We must stop meeting like this

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Rose Tyler, who never met The Doctor is newly qualified as a paramedic and is sent to the town of Broadchurch a few years before Danny is found on the beach.  She is the one who has to attend and meets the gruff newly-arrived Alec Hardy but they keep on meeting and each time, Alec is more annoyed until Rose is the one who has to take him to hospital when he collapses in his bathroom.  Can he convince her to keep his secret?

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Based on Ellie telling Claire she met her husband when they were attending a traffic accident.

Rose is faced with giving evidence when her work partner turns out to be a child killer but she falls out with her friend when Ellie finds out Rose is being called as a witness for the prosecution.
Chapter 1
Jackie Tyler was proud of her daughter, who after going back to college to finish her education, had taken an interest in joining the ambulance service and trained to be a paramedic.  After six months of training, she had accepted a move to the coastal town of Broadchurch though when she arrived, she had no idea what she was walking into.

She had been there a year, being partnered with a man with a short fuse called Joe Miller but she liked his wife and their young son Tom though she never told Ellie Miller about the incidents where her husband had embarrassed her when on duty and when he offered her a ride home to her flat.

Then one day, he had some news for her.

"Hey Rose, Ellie said come over one night, she has something to tell you," Joe told her, Rose thinking he was in a better mood than usual for that time of day.

"Yeah, sounds interesting," Rose grinned as they approached the depot, glad he'd not been in one of his moods and wondered how his wife put up with him sometimes.

He'd never exactly been 'off' with her, probably because he'd thought she'd complain to Ellie about him so after checking everything was in order for the next shift, he offered her a lift but she said she was going shopping.

"That's okay Rose, I can go that way," he offered.

"Well okay then but I'll get a taxi home, thanks," she agreed, since it was a bit of a walk anyway.

Just as they turned left into the supermarket car park, the lights were about to change but he went through anyway just as a car was turning right and Joe sounded his horn at the driver, Rose clinging onto her seat as he applied the brakes.

"Moron," Joe shouted as he opened the window and the other car continued, leaving Joe stuck in the middle.

Then he realised as since nothing else was waiting to turn, continued.

"Sorry Rose, you okay?" he asked as he looked for a parking space.

"Yeah but the lights were changing Joe," she pointed out as he saw a few parking spots.  "Maybe the lights at that side have a filter on them?"

"Don't think they have," he disagreed as he pulled in next to the trolley park.

"You could have dropped me by the door," Rose grinned as she picked up her shoulder bag from the floor.

"You can walk can't you?" Joe just grinned back.

Rose thought he was like Jekyll and Hyde sometimes, he could turn as fast as you could flip a coin.

"Well thanks for the ride and the scare," Rose replied, getting out.

"Don't blame me Rose," Joe told her.  "Blame that moron, I was on the right side of the road, he was turning."

"Yeah, maybe?  See ya on Thursday then?" she asked, trying to sound cheerful since it was her day off.  "Ask Ellie when she wants me to come round."

"Yeah, I'll get her to call you.  Have fun shopping, I can wait if you want?" he asked.

"Nah, I could be ages at this time, Ellie will wonder where you are," Rose smiled as she went to close the door.

Joe waved and checked behind him to reverse out, then he saw the car of the driver who had cut in front of him five minutes ago, Rose wondering why he was waiting.  He stayed where he was and turned the engine off and as Rose was about to ask what he was doing, he got out.

"Go do your shopping Rose, I'm just going to leave a note on that moron's car windscreen," Joe told her.

"Aw come on, leave it Joe, he'll have learned his lesson," Rose replied.  

"Maybe not but how many more drivers will he cut off eh?" he asked, leaning over and hunting for some paper in the glove box and not finding any.  

He looked at Rose.  "I haven't got any paper, I'm off," Rose laughed, leaving him to it.

"Thanks for your support Rose.  Go on, I'll leave it, promise," he told her, closing the compartment.

So Rose went off into the store after getting a trolley, thinking nothing else about it and wondering what Ellie had to tell her.  She could only think that her friend might be expecting but there would be a big gap between a new baby and their son Tom, whom she couldn't remember exactly how old he was but his friend Danny was the same age, though she'd only met him a few times.  

She went round the store and half an hour later, she was just about to call for a taxi when something outside caught her eye as a few people were standing around looking to the car park at the side of the store.  She was about to ask someone what was going on when two men ran across to where she was sure Joe had pulled into earlier but he'd told her he was leaving.  

The next thing she knew, they were pulling two men apart and she was sure one of them was Joe Miller.  Thinking she'd best stay out of it, she stood back and watched with everyone else, praying the police wouldn't be called as it would get back to Ellie, her being a detective, even if she was off duty.  She heard some shouting as the men moved to one side and Joe was shrugging them off and getting into his car.

She knew she couldn't ask him about it the next time they were on duty, if he knew she'd seen some of it but she wondered if he'd waited for the driver of the other car coming out and get into the car and had either gone after him or shouted across to the other row of cars.  She went back in the store and called a taxi and tried to forget about it.

When she got home, she got a call from Ellie.

"Hey Rose, were you late finishing today?" Ellie asked her.

"Not exactly, why?  I went shopping afterwards though," she replied, wondering if Joe hadn't got back yet.

"Oh, it's okay, he just came in.  Did he give you a lift there?" Ellie asked her.

"Yeah, sorry, he offered though, I didn't mean to worry ya if he was late back," Rose replied, hoping her friend asked no more awkward questions.

"Where have you been?" she heard Ellie ask her husband.  

"I waited for Rose, I dropped her at the supermarket and offered to wait.  How could she resist not paying for a taxi?" Joe was asking.  "I know how long you women take at shopping."

"Sorry Ellie," Rose butted in.  "It was entirely my fault, blame me.  He said you had something to tell me."

"Yeah, come over tomorrow night, I'll make something nice.  Get a cab though," Ellie joked.

"Yeah, 'course I will, I expect he was just doing me a favour?" Rose suggested.

Well if her covering for him meant he owed her a favour all well and good.  She just hoped he appreciated her covering him for getting in a argument over something that was partly his fault to begin with but she supposed both drivers were to blame.  She didn't know how the lights worked from the other side, she didn't drive.

After the news her friend was expecting a baby, she found out Joe had decided to be the one to stay at home and look after what turned out to be a boy, Rose playing the part of the doting 'Auntie Rose' when she visited.  She was still a bit mad with Joe for not even thanking her for covering for him the time he'd been late home after the supermarket incident but she was relieved nothing had come of it.

Now though, she'd been partnered with another man who had a boyfriend called Jason and he couldn't wait to leave every night and she'd taken driving lessons and had qualified to drive the response vehicle, since she never actually referred to it as an ambulance.

It was now July 2013, Rose was one of the youngest serving paramedics in the county and she reckoned she deserved no more praise than any of her colleagues but something was about to happen one Friday morning that she would never forget and would change her life in more ways than one. 

They were on one of their early shifts, the first week of July and Rose had elected to let Stephen drive since he'd sulk if she insisted every shift and they were called to a minor accident on the main A35 where a woman driving a small car had a bump with a 4x4 and Rose was checking her out.

"I called the police after you," the woman was telling Rose as they'd sat her in the back of the ambulance.

Stephen looked like he was about to ask what for when the other driver had gone off after they'd exchanged insurance details, which Rose only just saw as she got out at the scene.

"You did the right thing Mrs Peters," Rose had to agree, remembering other accidents she'd attended.  "He should have waited for them."

Stephen looked like he wanted to say the police had better things to do, since he'd heard they'd got a new DI in the town and Rose had said her friend was away and expecting the job on her return.  He expected Rose to take her friend's side when that happened and the new DI would be sorry he'd heard of the town.

She saw a patrol car pull up behind them, having seen it going up the other carriageway a few minutes earlier to turn around and Bob got out.

"Hello Rose, your turn again then?" Bob joked as he put his hat on.  "I'm just showing the new DI around," he indicated to a tall man wearing a suit and a raincoat, which Rose thought was a bit odd for the beginning of the summer and who was getting out and already looked like he didn't want to be there.

