balcony so he would see Rose and Camille on one of their walks. He'd also carefully avoided walking past the café outside the police station to see if they were sitting by the window, not that he could have seen anything since the windows were steamed up.

He was still hurting but he thought maybe not as much as Rose was doing, facing her first Christmas on her own with her daughter and her driving up to London. Maybe she'd just stay there and sell her cottage, who could blame her but he still didn't know how he felt being a substitute for someone she'd lost.

He thought back to the night they'd got back from Weymouth, him saying he wanted to be part of their lives then it all going sour in a short space of time because he was a detective and he'd worked things out. He was sat at his desk one afternoon, just two weeks until Christmas and Daisy had still not said what she wanted him to do. He'd offered to go get her and she'd spend Christmas with him but she was torn between him and her mother and Tess usually won.

His desk phone rang and he half hoped it was Rose for some reason, even though they'd had no contact. It was his boss.

"Alec, I'm doing the Christmas and New Year rosters, have you any preferences? Are you going to see your daughter?" Elaine asked him.

"When do you need to know?" he asked.

"Well as soon as you can, I have to give priority to those officers with families Alec and I thought you may want to see her."

"I will ask her again, she was not sure last time. I will get back to you. While you are on, after the holidays, maybe I can apply for a transfer?"

"To be closer to her?" Elaine asked, marking him as a 'don't know' along with several others she'd spoken to so far.

"Something like that, I have no reason to stay here now. I trust this will go no further but I met someone here but I lost her, we disagreed over something."

"The great Alec Hardy upset over a woman?" Elaine asked him. "I saw what was in the local paper, you put him in his place Alec."

"Yes well any man would if he was associated with Rose Tyler," Alec replied even though it hadn't been him, it must have been Rose.

"Not every man from what I remember before she got married. It was sad how he died so young and with a baby. Did she really come here or was Olly making it up?"

"If he had any respect, he would have left her alone," Alec recalled, the paper still in his desk drawer and thinking since he'd seen no sign of Rose, she'd already sold up and gone home.

"So, you were involved with her then?" Elaine smiled to herself.

"It was no-one's business Elaine and it was over by the time he came out with that article. I'm surprised her stepfather never closed down the paper."

"Well it didn't do them any good Alec, they mostly publish online now, that was one of the last printed editions, which I suspect you have tucked away somewhere?" Elaine mused to herself. "Let me know about the holidays and after them, if you still want a transfer, I'll see what I can do."

He rubbed his face and opened the drawer to see the headline of the Broadchurch Echo that read 'Is the local DI involved with Rose Tyler?' They didn't have to print his name, everyone knew who it was. He doubted at the time Rose herself was very pleased about it and her stepfather had tried to cover it up from getting in the nationals.

It was almost four and it was getting dark and he thought there had been snow in the air when he'd gone out for his lunch so putting the paper away that he knew every word of the article about his supposed love affair with Rose that he hoped the reporter was proud of, he got up to put his coat on.

"Going somewhere Sir?" his new DS asked him. Well Frank wasn't exactly 'new' and he wasn't quite as annoying as Ellie Miller had been.

"Just checking on something, see you tomorrow," Alec told him, heading for the door.

Being reminded of Rose had done nothing to help him try and get over her. He was just beginning to think he'd made the second biggest mistake of his life after letting Tess make a fool of him and now his boss had to go and bring it all up again. He got to the door to see it was snowing and he'd been right about it being in the air earlier so he pulled his coat collar up and for once, went towards the café instead of avoiding it. Rose had been sat drinking coffee and letting Camille sit on the chair beside her, who was looking out of the window and rubbing the glass with her hand.

"Camille, you'll get your hand wet," Rose smiled, thinking they should probably go home but home wasn't the same now Alec didn't call around any more.

She'd talked it over with her mother and Pete and was going to decide if she was staying in London when she went up in a few weeks time and she would sell the cottage. She'd thought she would get over him but she'd only got worse, not even seeing any sign of him and thinking he was staying in his office out of the way and travelling elsewhere to do his shopping.

