The decoy groom

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Based loosely on 'The Decoy Bride', Rose Tyler is about to get married to a famous Scottish actor who is currently on filming location over in Las Vegas for his latest film. They haven't found a wedding location so Rose goes on holiday to the small town of Broadchurch and meets her fiancé's double and to avoid the press, uses poor Alec Hardy as a decoy to throw them off the scent.

Rose Tyler is about to get married to a famous Scottish actor who is currently on filming location over in Las Vegas then meets her fiancé's double on holiday and to avoid the press, uses poor Alec Hardy, who is less than pleased he has been chosen and grumpy with it as a decoy to throw them off the scent. 
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Chapter 1 
Based loosely on 'The Decoy Bride', Rose Tyler is about to get married to a famous Scottish actor who is currently on filming location over in Las Vegas for his latest film.  They haven't found a wedding location so Rose goes on holiday to the small town of Broadchurch and meets her fiancé's double and to avoid the press, uses poor Alec Hardy as a decoy to throw them off the scent.   All times and dates are mixed up as are the locations and no intrusion into anyone's real lives' is intended as facts fuse with pure fanfiction 

Set in Broadchurch after the Danny Latimer case has been solved and two weeks before Joe Miller's hearing.

It was going to be quite a wedding, Rose Tyler, Vitex heiress, socialite and unknown Torchwood agent had bagged herself quite a catch of a famous fiancé when she met him at a charity dinner.  He had quite a reputation until he met her but she had soon tamed him.  It had started in a small way, going out to dinner when he wasn't busy filming on various locations but everywhere they went, the press were sure to follow, reminding Rose of a nursery rhyme from her old world that had never been written here so she had to be careful.

When her then boyfriend proposed to her on her birthday, they had tried to keep it quiet but the news soon reached the social networks and newspaper articles, glossy magazines and trashy tabloids, one in particular who were always claiming the couple were already secretly married with two kids and he still went off filming and leaving them behind or the next week they had got divorced and she hated him.
Pete of course tried to smooth things, the latest trend was that the couple were hunting around for the perfect wedding location since the groom was from Scotland and he wanted to get married on a remote Scottish island where they could control who got on the ferry to attend the wedding but Rose had argued the press were sneaky and could disguise themselves as the ferry crew.

James Smith, the said famous Scottish actor and upcoming groom had spent the weekend with Rose at their apartment by the River Thames that looked out across to Tower Bridge, which Rose was amused had a glass walkway at the top and said no-one would get her to walk across without dragging her kicking and screaming, James saying it might be worth a try.

''Rose honey, we really have to think about a wedding location, there's only three months and you know what your mother is like.  She has the whole thing on standby just waiting for our final decision.  Can we at least agree it's going to be somewhere up in Scotland?''

He was taking a break from filming that had taken its toll on the couple since it was out in Las Vegas and a closed set, not allowing her to go with him.  She tried to travel to some of the places he filmed within the country and even when he went to the U.S to try for a part in an upcoming law drama that never made it past the pilot but it hadn't deterred him and he tried to hit the big time in the American market once more in a re-make of a cult horror film about a vampire hunter.

Rose had not been happy that after the wedding, he was considering another law drama that was to be filmed in Glasgow and the surrounding area that would cut into their honeymoon if some careful negotiations didn't take place soon.

''James, I don't know about Scotland, it's just, well, so far away from anything, there's only a tiny hotel, everyone will have to stay on the mainland apart from us and mum, dad and Tony and I know they won't be happy if there's not enough room for us all and where do we actually have the ceremony?''

''In the garden of the hotel I expect, the caterers will put up a massive marquee, that's why we have to decide now.  I have to go back tomorrow for at least three more weeks towards the end of filming, just waiting around most of the time, it won't be worth travelling backwards and forwards but maybe you could come over?''

''I thought they were strict?''

He put his arms around her and leaned his chin on her head.  ''There are ways of getting around that, we should have thought about that before.  Now come here and let me talk you into following me to the Nevada desert.''

''James, I could use that time to find a wedding location.  It's not that I don't want to be with you but what am I gonna do if they need to take you out on set without notice?  I don't want to wander around the casinos all day, I don't gamble like that. I'll look up a few places and maybe visit some, see if I can throw the press off our tails then when the day comes around, they won't know which way to turn, will they?''

''Rose Tyler, you are nothing but a sneak, I knew there was a good reason I was marrying you.''

''Is that the only reason Jamie boy?''

''You know what happens when you call me that so never say you were not warned my love.''

An hour later, they were debating whether to order dinner in or risk some opportunist photographer or even someone with a camera on their phone snapping them and making a swift few hundred quid selling it to a magazine but James decided if he was going away for another three weeks, he would actually risk yet another photo of them being published then Rose may be able to visit a few places without being bothered.   She had not yet met a certain junior reporter in a small Dorset coastal town who was now bored and awaiting the hearing of his own uncle for killing an eleven year old local boy.

It was a cold February evening as they went down in the lift to the underground car park, a luxury as it avoided anyone getting past the security grill and waiting to catch them kissing or something else as they got in and out of James's distinct powder blue car, something Rose said he should get rid of and get a black one but he loved that car, it was the one they'd made out in just after they met and he finally got her on the back seat parked behind the Tyler mansion.  What a night that had been, he remembered.

Rose had been flustered and almost got caught by security roaming the grounds, Pete's orders after the Cybermen had smashed several ground floor windows and had got on the premises with no resistance, though he suspected Lumic had hacked into his computer and learned everything easily, maybe even the old Jackie had willingly helped, they were on the verge of divorce.

The next morning, Rose drove James to the airport, commercial planes were now more popular for long distances and much faster, especially across the Atlantic ocean and across the continent of America.  He was meeting his PA, a man called Eric, Rose wouldn't let James have a female assistant, not that she didn't trust him, she didn't trust women, full stop but his bachelor days were almost over and it wouldn't stop the odd female from trying one last time.

Watching him wave to her as he turned from going through the gate in the airport terminal, she decided it would be more fun for them to make up when he got back, then he was taking some time off, well apart from making a few chat-show appearances and maybe a few voice-over ads then deciding if he was going to accept the part in Glasgow, which she really hoped he wouldn't because she wanted to have some time with him before he got caught up in it all.

Why had she gone and fallen in love with a famous actor?  One that when she looked at him, she could see the Doctor in him in so many ways, even the daft accent he had put on during their encounter with Queen Victoria that time but they never got around to getting beyond friendship and here was James, going off and leaving her again but at least she knew he was coming back.  She stood at the large window, waiting for the aircraft to begin its taxi on the runway, thinking about where to begin her search of a wedding venue.

She was taking his car back to the apartment when she decided to pay her mother a visit and have a cry on her shoulder that James would be away for three weeks and what was she going to do but more importantly, decide the final design for her wedding dress before the endless rounds of fittings and choosing the flowers, should they not be getting married on a remote Scottish island that probably wouldn't allow anything that wasn't grown there to be used, local economy and all that.
Tony was at school and her mother greeted her as Rose wandered into one of the sitting rooms.

''There you are Mum, quiet time while Tony's at school?''

''Yeah, he's not any different when he comes home.  Been to see James off have you?''

''Yeah, thought I'd find a sympathetic ear to listen to me complaining about him going off but that's what he does.  I really hope the film's a success but I remember the original, it was terrible, I can't think why they wanted him or why he was so keen to be in it and he can't tell me anything about it, he had to sign a non-disclosure form, even for wives and girlfriends and such.  I think I'm gonna just go off somewhere for a few days, before I start looking for a wedding venue.  I wish that castle I wanted hadn't already been booked, that would have been really nice.  I think I'll just go pack a few things and drive down to the coast, somewhere that's out of the way and no nosey reporters.''

''Well don't go anywhere where you'll get recognised and stay away from that place that was all over the news last year while you're at it Rose, you know, the one where that boy was killed.''

''Oh yeah, I know where you mean, that detective's husband did it, such a shame the rest of the country don't know about it, dad only got to know because of who he is.  Still, the place would get mobbed if everyone else found out.  Actually, that might be a good place to escape to for a few days since James insisted that DI looked like him when he decides to go without a shave for a week.''

Jackie laughed, she always teased her future son-in-law that since he was fairly rich and famous he could afford blades for his razor.

''From what I was reading Mum, the trial is gonna take place in a few weeks time, not sure where though, it will be a great time to disappear, everyone will be far too busy to bother about me.  I think I'll tell James when he calls.  I'm off to pack, unless you want to come with me?''

''Yeah Rose, that's a good way of disappearing, us tagging along, the Tylers coming to town.  I think we'll give that a miss thanks very much, you go and have a few days away, you never know, you might find somewhere down there you want to get married in.''

So Rose went back to the apartment she shared with James and started packing for a few days by the sea, wishing he was going with her but he was on his way to go film outside Las Vegas on some piece of desert or another so he'd said and wished the three weeks would be up so he could come back, it was really annoying his scenes were going to be split up so he didn't have time to get back until it was all over.

Down in Broadchurch, Alec Hardy was preparing for the upcoming hearing of Joe Miller, wondering what had happened to his old DS since she moved to Devon, Exeter so someone had mentioned.  His rented boathouse for want of a better word was untidy with files from the Latimer case and from his old Sandbrook one that he'd got someone he knew there to send on to him.

The postman had just been twenty minutes ago, even though there was no proper letterbox, he never went out until it arrived since he only taught at the academy over in Exeter four afternoons a week and the chief there had told him more than once to brighten up and stop boring the new recruits to death just because he himself was almost on its doorstep.

Another letter from the local hospital, well the one in Exeter, telling him to urgently make an appointment for a pacemaker to be fitted and they would not give up until he made one.  ''Bloody doctors,'' he muttered as he put his reading glasses on his nose when he had sat down on the doorstep.  ''Why can't they leave me to go on my own terms instead of dictating when I go?''

He put the letter down, got up and picked up the newspaper lying on the wooden bench he sometimes put out.  More news headlines about that rich kid Rose Tyler and her actor boyfriend, just what he needed, speculating the couple were looking for a wedding location, expecting it to be somewhere in Scotland.  Alec was just glad he had left there, they wouldn't be his problem and pitied the force that had to deal with that fiasco, two big personalities getting married and it would all surely end in tears – or arrests of gatecrashers.

He just hoped that when they did finally decide where they were getting married, it wouldn't be in his town, not that it was actually his town as such, he was just biding his time until he completed his stint of teaching and the chief super would find him a few hours of desk duty but that wouldn't be until after the hearing and for the next two weeks, he plenty to do.  He had stashed Claire in a cottage a few miles down the coast and in his spare time trying to find some clues so he could re-arrest her husband for murder and possible kidnapping.

Maybe he should get himself fixed after all, if he wanted to live to bring Ashworth to justice but that all depended now if Joe Miller was going to get a long prison sentence or not and if he walked away from it, then he had two causes to carry on living but maybe one was enough.
Chapter 2
He was not expecting Rose Tyler to turn up in the town, he had met her quite by chance as he was crossing the footbridge over the river as she was lifting a small case out of the back of her car, opting to leave James's one at home since it always got him recognised and once she checked in, was going back for the other since she was trying to balance her shoulder bag and close the back door.

Alec saw her struggling and walked over.  ''Let me help you with that?''

''Thanks.  Hey, I know who you are, you're that detective, what are you still doing here?''

''Waiting for the hearing to start.  So who are you then?''

''Seriously?  Don't you read the newspapers in Broadchurch?''

He reached up and slammed the back door down, a bit too loudly for Rose's liking.

''I don't have time to read newspapers, especially when they write about you, I had enough of them last year.  You seem to have me at a disadvantage, who are you then?'' he repeated, noting she had left some luggage in the back of her car but if he waited any longer, his taxi would be pulling in and he'd have to be rude and leave.

Who was he kidding?  He was always rude but maybe not to young blonde women.

Rose let go of her case handle and held her hand out.  ''Rose Tyler, nice to meet you, Alec Hardy.  Maybe I'll see you around, I'm going to be staying here for a while, I'm looking for wedding locations but for helping me just now, maybe I can buy you a drink later, I'm staying right here.''

''I'll consider it, I have to go now, my taxi is here.''

''Bye then, I'll be in the bar later.''

Alec was driven off and shook his head, wondering what the famous Rose Tyler was really doing there, looking for wedding venues indeed.  Rose thought nothing more of her meeting, she probably wouldn't even see him again and what was she thinking, inviting him for a drink when she was wearing an engagement ring?  She might be missing James but saying hello to a detective was her limit.  After she settled in, she decided to go sit outside by one of the food vendors and sat at a table by the wall just after five and stared across the water to a blue chalet just at the river's edge.

She was sure Alec Hardy had come from across the bridge earlier, maybe he lived there?  If she had been staying in town longer, maybe she would have rented something herself.  She turned around and there was Alec, leaning on the corner of the wooden hut, holding a white polystyrene cup.  She had never even heard him place his order and he hadn't noticed her looking at his chalet.

''Alec, hi, come and join me?''

He stepped over, telling the stall holder he would be at one of the tables and for them to shout loud.  Was he ever going to get rid of this woman?

''I thought the hearing wasn't being held yet?''

''No, I teach at the academy over in Exeter until they see the error of their ways and let me have a desk job but that won't be until after the hearing, why are you so interested?''

''I just am, I thought I would just come down here for a few days, look around the area and see if there was somewhere I could get married.  I get tired of reporters following me everywhere, coming down here seemed like a good idea, then I run in to you.''

Alec's order was called so he excused himself for a few minutes.  Rose considered leaving but figured she could sneak a few chips from him if he was willing to share. He wasn't as he scowled when she went for one.

''Can't you afford to buy your own?  Go ahead, I'm not really supposed to eat that many anyway but they aren't as greasy from here.  Aren't you going to ask me why?''

''You've got a heart problem, not fixed yet?''

''Did my doctor send you to spy on me Miss Tyler?''

''It's Rose and no, nothing of the sort, I told you why I'm here, don't you believe me?''

Alec went quiet and Rose continued to help him finish his meal.  ''I don't suppose you know how I can rent that chalet over there, the blue one?''

''How would I know, I'm not a rental agency.''  He got up and put his carton in the bin by the side of the stall, then he relented.  ''It's booked for a while, by me at least until the hearing is done with and if I survive my operation.  I don't think you'd find it a suitable venue for your wedding.''

Rose smiled.  ''Never said it would, unless it's bigger on the inside, thanks for the chips Alec.''

''I'll be sure to call you the next time I order some and don't wait for me in the bar, I don't drink any more, I'm not allowed.''

''Is there anything you're allowed to do?''

''Not much, not that I actually enjoy but maybe not for much longer, the operation will go one way or the other.  I'll maybe see you around then, I'm out though most afternoons except Friday, I'm told the recruits need one afternoon off from me boring them.''

''I'm sure they will learn from your experience and you could drink something non-alcoholic and keep me company, ward off the locals.''

''What would your fiancé think?''

''He's not here, is he?''

Against his better judgement, by eight thirty, he got tired of watching the small TV, put his overcoat on and crossed the bridge, using the rear entrance of the bar and hotel and looking around for Rose Tyler.  Rose was getting tired of waiting and went to the ladies room but coming out, she saw him about to leave, trying to catch up with him.

''Hey, where are you going?  I've been waiting for you, come and sit down.''

Rose had been thinking while she had been waiting, Alec Hardy was the perfect decoy, he looked like James, well maybe his beard was a bit much but he may get away with it.  If she played this right, she could make everyone believe they were looking for wedding venues then sneak off and book one in Scotland, maybe in a castle or something and the press would be none the wiser.