Rose thought if he was Ellie's new boss, he'd have his work cut out when she came back from holiday.

"What's happened here then?" the new DI asked half-heartedly.

"Best tell us Rose," Bob encouraged her but the woman who Rose had just checked out proceeded to relay the events for her.

"So is she badly hurt then?" the new DI asked Rose as she helped the woman to her feet.  "Is her car drivable?" he turned to ask Bob and without giving Rose chance to answer.  "What happened, did she drive into the back of someone?" he continued as he went to look at the damage, since the car was just in front of the ambulance.  "Why did the other driver leave the scene?" 

Since he'd gone off to take a look, Rose just grinned at Bob.

"Blimey, is he always like that?" she asked him.  "Just wait here Mrs Peters while they see if your car's okay to drive," she told the woman who wanted to be off, a plaster on her forehead where Rose had placed it and assumed she'd hit her head on the steering wheel but it didn't look like the airbag had deployed.

"How would I know?" Bob grinned back, "He only started yesterday but it seems like he's been here for a week already.  I pity poor Ellie when she comes back."

"So do I," Rose agreed as she took the woman's arm and Stephen was trying to get a good look at the new DI, Rose scowling at him that he had a boyfriend already.

Bob went off to join the new DI, Rose and the woman following.  The woman was allowed to drive off but Bob advised her to get the car checked out before she went anywhere else and Bob and the new DI walked back to where Rose and Stephen were closing the ambulance door.

"Is she okay to drive?" Bob asked Rose again.

"Yeah, I checked for concussion, she seems fine, just a bit shaken.  She said the car in front slowed down suddenly and she tried to do the same, she said there had been no warning."

"Yes, she told me that and gave me the other registration number," Bob replied, putting his notebook away as the new DI was doing the same.  "I'll follow up on it since she reported it."

Stephen had already got back in the driver's seat and was waiting for Rose. 

"Come on Rose, we have another call," he shouted out of the window.

"Right, duty calls," Rose smiled as the new DI passed her to get back in the squad car.  "So, who is he then?" she asked, thinking the man was a bit rude and did nothing but ask questions and gave no-one chance to answer.

"Oh, he's called Hardy, he just got a transfer, don't know from where," Bob replied, taking his hat off.

Rose waved to them both, a bit shocked the DI gave a little wave back then she got into the cab.

"Stephen, I'll tell Jason if you're not careful," she teased him, putting her seatbelt on and Stephen switching on the lights and siren while checking the road, the police car letting them go first.

"Rose Tyler, I don't know what you mean," he laughed.  "You were the one who was watching him," he teased back.

"Was not," Rose denied.  "Anyway, he won't last five minutes when Ellie gets back from holiday, he'll be on the first bus out of here."

"He might have a car Rose," Stephen replied as cars moved to let them through the roundabout.

"Do I look like I'm bothered?" Rose replied, checking where they were going, which was just at the other side and thankfully not the harbour.

"Yeah, not much," Stephen laughed as he turned off to where they wanted.

As Bob had driven off with the new DI and turned off to the harbour, he was asked if he knew all the ambulance crews.

"Yeah, pretty much Sir, they cover the harbour and the town and halfway to Lyme then down towards Axhampton, just before you get to Dorchester," Bob replied.  "You had enough or are you staying with me a bit longer?"

"Just do what you'd normally be doing, if that includes going back to the station but if not, you can patrol around for a bit," was the reply.

"Right then Sir, I'll turn off on the coastal road then, the scenic route," Bob replied, seeing the new DI didn't look amused though he'd cracked half a smile and waved at Rose as she got back in the ambulance.

"I'm not here for the scenery, the sun or the sea," the DI informed him as they turned right before the harbour, him seeing a white cottage halfway up a cliff and wondered who the hell had thought of building it there and who would be stupid enough to live there.

He thought as if passing a blue chalet that stuck out by the side of the river wasn't bad enough, no-one would catch him living in either of them.  While it was true he wasn't in the town for a holiday, he was there to keep his head down, stay out of trouble and hope he'd get away with his medical file being kept up to date by his friend and hoping no-one would find out about his heart condition.

Now he wasn't so sure he could keep out of the spotlight if he kept bumping into a certain female paramedic at call-outs, not because she may spot there was something wrong with him but because she was young and blonde – a deadly combination if ever there was one and she'd do nothing to help.  As they drove to the next village and Bob turned left to go join the main road, he just hoped the ambulance she'd gone off in had finished wherever they'd gone and he wouldn't have to pass her again.

The chances of not bumping into her again were very slim in the fact there couldn't be all that many ambulances in the area and their paths would cross again sooner or later – he just hoped he could survive without it being her that was called if he didn't get his illness sorted out.  His plan had been to get out of the spotlight and let Sandbrook die down then the coming bank holiday, he'd check into the hospital in Dorchester on the Friday afternoon, get his surgery then he'd have until Tuesday to recover – well that was his plan.

Little did he know events were leading up to him getting worse and having to put it off yet again after his friend had assured him now he was off a high profile case and moved to a quiet town, his chances had improved somewhat so he'd made his mind up to get it over with, spend six months here then go somewhere else.  That was going to be easier said than done as they took the road back to the harbour and less than a week later, his plans would be spoiled and he'd have had several more encounters with whom the sergeant driving him had called Rose.

He knew he was already doomed, not that he fancied the blonde or anything, so he tried to tell himself.

Chapter 2
Rose tried to forget about her encounter with whom Bob had called Alec Hardy.  She really hoped she wouldn't keep bumping into him but since it was unlikely the sergeant would be driving him around on his patrols once Ellie came back to work, she hoped to keep their 'meetings' to a minimum.

Steven continued to tease Rose about the scruffy detective as he called Alec Hardy but soon gave up when Rose refused to talk to him.

"Come on Rose, I was just having a bit of fun," he told her as they returned to the depot on the following Monday night.

"Okay then, truce but there's little chance if we bump into him again he'll even talk to me.  You can make it up to me by letting me do the driving tomorrow or I might forget," she relented.

"As if," Steven laughed as he checked everything was in order.  "You getting a taxi again?"

"Yeah, I should think about getting a car but the insurance would cost me more than the car's worth," she grinned, getting her locker key off her keyring attached to her belt loop.

"That's because you'll get no discount Rose," Steven laughed.  "I bet you have to pay more in taxi fares?"

"Maybe but I don't have to find the money all at once," Rose replied, getting her jacket out.

"Bet you can afford it though, what do you do with all your money?" Steven joked.  "When's your mum coming down again then?  She's a good laugh in the pub."

"Maybe at the end of August, if I can get the time off?" Rose told him.

"You know there are plenty of reserves dying to make a bit of extra cash over the bank holiday," he replied, closing his locker.  "Right, see you tomorrow then?  Don't forget we're on late, I wish they'd sort these shifts out, the moron who came up with them should try working them."

"Good thing Jason's the understanding type," Rose replied, getting her phone out to call Budmouth Taxis, since they knew her but all the time she'd been using them, the friendly controller had never bothered giving her name though all Rose had to do was give hers and where she was.

She just wished it wasn't always that creep Clive, who preferred being called by his surname.  She wondered if Alec Hardy preferred being called just 'Hardy' but where had that line of thought come from?  She'd managed not to think about him since she met him at the traffic accident, until her work partner had kindly reminded her all day.

Unfortunately for Rose, after her day off on Thursday, her wishing they'd sort days off out as well as the hours, she was on early shift the following morning starting at six thirty and they had just got into the dispatch office to sign in when the operator called them.

"Got a call to go to Harbour Cliff Beach," Steven told Rose as he was handed the details, since that was part of their coverage.

"At this time?" Rose wondered, hoping to grab a coffee from the machine since the new catering manager had got a new machine that served her favourite brand in the red cartons.  "So what's happened then?" she yawned, glad for once he was doing the driving though she meant to suggest they split it again as they'd done the other day.

Steven didn't really want to tell her when he read the finer details.