She'd had a real go at Olly for printing the article about her and Alec having an affair, she'd got Chloe to babysit for an hour then marched into the newspaper office and tore a strip off him until his editor had calmed her down and got her into the office at the back. Then Maggie had made Olly apologise and had told him if he did it again, he'd better look for another job and it had been all Rose could do to stop Pete closing them down but they'd more or less done that one their own.

Olly had apparently taken all the speculation from the newspapers back when she had supposedly been made a widow, even though officially she and James never had any paperwork but it was enough for him to write that she'd gone into seclusion and settled down in Broadchurch with a man who could be her dead husband's twin.

Rose at the time had thought Alec would have been out of the town as fast as he could and since she'd not seen him, it was him working all the time or that. She had just turned back from Camille to get a tissue to dry her daughter's hand and didn't see Alec suddenly stop as he saw Camille's face at the window.

He'd missed them both and he'd been more miserable than when he'd arrived in the town though he'd not admitted it to himself. Then he saw Camille turn away.

"Mummy, daddy here!" the young girl jumped up and down on the chair, Alec getting snow on him but still watching, a smile creeping across his face.

"No Camille, he's gone away," she told her.

"No Mummy, daddy outside, look."

In the last few weeks, Rose had thought her daughter had inherited her father's mind and was coming out with all kinds of things for a 21 month old, even Beth had commented but Rose had laughed it off saying the girl watched too much TV. Beth and Chloe had tried to cheer her up but nothing had worked so when she turned around and saw Alec, now with snow on his coat watching them, she steadied the giddy toddler.

"Daddy!" Camille was jumping up and down holding onto the back of the chair and waving to him.

Alec shook the snow off him and gave a little wave back. How could he not go inside now? So what if he did look like Rose's husband who had left her with a wonderful and bright young daughter? He walked towards the entrance and Camille tried to get off the chair, Rose just managing to stop her as Alec came through the door and took his coat off.

Camille shouted again as he walked over and managed to get away from Rose and ran to him for him to pick her up.

"Daddy!" Camille said again, putting her arms around him.

"Hello princess, how are you? Hello Rose."

"Hi Alec, sorry about Camille shouting for you."

"Don't apologise Rose. Go back to your mum while I get a drink Camille, the tea gets worse at the station," he smiled, putting her on the chair next to Rose and his coat over one of the others.

Camille wanted to follow. "Daddy come back?" she asked.

"Yeah, I think he'll be back."

As soon as he did, Camille went to him.

"How have you been Rose?" he asked, feeling a bit warmer than when he'd been standing in the snow. "I trust you sorted the paper out over that article since there have been no more printed ones?"

"That was nothing to do with me, I gave that reporter a piece of my mind he won't forget and it felt really good," Rose smiled as Alec's tea arrived.

A while later, the café was getting ready to close and it was still snowing as Alec helped Camille on with her thick coat and Rose got up.

"Let me walk you back?" he offered as Camille wanted him to put her in the stroller.

"Yeah, we'd like that, wouldn't we Camille?" Rose asked her as Camille held the toy dog out.

"Grrr Daddy!" Camille laughed.

Alec took the handles of the stroller when he'd put his coat on.

"What made you come out in the snow?" he asked as they went down the ramp.

"It was fine when we went for a walk, it was just starting when we came in. We don't like staying in much, it reminds us of something."

"Staying in with James?" he asked, trying to get Camille to keep the cover on the stroller as she was kicking if off.

"No, someone who used to call round and see us, I thought he'd left town."

"I can't think who that would be then that you'd miss them," Alec replied as they walked over the road bridge.

"We both missed you Alec."

A week later, Alec had told his boss he wanted the holidays off and given notice on his chalet and had already more or less moved in and Rose had gone to get a few last minute presents, including one from her to Alec and one from Camille to him so he was looking after the youngster when Daisy rang him.

"Hey Dad, remember you said you'd come and get me for Christmas?"