Her luck was about to be tested as Olly Stevens walked into the bar and spotted Rose talking with the detective.  He couldn't believe his eyes, how did he not know Rose Tyler was in town and with the local grumpy detective or was she?  Was she trying to sneak her fiancé around in the same town as Hardy?  Olly had seen very little of the detective lately and wouldn't be surprised if he'd already left town though he'd have to turn up for the hearing over in Exeter.

Whoever it was, Hardy or that James Smith, Rose Tyler was engrossed in talking to him.  Rose was trying to persuade Alec to let her see his chalet.

''I could take that the wrong way Miss Tyler, why do you want to see it?  It's a mess anyway, I have case files all over the place.''

''Maybe I could help you tidy them up?  Look, I think I'm gonna be bored so maybe I could help?  Are you going over that case you just solved?''

''That and the one I failed on before I came here and the files are confidential, I can't let anyone just see them.''

''I'm not anyone, you know who my stepfather is, before all this, I used to work with him and not at Vitex, if you get my drift.  I only left when I started following James around the country on filming location.  Maybe a fresh pair of eyes would help see what you missed?''

''I'm leaving it until after this hearing then I may go back to it or not, you won't be here then, I hope.''

He took a sip of his non-alcoholic lager and placed the bottle on the table, he had ended up buying the drinks despite her asking him to join her.  He spied the local reporter standing at the bar and tried to ignore him, with a bit of luck Stevens would think he was the woman's fiancé and leave him alone.  Maybe that would be worse though, he'd have to be seen out with the blonde.  He had already half decided if she had some ulterior motive for inviting him out, he would play along, he was always being told he needed a social life and since she was engaged, what harm was there in keeping her company?

At the very least it would ensure he knew where she was plus he wouldn't be expected to make any kind of move on her and it would get him out once in a while. She would be gone in a week anyway, long before the hearing and he could be seen with worse women, Claire Ripley for starters.  He knew he'd have to go check up on her sooner or later and check Ashworth hadn't sneaked back in the country without him knowing.

He hadn't checked in with his contact lately and he'd not been informed of anything, he had no reason to believe the man had already located where he was living.  Rose was asking him a question.

''Alec, are you ok?  You look miles away, I thought I was the one who stared into space all the time.  Is something wrong?''

Alec shook his head.  ''No, apart from me sitting here having a drink with you, where is your fiancé anyway?  Why isn't he with you?''

''He's filming over in Las Vegas, I wasn't allowed to go with him, he won't be back for almost three weeks so before I go hunting for wedding venues, I'm taking a well-earned break.''

''Great, does that mean I'm stuck with you in this town for three weeks?''

Rose smiled.  ''Who says you're stuck with me?''

''You know where I work and where I live, should I be worried about you?''

''You think I'm gonna follow you around?  You are sadly mistaken Mister.  If you don't want my help with your case fine, I'll stay well away from you.  Thanks for the drink.''

She put her glass down and picked up her purse but he took her arm.  ''You still owe me a drink but maybe I'll pass, if you insist on leaving so early.  You wanted to see my chalet, I'm not teaching tomorrow, come over, I'll be in.''

''I'll think about it and I owe you a drink.  I'm just a bit tired, sorry, I'm not usually so touchy.  I'd best say goodnight then, maybe I'll see you tomorrow?''

''Meet me in the harbour café at one, I'll buy you some chips.''

Rose giggled and got up, leaning back down to kiss his cheek.  Maybe he would play along after all, that or run a mile, if his bad heart let him.  Alec watched her go, seeing Stevens turn on his barstool though what the reporter was doing sitting at the bar, he could only imagine he was waiting for her to leave.  Alec glared at him, daring him to follow but Olly just sat there sipping from a bottle.  Olly knew now it was actually the detective, for one, the man had not followed her and two, no-one glared the way Hardy did, it was an art form.

Olly couldn't decide if there was a story or not yet but why was she sitting with the detective and more importantly, where was her fiancé?  The next morning, Rose went for a walk on the beach, kicking herself for taking the huff last night but he had started it, being so grouchy.  How was it even possible another Doctor look-alike existed on this world?  When she had met James, she had instantly taken a liking to him without any hesitation because she figured she was owed since she was torn away from the man she had loved and this was her compensation but Alec Hardy? He looked like James when he was growing his beard, something she had loved about him because it didn't remind her of the man she had left behind.

She found the harbour café at the end of a row of apartments and since she was early, just ordered a pot of tea and two cups.  Alec was deciding whether to go meet her or not, being seen out with her twice may not be such a good idea after all, what would her fiancé say?  Now Stevens had noticed and it could get very complicated. Rose was debating whether to ask Alec outright if he would agree to accompany her around town for the weekend and by Monday, the word would have got around that he was actually James and that was where they were getting married, leaving her to safely book a Scottish venue without it leaking into the gossip columns.

She was beginning to wish they could just go off somewhere on their own with her family and get married quietly.  The first few years of being the Vitex heiress had been bad enough but when she had fallen for James, she had been singled out to be followed by the press hoping they would get to him.  There were times when she wished he wasn't so extrovert and kept to himself but he loved showing her off at awards ceremonies, opening nights of plays he wasn't even in and his film premières.  What she would give to be a nineteen year old girl working in a shop and living on their old estate back on their old world.

Rose was certain the detective was only curious to see if she was just as famous without her fiancé as she was with him but since he hadn't yet arrived, she thought he'd changed his mind but the door opened and in he walked, looking around for her.

''Nice of you to join me, you're late.''

Alec raised his eyebrows.  ''I hadn't decided if I was going to give up my afternoon off or not.  I suppose this place is one up from eating at the catering stalls, at least I can't see my chalet from here.''

Rose smiled and took the cup that was upside down on the saucer and poured some tea for him, she could see where he lived.
Chapter 3
Alec had decided he was going to take the next week off anyway since he had to prepare himself for the upcoming hearing but he sure hadn't planned on spending it with Rose Tyler as over lunch, she told him what she had planned and asked if he would mind going around with her.

Alec dropped his fork whilst eating his jacket potato with cheese and salad.  ''Excuse me?  You want me to walk around with you all weekend?  Why would I want to do a stupid thing like that?''

Rose smiled.  ''Because you could be my fiancé's double and the press will think we're really here looking for somewhere to get married and it will look so much better if you do.  I take it you know the local press?''

Didn't he just?  ''Yes, the local reporter is a total pain in the ass, he was watching us last night or rather he was watching you when you left but he won't be fooled into thinking I'm your fiancé so easily.''

''Well if you cut your hair and trim your beard, you'd pass as James but maybe lighten up a bit on the Scottish accent, don't mumble so much.''

''I do not 'mumble' as you so kindly put it, thanks very much and that's a great way of getting me to help you.''

Rose patted his arm.  ''Well why don't you start by looking as though you're actually enjoying my company?''

''That's easy for you to say, who said I was enjoying your company?''

''A girl could get hurt by that remark, James.''

''Don't call me that, don't you have another name for him?''

Rose considered.  ''Yes but I'm not telling you, I hardly know you and when I do call him that, let's say things get a bit intense.''

''Best not then but you won't get away with fooling the local reporter.''

''Let me take care of that, I'll pay them a visit and convince them you're him.  All you have to do is be seen in the hotel with me or coming to collect me or even better, say you've just arrived and I've rented your chalet.''

''I'm not sharing my chalet with you, it's barely big enough for me.''

''Well you said it was full of case files, just tidy them away.  Calm down, I'll still stay at the hotel, no-one will know about it, we'll just have a few drinks and leave together.''

''I'm not sure about this, what do I get out of it?''

Rose fluttered her eyelids.  ''My company?''

Alec shook his head, he had to be completely mad to be even discussing this with her.  While it was true she was stunning, very popular and any man his right mind would be clawing to get a date with her, let alone her asking them to spend the weekend with her but this?  Her fiancé wouldn't be too happy.

''So let's say you convince the local paper, what about the fact I'm well known in the town, where am I supposed to just disappear to?''

Rose thought about it.  ''You've got a hearing to attend the week after next, you said Exeter?  Maybe you could say you're moving to be nearer then you could come back?''

''Who says I want to come back?  Anyway your plan is flawed, the chalet is in my name, how would you explain that?  Some people know I'm staying there.''

''Oh.  Well in that case, we could bring the local press in on the game and I can promise them the exclusive on my actual wedding.  Do you think they will play along?''

Alec had to smile at her persistence, she had nerve.  ''Well the newspaper office is in the process of moving, I suppose the editor may be still at the old place but we'll try the new one first, just over the road, you can do all the talking and you're still not sharing my chalet.''

''Well you'll have to make it look like you're leaving the hotel with me and you did invite me over.''

''I was just being polite, I never said you had to take me up on the offer, did I?''

''Well come on then, no time like the present, let's make a start shall we?''

Alec knew he was going to regret this and if he thought he didn't need an operation for his heart, he needed a brain transplant.  He led the way across the car park and over the road, the new office was just set back from the hotel Rose was staying in, next to an amusement arcade, the premises had been empty for a while and Alec wondered why the paper would want to take it over.  He looked through the window but no-one was around.

''You're out of luck, we'll have to go up to the other office, where's your car?''

After pointing Rose in the right direction, she managed to find a space just below the newspaper office and they walked back.  The place was in turmoil as things were being moved, the tourist office had already gone, relocated to the town hall, desks were stacked up and Alec wondered now if it was going to be a two person operation, how had it come to be as bad as this?  The door was open and Alec led Rose in, Rose holding his arm and Alec trying to ignore the fact.

''Anyone at home?'' he called.

Maggie came out of the back.  ''DI Hardy, I thought you'd left town?''

''Didn't Stevens alert you to the fact he saw me last night?''

Maggie was already looking at Rose since she had found an empty desk and was leaning on the corner.

''I see you brought a friend with you but it can't be who I think she is, what's she doing here in Broadchurch?''

Rose was tired of being ignored, even if it did actually make a change.  ''I'm down here looking at wedding venues and I asked Alec to bring me here because I need your help.''

Maggie was curious.  ''Well we're in the middle of moving as you can see and I'm not sure how we can help.   Olly does most of the reporting online now, you need to speak to him but he's out.''

''Yeah, probably trying to spy on me since I was told he was in my hotel last night, watching me from the bar.  I want word to get out I'm here with my fiancé looking for somewhere to get married so we can actually arrange somewhere we both want without the press being all over us.''

Maggie still hadn't caught on.  ''So what can we do, where is your fiancé?''

''Over in Las Vegas but Alec here has agreed to help me out by pretending to be him, since they look alike.''

Alec didn't remember having agreed to it, he would get her back for that later.

Maggie smiled.  ''So, if we go along with this, what's in it for us?''

Alec figured it was more than he was getting, having to follow her around all weekend which he hadn't wanted to do in the first place.

''A press invite to my proper wedding and an exclusive interview with James and I when he gets back but it can't be published right away, only after the wedding and, how would you like to stay here?''

''I let all the staff go, well apart from Olly, it's all done online now and I'm getting freelancers to send me local news.''

''How about if I were to contribute to your new venture, give you a bit of a cash boost?''

''Go on.  So you want us to do a story you and your fiancé are here in Dorset looking at wedding venues and you've based yourselves in Broadchurch?  Isn't that asking for more press to descend on the town?  There's a hearing coming up in just over a week, the press will be all over that.''

''Yes and that's why this is the perfect time, they'll come down, try to find out where we are staying, take a few photos then off for the hearing.  Then I can get on with booking my wedding venue.''

Maggie smiled, the woman was devious, just how well did she know Hardy?

Rose drove them back to the hotel car park but as Alec was getting out, hoping he had got rid of her for the rest of the day, she asked him again if she could see his chalet.  Knowing he wasn't going to get any peace until he did, he reluctantly led her over the footbridge and the side of the wooden building, Rose asking what it was and him saying it was a fish restaurant, then he led her though the gate but he hadn't noticed a figure over the other side of the river, watching him and Rose.
Alec had been right, the place was a mess when everything was out but he had locked up any vital case files in a bureaux and the rest on top.

''Make yourself at home, you seem intent on doing so.  I'll make some tea though I could use something stronger but seeing I'm not allowed, tea will have to do.  Let's get one thing straight, since you seem intent on going ahead with this ridiculous idea of me being your boyfriend, you should at least tell him, so he won't read about it first.''

''Of course, as soon as he calls me and I'll have to let my stepfather in on it, since my mother will have a fit if she thinks he's back in the country and I haven't told her. I'll have to make a donation to the newspaper anyway, though I usually get paid for interviews, not the other way around.  Still, it's a small price to pay for the freedom of making my wedding arrangements in peace.''

''Well it had better all die down quickly and while we're at it, as soon as he comes back and you've got married, I want it known I played along to fool everyone.''

''Don't you just want to fade into the background?  Why say anything?''

''I suppose you have a point but if that reporter comes round here, I'll throw him in the river if it's about you.  You're free to leave when you've finished your tea.''

''Aw, I'm disappointed now Alec, throwing me so soon?''

''Don't get attached to me Rose Tyler, after the weekend, we go our separate ways, got it?''

He didn't even offer to walk her back to her hotel even though it was just across the footbridge.  She expected she would be dining alone tonight but since nothing would be in the papers until Monday, all they had to do was be seen over the weekend in nearby towns and then Monday, like Alec had said, they went their own way.  Alec didn't join her in the bar until around eight thirty and Rose thought he had baled out on their arrangement.

Olly was already seated in the bar, amused to say the least of the tale his editor had come out with and when Alec walked in, he had to look twice.  Alec had been back up into the town, got his hair cut and his beard trimmed and could now truly be James Smith's double.  Rose looked up from her phone, waiting for the real James's call when Alec stood in front of her, a green bottle in his hand.

''Wow, hi.  You really went to all that trouble, for just the weekend?''

He sat down next to her.  ''Don't get used to it, I'm only doing it to get you to leave me alone after Monday.  Watch out, this is us.''

Olly made his way over to their table and sat down opposite.

''Miss Tyler?  Have you got a few minutes to answer a few questions for the Broadchurch Echo?''

Maggie had filled him in on what Rose had asked them to do, follow her around a bit, interview her at the hotel she was staying at and maintain the pretence Alec Hardy was James Smith, the famous actor.  If he hadn't known better, he would have thought the real thing was sitting opposite him, since Rose now had her arm in his and was teasing him by running her hand over his chin, something that was making Alec hot under the collar to say the least.

Rose had already called Pete, not wanting to face her mother and outlined what she had planned.  Pete had laughed and said it was one of her craftiest ideas ever and wished her luck getting away with it and explaining it to James himself.  He had said though if things got out of hand, a press embargo would be put on all reporting and told her to be careful, using a police detective inspector as a decoy was rather going a bit far.

Since James didn't normally call until almost midnight, Rose put her phone away after she had sent him a message saying she'd had this plan to warn off the press from where they would get married, hoping he would get it when he got off set.  She didn't know though that James was having to sit in a hot trailer out in the desert because something had gone wrong on set, putting them behind schedule for a few days.

Olly got out his phone and began asking questions as if Alec really was James, asking their plans and where was likely they would be going after they left the area and what upcoming roles he would be taking.  Somehow or another, Rose had managed to answer mostly for him, saying all his future roles were kept under wraps and where they were going next was back to their apartment somewhere in London.

Alec was relieved when Olly thanked them for their time but frowned when he asked for a photo of the couple.  Rose just smiled, put her arm around his shoulder and kissed his cheek and Alec tried to smile, turning towards her and catching the side of her mouth.  Satisfied and wondering if Maggie was having him on, Olly put his phone away and said goodnight, Alec was hoping Rose would let go of him now but she didn't.