"Someone's been found on the beach, the caller didn't give a lot of details," he lied, putting the slip of paper on his clipboard that Rose always teased him about.

"Come on Steven, tell me, I'll just find out when we get there," she insisted.

"Then you'll find out when we get there Rose, the person who called it in didn't check, okay?  Whoever it is could just be unconscious but the operator's called it in to the police station," he told her sternly.

Since he'd had more experience than she'd had, she knew when he wasn't joking around and since he'd not teased her about the new DI being the one who pulled the short straw, he meant business.  She had decided after Joe Miller had left she would bow to her new partner's experience, she still could learn something from him, unlike her former partner.

Avoiding putting the siren on until they got near the harbour car park, he put it on as they approached the police cars that had been sent.  Meanwhile, Bob had been sent to collect who everyone called the grumpy DI from his hotel to attend a farm break-in on the cliff top as Rose and Steven made their way to the beach.

As Alec Hardy was putting his notebook away after complaining the incident didn't need his attention at that time in the morning, Bob was taking the radio call.

"Well you wanted to know what was going on around here Sir," Bob told him as they got back in the patrol car.  "Seems someone's been found on Harbour Cliff Beach, two units are already there and the ambulance has just arrived, they want you to attend."

"Really?  Aren't there any junior officers around or is it too early for them as well?" Hardy replied sarcastically as Bob drove off.

"I expect whoever's on duty at this time are busy elsewhere Sir, from today your DS will be back and she'll have the pleasure of driving you around," Bob replied, hoping Hardy wouldn't reprimand him when they got back to the station.

Even though it was early, the sun was already out and Alec thought it was just his luck to get sent here of all places, near the water he hated since finding young Pippa in the overflowing river, what seemed like only yesterday.  They arrived at the car park, Alec sincerely hoping whoever the ambulance crew were, the young blonde he only knew as Rose wasn't part of it.

He knew she was a paramedic and unless whoever had been found had been reported as unconscious, just an ambulance crew would have been called.  As the police tape was held up for him and he dodged underneath it, Bob remained to help control the crowd that was already gathering, Alec noticing a woman looking disinterested and smoking away.

As he walked towards where he could see the ambulance crew, he knew one of them was Rose, unless the service employed more than one petite blonde and he doubted that somehow.

"Please don't let it be her," he mumbled to himself as he gripped his hands together, feeling the panic of an attack already coming on.  

Then as the male attendant moved to one side, he could tell whoever was laid face down on the beach was only a boy, probably a bit younger than his daughter but around the same age as Pippa.  Rose looked up as she shook her head at Steven as he'd examined the boy first and was about to cover him with a blanket.  They had tried to revive the young boy Rose had immediately identified as Danny Latimer and Steven had taken over, knowing Rose would be upset.

As they'd got to where Danny was lying, Rose had gasped.

"It's Danny," was all she could manage to say, Steven holding her back and passing the bag and blanket to her, having left the trolley in the ambulance until they assessed whoever had been found.

Steven had crouched down and took the boy's wrist, shaking his head.

"We have to try Steven," Rose reminded him, going in the medical bag and getting an oxygen mask attached to a small canister out.

"I know Rose, let me do it but until the coroner gets here, we don't know when this happened.  Look at the bruising on his neck though," Steven pointed out as he turned the boy over.

"Leave that for the police," Rose reminded him as she knelt at the other side, putting the mask on but she knew deep down they were too late.  "I'm glad it's not our job to tell his parents, who could have just left him here?"

Steven couldn't answer but he'd love to get his hands on whoever it was and show them what it was like.  He'd just got up, leaving Rose where she was as Hardy approached.

"So, what's going on then?" Hardy asked Steven, him thinking that must be the new DI's standard approach to everything.

"Sir, an eleven year old boy, we suspect he was already dead when we got here but we did try, both of us to revive him, since the person who called it in didn't know how long he'd been here.  We thought at first he was unconscious but had only just expired, we had to try, just in case.  Rose knows him."

Hardy got up and offered Rose his hand to help her up and Rose being dazed took it.  

"Then who is he?"

She was about to answer when she saw Ellie approaching, who saw it was Rose in attendance and who was talking to who had probably just stolen her job from under her nose while she'd been away.

"No, no, no," Ellie was saying as Hardy turned around, trying to avoid getting dizzy and hitching a ride to the hospital while he had two paramedics on hand.

"Who let you through, get out of here now," Hardy insisted.

"I'm DS Miller, that's Danny, I know him.   Rose, tell me he's not dead?" she asked her friend as she shoved her ID at Hardy.

Rose could only shake her head.  "I'm sorry Ellie, there was nothing we could do for him, we did try," she replied as Hardy held Ellie's ID out to her.

"Alec Hardy, I'm the new DI," he said to Ellie, Rose thinking that was more than she'd got out of him last week.

"I know, you got my job," Ellie replied angrily, making Steven try to hide a smile as he'd known there would be trouble when the two of them eventually met.

"Really, are we going to do this now?" Hardy just replied as Rose realised she had been handed the green blanket and was covering the boy.

"Are you two gonna argue who got who's job all morning?" Rose asked as she got up again.

They both turned to her.  

"Rose, was he dead when you got here?" Ellie asked her, ignoring the man who had taken her job.

She had stormed out of the chief's office after being happy to be back at work and had been expecting confirmation of her promotion.  Now though, would she have wanted it since her best friend's son was lying face down on the beach, since Steven had turned him back over until they'd got him covered.  Ellie though was not going to admit to who had fast become her annoying new Scottish boss that he could keep the job if it meant he'd take all the responsibility for finding out who killed Danny.

"So will someone tell me who he is?" Hardy turned to Ellie, then looked at Steven then not too quickly turned back to Rose.

"He's Danny Latimer, 11 years old.  His family live in the town and he goes to school with DS Miller's son," Rose replied, recovering slightly more than her friend Ellie was doing at the moment.

Rose could see someone in a red dress duck under the police tape as the officers were occupied and knew immediately it had to be Beth, although Rose didn't really know her that well, not like Ellie did.  She pointed beyond the other three and Ellie turned, running as best as she could on the stoney beach to stop her friend.

"No, not my Danny," Beth was crying out as Rose hadn't covered the boy's trainers, thinking that was the least important part of him to cover.

"Beth, you can't be here," Ellie told her as two officers, one of them being Bob tried to stop her but Beth was still calling her son's name.

"Get her out of here," Hardy was insisting, trying to grab Beth without hurting her and causing himself any harm.

Rose was blinking in the sunlight, wishing they were allowed to wear sunglasses while in attendance but since the situation involved only the police, got them out of her shirt pocket and put them on, Hardy now staring at her as he turned back, slowly.  Beth was just being taken away when the coroner arrived, followed by a forensics team, Rose noticing Brian leading them and cringed.

She hated him as much as the cab driver, since she seemed to be the number one target for the creeps of Broadchurch.  She knew she should get a boyfriend but with the hours she worked, no-one would put up with her, well maybe except the cab driver and the head CSI.

Eventually, the coroner decided they should take Danny back to the hospital, since technically Rose and Steven's job didn't include transporting the deceased and they'd only been sent partly because it was in the area they covered and partly because whoever had called the emergency number hadn't checked to see if the boy was alive or not.

Steven picked up the medical bag as Rose got the blanket back and he put his hand on Rose's shoulder.

"Back to work Rose, goodness knows how many calls we've missed, we'll have the other teams on to us," he grinned, trying to lighten the mood, not that he thought the DS and the DI looked too amused.

Hardy watched them walk off then began asking Ellie questions, Ellie wishing she'd stayed off another day, as if jet-lag wasn't enough to cope with, her new boss was already getting her annoyed and was irritating.

Steven checked in with headquarters and they were back in the real world, being sent to someone who had fainted in the supermarket, the same one Rose used where a few years ago, she'd seen Joe Miller lay into a bloke for jumping the traffic lights when he'd just done the same.

Steven was trying to cheer Rose up.