"Oh, well things have changed a bit Daisy," he tried to tell her as Camille wanted him to set the walking dog off again.

"What's that noise Dad, it sounds like a yapping toy dog," Daisy laughed.

"It's Camille's sorry. Remember I told you about Rose and her daughter?"

"Yeah, you broke up."

"We got back together, last week and well, I am going home with her for the holidays, you had not made your mind up."

"Oh, so I can't come down then?" Daisy asked, sounding disappointed. "That means I have to go to gran's house, mum and Dave are going to some party or whatever on Christmas Eve and they'll have a hangover."

"Daisy, were they going to leave you at home?" he asked, concerned about how things were changing now Daisy was growing up.

"I don't know but I don't fancy spending Christmas Day with then if they are hung over, mum will spoil the turkey, if she's getting one."

"Hang on a second. Camille, let me turn that off eh?" he asked, reaching for the yapping dog and wishing the batteries would run out but unknown to him, James had been at it.

He gave her a book to read, thankful the toddler had not thrown a tantrum but he'd never seen her do so.

"Daisy, let me talk to Rose, we could call for you on our way to London."

"You mean to her parent's house? Wow, my friends will be so jealous."

"You told them about me and Rose?" he asked as Camille showed him something in the book.

"Daddy, look," Camille told him, pointing to a dog in the book.

"Does she call you daddy?" Daisy laughed.

"Shush Daisy, I will explain later but you should not have told your friends."

"Aw come on Dad, you'd been seeing her, you admitted it and now you're back together and her daughter's calling you daddy. You owe me an explanation," Daisy laughed again.

Rose agreed they would collect Daisy on the way to London and told her mother there would be one extra so having made a stop at the service area they'd met in, Alec went to collect her and she met Rose and Camille for the first time. Jackie of course made a big fuss over everyone, carrying a squirming Camille inside who had wanted to walk in the bit of snow that had settled.

At the end of Christmas Day, Jackie got Rose on her own.

"So, looks like you weren't on your own after all?" Jackie smiled as Daisy read a story to a yawning Camille and Alec was helping Tony with a new jigsaw puzzle he'd bought for the boy.

"Yeah, I thought I'd lost him Mum, when he walked off."

"Come on Rose, you're destined to keep meeting Doctor look-a likes, face it but this time, I hope Alec's the last, there's only that actor left."

"I don't know mum, I thought there was only James, who knows how many more there are?"

Three months later, it was the day before Camille's second birthday and Rose was reminding Alec not to forget to get her present on the way home and to remind Ellie, whom she'd met at the hearing she'd gone to with him to bring Tom and Fred for the tea party the next day.

"Yes, I know love, don't fuss eh? Now let me take her to nursery so you can get on with baking that cake."

"I hope Daisy makes it on time, I'd hate her to miss it all."

"Aye she will, you worry too much. Camille, put that down princess," he told her as she picked up his car keys.

"She'll lock you out one of these days," Rose smiled, going to kiss him goodbye.
"Come here you, give me a kiss," she told Camille as Alec took his keys and picked her up.

"Want to walk Daddy," Camille protested.

"I know but it will be quicker if I carry you," Alec replied, trying to kiss Rose again.

"Yuck Daddy," Camille laughed as he then kissed her cheek.

"You don't like me kissin' you princess?" he smiled. "See you tonight Rose, I love you darlin' and tonight, I want to talk to you about something."

"The last time we talked I almost lost you," Rose reminded him.

"Aye but not this time Rose, this will make me stay."

"Then I can't wait," Rose smiled, kissing his cheek and making a face at Camille.

Alec had already called her mother to see what she thought about him asking Rose to marry him. He knew it hadn't been important to Rose and James, even when they had Camille but he wanted to do things properly after learning Camille used to have James's name and Rose had promised him she'd change it back when he'd passed away. After all they had been through, Camille deserved a proper dad and since she already thought he was, it had made it easier to ask Rose to be his wife, complete with paperwork.

The End!

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