He supposed that since people had seen them obviously being interviewed, they had to make it look good.  He picked up the bottle of light lager and took a drink, Rose's glass was almost empty and she still hadn't bought him that drink from last night. When everyone's attention veered away from them, she moved away slightly but still holding his arm.

''Thanks for that, it was quite convincing.  I'm expecting a call soon, I'll have to let the real James in on this, I already called my stepfather.  Maybe we can discuss where we'll go tomorrow?  Are there any really nice hotels or country clubs around here we could pretend to visit?''

Alec couldn't think of any off-hand but why would he know?  ''Why don't you just look them up online and tell me or don't I get a choice?''

Rose smiled.  ''Ok, I'll do that but it still means we have to be seen at one of them or nearby.  I'll pick one out and we'll go there on Sunday, let them show us around and when it hits the headlines on Monday, we'll go back to Olly and tell him we're still deciding and it will do wonders for the actual place.''

Alec was wishing he'd never got himself into this, what had he been thinking when he'd agreed?  Looking around a wedding venue for real with Rose Tyler?  He just hoped her real fiancé was an understanding person or his hopes of getting back to work would be over and he would be forever teaching recruits.  Either that or the man would punch him for daring to pose as him with his fiancée.
Chapter 4
Since Alec was just barely talking to her and letting her go on about wedding venues, she decided to call it a night.

''You'd best leave with me tonight, you can walk me out then you can go.''

''Fine with me, how is he even putting up with you making wedding plans?''

''Because unlike you, he's actually interested and he's not been married before, unlike you.''

Rose bit her tongue, wishing she hadn't come out with that.  ''Sorry, that was low.''

''That's something coming from you.  Look, no more talk about weddings and I might actually be seen with you tomorrow and Sunday.  Call over for me in the morning, after ten and you can tell me where we're going.''

''Don't you have shopping to do?''

''What for?''

''Groceries and things?''

''I'll manage until Monday, thanks for your concern.  Come on and don't kiss me on the way out or I may have to retaliate.''

They said goodnight as Rose was about to go upstairs to her room, risking his wrath and giving him a kiss on his nearly smooth cheek.  If anyone were to see him, he would pretend he was just getting some fresh air before retiring for the night, no-one would see him crossing the footbridge back to his chalet.

Rather than have breakfast on her own the next morning, Rose figured she would just go over to the café and wondered if Alec would like to join her.  It was almost time for James to be ringing and she was wondering just how to put it to him before it all hit the news headlines he was seen in a Dorset coastal town when supposed to be filming in the Nevada desert.

Rose answered his call.  ''Hey, how's things in the desert?'' Rose asked cheerfully.

''Full of sand, what do you expect?  Miss me?''

''Yeah, like crazy.  You know about the press trying to guess where we'll get married?''

Rose told him briefly of her plan and that she had roped in a local police detective on sick leave to be his double.

''Are you crazy Rose?  He's playing along?''

''Only until Monday when the paper prints the interview and don't worry, he hates me, he's only doing it because he's bored on sick leave and he's got a hearing to attend in just over a week.  He's just going to be seen in a few places with me, he did an interview with me and on Monday, we tell the local paper we've found somewhere nearby then I can go off and not have them follow me around and they'll leave you alone when you get back.''

''Great but just one thing, how do you explain me going away again?''

''Easy, you came over during a filming break and you have to go back for a few weeks.''

James didn't sound that enthusiastic over it but he was thousands of miles away. ''So it's only until Monday and only for interviews?''

''Yes Jamie, don't worry so much babe.  When are you coming home?''

''Well they're running behind now, they had some problems earlier so it's looking like two weeks at least.''

''I thought it was more like ten days at the most?''

Now she was going to be on her own for longer than she had thought.  They talked a while longer but before ending the call, James asked more about Alec Hardy.

''He's the one from that murder case last year, right?  So what's he like?''

''A disagreeable grump, complains because he has to follow me around to wedding venues all weekend, he's not like you.''

''Glad to hear it, I'll call you tomorrow night.''

The next morning, Rose found her way over to Alec's chalet and knocked on the door.  She heard a noise inside and what sounded like 'Who the hell is knocking on my door on a Saturday morning' and saw him pulling a face when he found out it was her.

''I said after ten.''

''It's one minute past, geez grumpy, lighten up some.  You want to go get breakfast?''

''You mean with you?''

''Well yeah, that was the idea of being seen together.  Have you got any other clothes than your suit?  Only James doesn't wear suits all the time.''

''No and it's only until Monday, why would I want to go and buy any more clothes?''

''Ok, forget it, are you ready to go out?''

''I suppose I have to eat but I'm not going to one of those stalls and have the whole town watching me eat my breakfast, we'll go where we went yesterday and don't keep holding on to me all the time, got it?''

''Yes Sir.  I suppose it's my turn to pay?''

''You can bet on that.''

After an uncomfortable breakfast, Rose trying to make small talk about wedding plans to keep up with the charade and Alec trying to look like he was answering her, Rose drove them out of town so he could at least relax somewhat and not have some of the residents trying to decide who he was and they ended up across the border into Devon at a small resort, walking along the seafront.  Alec needed to sit down, she was pulling him around everywhere and he knew sooner or later he would have to admit there was something wrong with him but surely she had read up about him?

They sat on the wall at the far end of the promenade, Alec turning to her.  ''Rose, I have to slow down, I can't keep up with you, don't you know anything about me?''

''Only that you solved that boy's murder last year, why?  Oh, wait a minute, you got a reprieve over some other case that went wrong, that's why you said you were looking back into it.  Have you changed your mind about letting me help you?''

He was tempted to say yes and what harm would it do?  It would get him out of being bored next week before the hearing and give him someone to talk to, not that he was going to go any easier on her, she was engaged.

''Well maybe but there was one other thing though it wasn't widely publicized, there's something wrong with my heart.''

''What?  Oh Alec, I'm so sorry, I didn't know.  I remember something about you'd been taken ill, is that why you're teaching recruits?''

''Yes, they don't trust me to be on active duty, I collapsed chasing a suspect, two days before I got put on medical leave.  Now can we slow down a bit?''

''Yeah, that goes without saying, I'm so sorry but you never let on.''

''I don't go around telling everyone I meet.''

''No wonder you were being so grouchy, that explains a lot but if you're going to pose as James the rest of the weekend, just try not to look it.''

''So I'm not getting let off the hook then?  You'd best hope I don't pass out on you then and go easy on me.''

''Right, gotcha, come on then Jamie, let's go have some lunch, my treat.''

She got up and held out her hand, he took it.

''I'm not that bad Rose, I'm supposed to be your boyfriend.''

When they got back to Broadchurch, Rose asked if she could go back to his chalet and look over the Sandbrook files, to which he reluctantly agreed after admitting he would have to go to the local mini-market to get some milk and teabags and Rose getting some coffee.  Almost missing dinner, Rose was engrossed in the case files, Alec had managed to get quite a lot of information and Rose had papers all over the coffee table and was considering pinning them to the wall, meaning to check with him first.

Alec was stretched out on the sofa, letting her get on with it as she sat on the floor by his feet.

''Enjoying yourself?''

"What?  Oh yeah, heaps. I suppose you're tired of looking through all this but it's given me an idea of what you went through.  Seriously Alec, was it this that made you ill?  What exactly is wrong with you?''

''Heart arrhythmia, need a pacemaker operation but I'm not expected to survive it, well not unless I go private and have the best heart surgeon money can buy and I'm on sick pay.''

''Alec, haven't you got medical insurance, you being in the police?''

''No and if I had, I doubt it would be covered, I suppose I may have some sort of cover but nothing that will be anywhere near the cost of a pacemaker operation, I'll have to call the health service, the letters are piling up, they never stop reminding me.''

Rose was appalled.  ''What if someone were to offer to help?''

Alec sat up, putting his legs down and almost knocking Rose.  ''If you're going to suggest you pay for it, you can leave now.''

''You are so awkward Alec Hardy.  I offered to make a donation to the newspaper to get me out of being followed around, why don't I make a donation to the local hospital heart unit on the provision they take care of you?''

Alec got up and went to his jacket pocket, getting his pills out and going into the kitchen for some water.  Rose began to tidy the files.

''I guess you want me to leave then? Do you want to get something to eat?''

''No, I'm fine, I have food, thanks for looking at the files, I'll turn up for that interview on Monday, go look at your wedding venues tomorrow and I'll back you up then you'll be going back to London or wherever.  Don't worry about me.''

''You don't get out of it so easily Alec, I was going to stay.''

''Why, what possible reason have you got to stay?''

''To see you get your operation, to help you solve Sandbrook, need I go on?''

''Why not?  You admitted you were just using me for a decoy, now's your chance to do that and not have to put up with me for any longer.''

''Well tough, I'm not leaving.  I'll go get some food, can you eat Chinese?''

''Only chicken and rice, do you even know where it is?''

Rose smiled. ''Enlighten me.''

''I'm not going to get rid of you, am I?''

''Nope, so tough, I don't give up that easily so when I get back, we talk about where you were going to go for your operation and we pay them a visit.''

''Do you want to know why I kept putting it off?''

''Yes and I suspect it's because you don't want to admit you need it, you look like you want to dictate when your time's up but do you know something?  None of us know when our time is up, I had a friend, before I met James and we thought we had all the time in the world but we got separated, when those Cybermen came along, you just never know.  Take a chance Alec, just for once because it may be over sooner than you thought.''

''What happened?  Did your friend die?''

''No, he got trapped where the Cybermen went to when they left here, a bunch of us tried to stop them, we got separated and the gateway they opened to cross from here closed before he could get back, he's never coming back.  I never even told this to James, it's classified but you're the police, I'm allowed to tell you.''

''We're you close?''

''Yes but I left it too late to tell him, he never knew.  Now what's the address of that Chinese?''

Alec found the number using the internet on his phone and Rose was back twenty minutes later, Alec having plates set out on the table by the window.

''You didn't get spotted by the press then?  Only I wouldn't want you to get in the papers without me.''

Rose smiled.  They finished their meals, it was after eight and Rose decided to call it a night on the case files, at least they were still sort of talking and she didn't want to overstay her welcome.

''So I'll see you tomorrow, I can come over later, yeah?''

''If you must.  Bye then.''

Rose gathered her things, wondering if he would actually go for the operation even if she did make a donation to the heart unit.  He was a tough cookie.

Rose walked through the gate and was almost at the end of the footbridge, it was getting a bit chilly so she put the hood up on her jacket and glanced over at the pub, seeing bright lights coming from the front car park then suddenly she saw some figures with what looked like cameras – the press had found her.  She wondered how, since the interview wasn't supposed to go out until Monday, then she wondered if that reporter had put it out online.  She would have to get Alec to find out but what was she going to do?  She only had a key for the side door and they would see her.

She turned around and headed back to Alec's chalet and back through the gate. Alec heard it from his bedroom and looked through the wooden window blind.  He went to open the door.

''What are you doing back?  Can't stay away?''

''The front of the pub is swarming with photographers, there are floodlights out there and I saw someone with a camera, how did they find me Alec?''

''Seriously?  Maybe they followed you from the Chinese?  Rose, you've been walking around with me, what do you expect?''

''Yeah but how do they know where I'm staying?  That reporter didn't even know I was actually staying there.''

''I think I know how.  Some of the locals hang around in there, they must have seen us and called one of the daily papers, you'll have to move out.  Can't you get in around the back?''

''No, I only have the key for the side entrance and of course I can get in through the front and maybe during the day the back door is open but the landlord knows who I am and he probably knows you weren't booked in and is a bit annoyed though I am paying for a double room.  Can I stay here tonight?''
Chapter 5
Alec was not going to take pity on her but it was getting late as Rose just sat on his sofa drinking coffee, which he thought was going to keep her awake all night.

''You have to let me stay Alec, they could be camped out there all night, waiting for me to go back in.''

''What makes you think they were waiting for you anyway?  They could be waiting for him or maybe both of you.  Ok, you can have the spare room but early in the morning, you sneak around the back, get your stuff and move hotels, there are three others around there, I'm sure they will be glad to have you staying there.''

"Thanks, can I borrow a t–shirt to sleep in?''

''Fine, do you want my boxer shorts too?  And while you're at it, don't use my razor to shave your legs, I may not use it that often but I have to use it now to keep up this charade.  Since you're here, I may tag along with you tomorrow if you want to go look at something but don't expect me to be enthusiastic about it.''

''I'll try to stop you getting bored.  We just need to really visit one place, maybe one that's having a wedding fayre, drop a few hints about dates and leave the rest to the press.  How am I gonna get to my car though?''

''Really?  We sneak in the back way, you come downstairs carrying your things, we pose for a few photos then we leave, I'll show you how to get around the back of the chalet after you go book in at another hotel then on Monday, the press will go away and you can go back to normal, finish your holiday or whatever you were going to do.  You'll be out of my hair then.''

''I thought I was going to contact the hospital, which one is it anyway?''

''Why bother?''

''Don't be like that, take a chance Alec, while you still have one, remember what I told you.''

Rose got up and went to the bathroom and while she was in there, she wondered just why he was being so hostile towards her.  When James rang later, she couldn't let on that she was in Alec's chalet or he would get the wrong idea but Alec's suggestion they had photos taken leaving the hotel could be taken two ways but James had to understand she was doing this to take the pressure off both of them.  If he hadn't gone back to Nevada, they would have been making plans anyway, now they'd be able to do them in peace.

Alec tapped on the bathroom door, he was not accustomed to having to share.

''Rose. I've left you a t-shirt on the bed, are you going to be long?''

''No, just a minute and I'm not shaving my legs you'll be glad to know so keep your shirt on.''

She came out and looked at him.  He looked tired, she must have kept him out too long and now she regretted it but if he was stupid enough to keep that little fact from her, what did he expect?  How was she supposed to know about him if he hadn't revealed that part to the press?  The man was infuriating and now she was stuck here for the night, still she had James's call to look forward to soon.  She got a surprise when he called her early, just after ten.

Rose had just got changed into Alec's t-shirt and was hugging her knees, sat up on the bed and Alec was pacing the small living area, wondering how he had got himself a house guest for the night.  He heard her phone ring and her trying to keep her voice down, which in that place, wasn't easy.  He went into his bedroom and closed the door, hoping he couldn't hear her in there.  What the hell had he been thinking?  Posing for photos and an interview were one thing but letting her stay? He needed a head transplant not a pacemaker.  He was surprised her fiancé had been talked into going along with it but maybe the man was used to her being impulsive.

He hardly knew anything about her really, except her rise to fame after being adopted by the Vitex chairman then her whirlwind romance with the actor but he knew Tyler had ties to Torchwood, the not so secret agency and suspected she was tied to it as well, it stood to reason she didn't sit at home all day, even when she was getting married.  No, Rose Tyler was a force to be reckoned with and he believed she would march him into the nearest heart unit and make him go ahead with the operation.

Anyway, it would be over one way or another once the hearing was over, he had nothing to hold on for, well maybe except getting Sandbrook solved and if for the next week Rose spent her time going over it, she would pass it on to someone if the worst happened because he would make her promise she would, for helping her fool the press.  Still, going around with a young blonde wasn't so bad, even if she did belong to another man.

Rose was still trying to convince James she had it all in hand.

''I'm still not happy about it Rose, if the press are camped outside your hotel how are you going to get past them and how is Alec Hardy going to be seen leaving with you?''

''I have it all planned, he comes in the back way in the morning, I meet him in the bar and we leave together, I drop him at his chalet and go book into another hotel but we still finish that interview on Monday, hopefully I'll be able to give them a few hints as to the venue, I'll see a few tomorrow, mention the locations and let the press guess which one, I'm sure the venues will be only too pleased to get a mention.''