"Bet you someone's fainted over a price increase?" he laughed as he put the siren on, since people were still trying to find out what had happened on the beach and cars were stopped as the drivers thought spaces would miraculously appear when it was obvious the place was full.  "Wish they'd all realise there are another two car parks," he huffed as he tried to get out of the road by the mini roundabout.

"Yeah but then they'd have to walk further to the beach," Rose tried to joke.  "We might have to go back to treat them for exhaustion.  You're not gonna tell on me for putting my sunglasses on at the scene are ya?"

Steven pretended to put on a serious face.

"I should do, being the senior paramedic.  Aw, don't pull a face at me Rose, I'd have put mine on but I left them on the dashboard," he grinned, reaching for them as they reached the main roundabout.

Sometimes Rose had to wonder how he could drive and do other things at the same time, unlike Joe Miller who always gripped the steering wheel with both hands that made his knuckles go white and she thought she'd have to prise his hands off sometimes, not that she would have enjoyed doing so.  She thought he may have believed if he let go the ambulance would drive itself and do him out of a job.

Ellie and Hardy were on top of the cliff after she got a call from Brian, who had gone off after organising his team putting up two tents.  It amused Ellie that the new DI had done nothing but stare at Rose on the beach and had been gruff twice to Brian Young.

"A good morning would have been nice," Brian had greeted them on the cliff top after Hardy asked him if the boy had fallen but he'd doubted it.

"No, it's the wrong angle, not how the boy was found and the paramedics would have only turned him over to see if he was still breathing," Brian replied.  "They would have put him back as they found him Sir.  There's no sign anyone was at the edge of the cliff."

"It's a bit dangerous, why no fencing up here?" Hardy asked no-one in particular.

"It's the coastal path, everyone knows to stay away from the edge," Ellie replied, wishing he'd stop asking stupid questions.

Brian just shook his head, silently wishing her good luck at working with the new DI and glad he was out of the way.  They walked off towards the next part of the beach as Ellie had driven round to the end of the caravan park that was there and were discussing how the boy had got on the beach when Hardy saw a man approach them, spying a badge around his neck.

"Ellie, DS Miller," the new arrival shouted as she and Hardy got to her car.

"Who's that?" Hardy asked her.

"No-one, ignore him," Ellie replied, unlocking the car doors remotely.

"Well he knows you," Hardy nodded towards the other man.

"No statement at this time Oliver," Ellie told him sternly and got in the car.

As they drove off, Hardy saw who Miller had just called Oliver in the rear mirror.

"So who is he?" he asked her.

"He's my nephew, he must have followed us," she replied, a bit annoyed.

"You don't say?" Hardy mused.  "So you know the paramedics as well?"

"Only Rose, I don't know her partner all that well," she replied, not wanting to say too much.  "Have you met them before?"

"Last week when I was being shown around, on the main road at a traffic incident," he admitted.

Ellie glanced at him in the mirror, wondering why he was asking.  As if Rose would be remotely interested in a scruffy Scottish detective?  Why had he got so annoyed about it though?  He'd stared at Rose when she'd answered him and when she'd put the blanket on Danny.  As they drove to the Latimer house, Ellie knew there was going to be trouble.

As they broke the news, Ellie made some drinks and Beth wanted to know why the paramedics were there.

"It seems whoever found Danny on the beach didn't know if he was just unconscious Beth," Ellie was telling her.  "In those cases, they would have been sent to see."

"Was it Rose?" Chloe asked her.

"Yeah, she was very upset but she did her job," Ellie replied, looking at her new boss.

When they got outside, Hardy stopped Ellie.

"What was that about?  Does everyone in the town know the female paramedic?"

"Most people know her around here, it's a seaside town, we get a lot of tourists who think they can attempt things like climbing the side of the cliff and have breathing difficulties or kids that stand on something on the beach or in the water, it's part of their area," she tried to explain.  "Are you sure you only met her once?" she asked him.

Hardy shook his head.  Why was the blonde getting to him?  After a hectic weekend for the detectives, Rose having always got Sunday off but never knew when her other day off was, on the Monday morning she and Steven were called to an incident at the harbour newsagents when Jack Marshall had just had an argument with Hardy and he felt faint.  Hardy had seen the ambulance head towards where they'd just come from when he and Ellie stopped to get a drink from one of the food stalls.

"What's the problem Sir?" Ellie asked him as he could just make out Rose going into the shop.

"Nothing, why have they been called there?" he wondered.

"Maybe he got annoyed with you asking him questions?" Ellie grinned as she finished her drink.  "Why not go find out?"

Before she could protest, he threw the drink carton into the bin and set off back to the newsagents where Steven was checking Jack.

"What caused you to feel unwell?" Rose was asking him, having taken his pulse

"That damn new DI, that's who," Jack replied, feeling a bit better.

Steven suppressed a smile. "Seems he's ruffling a few feathers around here?" 

"It's not our problem," Rose reminded him.  "You'll be okay Jack, don't let him get to you.  If everyone did, we'd be rushed off our feet.  It seems DI Hardy is out to get annoyed with everyone he meets."

"Yeah, we've had first hand experience," Steven tried to joke.  "Well at least Rose has, haven't you Rose?"

They gathered their things and were just going outside when Hardy was looking in the window.

"I might have known it would be you," Hardy told Rose as Steven went back to the ambulance, leaving her to it.

"This is our area, you'd better get used to it," Rose replied, hoping she sounded as rude as he was – he wasn't her boss.  "You might want to go easy the next time you ask someone questions."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Hardy asked.

Steven beeped the horn at Rose, making her jump.

"You're a detective, you'll figure it out," Rose replied, making her retreat and leaving Hardy staring after her.

As she climbed into the cab, she thanked Steven for his support.

"Thanks for leaving me," she told him as she fastened her seatbelt.

"I didn't know you needed any help?" Steven just grinned as he reversed out of the parking space in front of the few shops.  "So he does only get annoyed at you then?  I wonder why?"

"How would I know?" Rose replied as Hardy stood by the post-box and watched them drive off.

Hardy was wondering exactly the same thing, why was she getting to him?

Chapter 3
A/N:  Don't quote me on paramedic practices, it's just to fit in with the story.  Also, events may be in a different order.

Hardy watched them drive off, noting the man with her hadn't put the siren on so they either didn't have another call and he was saving her from a confrontation or was afraid she would really lay into him.  He shook his head then turned back where he'd just come from but why had he walked away from Miller just to see why the paramedic was at the newsagents?

Should he take heed of what she'd just said and go easy on people?  He knew it never worked when he was nice to people – Sandbrook had taught him that and look where it had got him?  A nasty divorce, a teenage daughter who barely acknowledged he existed and a heart condition, that if he didn't keep away from the blonde who had just told him off would only get worse.

He had a meeting with his friend later that night, wishing he'd mentioned to bring him some more pills but he would probably manage and if not, he'd just have to have a prescription posted to him and go to the next town to fill it, he didn't like small towns, everyone knew your business.

Rose and Steven took a break for lunch and Steven was asking what all that was about outside the newsagents.

"Whatcha asking me for?" Rose asked him in the staff canteen.

"Come off it Rose, you didn't have to stop and talk to him," Steven grinned.

"Well he stopped me, in case ya hadn't noticed," she reminded him.

"I hope you didn't tell him why we were there?"

"He's the police, if he'd asked, I was obliged to tell him but he didn't ask," she replied.

"Did you even give him chance?" Steven teased her.  He saw the look on her face.  "No, I didn't think so Rose.  He's been here less than two weeks and you're letting him get to you."

"He is not getting to me," Rose tried to convince him but had she stopped thinking about Alec Hardy since the traffic accident where she'd first met him?

She had tried but was she trying hard enough?  They would keep running into each other no matter how much they tried to avoid it and it would be just like him to go out of his way to do so.  She could hardly call Ellie and ask her to keep her new boss busy enough to stop him turning up if they got a call out by the harbour and he happened to be out at the time or if he and Ellie got a call to attend.

Fortunately, they didn't get many calls where someone had died, it was only when a caller wasn't sure or if it happened while they were on their way.  She was still trying to come to terms with trying to revive Danny and she was getting nowhere.

"Earth to Rose Tyler," Steven grinned.  "Rose, I know finding Danny on the beach was hard, you should go see a counsellor, something like that doesn't go away easily, trust me.  Did I tell you about that old woman who died at the scene when I was partnered with Vince, before we worked together?"

Rose shook her head, debating if she should go get another latte', damn that new catering manager opting to put a machine in that dispensed her favourite brand.

"We thought she had just passed out, no-one had attempted to check but it wasn't pretty when we moved her when she was slumped over the wheel and the other driver only had a few scrapes.  What I'm trying to say Rose is that sometimes, it's unavoidable and so far, you've been lucky.  They don't send any of us paramedics to the scene where it's certain someone has died, we just got unlucky last Friday.  Are you getting another drink or not?  You know what you're like when you have two," he grinned.

"I couldn't even talk to my mum about it, except the basics, I know the rules and trust me, she tried to get me to tell her," Rose tried to smile back.

"Yeah, I bet she did," Steven replied as he got up.  "I guess she won't be coming down then?"

"Nope, maybe the late bank holiday, if the killer's been caught by then.  Hardy must have been sent here for a reason though no-one could have known that was gonna happen," Rose replied as she got up, smiling at Steven fussing over clearing up and guessed he took charge at home.

"Well maybe it was just as well he did though I doubt Ellie would agree with you but I don't recall her being in charge of any murder investigations.  I bet she's already rubbed it in Hardy's face about where he was before?"

"Yeah, I bet she did.  I've not had the chance to talk to her and ask how her holiday went even, I would have caught up with her and when I worked with Joe, he'd have told me."

"Rose, remember you told me how he could easily lose his temper?" Steven reminded her.  "You'd best let her contact you, if she's working all hours now, he won't thank you for going round and being nosy."

"Yeah, I know Steven.  Come on then, let's go wait for a call."

"Cheer up Rose, you've got Wednesday off," he tried to cheer her up.  "Use the time and get some help eh?"

"I'll think about it, it doesn't help all the time though but I might just go see Paul instead, it's less formal and he won't write a report," she smiled as they drove off.

Alec had gone back to the office and Ellie shook her head.  She'd wondered why he'd been so interested in why the ambulance was by the shops and knew it was bound to be Rose and Steven.  Maybe Jack hadn't liked the way her new boss had questioned him?

She made her mind up to call Rose later but with the hours Rose now worked, she never knew when it was safe to do so, which was why when Fred had come along, they'd decided it was too much and at least she herself worked regular hours.  She didn't know why anyone put up with it but she was now faced with doing the same, thanks to a child killer.

They had to go out later and she took the chance to ask him.

"What's this Miller, an interrogation?" he asked.

"No, it was a simple enough question – Sir," she replied, trying to be civil, unlike him.  "We don't have time to follow the paramedics around, just because you were at an accident scene at the same time," she reminded him.

"Who says I want to follow them around?" he asked indignantly, hoping she wasn't onto him that if he admitted it, which he wouldn't, he'd just wanted to know if it was Rose who was there and she'd taken him by surprise – which he'd had to cover when she came out.

Now he knew she covered that area and around where that accident had occurred, what seemed like ages ago, before all this had been dumped on him – revenge for screwing Sandbrook up but hang on, that was Tess who had done that and he'd been stupid enough to try to cover for her.

Well at least he'd been cleared on that score but not publicly and Claire Ripley had gone missing, he just hoped she'd not followed him.  Right now, she was the last person he wanted to see, which was probably why the blonde paramedic had taken her place in the trying to annoy him department.  Well unlike Claire, Rose was going nowhere so like it or not, they would keep coming across each other and he didn't even know her surname.

Rose was preparing to go home just after four, wishing someone would sort out the hours and take notice no-one liked them.  She took the chance to call Ellie and see if she was free to talk.

"I'm a bit busy Rose, is it urgent?" she asked, turning some pages in a folder, annoyed that Hardy had asked her to bring Tom in to ask him about being friends with Danny.  "Oh, we might need to ask you a few questions, when are you free?  We'll need to talk to Steven as well."

"Oh, didn't you get the report we filed?" Rose asked, never being questioned before about any attendances they'd made but this was the first murder victim they'd come across.

"Yes we did but you know as well as I do Rose, not everything goes in a report," she reminded her friend.  "We also have some more questions for you, about something that happened before Danny was found."

"Well I can come in on Wednesday," Rose offered.

"That's fine, would nine be okay, I'll call if we're not going to be in," Ellie replied.

"Don't you trust your boss to question me?" Rose joked.

"No, he doesn't trust me to interview you on my own, since we're friends," Ellie told her, wondering what she meant by that remark.  "Is there something you want to tell me Rose?"

Rose knew she should have kept quiet but her surname was Tyler – it was something they failed at.

"Ah, no, I don't think so Ellie?" Rose tried not to laugh.

"Not even why Hardy turned around when he saw an ambulance earlier?" Ellie questioned.

"Nothing to do with me Ellie," Rose replied.  "It's not my problem he's so nosy, is it?"

Ellie tried to suppress a laugh, her new boss was nosy, nosy wasn't a strong enough word and her husband was repeatedly telling her to be nice to him and annoy him even more.

"Well you'd met while I was away," Ellie reminded her.

"So?  What's that supposed to mean?" Rose asked.

"Sorry Rose, things are just getting on top of me.  Why don't you come over one night, when you know what hours you're working?" Ellie suggested, not wanting to lose a friend.

"Well I'd know what hours I was working if they got their acts together," Rose sighed.  "Well at least we sorted days off, instead of messing around, that's something.  So, what about your holiday?"

"It was fine, we should catch up sometime but Joe wasn't in a very good mood about something and I swore I'd saved up more than we actually had.  I got you a present, it's still at home.  I was so looking forward to coming back and getting that promotion Rose."

"Yeah Ellie, I'm sorry, I know you were," Rose tried to console her.  "Yeah, I'll come down on Wednesday then, just don't leave me with your boss," she laughed.

"I'll try not to but the way he was when he saw you on the beach last Friday?" she teased her friend.

"Stop it Ellie," Rose protested.

"Well maybe when I know you're coming round for dinner, I'll take Joe's advice and ask Hardy at the same time," she laughed.

"I won't come round if ya do Ellie, you're not playing matchmaker with me, not after Olly," Rose warned her.

"I said I was sorry about that," Ellie told her, knowing the two of them had one date and Rose had sworn she had to restrain herself from punching him in the face.  "How was I to know he wasn't your type?"

"Yeah, well he wasn't, he just grinned at me like a schoolboy all night then had the cheek to ask to go home with me so he wouldn't bump into his mother sneaking me in.  Is he behaving now you've got a murder on your hands?" she asked Ellie.

"Not exactly, he released Danny's name on social media before Hardy told the press.  Beth and Mark weren't happy about it and Hardy chewed me out in front of everyone.  Then Joe tells me to ask him round for dinner.  I have to go, see you Wednesday morning."

Rose wondered why she'd cut their conversation short.  Hardy had gone to stand in front of her desk.

"I hope that wasn't a personal call Miller?" he asked, still not in a good mood after not finding out why the paramedics had been called to the newsagents and it wasn't likely Jack Marshall would tell him even if he asked.

"No Sir, I was asking Rose to call in on her day off since you wanted a statement from her and her partner.  She's coming in first thing on Wednesday morning."

"Did you ask what they were doing at the newsagents earlier?" he asked, hoping she'd been able to find out to save him continuing to wonder about it.

"I wasn't aware I was supposed to?" she replied, wishing he'd go away and she'd only been working with him a few days.

"What about the other one?" he asked, wanting to get the full story.  "Did you tell her what the other reason was?"

"No, I didn't think you'd want me to, considering it's to see if Mark's telling the truth about what happened when they were fishing," she replied.

Alec thought well at least she knew something, that of not revealing information and giving someone time to think about what they were going to say, unlike Mark Latimer's rubbish alibi that they'd pulled to pieces earlier.