''Rose, you are a genius darlin' I miss you.''

''I miss you too Jamie, try to get home soon.''

''I'll be honest Rose, it's not looking good, there were more delays today.  I have no idea what's going on and it's no fun sat in my trailer most of the time or talking to some of the other actors, they are just as fed-up as I am, I just hope it's worth it, at least I have you to come home to.''

''Yeah babe, it's a shame I can't come over there, talk to you tomorrow.''

Rose decided to pay another bathroom visit before settling down, having borrowed a new toothbrush Alec had bought as a twinpack and was just in his t-shirt which came just above her knees.  It was unfortunate Alec had chosen that moment to come out of his room in his own t-shirt and shorts, having decided to take another heart pill as Rose came out of his spare bedroom, both heading for the bathroom.

''After you,'' Alec insisted, going to the kitchen instead.

Rose felt embarrassed, it was his place after all but as she came out, he was just heading for his bedroom door.

''It's all yours now, sorry.  I hope I didn't disturb you when I was on the phone, it's the only time James can call me with the time difference, it takes some getting used to.''

''You did not disturb me, goodnight Rose.''

''Yeah and thanks Alec, I owe you and I'll go easy on you from now on.''

''I don't want any allowances made Rose, I'm quite capable of following you around a wedding venue, even though it's not for my wedding, thank goodness.  I've been there once already and if and that's a big 'IF' I ever go through it again, it won't involve looking for wedding venues and in front of the whole world.''

''Wow, something must have really scared you off, was it that bad, being married?''

''Back off Rose, you have no idea.  Now if you don't mind, I'm rather tired after you dragged me around earlier.''

''Then don't let me keep you and to say thanks, I'll bring you a cup of tea in the morning, if I'm allowed?  Have you got anything for breakfast?''

''I have to go grocery shopping,'' he admitted.

Rose smiled.  ''Ok, first thing tomorrow when the supermarket opens, I take you grocery shopping, you shouldn't do it on your own then we'll find somewhere to look around, have lunch and then I'll drop you back here and disappear until we meet at the newspaper office, wherever that's going to be?''

''I'll find out on Monday morning and I can go shopping on my own thanks.''

''Getting a taxi there or were you planning on walking to it and carry three bags of shopping back were you?''

''Ok Miss smarty knickers, don't sound so smug.  We'll do it your way after we get you out of that hotel and go get some breakfast but the café doesn't open until ten on Sundays.  There's some bread in the breadbin, you can make some toast.''

''Any strawberry jam or marmalade?''

''Don't push your luck.  Goodnight.''

Rose smiled again as he turned, noticing he had rather a cute bum, much like James did but she shouldn't be even thinking like that.  She was woken by a noise just after two in the morning, Alec was calling out something about get away from the water and Rose hit the screen on her phone to get some light and noted the time. Sitting up, she heard him mutter an 'Arrgh' and she rushed out, not bothering to knock on his bedroom door to find him clutching his chest.

''Alec!  Are you ok?  Do you need your medication?''

''No, just leave me alone, go back to bed, I don't want anyone fussing over me, if I did, I would have stayed in the hotel.''

''I'm not leaving until I know you're ok Alec, please let me help you.''

Alec sat up on one elbow and even though there was only a little light from across the river and the road, she knew he was in pain.

''I don't need your help, go away Rose, please.''

''You don't know me very well Alec, people who wake me up yelling in the middle of the night are my speciality.  You were shouting something about keeping away from the water.  That was you, finding that girl in the river wasn't it?''

''Ok, you want to know?  I almost drowned but they pulled me out, I was lucky, she had been in there for three days.  I keep seeing people holding their hands out to pull me out of the river then I see people lined up in front of the waves on the beach and I'm warning them.  Happy now you know my darkest secret?''

''I'm sorry Alec but you have to let someone help you, you can't go on like this.''

''Can't I?  Eh?  Pippa Gillespie didn't get out, why should I?''

''You didn't kill her Alec, you tried to put whoever did in prison but he got away, you can't keep blaming yourself.''

''Can't I?  If you don't like it, you're free to leave in the morning, I don't want you feeling sorry for me.''

''You're so stubborn, I only ever met one man who was as stubborn as you and he's trapped, in another universe through no fault of his own and if I could get him back, I'd do it like a shot but I can't, ever.  No-one killed him but they may as well have done because the day I lost him, I thought I couldn't go on but I did, I met James.  You have to carry on Alec, you have to put Danny's killer behind bars even if you can't get Pippa's.  Please Alec, let me help you?  You need someone.''

''Why should you want to help me?  You have your fiancé to go back to.''

''He's stuck in the Nevada desert and he may as well be stuck in another universe as well, they won't let him come home and they won't let me go over there, I'm destined to meet men who keep going away and do you know what?''

Alec shook his head and laid back on the pillow.  Rose touched his arm and sat on the side of the bed.

''I'm not going to let you just fade away until it's too late for you to do something about it.  I let two men walk away from me, it's not the first time James has gone off filming and it won't be the last either and I'm getting tired of it, I just want to go back to my old boring life sometimes, before I became famous for dating an actor. You're getting worse aren't you?  Ask yourself how long you've got Alec and do something about it, before it's too late.''

''I told you, I don't want you feeling sorry for me, forget me after Monday.''

''No, I'm not going to do that, I can't let you get worse.  I told you, I let my friend go off to stop the Cybermen and I never told him I loved him, think of your daughter Alec, how would she feel?''

''Don't bring her into this Rose, she doesn't even talk to me, I've tried, even after it came out I wasn't the one who lost the evidence, she still doesn't know who did.''

''Then who was it Alec?  Was it your ex wife?''

''Keep out of it Rose, don't get tangled up with me.  Are you going to sit there all night keeping me awake?''

''Yes if I have to, until I talk some sense into you.  Me and my friend, we used to travel together and we'd stay up all night talking sometimes so I've had plenty of practice.''

''I can tell.  Well you can sit there all night, I'm going back to sleep.''

''Then move over.''

He was too tired and worn out from being woken to argue with her as she moved the duvet and he moved over.  She could tell he wanted to resist but somehow all the fight had gone out of him but Alec had the best night's sleep he'd had in a long time as he suddenly turned back around and Rose put her arm around him and he buried his head in her shoulder.
Chapter 6
The next morning, they both wondered what had happened that Rose was up against the window and Alec was on the outside of the bed, Rose now leaning on him with his arm around her.  Rose vaguely remembered him mumbling something and felt herself getting shuffled around but Alec didn't remember anything of the sort.  He woke up to find Rose lying on his shoulder with her arm over him but he did remember having an argument with her which had resulted in him saying he was going back to sleep then turning around to her, what the hell had he been thinking?

It was one thing waking up from his never-ending nightmare of getting pulled out of the river but another to wake up again with a beautiful blonde with her arm around you, a blonde that was engaged to another man, albeit his double and thousands of miles away.  As he became more aware, the said blonde was wearing his t-shirt and a skimpy piece of underwear and nothing else, feeling embarrassed about his hairy legs.

Rose was becoming more aware he was moving.  ''Morning Alec and no, I didn't forget who you were, I'm quite aware you're not my fiancé, I don't need reminding of that fact.  How are you feeling?''

''Fine, I didn't need for you to stay all night you know, I'm capable of sleeping on my own.  Now can I please have my arm back?''

Rose tried to move, realising he was taking most of the room up.  ''Yeah, you looked like you could sleep on your own, waking me up at two in the morning, you don't have to thank me for being concerned about you.  If you let me out of bed, I'll go make some tea and just exactly how did I get over here when you were leaning on me?''

Alec gained his arm back somehow and raised his arms above his head, resting his head on them.  ''How do I know?  Maybe you crawled over there on your own?''

''Very funny Alec, you shoved me over here after you shuffled around.''

''I don't remember that, maybe I was just trying to get away from you?''

''Yeah?  Didn't do such a good job, did you?''

She was now leaning over him, resting on her elbow, tempted to put her other hand on his stomach as his t-shirt had ridden up when he stretched but he was watching her, like he was daring her so she rested it at her side.  It was he who moved one of his arms and touched hers.

''I'm sorry, for arguing with you when you were just trying to help me.  Let me make it up to you, I'll go make the tea, I need to take my pills anyway.  The thing is Rose, I never accept help, it's nothing personal against you.  Not many people know what's actually wrong with me, just my ex partner, my ex boss and a few others.''

''I'm honoured then but seriously Alec, it's ok, I half expected you to be awkward when I offered to help but let me do this one thing for you, take you to the hospital and see what your options are, please?''

''Stay there, I need my pills and my morning cup of tea and I'm not debating this with you until I've had both.''

''I can go get dressed while you make the tea,'' Rose offered as he pulled the duvet back and she got a better view of his hairy legs, not bad for a man's plus his hairy arms.

''In a rush to get out of my bed?  You couldn't get in it fast enough last night,'' he smirked, getting out of bed slowly since he didn't want another dizzy spell.

He knew his symptoms were worsening but he didn't want to admit it to her but maybe she was right, maybe if he left it any longer he wouldn't get a choice.  Rose lay back on the pillow, debating if she should make a run for it.  She hadn't thought last night when she'd heard him call out, he was clearly in trouble when she had gone in his room and she was worried he would do it again, well that was what she tried to tell herself, maybe she was just as tired of sleeping alone as Alec was but what about James, out there in the Nevada desert?

James could have come over for the weekend if he'd wanted, at his own cost but since he got discount being a 'Frequent Flyers' club member, he could have made the effort, especially as she had told him Alec was impersonating him.  She missed him sure and she shouldn't have been so quick to climb into Alec Hardy's bed last night but despite him doing nothing but being prickly with her, she was liking him in ways she shouldn't be contemplating whilst wearing James's ring.

She told herself to get a grip and crawled over to get out of bed, just as Alec came back with two mugs of tea.

''I'm a coffee person in the mornings Alec but thanks, I'll make an exception.''

Alec sat on the edge of the bed, holding both mugs as Rose scrambled over to sit beside him, trying not to let her spill the contents as she put her hand on his arm.

''Go on then, try to talk me into seeing the consultant without having to wait another three months.''

''Is that how long they told you?''

''Not exactly, it was three months last September, I might have missed a few appointments hoping they would give up but they haven't.  Now I'm getting letters telling me to contact them urgently.''

''Alec, if you weren't holding that mug of tea I'd slap you silly, why did you let me go on about paying for your operation?''

''You seemed to enjoy spending your money, who was I to spoil it?''

''You are so infuriating Alec Hardy.''

''So I've been told, you don't know Ellie Miller do you?  You two would get on well. Are we going for breakfast only there's still ninety minutes before they open, you can sneak over and retrieve your belongings and move your car.  I think it's best you go over on your own.''

''Oh no you don't, you're going with me, how do I explain where you are?''

''Tell them I've flown back to Nevada, the real me can grow my beard back and go back to being the hardass detective and you go to the paper tomorrow and tell them you've chosen somewhere.''

''You've been thinking about this and you couldn't tell me?  Why doesn't that surprise me, you really are a pain in the ass detective.''

''Wouldn't want to ruin my reputation, would I?  You can go get dressed now, there's no need to discuss me going for an operation.''

''Really?  You gonna go without a fight?''

''I may do, if you stop bugging me.''

''Someone obviously needs to.  I'll go get my stuff then meet you back here, how do I get to the back of the chalet?''

''Turn left at the end of the road towards the harbour, follow the road until you see a gap then drive down the field.''

''I hope it's not muddy, maybe I'll just go park in the harbour car park until the press have gone then I'll use the front car park.  If we both go over together and are seen driving away, they'll have no reason to stay, will they?''

Alec was doing his best not to stare at her legs that were distracting him from getting up, he was waiting for her to make the first move to go get dressed.  He put his mug down and motioned for Rose to pass hers, wondering if she was actually going to leave or watch him getting dressed.  Before either of them knew what was happening, Alec had pushed her back down on the bed and was leaning over her, his hand on her bare legs and finding out just how skimpy her underwear was as he ran his fingers under the t-shirt she had borrowed.

''You've still got my t-shirt, I want it back before you leave.''

''Come and claim it back, Jamie.''

''I'm not Jamie but just out of curiosity, what did you call him that you didn't want to tell me?''

''Nope, I'm not telling you, I can't call you that.''

''Maybe you're right, you can leave now if you want, you've just been driving me mad sitting there and I wanted to know if you'd be tempted to use my razor to shave your legs, you don't by the way.''

''I could have told you that, detective, are you always so nosey?''

''I wouldn't be a detective if I wasn't, would I now?  Well, do you want to get up now?''

His hand stayed where it was as he kept his balance with his other hand on the bed. Rose knew she was playing with fire and shouldn't get involved with him, he was stubborn and not going to go get that operation unless someone shoved him in the operating theatre and tied him down and even then, what were his chances?  She was tired of having men who disappeared on her, especially when they all looked alike.  What were the chances of that?  She lost the Doctor and found James when she had given up hope of ever settling in this version of the world and now, James was away and she had found Alec but could she cheat on James?

She reached out for the hand that was rubbing her thigh, his thumb going over one particular spot that felt rather good and held his hand there, her other fingered his newly cut hair that had been styled similar to how James had his sometimes, then she touched his cheek.

''I'm sorry Alec, maybe I'd just best go and you never see me again, I'll tell the press you sneaked out of the back of the hotel and got into a taxi in the early hours of the morning, they wouldn't know then I'll leave town and you can go back to being yourself.''

''Rose, I don't want you to go but if you think you should, then I won't stop you and I won't threaten not to go see about the pacemaker just to keep you here, I will go, first thing tomorrow but first, I want my t-shirt back.''

Rose reached both her arms out and put them around his shoulders, pulling him over and making him move the arm he was leaning on onto her arm and began kissing her neck softly as the hand on her thigh moved onto her stomach and further up the t-shirt as Rose clung hold of the back of it as he smoothed his over her exposed skin.

Alec glanced down to see her underwear only just covered her, seeing her hips and being tempted to get her to move backwards further onto the bed but somehow she sensed it and began to shuffle her way further on as he moved his legs so he was over her, crawling after her.

''You're taking a long time claiming your t-shirt back Alec,'' she teased.

''Are you sure you want me to take it back?''

He leaned down and kissed her tummy, then her hip as Rose gripped his shoulders. Suddenly, she moved her hands and put then around his back, pulling his own t-shirt up.

''Only if you'd care to swap with me?''

Letting go of her, he pulled his t-shirt over his head with a little help from Rose, revealing his hairy chest that she brought one hand to the front and touched it, just near his heart.

''Alec, let me stay here and look after you, until you get your pacemaker?''

''Don't worry about me Rose, you have your own life to live, you and what's his name.''

Rose smiled.  ''Then this is how I chose to spend my free time, making sure you go get your operation, I was only going back to London to an empty apartment, this is much more homey than there.''

''What about him Rose?  You wear his ring, what will people think if they find out I'm not him?  I have a hearing to go to next week, remember?''

''Once the press have their story, they'll leave town, don't worry, I won't say anything.''

She took his hand back and placed it on her tummy again and he leaned down to kiss it again.

''If you keep tormenting me, I won't need to go to hospital Rose.''

''Then what are you waiting for, you want your t-shirt back, take it, I'm not stopping you, you're the one delaying it.''