"Well let's see what she has to say, get her partner in later on in the day, the more we know the better.  Beth and Mark want to know why the paramedics were sent that morning and so do I.  How does that work out?" he asked, wondering if it differed from county to county.

Ellie was about to say how was she supposed to know but her smart-ass boss would find out sooner or later.

"My husband used to be a paramedic," she admitted as people were leaving for the night.  "He gave up because the shifts were being re-arranged.  He and Rose worked together."

"Really?  She seems very young to be doing that sort of work."

"She did her training, they don't deal with any real emergencies or any life-threatening situations though I can't speak for all health authorities.  They would have been sent to the beach if the person who called hadn't checked Danny, which under the circumstances, they did the right thing.  Otherwise, more fingerprints would have been found on him.  That's why the coroner transported him.  They deal with minor incidents, it cuts down on visits to the emergency department but it's never abused, they have a strict criteria before anyone's sent out."

"You mean if someone can't get a doctor's appointment or they fall down drunk coming out of the pub?" he tried to joke.

"Mostly but whether someone's drunk too much or not, they're treated if they get injured.  Like I said, I can't say that's the case elsewhere but Joe worked in Liverpool before he came here, we actually met at call-outs."

That was all he needed, he thought.  

"So they still transport anyone if need be?" he asked, just in case he ever needed their assistance but he prayed it wouldn't be Rose.

"Well yeah, though unless like with Danny, the call wasn't clear.  Planning on using them?" she joked.

"No, any reason why I should?" he replied,  wondering if she was onto him.  "Right, we'll call it a night, I have to be somewhere.  We also need to speak to your son, Tom was it?  Get your husband to bring him in."

"Fine, I'll tell him then.  Sir, what if the paramedics didn't attend to Danny like Mark said?"

"Then that raises a few questions Miller, ask Chloe first though," he replied.

"Why not just ask her anyway?" Ellie wondered.

Was he just making up excuses to get Rose in for questioning or was there something else behind it?  He went off to his office to get his jacket, leaving Ellie to wonder why suddenly he was in a hurry to leave early.

"Have you spoken to the family?" he asked as he was about to leave.

"About what?" she wanted to know.

"That list you brought back, why would they do that?" he asked.

"They want some closure I suppose?" she replied.

Hardy stood and stared at her.  "Is that directed at me?  How long have you been going to bring that up?"

"You said that, not me," Ellie told him.   "You let someone get away, people don't forget that easily."

"I'm not discussing it.  Oh, by the way, we should organise a reconstruction of Danny's movements, jog people's memories.  Thursday night, one week on, ask Tom to lead it."

"What?  No, absolutely not, he's been through enough," she protested.

"Well ask him, it's up to him," he insisted.

"No, I'm his mother, I decide," she snapped at him.

"Oh so your loyalty to this investigation stops outside of work?" he asked.

"Sir, with respect, that's not fair, everyone is upset and Tom hasn't been sleeping so back off," she replied.  She saw he wasn't looking that bothered, he must be used to it.

She put her head in her hands as he began to move away.

"You’re invited to dinner, pick a night," she continued, thinking maybe if she asked now, it would get Tom out of the reconstruction.

"What?" he asked, surprised she'd even asked, he wasn't high on anyone's social list.  "Why?"

"It's what people do when someone new arrives, they ask their boss to dinner.  Know many people around here?" she asked.

Alec thought maybe he didn't, he hadn't even got Rose's surname and she definitely wasn't on his social list.

"What would we talk about, work?" he hesitated.

"No, anything but, just say yes.  I can invite Rose if you like?" she suggested.

"It's not a good idea Miller," he still protested, shuddering at the thought of his DS telling her friend then them both talk about him before and after the event.

"Do you have to be such an ass about it?" she asked, forgetting the 'Sir' since he was on his way out.  "Just say yes."

He stood and thought about it, it would be an excuse to at least get Rose to talk to him without telling him he should go easy on people he talked to.

"Yes," he agreed reluctantly.

"What was so hard about that?" she asked.  "I'll not ask Rose if it makes you uncomfortable."

"Yes, I'd rather her not be there, she chewed me out earlier," he admitted.

Ellie stifled a laugh, it served him right.  "You probably deserved it," she replied.  "Thought you had to be somewhere?"

He had but not until later, maybe he'd walk down to the newsagents and see if the man was willing to share?  Yeah Hardy, he told himself, like that was as likely to happen as Rose agreeing to go to the Miller house and have dinner the same time as he was there.  That was why he'd not been too keen.

He decided against it, went back to the hotel and actually eat there for a change then made his way back to meet his friend on the pier.

"This is a bit cloak and dagger Alec," his friend greeted him.  "Why the secrecy?"

"It's a small town, everyone gets to know things," he replied.  "So what did you think of what I sent you?" he dared to ask.

"It's not good Alec, now you've got yourself into the middle of a murder investigation, you have to go easy."

"I can't, I have to see this through, people remember what happened on my last case.  Besides, they have paramedics here, I can call if I need to, they can't tell anyone what they treat me for," he replied.

"Seriously?  That's your solution Alec?" he was asked.

"Well that and I forgot to ask you to bring me some more pills, can you send a prescription to the hotel?" he wanted to know.  

His friend shook his head.  "You know they have paramedics then?  Met them already?" his friend laughed.

"Yes but not for personal reasons.  The female one told me off today when I asked what she was doing at the newsagent's I was in earlier asking question," he admitted.

"Well that was a good start then Alec, best hope they don't send her if you need one.  Sure you weren't flirting with her?" his friend grinned.  "So do you like it here?"

"No, I hate it, too much water," he grinned back, staring into the distance.  "The people are annoying, they're telling lies for each other already and it's only been a few days."

"So why stay Alec?  I can get you out on medical grounds, I'll see you get full benefits."

"That's not me, I can't sit back and let another killer get away.  Just send me some more pills," he replied.

"Well you'd best hope you don't need them before you can get to the pharmacy then Alec," his friend replied.  "I could have brought some if I'd known."

"I never realised I was so low," he lied, the truth being he didn't want to admit he was so low on them.

"Well just because one of the paramedics is female, don't think that will save your ass," his friend laughed.  "Take care Alec, I'll post one out to you first thing tomorrow morning but it's only any good if you actually go get them.  If you don't, it's all over."

"Ah, you bloody doctors, do as I say or else," Alec joked.

"I mean it Alec, don't leave it too late or even the paramedics won't be able to save you."

Alec sat a while after his friend left, thinking about what he'd just been told.  Did he actually want to risk his life by the paramedics, in particular Rose getting to him in time if he collapsed somewhere?  Rose had seemed out of sorts on the beach last Friday at seeing Danny lying there, how would it make her feel to find him and not know if they could bring him round or not before they got him to hospital?

If he was found and someone called it in, they wouldn't know what his condition was, Rose and her partner would be sent, depending where he was but how would it make Rose feel if she was the one attending to him, since he'd only seen the man driving and would she ever recover if he died on her?

He got up and made his mind up that whatever happened, he couldn't keep putting his appointment off but the upcoming bank holiday was cutting it a bit close, maybe he could last until the later one, only in the UK could they have two holidays in the same month.  He just hoped he'd last that long and he'd call the appointments office at the hospital tomorrow and change it yet again but would he keep it this time?

Rose had wondered why Ellie was a bit off, especially over their holiday and wished they'd had more time to talk but if she suggested Alec Hardy was invited for dinner at the same time, well she could soon go off people.

Chapter 4
A/N:  Events may not take place in the same order as the series to suit the purpose of the story.

The next morning before he set off to work wishing it wasn't only Tuesday, he managed to call the hospital appointments line before he got put to number 99 or higher in a queue for his call to be answered.  Since he was new to the area, he didn't get the usual woman answering with her attitude of 'not again Mr Hardy' when she heard his voice, let alone his name.

"No, I am not putting it off completely, I just want to put it back a few weeks, I'm in the middle of something right now," he insisted.

"Like a murder investigation?" the woman suggested.  "Don't worry Mr Hardy, I'm sworn by ethics not to reveal your medical details to anyone but I doubt there's more than one Alec Hardy trying to find a child killer?"

Alec mumbled something he hoped she'd not heard.

"I can fit you in at 3.30 pm on Friday 25th," she suggested.

"August this year?" he replied, thinking she meant next.

"Yes Mr Hardy, you did say you wanted it to be a bank holiday weekend?  Though it being late on, they may wish to keep you in overnight," she replied, wishing he'd stayed within the health authority he'd been under before he'd been passed to theirs and he wasn't even living in Devon but that was where he'd been transferred to, seemingly urgently by his hospital record, which should have him down as being evasive.

"Fine, yes, I'll take it then," he gave in, silently wishing them good luck keeping him in.  

Maybe if he asked for transport, Rose may turn up to take him but he doubted somehow she did patient transfers, especially over the border to Devon.

That agreed, he left his room just after nine and if Miller asked why he was late, which wasn't down to her to point out, he could always say her annoying nephew caught him on the way out of the hotel, she wouldn't bother asking him.  Why had Rose come into the equation?  Why was he even thinking about her for no reason at all?  Blame it on Miller, she said she could invite the blonde to dinner at the same time she'd invited him but maybe he'd brushed it off too hastily and Miller already suspected he had a 'thing' for the blonde paramedic?

He found the day boring, trying to keep his mind on other things than his pending doom if the surgery failed and who had to be an irritating blonde he fancied more than any woman in his life but she seemed to have already made her mind up she was going to chew him out every time they met, hence him not thinking sitting at the same dinner table was going to help his cause.

Maybe she'd already made her mind up she didn't like him but he'd probably been a bit abrupt with her the few times they'd met and if she knew Danny, she was bound to have been upset on the beach.  Just before what everyone else called finishing time, Ellie knocked on his door.

"Tonight then, dinner?" she asked, too cheerfully for his liking and wishing she'd forgotten about it.

"Yes, fine then.  Have you organised the reconstruction yet?" he asked.

"I'm still not happy about Tom leading it," she replied, since she'd hastily been trying to arrange it.

"He's the best one to do it Miller, who else was best friends with Danny?"

Ellie thought about it.  Tom and Danny lived across the field from each other and she couldn't name any of Danny's other friends.

"Well okay then but it had better not be too late and something had better come of it.  Here's my address," she replied, handing him a piece of paper.  "I can still ask Rose but she might be working," she added, knowing her friend was coming in the following day.

She knew she couldn't, after what Rose had said about her matchmaking skills.  How was she to know Rose was into more mature men who didn't act the fool all the time and that Olly was one of them?  She knew Rose meant business but Hardy certainly wasn't one to act the fool.  Maybe she should work on her friend, there was still time yet.  She knew Rose worked awkward hours but sometimes she was finished at an earlier hour, goodness knew who had come up with those work patterns.

Alec was relieved to get the dinner invite over with but after tonight, she would have had enough of him and not ask him again.

Rose and Steven had drawn the late shift, not due to finish until midnight but if it was quiet, they'd probably get back early and there would be no changeover at that time, though she could still never work out why some shifts overlapped but she supposed it was so everyone wasn't in a rush and people were kept waiting.

"You look miles away," Steven told her just after six and they'd attended a boy in the skateboard park who'd been trying a new trick and his mother was worried he had concussion when he'd hit his head.

"No, I'm fine, it's just going in tomorrow and being interviewed," she admitted,

Steven laughed.  "Come on Rose, it's more like you're getting goosebumps thinking of Hardy asking you personal questions."

"Is not," Rose insisted, forgetting she couldn't wear hoop earrings for work as she was going to twist one.

Steven noticed and smiled.  "He's getting you all hot and bothered Rose, admit it.  You pretend to chew him out but you have all the classic symptoms."

Rose refused to answer.  "Ellie asked me to dinner tonight, she's trying to fix me up with him.  Well I think she meant tonight, she never actually said but I could tell she was planning something."

"After that disaster with her nephew?" he laughed as they waited at some traffic lights and being tempted to put the siren on.

"Yeah, bloomin' cheek she has," Rose tried not to smile.  "I wonder why he was outside the newsagents on his own when we went to see to Jack?"

"Maybe Ellie told him to keep out of it when he saw the ambulance and he was being nosey?" he suggested.

"Yeah, we know that.  If they'd been concerned, they would have both gone."

"Maybe?  Though maybe she was giving you two chance to make friends?" he grinned as they set off again.

"Good thing you're driving mate," Rose tried not to laugh.  "Why's everyone ganging up on me?"

"You don't already know love?  You're a single blonde female, he's a man.  Work it out," he suggested as they stopped outside a block of flats, not where Rose lived thankfully.

Getting out and picking up the emergency kit from under the seat, Rose decided if Ellie kept on trying to play matchmaker she might just try to get a boyfriend on her own, just to keep her friend quiet of course.

Alec had got back to the hotel, after he'd stopped off at the mini-market to get flowers, wine and chocolates, not knowing what to give to your hosts for a dinner invite.  Tess had organised that when they'd gone out and always had them waiting on the kitchen table when he'd got back from dropping Daisy at her gran's or Tess's sister's house.

Why had he even agreed to this?  Was it because she'd hinted she may ask Rose to go, which she probably wouldn't do even if she wasn't working and she was going into the station to be interviewed about what had happened on the beach plus to verify what Mark Latimer had told them, which Miller had said she'd not mentioned to her.  He'd purposely told Ellie not to mention it in case she was friends with the Latimers and Mark had the chance to call her and ask her to say she'd attended to Danny a few weeks ago.

How did he know though that she may have already been asked?  Still, they could ask her but her work partner may not have been so agreeable about it, if it wasn't true.  He was now actually looking forward to questioning her tomorrow, he may even send Miller on another mission but Rose may refuse to talk to him or chew him out again.  Still, it might be worth it, he thought as he found himself outside the Miller house as the cab driver stopped.

Ellie stared at him when she opened the door.

"Oh, you're wearing a suit, you didn't have to dress up," she laughed as he held out the bottle of wine before he dropped it.  "Are these all for me?" she added, looking at the flowers, then seeing the box of chocolates under his arm.

He felt like say no, they were for Rose, if she'd turned up despite him telling his DS he hadn't thought it was a good idea but Ellie took them from him.

Instead of saying he'd hoped to give at least one of the gifts to Rose and trying not to look disappointed she'd taken them all, she let him in.

"Come on through," she told him as he closed the door and followed her into the kitchen, expecting Rose to come out of a corner or something.  "Joe, Alec brought wine, flowers and chocolates."

"You can come again," Joe laughed.  "Ell, you didn't invite Rose did you?" he asked as she put the flowers down and thinking maybe Hardy had half hoped his former work partner and now family friend had turned up despite Ellie telling him when she came home that Rose had refused point-blank to be stitched up with another of her matchmaking attempts.

Alec knew she had still planned on it despite his insistence she didn't.

"No, she's working I expect," Ellie replied as an excuse.

Even if Rose finished early, she had no excuse to ask her again other then she felt outnumbered but her friend wouldn't have taken pity on her and would have told her it served her right for inviting him.

Ellie was talking to him but he was still waiting for a knock on the door and Rose would turn up.

"I can call you Alec tonight, not Sir, like here's your dinner Sir," Ellie laughed.

Alec thought she over-compensated sometimes.

"I never liked my name, I must have been given it because of a great-uncle or something," he replied.  "You don't have to say my name all night, do you?  If you hand me something or talk to me, I know who you mean, since there's only me."

He was going to say it wasn't like she'd succeeded in getting her friend to join them.  He wondered if they did talk about him, it was just as well she wasn't there then, it would make them both even worse.

Ellie stared at him.  "Well come through then, I'll show you the dining room, well it's the dining room when Fred's not got his toys all over the place," she added, thinking that wouldn't impress him.

Maybe if she'd actually talked Rose into joining them and put her boss off until the following evening, she might have done but would he have thanked her for it?  There again, would Rose?