Twenty minutes later, Rose was getting dressed, having got up wearing the t-shirt Alec had slept in after she offered no resistance as he pulled the one she was wearing over her head as he kissed his way further up, Rose ruffling his hair as his legs were dangling off the edge of the bed and either side of hers and trying to balance himself on his hands half resting on her hardly covered hips.  Rose was murmuring softly as he placed kisses across her top half, making her forget she shouldn't even be thinking about this, let alone let Alec Hardy be doing it and taking James's place but James never did this to her if she admitted it, not the way Alec was alternating between kissing each part then licking her with his tongue and they hadn't even got around to kissing yet.

Five minutes before he finally let her up, they had spent with their legs entwined as Alec tried to stop himself falling off the bed as his hands moved onto her shoulders and skin touched skin as they kissed, briefly for a few seconds until Rose melted into him and let go.

''Wow, that was some kiss Alec, been a long time has it?''

''What do you want me to say?  I've been divorced quite a while now and the only female company I had I either worked with and I'm not kissing Miller or the hotel owner who quite rightly turned me down after she had to get me to the emergency room.''

''I'm sorry Alec, I didn't mean anything by it but with your hair like that and your beard trimmed, you're a very good-looking bloke and I can't understand why women stay away from you.''

She ruffled his hair as he moved away, he tossed the t-shirt he had been wearing to her and pulled her up but held onto her and pulled her close.

''Maybe it's my prickly nature, which should have also put you off so why was I unsuccessful on that score eh?''

''You don't know me very well, I had plenty of practice with the friend I lost and James, well I couldn't wind him up if I tried and I think I missed that.''

''So you and this other friend of yours, were you just friends or was there something else?''

''Nope, only friends and I only snogged him once but I was being possessed at the time so it didn't count then before I had the chance to do it as myself, he'd gone to fight the Cybermen and I lost him.  I did get chance to say goodbye though, a few months later, there was still a tiny gap between the two universes and he got a message through, we had to go up to Norway though, that was where the gap came through.''

''You talk weird Rose do you know that?''
Chapter 7
He let go and went to the dresser and retrieved a clean pair of shorts then went to get a clean shirt, he needed to do his laundry at some point but he might just get her to do it for him, the washing machine was like something out of a science fiction programme and he had been tempted to throw the instructions into the river more than once.

Rose put the t-shirt on hastily but Alec bent down one more time to kiss her, pressing himself against her then let her go.

''So what about him, your fiancé?''

''I don't know Alec, what about him?  He's at the other side of the world and he might just as well be at the other side of the gap between universes.  He came back for a week and went away again, he never even insisted to the production company I went with him though I could have stayed in the hotel but he was filming all hours, then they went out into the desert and for what?  To do a crummy re-make of a 1960's vampire film that was just as crummy back in the day.  I don't know why he wanted to be in it, said he wanted to make his break into the American market but I don't think that's gonna help his cause any.''

Alec gripped her shoulders.  ''I get it Rose, you're angry with him for leaving you and maybe after all this time you're still angry with your other boyfriend and don't bother denying it, he wasn't just a friend was he?  You can have a boyfriend without the sex bit you know but I'm not a substitute for either of them so don't think I am.  What we just did was more than nice but I admit it was me that initiated it so if you want an apology, I'm sorry but it was just payback for you using me as a decoy groom to be.''

''Yeah, sorry and there's no need for you to apologise Alec, it was nice.  Maybe I should go get dressed and go get my stuff then I'll go find another hotel and leave you in peace and trust you'll call the hospital tomorrow on your own.  How are you getting there?''

''Taxi unless I get so bad they take me there in an ambulance but I won't let it get to that, I promise.  I need to get through that hearing and I know now I won't be there if I don't do something.''

Rose reached out her arms and put them around him and he kissed her forehead. ''Go on Rose, get out of here while you can and we'll say nothing about this again, I mean me going soft.''

''Let me take you there Alec, please?''

''I'll think about it after breakfast.  You know we could have a big bust-up in front of the cameras?'' he smiled.

Rose swatted his arm.  ''Yeah thanks for that Alec but how am I going to explain that to the real James and more importantly, my mother?''

Alec was about to answer when his phone rang.  He squinted at the name displayed and frowned, tempted to hit the red button to ignore it as the name 'Claire' came on the screen in bold white lettering.  He thought he was rid of her but it seemed that was not to be.  Rose looked at him, guessing it was important.

''Go ahead, I need to get dressed but you're coming with me to get rid of those reporters.''

''Fine, this won't take long.''

Rose went off and Alec answered, wishing he'd changed his phone number.  As if dealing with Rose Tyler wasn't enough in his present condition.

''Claire, what is it?''

''Alec, you've got to help me, Lee's back.''

''No he isn't, I have someone watching out for him, calm down.  How do you know he may be back?''

''He's been trying to call me, I've had three unknown calls already today.''

''Claire, I get a dozen a day all from people trying to get me to claim for accidents I've never had and money back on loans I've never even taken out, if I took notice of them I wouldn't be waiting to go back to work and been on medical leave.  Just ignore them, it's nothing and I'll be alerted if he comes back into the country.''

''Please come and see me Alec, why have you stayed away all this time?  I haven't seen you since you moved me in here.''

''I got caught up in a murder investigation in case you'd forgotten and part of the deal was, I move you somewhere safe and you go back to work part-time.  Why would he start calling you now?''

''I gave up my job Alec, I couldn't work for that woman, I'm just going to work for myself, doing hair in client's homes.''

''That's a laugh Claire, how are you going to get there?''

''Thanks for the vote of confidence Alec, I can get around on my own thanks very much.''

Rose chose that moment to come out of the other bedroom and startle him by putting her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek from behind and asking who was on the phone.  What was she trying to do?

''Have you got a woman with you Alec?'' Claire laughed.

''Mind your own business, I have to go now and stop worrying, if you get any more calls just ignore them.''

''I can't, it might be someone wanting to make a booking.''

''Well even if it's him, unless he has access to the phone company, he won't know where you are.  Ok, if I get time I'll come and see you but I have to attend court next week over that murder last year.''

''Oh, where's that then?''

''Yes Claire, like I'm ever going to tell you that.''

He hung up and went to the kitchen where Rose was making coffee for herself and tea for him and had four slices of bread in the toaster, Alec glad the bread hadn't gone off as they still had to go shopping, or rather he had, he wasn't sure how serious Rose was about going with him but she was a woman, they lived to go shopping.

''Sorry Alec, I'm used to doing that with James, it's non of my business who Claire is. Is she your girlfriend?''

''No, never in a million years was she or ever will be my girlfriend.  She's from that case you were looking at, Claire Ripley.''

''Oh, that Claire?  Sorry, must have been that proper snogging you gave me earlier that fuzzed my brain up.  You know for a man who's on his last legs, you don't half know how to snog a girl.  Didn't you even think about it though?''

Alec looked at her as she buttered the toast, Rose looked upset there was no marmalade or strawberry jam but expected if she were to keep visiting him she would no doubt acquire some later.

''I told you, no.  She's a liar and she uses people, especially men and she's just trying to get some attention.  I put her somewhere safe after she testified against her husband but after the pendant got stolen, he was set free and he took off to France somewhere.  I have someone watching out for him if he comes back.''

''Oh.  Well you know last night, when I set off to go back to the hotel and I turned around to come back?  I saw a man on the other side of the river, half turned around sitting on the wall, smoking by the looks of it but I wasn't taking much notice.''

''Where Rose? Was he looking across here?''

''I couldn't tell, it was just for a few seconds, I was making sure no-one was following me.  Do you think it was him?''

''Maybe but how he knows where I live, I don't know.  Let me make a phone call then we'll go get your things but if he's watching this place, you'd best go find somewhere to stay.''

''And leave you on your own?   Forget it, I'll get another room but maybe you should come and stay with me until he's gone if he's only looking for his wife?''

Alec was calling his contact but soon lost his temper when he discovered he'd lost track of Lee Ashworth.

''Since when?  What is the point of you Craig?  For goodness sake, you were supposed to watching out for him, now he might be watching my place for me to lead him to his wife.''

Rose tried to calm him down.   ''Forget it Alec, let him follow you now you know, if you don't go near her, he won't find her, will he?''

''That's not the point Rose, he could get nasty if he doesn't get to find her but he's been away for a long time, why has he come back now?''

Rose put her arms around his neck as she got up, offering him a piece of toast. ''Maybe he just misses her, I know how he feels, besides, if he comes here, he'll just find Rose Tyler and her famous boyfriend James Smith, won't he?''

Alec took the toast from her, not sure he should be letting her do these things though now, it was a bit late as he had seen her almost naked only half an hour ago.

''So he comes knocking on the door, I answer and ask him what the hell he's doing disturbing me and my boyfriend and since you no longer look like the old you, he'll be none the wiser.  Just act like you really are James, you know, arm around me and telling him to back off.''

''Well it may work but hopefully he'll just keep watching but I still want to know how he found me.''

''Maybe he had a spy too?  Come on then, let's go get my stuff and put on a show for the kiddies if they're still outside.  Just keep your head down and let me go first, then you follow a few minutes behind me or maybe, we should say we went for a morning walk by the river?''

''Are you always so devious?''

''Yep, that's me.  We walk arm in arm over the bridge talking about our wedding plans and tell them we're looking at venues later on in another part of Dorset and we're leaving town.''

''Yes, then they all follow us, great plan.''

''Well we don't know unless we try, do we?  So are you in or not?''

''Do I have a choice?  Remind me again why you're marrying that actor, did you give him a choice?''

Rose looked at him.  ''That's not fair Alec, why do you keep going on about him all the time?''

''Oh I don't know, maybe because you're still wearing that ring and you're trying to pass me off as him to the press and yourself.''

''Hey, I never said that, you really think I'm trying to pretend you're him?''

''Yes, I do think that because earlier, you could have stopped that.''

''That's beside the point and I didn't let you just because I miss him.''

''Who are you trying to fool Rose, me or yourself?  Face it Rose, you're mad at him for going off and leaving you, just like your other friend.''

Rose pushed past him but he grabbed her arm.  ''Get off me Alec, if that's what you think. I'll get my stuff and you'll never have to see me again.''

She pulled away from him and he followed her to the room she had left her purse and mobile in.  He stood in the doorway, blocking her exit.

''I'm sorry.  I'll come with you, you can even drag me around a wedding fayre if you want but I don't think it's a good idea to still do that interview tomorrow, we end it all today, if that's what you want?  Tell them I've gone back filming like you suggested earlier and I'll tell that newspaper editor not to bother printing that article and to forget it, that you've changed your mind about it, she's got her money anyway, why should she care?  You are still going to pay her?''

Rose smiled and put her purse on the chair after putting her phone in her jacket pocket.  She moved nearer and put her arms around his neck.

''I'm sorry too and yes, I miss both of them and honestly, until you began mentioning my other friend, I was trying to forget about it but you dragged it all up again.  You have no idea how long it took me to get over losing him, then I met James and he keeps leaving me as well, though not to other universes but like I said, it may as well be.  I just want my old boring life back and for a short while, you made me think I had so just let me go, Alec Hardy, with your broken heart and look after yourself will you?''

''Why, if you're leaving?''

''You said if I left, you wouldn't use the excuse you wouldn't get yourself fixed, to get me to stay.''

''I changed my mind.''

''That's not fair Alec.''

''Neither is you leaving or using me as a decoy.  Is that all I am to you Rose?  A decoy?''

He put his arms around her waist and leaned down, looking into her hazel eyes. Rose looked up at him, wishing now she had never started this but he was just as much to blame, for going along with it, he could have said no and told her to stay away from him, well he'd tried but she had taken no notice because she wanted to have some fun with him, showing him he was not as tough as he made himself out to be.

''No Alec, you're not just that to me but it's impossible, you can't be any more, this is getting complicated, I never meant this to happen.''

''Meant what to happen?''

Rose stood on her tip-toes and whispered in his ear, ''You just don't get it, do you? Some detective you are, Alec Hardy.''
Chapter 8
Alec was looking at her, forgetting they were meant to be fooling the press into thinking they were leaving.

''What exactly are you getting at Rose?  That you were just having some fun at my expense?''

''No, ok, at first, I thought it would be fun and it was, seeing you squirm and do you know why?  You were just too easy to get to go along with it and yes, I know you tried to protest but you were the one who took me to the local newspaper and just now, suggested we break up in front of them but James was just too enthusiastic and went along with what I wanted but you didn't.  Don't you get it now?  I don't want a big wedding, I want to sneak off somewhere and do it quietly but I've no chance and you were doing everything you could to get out of it.''

''I'm not with you Rose but we should go now, get it over with then you can go home and I can go back to being an out on medical leave detective.''

''Do you want your old job back, not teaching recruits?''

''Don't be daft Rose, I won't get it back and I have that hearing next week and now you're making me go see about that operation.  Now I know why your boyfriend went away.''

''Stop going on about him.  Are we going or what?''

''After you but before we go, tell me one thing.  Do you still love him?''

''Who, James?''

''Him and the other one.''

''I told you, I'd stop thinking about him until you dragged it all up again, why Alec, why do you keep going on about them?''

''And you said some detective I was.  Isn't it plain to you?  Hell Rose, I'm attracted to you, I thought I'd made that clear earlier?''

Rose laughed.  ''You daft detective, that's what I've been trying to tell you but you know it's complicated and it's about to get worse once we go over there and face the press.  James will see us together so we have to tell them the bare minimum, that we've done here and moving on then you lie low for a bit, grow your beard back and like you said, go back to being you.  Anyway, James can prove he's been over there all along.  I have to get him to come back at the weekend and talk to him, tell him the wedding's off, I can't tell him by phone.''

''Maybe we should just tell them the truth?  Tell them you got me to go along with the charade and he's never been here?''

''Not just yet, I have to talk to James first, I can't just call him or let him see it in the papers, that's not fair.''

''Ok, if that's what you want?  I'll even go to the hospital tomorrow without you dragging me there.''

''Wow, you soon changed your tune.''

''Maybe I have an incentive now?  Have I?  Now I know you're not really using me as a decoy but this is the last interview we give, with me posing as him, right?''


They walked across the bridge together, arm in arm as they approached the side door of the hotel and were spotted almost right away, cameras clicking and microphones shoved in front of them.  Rose took the lead.

''Right you lot, I have a statement for you.''

After giving them what they wanted and a few photos, Alec not happy about it, they went inside and then came back down with Rose's luggage, Alec saying there probably wasn't enough for two people but Rose had told the reporters James had only come for the weekend and was leaving later that day and Rose was also leaving town.  That saved having to explain anything else.  Rose drove them over to the café and over a proper breakfast, Rose said they should go shopping then she would find another hotel.

''Do you really need to?  You can stay with me, if you want and lie low for a while. Anyway, if you're taking me to the hospital tomorrow, you may as well.  What are you going to tell James tonight?''

''I don't know Alec, maybe I should just tell him we did another interview and I told them he was leaving town and see what he says.  If we cancel that interview tomorrow and keep quiet, everyone will believe we both left town, well those that know you anyway.''

Alec had to agree to let Rose sort it all out but now, he had declared he would get himself fixed and told her what he'd been determined not to, that he was actually falling for her.  After the supermarket and putting everything away, Rose making sure she got the luxuries she wanted much to Alec's amusement, they drove out of town and discovered a wedding fayre not that far away and Rose dropped a few hints they may be interested and after a late lunch in a country pub, made their way back to Alec's chalet and he showed her how to get to the back of it.

They were just taking the last of Rose's things she had left in her car when Alec heard the gate behind him and turned around.  Standing there was Lee Ashworth himself and Alec had to try to pretend he didn't know who the man was.

''I've been waiting for you to come back Hardy, who's your little blonde girlfriend then?''

Alec remembered that James had a slightly different accent than he had.  ''Excuse me? Rose, can you come out here honey, for a minute please?''

Rose came back out and suspected who the visitor was when she saw Alec was not alone.

''What's wrong Jamie?  Oh, who's your friend?  Not another reporter, I thought we got rid of them earlier, how did he find us?  If I find out that rental agency told the press, there's gonna be some trouble, who do they think they are?''

Ashworth was watching the pair of them as Rose stood behind Alec and put her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek and sneakily pinching his bum, Alec trying not to flinch.

''Oh very good Hardy but who do you think you're trying to fool?  Where is she Hardy, where's Claire?''

Rose glared at him.  ''Sorry, who are you and who's this Claire?  We rented this chalet to get some privacy after the press were hounding us, just watch out for the papers tomorrow if you don't believe me.  I'm Rose Tyler, this is my fiancé James Smith, the actor and this...''  She held out her ring finger with the exquisite diamond ring James had bought that Alec was beginning to hate and never even hope to buy any woman, let alone the Vitex heiress one coming anything close, making sure Ashworth got a good look.  ''This is my engagement ring, where have you been hiding?''

''I've just come back into the country.  So you're the famous Rose Tyler eh?  Why are you wasting your time with him?''

''Hey, who are you talking about?  Get out of here before we call the police, the station is about a minute away, we checked earlier.  Like she said, who's this Claire and why would we know where she is and more importantly, who's this Hardy? Rose, I hope you've not been cheating on me while I was away honey, were you?''

''No Jamie baby, why would I do that?  I know you're going away again but you more than make up for it when you come back, don't you cookie?''

She kissed his cheek again then gave his bum another squeeze that Alec thought if she didn't stop, he would forget about being ill, drag her inside and shag her on the sofa or the floor, depending on if he made it as far as the sofa.

''You can bet on that.  Now are you going to leave, whoever you are?  Only Rose and I have got some important business to get down to since I'm leaving again, haven't we kitten?''

Ashworth looked like he was going to be sick watching as Alec slipped his arm around her waist and kissed the side of her mouth.  He could never see Hardy messing around with a blonde, let alone her of all people.

''Then don't let me stop you but I may be back, once you leave.  When are you leaving?''

Rose didn't fancy getting a visit from this man if she were to be alone as she had just declared.

''Another week or so and James isn't really leaving just yet, we just said that to get the press to back off, that's why we're hiding here.  The rental agency said a man left in a hurry, we only got the keys late yesterday afternoon, we've just come back from looking around wedding venues.  It's nice down here, I think we're gonna settle for somewhere around here, aren't we Jamie?''

Alec was relieved when Ashworth, without even an apology for busting in on them turned and closed the gate behind him, Rose dragging him inside before she burst out laughing.

''You are such a liar Rose Tyler,'' he managed, extracting her arms from his neck that she had just placed there.  ''If you keep pinching my ass, you're going to get payback, 'honey'.''

''Well what was I supposed to say?  That you were leaving later then he'd come back and pay me a visit?   I don't think so, he's a creep, I don't like him.  What did that Claire ever see in him?''

''Each to their own Rose and for the record, if you pinch me one more time, I'll have you on that sofa before your feet even touch the ground.''

Rose smiled. ''Really? Why didn't you say so?''

As they lay on the sofa in the late afternoon, the only light now coming from across the river, Rose was laid with her head on Alec's chest as he tried to calm himself down, Rose had wanted him to take his pills but he said he would be ok.  They had just about had sex, coming as close as Alec dared with Rose on top and she couldn't bring herself to go all the way anyway, not until the problem of her still officially been engaged to another man was solved.

''Alec, are you sure you're ok?  Do you want me to move?''

''No, it's fine and if I was going to go, this is the way I want it to happen, you lying on me.  You do know my chances are slim of getting through the surgery, even if you were to pay so let's just see what happens tomorrow eh?  I'll call the hospital in the morning, you never know, they might get me in quicker without using your name.''

''Well I suppose we can try.  What are you going to do if Ashworth comes back or if that Claire calls you again?  Do you have to go and see her?''

''Don't worry about him and I have a plan, to get rid of Claire but it will have to wait until after the hearing.  Do you still want to look through that case?''

Rose looked up at him.  She was just wearing her t-shirt and knickers and Alec just his unbuttoned shirt and shorts, a throwover covering them since the curtains were not fully pulled over.

''Yes but let's get you sorted first yeah?  Get that hearing over with, I'll come with you if you want?''

''Not a good idea Rose, the press will be all over you.''

''Well by then, it will have hit the headlines James and I have split up and I'll tell the press what I was going to tell the local paper, that I was trying to put them off the scent, I'll go back and tell that editor to put it off for a week, let her break the news.  My mum is going to be so annoyed over this and I'm more worried about her than James.  If he won't come over this weekend, I'll have to wait until he does come back, I can't let him find out from my mum.''

''So I have to hide away?  How are you going to explain about coming to the hospital with me then?''

''We can be friends can't we?  Besides, it will all become clear when I reveal how I've fooled the press, they might never believe anything I tell them again.''

He pulled her down for a kiss.  ''You are just too devious.''

''Yeah well, I'm gonna have to be more than devious when James calls me.  I'm sorry Alec, I wish I had the courage to tell him over the phone but if I ask him to come back, he'll know there's something wrong and maybe he'll guess.  How did this happen Alec?''

Alec smiled.  ''You're asking me?''

After making something to eat, Rose went into the other bedroom.  She had left all her things in there, debating if they should actually share a room and had both decided to see what happened.  The time came for James to call and for the first time, Rose was not looking forward to it.  Alec had to let her take the call on her own, hoping it would be the last one for a while if she told him they had to talk.  He hadn't intended to fall for her, he had tried to stay away but it had just happened when she was sitting there in the morning.  She had been infuriating, dragging him around and making him pass as her boyfriend, what had he been thinking? Was he ready to have a relationship with a famous woman with a famous boyfriend and most of all, how would her mother and stepfather react?

If he thought life giving lectures was bad enough, Tyler had the power to keep him on medical leave the rest of his days, maybe even be out altogether then what would he do?  He just hoped Rose knew what she was doing.  He heard her phone ringing and went into the bathroom before she came out, he knew she may be upset when she had finished her conversation.

He was right as she ended the call, it had not gone well and she came out and sought him, lying on the sofa watching the late news.  He sat up and opened his arms as Rose sat down.

''I take it that did not go well?''

''No, he's coming over on Saturday, I told him we needed to talk and I told him I was moving out of the apartment, then he asked me why.''

''So what did you tell him?''

''That I can't keep going on with him disappearing all the time for weeks on end.  He said this was only the second time but he also said he didn't like it any more than I did although he admitted, if that film is a success, he may get asked to make more films over there so I asked him where that left us.''

''Rose, I'm sorry but what did he say?''

''He said he didn't know, where did it leave us?''
Chapter 9
Over in the Nevada desert, James Smith had hung up from his fiancée after not quite believing what she was trying to tell him, surely she wasn't trying to break up with him?  He had never contemplated having to choose between his budding American career and Rose but that was how it sounded so his question of where did it leave them was a valid one, he wanted to know the answer too.  All he knew was that he missed her like crazy, especially after he had come back and was now stuck in this place.

He thought about what she had said, about this Alec Hardy posing as him and confronting the press and trying to fool them into thinking they were leaving town but Rose had said she was staying there longer so was this Hardy?  The man had even had his hair cut almost the same and trimmed his beard, this was getting too much.  Yes, Rose had thought it a good idea at the time, the answer to shaking off the reporters so she could look at wedding venues but now, he didn't think he could play along much longer.

So he had agreed to get someone to book him a flight back to London so he would meet her at some point on Saturday to talk but was there anything to talk about? She had said that Hardy was sick and needed an operation, did she intend seeing him though it and if so, what was her intent once he went in hospital then if he survived, would she just walk away?

He thought he knew Rose but things were changing.  Yes, he could have insisted she went with him but she would have hated being stuck in a hotel in the middle of the desert, he did and she wouldn't have been allowed on set, not even by using her name, something he thought she hated doing.  Then he realised, maybe she wanted him to go back so she could break up with him in person but how did he feel about it?  The time they had been together had been truly amazing but with his busy schedules and fitting in TV appearances plus his radio and voice-overs, would he have time to be married?  He thought that other actors managed it quite well, even the one Rose had liked before they had met who had a wife and three kids so it could work but there again, he wasn't married to Rose Tyler, she was something else.

He made his mind up he would go and talk to her and if she was leaving, could he offer to give everything up and would she want him to?  Maybe she was finding his decoy just a little bit too tempting but he knew she wouldn't cheat on him, if she was having feelings for the sickly detective, she would wait until after they had discussed it but maybe she was going to give him an ultimatum, stay in Great Britain to work or split up.  He wasn't sure what the outcome would be but they needed to keep it out of the press, not give them the satisfaction of breaking up in front of the whole world.

James of course knew nothing of the truth of Rose's past, she had never told him where she really came from and the fact that besides her, Jackie and Mickey were also not of this universe.  Rose had trusted Alec, being in the police but had not told him everything but after she got off the phone with James, Alec had asked her – was she willing to forget her past and most of all, forget the other man whom he had brought the subject of up on more than one occasion.

''Leave it Alec, if you want to know about him I'll tell you but not now, I have a lot to think about.  Maybe I should just sleep in the other room tonight?''

''What if I need you?''

''I'll be there if you do but maybe after you've had your operation, it won't bother you as much?''

''Well maybe if you tell me something you dread or wake up about, I won't feel as bad.  Is there anything Rose? Is there anything that makes you have nightmares?''

''Yes, the Cybermen, I dream I was almost sucked into empty space with them.  I dream I went back to help my friend and the levers that we were operating went off line and I went to switch it back but the force tore me away from it.  Then as I let go, I was heading towards it then I wake up.''

She wasn't ready yet to tell him it was real and that Pete had saved her.

''That must be terrible Rose but there's a lot I don't understand, you must have been very young at the time, it was a long while ago.''

''I just got caught up in it all, it happened so fast.''

''Don't give me that Rose, tell me the truth.  If you can't trust me, who can you trust eh?  If you weren't on the other side of the gap with your friend, who you've never told me the name of, then how do you know he was operating a lever?  What were they even for?  You were there with him, weren't you?  You went over to fight the Cybermen and you almost got trapped there as well?  How did you escape?  Did someone from here go to rescue you and did you choose to stay behind, to leave your home and your mother?''

Rose stayed quiet while Alec looked at her. She could see he had already made his mind up he was right so how could she deny it?

''Ok, I'll tell you everything tomorrow but for now, yes, I was there but I didn't go over there to help, I was already there.''

''Really?  Then how was that possible?  You'd best explain it but from what you're telling me, you're from that universe, not this one and you were rescued by someone from here, Pete Tyler maybe?  Oh, I can see from your reaction I'm right. Ok then, how about this?  The Cybermen escaped from here, made their way to your world, Pete Tyler and others went to help or to warn you and you and this friend of yours just happened to be there but you got over-run and the only way was to trap the Cybermen in the gap between worlds and the only way that could happen was to seal both sides?  Am I close?''

''Yeah, do you want to finish it and I'll tell you if you're wrong?''

Alec smiled and laid against the cushion.  ''Oh believe me Rose, I don't think I'll be that wrong.  I heard rumours when it happened, about Torchwood's involvement but it was hushed up when Pete Tyler took over.  You worked for him, didn't you but you left, to follow your boyfriend around the country but before all that, the Cybermen took over the old Torchwood, made their way to your universe but since I don't know how you even realised what was happening, I'm guessing there was a Torchwood on your world who unwittingly helped them.  How am I doing so far?''

''You're too clever for your own good Alec, have you considered a career in the police?''

''Very funny Rose.  Ok then, how about you and your friend found out what was happening, confronted the Torchwood on your world but it was too late, most of the Cybermen had already amassed themselves and were about to take over and 'upgrade' everyone but when Pete Tyler arrived, he offered to take you with him and your friend made you go when he discovered the only way to stop them was to trap them.  You didn't want to go but, oh wait a moment, your mother was there too wasn't she?  Yes and Pete took her with him but you remained and at the last moment, he gave in and went back for you but the gap closed, leaving you and your mother here.   That's why he married her and adopted you, to stop anyone else finding out.''

''The Cybermen were appearing as ghosts, they couldn't get through properly but the Torchwood there were unintentionally helping them, they thought they were harnessing some new power source and it was too late when they found out what it really was.  My friend, he was called The Doctor and he wasn't just anyone and yes, we found out and my mum unknowingly came with us.  There's not much else to tell you really, a few minor details but if I told you them, you'd have to come to Torchwood with me and you are in no fit state to do that or hear the rest of it.''

''Then I'm glad we have all this sorted, we do have it sorted, don't we?''

''Yes Alec, it's sorted and you are so clever but how did you guess?''

''It just made sense, it's what I do Rose, I gather clues and piece it all together.  Now, are you really sleeping in my spare room tonight, in view of what we almost did earlier?''

''I can't Alec, I just got carried away earlier and I should end it with James first, it's not fair on either of you, I know that now but I'll bring you some tea in the morning and we can do some more cuddling and snogging.''

''Make it what we did this morning and you have a deal.''

They kissed goodnight and Rose went to her room, hanging some things up in the small storage area that consisted of some hanging space and some shelves and thought about her call with James.  She could never quite bring herself to confess to him where she had come from but she still hadn't told Alec about Mickey, that he would find out if he went to meet her stepfather at some point but not until after his surgery.

Now she had to call Pete and tell him but since Alec was a detective, Pete shouldn't be too annoyed with her but he had been dead-set against James finding out, even when they had got engaged.  Pete had reckoned he didn't need to know, not that he didn't trust him but he was afraid it would split the two of them up as both he and Jackie had been overjoyed when Rose had finally taken up with him then got engaged and Jackie had to learn not to blurt out he looked like the Timelord Rose had lost.

Rose herself had to agree, how would James have reacted to find she had left someone behind who could be his twin?  Alec on the other hand may or may not accept it but he had taken the fact he looked like her fiancé reasonably well even if it had not emerged he was dead jealous that she still wore his ring.

''Rose, will you do something for me?'' Alec asked as he gave her one last kiss as she went to the bathroom.

''Sure Alec but we have to be careful when we're out, you still have to pretend you're James until we make an announcement, I just hope he's not going to make a scene about it.''

''Well he is an actor Rose, maybe he'll be a bit dramatic about it?''

Rose took her arms from his neck and began unbuttoning his shirt.  ''You know you'll have to buy some more clothes, if Ashworth had noticed earlier you wear identical clothes, you may not have got away with it.''

''You want me in jeans and those gruesome t-shirts James wears?  Think again sweetheart, I'm not wearing those.''

Rose smiled and continued unfastening his buttons.  ''Well how about some button down t-shirts but I bet you'd look cute in a pair of tight jeans.''

He took her hands as she was about to pull his shirt out from the back of his trousers.

''You were saying about sleeping in the other room?''

''A girl's entitled to be persuaded to change her mind Alec so change my mind for me.  What did you want to ask me?''

''If maybe you wouldn't wear that ring when we're on our own?  It does put me off and I was going to try to persuade you to share with me tonight, I promise all we'll do is kiss if that's all you want?''

''Yeah, I can go for that and yes, I can take the ring off, I meant to it's just that I wasn't sure until a short time ago now I am.  I'm gonna end it with him on Saturday and if it doesn't go well then I hope you know what you're in store for, he could make it messy but somehow, I don't think he will.  Alec there is one thing though, you know you look like James but I hate to say this, James looked like my other friend, the Doctor.''