As they talked over their meals, Alec revealing he had a teenage daughter who lived with her mother, not that he needed reminding of that, he thought he'd got away with one glass of wine he'd sipped slowly all through the meal until Ellie excused herself.

Joe was trying to fill his glass that he'd let go of, him trying to protest.

"Come on, you can't just have the one, you're not driving are you?" Joe grinned.

He knew he should have borrowed a car but he'd been advised by his friend not to drive.  He let his glass be filled then took a swallow, planning on leaving the rest of it.

"Does she like working with me?" Alec dared ask him, knowing the answer but trying to be polite, well polite by his standards.

"You’re here for dinner aren't you?" Joe laughed.  "So, she's been trying to set you and Rose up has she?"

Alec didn't need reminding of that either.

"I guess so, she said you used to work with her?" he replied.

"Yeah, before Fred came along, she was newly qualified when she arrived here, she soon got into the job though," Joe told him.

"You must miss all the action though?" Alec wondered, trying to get more out of him about working with Rose.

Joe put his glass down.  "Yeah, before I volunteered to be the one to stay at home, I wouldn't swap it now though, especially after they found Danny on the beach.  Ellie said you'd met Rose before that morning?"

"At a traffic accident, then on Saturday morning, she chewed me out," Alec admitted

Joe started to laugh.  "I'd have loved to have seen that then, what did she chew you out for?"

"She said I was too hard on people when I asked them questions," he replied.

"Are you?" Joe grinned.

"I'm saying nothing," Alec replied, knowing he was falling into a trap.  Joe began laughing and Alec saw the funny side, just as Ellie came back in.

"What's so funny?" she asked Joe, then looked at Alec.

"Nothing," Joe smiled.  "Just Rose chewing him out the other day."

"Outside the newsagents?" Ellie grinned.  "Rattled your cage did she?" she asked Alec.

Alec refused to answer.  A while later, he thanked his hosts for dinner and decided to walk across the field and cut across to his hotel but the wine and the night air were not mixing well.  He knew he shouldn't have finished that last glass of wine but they had both been watching him and he couldn’t have his DS being suspicious of him.  He reached his hotel, going to the side door as the woman from the caravan park shouted goodnight to him.

He could see everything turning hazy so without causing anything else, he got to his door, fumbled with his keys and staggered to the bathroom to get water to take his pills but as he reached in his pocket, he'd forgotten about the prescription his friend was sending him, that would probably arrive in the morning and he'd left the only full strip of them in his desk drawer, leaving him trying to get pills out of the pack that weren't there.

As he felt the dizziness taking over, he just prayed someone would hear him fall and send for help and prayed again it would be Rose, if he was going, he wanted to see her one last time.

It was just after ten when Steven answered the call to go to the Trader's Hotel as Rose had got him to let her drive for a change.  Rose wondered if that was where Alec Hardy was staying but the call wouldn't be about him, would it?  There had to be plenty of men staying there, who had fallen and hit their heads on the bathroom sink.

Steven was noting all the details while putting the siren on, Rose wishing he'd let her do that for a change as well.

"Get a move on Rose, the bloke's unconscious and there's blood from behind his ear, he must have cracked it on the edge of the sink as he fell," Steven told her.

"Did you get a name?" Rose asked as she knew the quickest way to the hotel.

"You heard the call, some woman said the hotel owner asked her to pick up the phone and call for us, I don't expect she stopped to get the details.  The person on the floor below must have complained about the noise, got Becca and had gone to tell off whoever it was," Steven replied.

"Yeah, I expect so," Rose told him as she tried to put it out of her mind it was actually Alec Hardy but she had thought he'd gone to Ellie's tonight for dinner but was her friend fooling her and going to spring it on her tomorrow when she went to the station that she needed some moral support?

They stopped outside the hotel, Steven knocking on the front door as he didn't fancy waiting for anyone to open the side one.  A flustered Becca Fisher answered.

"Hi, come in, he's on the second floor," she told Steven as Rose went in first, the green bag on her shoulder since he'd passed it to her.

"So, who is it?" Steven asked, seeing Rose looked anxious it may be the bloke she'd never admit she fancied from their first meeting.

"Oh, weren't you told?" Becca asked as she lead them upstairs and Rose hoping whoever it was, she'd left someone with him.  

They reached a door that was propped open and one of the maids was standing in the bathroom doorway, Rose not being able to see who the long legs curled up belonged to but she swore Alec Hardy had been wearing the same colour trousers the few times they'd met.  Then the woman moved and she could tell it was him, a pool of blood on the floor and a white towel now stopping him loosing any more stuffed behind his neck.

"His name's Alec Hardy," Becca offered.  "I don't know what happened, I thought he'd just banged his head."

They both rushed over to Alec, Steven taking the lead and Rose getting things out of the bag they may need and holding the towel in place.  Steven looked up at Rose as he checked Alec's pulse and checking his heartbeat.

"We'll have to take him to hospital," Steven told Becca, not being able to say what else was wrong with the man other than what she already knew.  "Rose, I'll go get the stretcher, you stay with him in case he comes round but that wound needs stitches." 

Rose nodded, glad there was a lift even though they'd come up the stairs, since it was around the other side.  She glanced around the bathroom to see where he'd hit his head and spied the empty blister pack at the other side of the sink.  She picked it up and put it in her shirt pocket as Becca came closer, the maid having gone down with Steven to let him back in.

"Is he going to be okay?" Becca asked as Rose put the emergency breathing apparatus around his head and placed it over his mouth.

"He's still breathing Becca, seems you'll have a job cleaning those towels," she tried to joke as the man she'd taken a dislike to but bothered the hell out of her was lying there and it he wasn't so infuriating, she'd have snogged him outside the newsagents for being so smug.

She heard the rattle of the stretcher as Steven came back in and they carefully lifted Alec up and out of the small bathroom and placed him on it.

"I've called it in Rose," Steven told her as she tried to put another towel behind where he'd been injured, thinking Becca wouldn't thank her for that.

They got into the lift and Rose handed Steven the empty blister pack.

"Heart medication," Steven told her.  "He's only got a faint pulse though I wasn't going to say that in company.  Sorry Rose, you'd best stay with him, I'll drive.  If he comes round he'd rather see your face than mine."

"What do ya mean by if he comes round?" Rose asked as they exited the lift and made their way to the front door where Becca was waiting to let them out.

"Do you want me to go with him?"  Becca asked.

"No, it's fine, we've got it," Rose assured her.  "We'll get details later, we know his name."

"Yeah, well who wouldn't know it unless they've been on a parallel world?" Steven joked as he opened the ambulance doors.

Once inside, they set about stabilising Alec and knowing what medication he was on, Steven put a drip on him, as the ambulance wasn't only used by them and Rose hooked him up to the monitor after cleaning his wound and unfastening his shirt, something she wished she was doing other than saving his life.

"He'll be okay while we get him to emergency," Steven tried to assure her as he closed one of the doors.  "If you start to loose him, yell and I'll break the speed limit even more.  It's lucky the hospital's only ten minutes away."

Rose dreaded to think if the health authority had got its own way and transferred emergencies to Exeter or Dorchester as she sat beside him and took his hand, his ear now covered with tape holding some cotton wool in place but it seemed to have stopped bleeding.  She was still worried as she glanced at the heart rate monitor and was glad Steven saw the urgency and the look on her face when she'd seen who was lying on the floor.

She felt Alec's hand moving and he was trying to take off the breathing mask with his other one.

"Stay where you are Alec," Rose tried to tell him, fighting to get the breathing mask back on and winning as he gave up. 

"Where am I?" he managed to ask.

"On your way to hospital, you had quite a crack," Rose smiled as he seemed to settle down but she knew they were almost at the hospital as the street lights gave way to just the natural lighting of the hospital grounds with just a few decorative lamps scattered around.

As he lay back, trying to stay conscious, he could see her smiling at him but as she started to fade away, he just hoped he'd wake up to be able to see her again and admit he was an idiot.

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7
Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20


Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

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