''Really Rose?  Are you trying to put me off?''

''Does it?  I mean you just about accept you're the double of James and when I met him, I thought it was the Doctor, that he had somehow found his way back and that's maybe why I fell in love with him but you, I know for certain you're not him.''

''Just how certain are you Rose?''

''Want to know a secret?''

''Do tell, as if looking like that actor wasn't bad enough but you may as well.''

''You Alec Hardy, have a bad heart that I hope you're gonna get fixed.''

''Yes and your point is?''

He reached down to kiss her neck, moving her t-shirt out of the way.

''The Doctor, he had two hearts and unless one stopped working, it's impossible you could be him.  He wasn't from earth Alec, he was from another planet, he was a Timelord and I travelled with him, not just on earth but through time and to other planets and if you think I'm crazy, arrest me and lock me up, Pete will back me up.  I wanted him to tell you because he never agreed to tell James but he once told me, if I found the right one, I wouldn't need him to tell the man I love about my past.  I don't know why I couldn't tell James but I'm beginning to realise now, I was using him as a substitute, hoping he would reveal to me one day he was the Doctor in disguise but you, you can't possibly be him.''

''Well I'm glad to hear it, what would I do with two hearts?''
Chapter 10
Rose couldn't believe how well Alec seemed to be taking all this.  She just hoped Pete and her mother would take the news she was splitting up with James just as well because she knew now she had to and that she had seen the Doctor in James and fallen for him because of it and she knew she didn't feel the same about Alec, not just because he was ill but because he was just the opposite of James and the Doctor.
Her mother had tried to make her take notice that she was using James and of course she hadn't wanted to listen but following James around the country?  Surely that should have been a dead give-away?  Using the excuse of wanting to be with him to the extent she went where he was filming until she had been prevented from doing so for only the second time and this time, James hadn't even protested.  The first time, he hadn't known how the screen-test was going to go and nothing had ever come of it but this time, he had already been ear-marked for the role and he'd grabbed it without discussion or asking how she felt about him spending months on location for a relatively small part.

That should have been another sign but she had been too caught up in him and he'd promised to come home when he could but this time she'd had to ask him to come back even though he was probably sitting around doing nothing for hours on end, he was so intent on making it over there.  Maybe this was a wake-up call for both of them.

Alec was waiting for her in his bedroom as Rose had an internal debate with herself in the bathroom, she just wished she had brought her phone in with her and dared to wake her mother but this late at night was not the right time to tell Jackie Tyler she was breaking up with her fiancé, she wasn't that brave.  Alec was getting concerned Rose was taking so long.  After he had asked her what he would do with two hearts and he'd settle for one that actually worked properly, they had kissed and he'd asked if she was going to join him or sleep on her own.

Rose had asked for time to think about it so he had got undressed to his t-shirt and shorts and gone to wait for her but that was almost fifteen minutes ago and he was trying to decide just to leave her or check on her.  He heard the bathroom door going since he had left his room door open and listened for her footsteps, trying to determine which direction she was heading.  Then she appeared in the doorway as she turned out the room light.

''Thought I was gonna back out?'' she asked as she told him to move over.

''No, I just thought maybe it was too much to hope for, that you'd join me voluntarily without me calling out at two in the morning.''

''Well if you do, I won't have far to go, will I?  Seriously Alec, you have to let me help you get over it.''

''I can't Rose, I have to live with it, I don't think it will ever go away as such, just as you still see yourself falling into the gap between worlds, I still see Pippa in that river and I'm carrying her out.  Sometimes I can feel myself getting dragged down by her weight and no-one is reaching out for me then I'm lying on a cliff top and water is pouring out of me.  That's when I wake up gasping for breath.  I know what wakes you up, no-one was there to stop you falling.''

''Yeah, sounds like we're both as bad as each other.  The gap between worlds, it's call The Void, it contains nothing Alec, nothing but machines can survive in there but I never got to ask if anyone were to fall into it, if they would know where they were or not and sometimes it worries me because he had to watch me Alec, he had to watch me heading for the void and he was screaming my name, then Pete came back for me just as I was about to get pulled in and the look on the Doctor's face is one I can never forget.''

Alec leaned over and held her tightly.  ''It's ok Rose, you don't have to talk about it if it's too painful.  You're the only person I've ever shared my nightmare with and I suspect apart from your mother and stepfather, you've never shared that, not even with James, have you?''

Rose looked up at him.  There was some light coming in from outside since he preferred to slant the blinds so light could filter in but no-one could see through if they were to bother, which now Ashworth had been for a visit, seemed highly likely he would try again to catch the couple out and get Alec to confess he wasn't really James Smith.

''I know the Doctor saw Pete rescuing me but it doesn't alter the facts.  He must have known what was in there, besides five million or more Cybermen and another race called Daleks and please don't ask me about them, believe me, you don't want to know about them.  I told you, he got a message to me, a hologram and I was able to talk to him for a few moments but after I told him I loved him, he faded away before he could reply.  When I met James and he told me he loved me, I let myself believe I had found him again, that James was the Doctor but he isn't, I know that now.''

''Then forget about it and concentrate on this Rose.  I'm here, I'm not the Doctor and I do love you.''

''Alec, I know why I couldn't tell James, I thought he already knew it all, that he'd just admit one day who he really was and he'd found his way back to me and wanted to live a normal life but I know that's never gonna happen and that was the reason I thought I loved him.  It's you I love Alec because I've just told you about my past though you did guess some of it, James never asked me about anything, not like that and I used to wake up but he never woke with me.''

''Well if you wake again, I'm here and we'll help each other, ok?''

''Yeah.  Can we just cuddle until I go to sleep?  I really need it right now.''

''Oh Rose, I can do that, come here though if you take your vest top off, it would be much better.''

''Ok but you'd best take your t-shirt off then, if you want?''

''Do you trust me?''

''Yeah, I trust you.''

The next morning, neither of them having woken from their nightmares and having to face reality, Rose made some breakfast and went to call Pete first, telling him about the press and to prepare for yet another statement then said she was breaking things off with James when he got back.

''Well since you've been down there and the last few days, I'm not really surprised. When are you telling him?''

''He'll be here on Saturday at some point, I'll have to clear my stuff out and leave it in my old room for now, until I decide what to do.  Most of my clothes I'll bring back to Broadchurch but the press are going to go crazy on this but I'm gonna go to the local paper and let them release it, I can't let the big papers get hold of it and I don't want your press department handling it either, I have to do this myself unless it gets out of hand.  I should tell you I've got involved with Alec but we've done nothing about it yet, not until I end it properly with James.''

''Well your mother will be disappointed love but I think under the circumstances, you've done the right thing, it wouldn't be proper to do it on the phone with James though it's a long way for him to come back but he'll have more respect for you if you end it properly rather than dump him by phone.''

''It's the least I can do, it's not his fault, I know he wants to make something of himself over there and I don't blame him but it's not going to be the same once he does come back and I don't think I could cope.  It might work for some showbiz couples but it's not me.  I told him Dad, I told Alec my worst nightmare and he's still here.''

''You took my advice then and told the man you love?  I had a feeling you would, since you could never bring yourself to tell James.  He knows everything then?''

''He guessed most of it and there are a few minor details to fill in but yeah, he's accepted it but he has nightmares too, that's why he understands.  We have a lot to do, I'm putting off another interview until I've seen James though I might go warn the newspaper editor I have a big juicy story and I offered to give a large donation if she played along that Alec was James, don't suppose you want to help me out with that do you?  Only I promised Alec if he had to wait too long for his surgery that I'd pay for it, not that he likes the idea but I can appease him.''

''Just contact the accountants, on both, they'll deal with it.  Now you'd best call your mother, she's already got this morning's paper, I'm surprised she didn't call you but she's learned not to believe everything and you did warn her.''

''There is just one more thing, I could do with a visit from Jake or Mickey, to take care of something to do with an old case of Alec's, someone has started bothering him.''

''Email me the details and I'll see what I can do but Alec might not like anyone interfering.''

''Leave that to me.''

Rose went to join Alec out on the decking, he had been trying to call the hospital number he had been given and been told they could fit him at four that afternoon to see the consultant so when Rose sat opposite him at the picnic table, she reached for his hand.

''Shall we go visit the newspaper office?  I'll tell her I'm putting it off for now but I'll have a big story for her but to put it off until after the hearing, I don't want it getting over-shadowed by my problems.  What do you think?''

''I can call her if you want?  What are you planning today, besides taking me to the hospital at four?''

''That's good news Alec, well why don't we go over early and have a look around first?  We'll park near the hospital and get there in time for lunch then you can get some t-shirts and things, I could do with a few bits and pieces until I go collect my things.  You do know I'll have to leave on Friday afternoon?''

''Don't remind me but what if they can do my surgery?  Will you still go?''

''If they do it on Friday, I won't leave until early on Saturday morning and I'll be back as soon as I can.  You know I have to go and end it with James, so I can be with you, don't you?  It's the only way Alec.  I told Pete you knew about my nightmares, he wants to meet you but when all this dies down, my mother won't be pleased, I'm waiting for her to call me.''

Jackie did indeed call and didn't Rose know about it?  She got away finally by saying as soon as Alec had the hearing over with, she would get to meet him.  Jackie knew under no circumstances was she to say that both James and Alec looked like the Doctor but Rose suspected Alec knew though she hadn't actually admitted it to him but it was plain since she had said James had been mistaken for him and Alec was passing as James that it was quite obvious and he seemed to have taken it well, considering.

Alec had gone back inside and brought out some tea, sitting beside her with his legs stuck out.  This is what Rose wanted, doing ordinary things like sit outside on the decking by the river and drink tea, talking about going for surgery and making real plans that didn't include what events they would be going to and what projects were coming up.  Yes, Alec had yet to go back to work but she was sure he would as soon as he felt well enough and she wouldn't interfere with that, she would let him do that on his own merits, unless he asked for help if they really were going to have a relationship but until then, she had to keep her offers of help to a minimum and hope he'd get the operation on his own.

They found the department Alec had to attend.  They'd had lunch and Alec had called the newspaper editor, saying they were putting it off and would come back with an even bigger story and the paper would be receiving a nice donation for their troubles once it was published but that wasn't to be until after Joe Miller's hearing, which Alec was relieved about but since he had got to know Rose, he wasn't surprised.

The consultant had been surprised to see Alec had been added to her list of patients to be seen that day and thought the woman with him looked vaguely familiar but was more concerned he had finally come to his senses so if some woman had dragged him kicking and screaming there, she wasn't going to object.  It went better than either Rose or Alec could imagine, Rose didn't have to offer to pay, the consultant called admissions and it was arranged for him to go on Thursday afternoon at two.

''So will he have to stay in?'' Rose asked casually, hoping she could safely leave him on his own if she left Friday night but not really wanting to though.

''Well if he has someone with him, he can leave after the medical staff says he's ok to travel.  You'll have some pain Alec but we'll give you something for it and you'll have to take it easy for a few days so don't be in a hurry to get back to work.''

''I don't have to go to work, I have a hearing to attend to on Monday morning, that's the only reason I'm doing this, well that and one other reason.''

Rose didn't quite know if the reason was her or finishing his old case, she just hoped it was her, since she had offered to help him with the case.

They went for a drink and something to eat when they got back to Broadchurch, Alec saying they had something to celebrate.

''Alec, you said you had two reasons, to go ahead with the surgery, the hearing was one.  Was the other reason me or your old case?''

''Rose, I'm doing it for us, not just you because once you've come back, I want you to stay with me, will you?''

''Yeah, I just want to be normal again Alec, with you and talk about what you've been doing at work, where we'll go on holiday and where we'll live.''

''You want to move?'' he smiled.

''Well maybe not just yet but you've no idea how much stuff I'll be bringing back with me, you should see my wardrobe, it's bigger on the inside,'' she joked.

''I just bet it is Rose Tyler, little miss rich girl.  I want you to know, I don't want you paying for everything and now you don't have to pay for my operation, don't think I'm letting you off the hook.''

''Oh I know you won't, DI Alec Hardy and you can get your own job back, I'm not helping you with that one.''

''Good because I can get my own job back thank you very much.  What are going to do tomorrow?''

''Let's just go out for the day, up to Lyme Regis or somewhere and forget everything, yeah?''
Chapter 11
After a nice day out, they prepared to go to the hospital the next day and had an early night.  James hadn't called that night or Monday night, Rose wasn't expecting him to really.  She supposed he could have pleaded with her to go over there but that wasn't practical and they both knew it.  James knew what was awaiting him when he got to London, Rose would be packing or already cleared everything out of the apartment and would probably stay with her family or go back to that seaside town she had been staying in.  He thought about the man who had been pretending to be him, was he the real reason Rose was leaving him? Should he try to persuade her not to leave?

He knew Rose, once she had made up her mind, there really wasn't anything that could stop her and that was what he had loved about her.  He thought back to when they had first met, how he had somehow been drawn to her like a magnet and now it was becoming obvious.  He hadn't been able to fool her.  All the time he had been on his own, trying to get along on his own merits, becoming an actor and waiting for the time when Rose would finally notice him though he had made every attempt not to make it easy for her, she had to actually choose him.  Now she was leaving him, for a look-alike but that was what he was after all.

Trust his twin's timing to be off somewhat, leaving him in 2005 and he had to live through the Cybermen, trying to stay out of the way but at least his background had been established for him before the other him had left.  Fearing Rose would reject him, he had hidden himself away, became James Smith and very quickly began getting small parts in various things and becoming famous, even throwing in a couple of girlfriends for good measure though he'd never actually got physical with them, not until Rose had finally noticed him.  Now he thought she was beginning to suspect who he really was.

His bug for travelling though had got the better of him but now, being stuck in the Nevada desert was not his idea of fun but something was going on there and it had intrigued him to the point when he'd got back from visiting Rose the last time, sure enough, things were starting to go wrong and he was determined to find out why. Sitting in the hot sun though wasn't quite what he had planned, wishing Rose was with him.  He knew now he'd made a mistake in going on his own and now it was too late.  She was taking up with a sickly detective who was pretending to be him and that was so like her and though he loved her, he knew she had to choose her own destiny.

He however had his destiny set out for him since he was left here all that time ago. The theory that Rose and the Doctor were meant to be together no matter what was never to be and she would never know it.  She would never know he and his twin had decided whilst the walls of the universes had still been weak, this world never getting caught up in Davros's grand plan because it ran ahead of everywhere else and had escaped, that after his creation, he should go find Rose and give her the happy ending she had deserved but when he had found out she wasn't yet on this world, he'd had to let events take their course and not interfere until one day, the Cybermen disappeared and he knew she was here.

He had been happy when he knew of her arrival, her mother had got married to this Pete Tyler and Rose had been adopted, then he'd had to plan very carefully how to accidentally meet her and the rest was history.  Their whirlwind romance was all over the media, they were followed everywhere and they had loved it, well he had, showing her off everywhere and making a big splash of their engagement and he, James Smith, finally having money instead of getting by using a sonic screwdriver and psychic paper.

Now it was over, he had to resign himself to letting her go, her promise of staying with him forever broken once again but since she didn't know it was really him and he could never tell her, she had to love him for who he was now, half human and half Timelord with one life and one heart, that had been full of love for her.  If she discovered the truth, it would break her in two, she would be angry with him and angry with herself and he couldn't allow that.


As Alec let Rose take the lead the night before his surgery, his only thought was of getting back to her after the operation, nothing else mattered to him, not his ex, Sandbrook, maybe his daughter mattered, she was showing signs she wanted to talk to him again but Rose, she had overtaken everything in his life in a very short space of time.  From a few days ago of him reluctantly letting her lead him around masquerading as her fiancé and getting annoyed with her to her lying on him, kissing her way across his chest and making him feel wanted.  That James Smith was a fool to go off and leave her like that but who was he kidding?

He was going to trust her to go off at the weekend and pack her stuff, break up with the man and come back to him, from a probably large apartment to living in a riverside chalet but she seemed to like it.  He thought it must come from her humble beginnings before she had fame and money.  He made his mind up while she was gone he would get a taxi up to the rental agency and find them a bigger place to live, it was the least he could do.  Then he would call Miller, bring her in on his plan to sort out Claire and hope while Rose was away, Ashworth wouldn't pay him another visit.  It would be all he needed fresh out of heart surgery.

Rose was calling his name, never saying she wanted more but he knew she did and she would have it when he was well and she was free.  She had said she loved him but that was a sentence, she had not said the three words on their own and he didn't expect she could until she was sure she wouldn't feel guilty.  After he thought she had finally fallen asleep, he lay awake thinking about the chances of the operation and the circumstances that had led him to meet Rose, then he realised this was meant to happen, him staying here and not leaving town until the hearing, managing on sick pay and the rent paid on his temporary home but now Claire was bugging him again, then Ashworth, would he still hold up to it all while she was away?

He just wished he could go with her but tomorrow, before he went for the pacemaker, he hoped she would be able to say she loved him.

They made their way back to the hospital and Alec was shown to a bed and told to prepare himself and the surgeon would come and talk to him and he would be prepared for the surgery.  From what he could tell, there was very little ceremony about it, it was far too commonplace these days as opposed to how it used to be.  Now patients were in and out in a matter of hours and he just hoped they knew what they were doing.

Rose was allowed to see him before the surgeon came in.  He was sat up in bed, hooked up to a monitor and Rose tried to ignore it but was fascinated by the irregular pattern and wondered what it had actually been like all this time for him, living as he had been.  She felt more sure now than she had ever been about James, Alec needed her to get him through this and if by some very slim chance he didn't make it, they'd had last night together and earlier that morning, both of them reassuring each other it wasn't going to be the last time they would be together even though they had stopped short of having proper sex, they had come close, Rose not wanting to risk making him worse and still feeling some guilt.

Alec took her hand.  ''So, I'll see you when I wake up then?  Don't worry Rose, I'm coming back to you.''

Rose smiled.  ''Me and my friend Mickey once waited five and a half hours for the Doctor to come back.''

''Really?  I hope I'm not out that long then.  Rose, when I get out of here, will you tell me?  Tell me everything you did before you came here, your old life back in London?''

She knew what he meant, her life with the Doctor, travelling and the things they had done together.

''That's gonna take some time Alec, sure you've got the time to spare?'' she teased, squeezing his hand.

He picked hers up and kissed the back of it.  ''Follow me to the operating theatre and we can sneak another kiss before they wheel me in eh?  When I come round, if I see you here, even though you can't say you love me properly, I'll know you do.''

''I do love you Alec, it's just difficult to actually say it how you want me to say it. When I come back from London, it won't matter, I'll be able to say it without feeling all this guilt and we can really be together.''

''I know Rose but I can say it.  I love you darlin'''

Just over ninety minutes later, Rose was back on the same chair, holding his hand and waiting for him to wake up.  She'd had plenty of time to think while she had alternated between pacing the corridor, getting a drink from the vending machine and calling Pete to tell him Alec was in surgery and asking him to tell her mother if this didn't work out, she was staying to see Alec got looked after properly and was going to make all the arrangements even after he told her he had a funeral plan with the police and to leave it to them, she was going to see they did it right and he got full honours and tell his ex wife and daughter how brave he was, opting for the operation.

All that was over now though.  She had not been looking forward to facing Tess Hardy and telling her she had fallen in love with Alec because she had been using him as a decoy groom.  At least she had been spared that and had called Pete back to say she was just waiting for him to wake up before she had been told she could go wait with him.

Pete had told Jackie that her daughter would be devastated if Alec didn't make it and he was preparing to have Jake on standby to go down with him and stay with her while all the arrangements were made since she was determined she was going to take charge but it hadn't come to that thankfully.  Now Alec had survived, his next challenge would be to meet Jackie Tyler and for that, he needed to be in good health.

She felt him move and looked up, her chair was facing him so she wouldn't make her neck ache watching him and she smiled at him.

''So, I guess you want to hear all about my past travels then?''

''Why do you think I got through this Rose?'' he smiled.

''Oh I don't know, maybe for you to hear me say I love you?''

''I heard you, saying it to me as the anaesthetic took hold.  You did, didn't you?''

''How did you hear me Alec?  I only whispered it.''

''Because I already knew Rose, I know you love me.''

Rose had decided not to set off for London until the early evening on Friday, after making sure Alec had everything he needed and she had got him to agree to let Ellie Miller call in on him at some point on Saturday, to which he'd only agreed because he wanted to ask her to keep an eye on Claire.

''Promise me Alec that if Ashworth comes back, you'll still pretend to be James? Don't go confronting him, at least until I get back?''

''Ok cookie, just for you but if he gets me going, I may just have to break my promise but I won't do it here, I'll make sure we're in a public place, does that make you happy?''

''I suppose I'll just have to trust you, won't I?  Now snog me to death so I can get going.  I'm gonna stay with my mum tonight and go pack in the morning, I should get everything in my car since most of it belongs to James or stuff we bought together.  It's gonna be difficult but tonight I'll decide what to tell the press, I might just get Pete's PR team to handle it after all, it might be easier and James will get his agent to issue a statement.''

''You know I'll miss you while you're gone?''

''I know but it will be so much better when I get back, it will be more than worth it.''
Chapter 12
After a tearful goodbye, Rose was on her way back to spend the evening with her family before facing clearing her things out of the apartment she had shared with James.  She couldn't face sleeping there that night and all she would think about would be Alec anyway and how a week ago, he had been reluctant to even let her stay overnight and never even offered to walk her back to the hotel and now, he had survived a pacemaker operation, told her he loved her and she was breaking off her engagement to be with him. It had certainly been a hell of a week.

James had boarded a flight for London to arrive the following morning and wondering whether to call Rose to pick him up from the airport but thought better of it.  Maybe he'd got it all wrong, maybe she had just missed him and was going to tell him she would come over and spend whatever time they had in a hotel with him but he somehow doubted it.  He had spent all week trying to find out what was going on with the film set and was pleased when he finally solved it.  A little known race of humanoids who liked to cause trouble had been sabotaging the set and he had finally cornered them, telling them to leave or he would get cross and call Torchwood, showing them what Torchwood were on his phone and they had all left but leaving the film set short-handed of set dressers and maintenance men but they had been replaced the day after and no-one had been any wiser.

He had been thankful he hadn't had to call Pete to send a team over but now, he had nothing to do and Rose wasn't speaking to him, he'd not called her and neither had she called him.  Now in a few hours he had to face her, let her tell him she was leaving and he had a decision to make – should he tell her who he really was?

Rose was greeted by her mother as she got let into the Tyler residence, she had given her key back when she had moved in with James.  Tony had also seen her and once he had been appeased with a present of a boat for his bath, Jackie led her into the kitchen for a late night snack and Tony was bundled to bed as he had stayed up to wait for his sister.  Pete came to join them when he had supervised Tony and his nanny.

''So, what's the story on this Alec Hardy then?'' Pete asked her.

''I told you most of it and he's a lot better now, I've got someone checking on him tomorrow then I'm going back on Sunday morning, I don't want to leave him too long.  That problem I told you about Dad, it might come back while I'm away but he has the hearing to attend on Monday and hopefully it won't come to a trial.  I'm gonna write out a statement and call the PR people before I leave to go to the court with him and tell the local paper there to print the story I was using Alec as a cover-up for splitting with James.''

''How do you think poor James is going to take it?'' her mother asked.

Pete scowled at his wife.  ''Jackie, our concern is Rose, don't you think?  Yes, James will be upset, it's understandable and we have to help them both get through it but if he loves her, he'll let her go and there will be the minimum of fuss.  Rose, do you want me to go with you tomorrow?''

''No, thanks but I have to do this on my own.  Alec wanted to come with me but I told him he needs to get well first.  I think I'll just go to my room and call him, he'll be getting worried and wanting to make sure I got here.  He wanted me to get the train, just as I was about to leave because he was concerned of me driving all this way on my own.  I told him I'd got myself down there and all he said was he didn't know me then but if he had, he'd have been just as concerned.  He's really sweet Mum, you'll like him.''

''That's what you said about James, remember?  I know you're just gonna keep on finding Doctor substitutes Rose, you always will and what about if you find another one?  Are you gonna keep leaving them until you find himself again?''

''Jackie, leave her love, Rose knows what she's doing.  She told Alec everything, she never told James so I'd say that's enough proof she loves Alec Hardy, don't you? Remember what we all agreed?  That she would only ever tell the man she really loved about where she came from?''

''If you're sure this time Rose, I just don't want you to keep thinking you've found him and then be disappointed when it isn't him.''

''I know Mum and I told that to Alec because I trust him, he has nightmares too. James never asked me about my past, he never woke when I dreamt you weren't there to stop me falling in the void but I know Alec will.  He woke up on Saturday night because he still dreams he was pulling that girl out of the river and no, I wasn't sleeping with him, I was in his spare room but I had to calm him down and I think that was the first time since it happened that someone was there for him. Dad, can I talk to you for a minute, alone?''

Jackie knew what that meant, Rose was still bothered about those Cybermen and didn't want to upset her again, she still had nightmares herself about them that the leaders hadn't turned their backs on her and she hadn't escaped down the stairs and ran into Pete.

''What's wrong Rose?'' Pete asked.

''I was talking to Alec the other night and I came to a conclusion and this is gonna sound completely crazy and I didn't want mum to know.''

''Ok, tell me. Is it about Alec?''

''Yes and no.  What I mean is, I told Alec I knew for a fact he's not the Doctor and he accepts who the Doctor was and that I loved him and lost him and I also told him that when I met James, I thought that he was the Doctor and that was why I fell for him but that I was using him as a substitute but do you know something?  I think I really was right, I think somehow, I don't know how it's possible but James really is him, James is the Doctor and not just because I wanted him to be but I think somehow he got here and made himself human or maybe part human.  Do you remember when we first met?  I'd had a crush on him since I got here because he looked like that other actor I liked and how at first we tried to avoid each other.''

Pete laughed.  ''Yeah, your mother said you and the Doctor used to dance around each other and you were so obvious.  Is that why Rose?  You thought James was him and you were back playing games with each other?  We thought that was how you wanted it.''

''I did because I kept thinking he was gonna wake up one morning and tell me and I eventually gave up and accepted him for who he is but now I'm not so sure and I don't know what to do about it, whether to tell him or not, to let things play out and never mention it.  What should I do?''

''Sleep on it Rose, that's my advice, see what happens and he may even tell you but if you felt that you could never reveal your past to him, you either didn't really love him or you thought he already knew.''

''That's what I told Alec, that's why it never came up and he never asked me.  Alec wants to know everything when I get back and I'm gonna tell him a bit at a time, just pick a subject and talk about it.  I don't want to tell him all at once, it might be too much for him but I don't think he'll run at the words 'Dalek' or 'Slitheen' only don't mention the latter to Mickey after one exploded in his kitchen, he never quite got it off the walls and mum never forgave him for it.''

Pete smiled as Rose gave him a hug and went to call Alec, who had been pacing the small chalet debating if he should call her or wait as she could still be driving though it was now almost ten.  He jumped when the ringtone for Rose sounded.

''I was worried Rose, it's late. Are you ok?''

''I'm fine and I'm sorry, my mum got to me first and she's a bit more persistent than you are.  She wanted two weeks gossip condensed into twenty minutes and that's some task.  Are you ok babe?''

''I'm fine.  So are you all ready for the showdown tomorrow?  You can still back out you know, I'm not forcing you to come back.''

''No Alec, you're not, I'm coming back of my own free will, no-one is making me and when I do come back, I'll finally be able to tell you everything and how I feel about you.''

Alec remained silent for a few seconds.  ''I know how you feel Rose, just come back on Sunday, please love?''

''I will, don't worry and try not to miss me too much.''

''I can't promise that, I just hope I don't get my nightmare if you're not there Rose.''

Rose was too tired to write down what she wanted to say in the press release so she tried to get some sleep, thinking about Alec and how different he was from James. She had thought she loved James but now she knew she had done it for the wrong reasons and it was becoming clearer why.  She had been right all along, he had kept himself hidden, waited for the right time and made her choose him but how had he got himself established unless he had some psychic paper or the Tardis was hidden away somewhere?

Yes, that had to be it!  He had found a gap, got the Tardis through and maybe the ship was running on emergency power and just ticking away somewhere, still not able to travel in this universe and that would explain why James liked to travel around on location and only stay for short periods of time in London.  She bet he had found something out in Nevada and that was why he wanted her to remain behind. If all this was really true, how was she going to face him tomorrow?

The next morning, she had an early breakfast, sent a message to Alec to say she was thinking about him and set off for the apartment, keying in the code for the gate and parking under their balcony.  One of the staff was on duty in the reception area and greeted her.

''Miss Tyler, welcome back. Mr Smith is still away are you expecting him?''

''Yeah, he should be here soon but I need you to keep something quiet that I'm moving some stuff out so I may be up and down a few times.''

Rose was wishing the other exit wasn't so far away where she wouldn't be seen then she could have parked up there.  She made her way upstairs to the first floor and let herself in and went to the bedroom after picking up the mail, mostly for James, probably offers though they should go through his agent.

She got the two big cases from the closet and opened her wardrobe, dividing what she was going to store at her mother's and what she was taking back to Broadchurch and hoping she could manage to drag the cases out to the lift and to her car though she would have to make a few trips since some things would have to go in a holdall.  Then there was her laptop case since she'd not bothered to take it with her last time and just taken her tablet PC that she had hardly used since there was no internet in the chalet and Alec didn't like the thing as she was looking up wedding venues.  She thought that was maybe because she was planning a wedding with another man and not him.

Now she knew she didn't want a big wedding, that was if she were still to get married since Alec was divorced and maybe wouldn't even want to go down that path any more, once bitten and all that.  Maybe she had been rubbing salt into his wounds by dragging him to that wedding fayre for real last Sunday, especially after he had warned her about dragging him around the day before and telling her he needed to take it slowly but now, there was no need for that but she didn't think he would still be keen on looking around wedding venues even if he was to bring up the subject he wouldn't mind getting married again at some point, to her or not.
She had just about got everything out of the wardrobe and outfits laid out on the bed in two piles when she heard the main door open.

''Rose, are you here?'' another softer Scottish voice called out.

''In the bedroom.''

''Aye, I can see that now, the receptionist said you'd arrived.  So, I won't state the obvious, you are really leaving.''

''I'm sorry I had to drag you all the way back here James but I couldn't say anything on the phone.''

''Because Alec Hardy was with you and listening?''

''Don't be like that and no, because I didn't want to be heartless and call you from thousands of miles away and tell you I was breaking off our engagement, I don't do things like that James Smith.''

''I won't make a scene Rose, I don't do that but it's plain you're going back to Broadchurch to be with him, aren't you?  I should have known, when you said he was pretending to be me and yes, I saw the little piece you released to the press, I was quite impressed at your inventiveness really, you're very clever Rose Tyler.''

''I'm gonna release a press statement through Pete's PR department, maybe you want to use them as well?  It will save any confrontation with reporters.''

''Fine, yes, I'll come up with something before I go back on Monday evening but there is one thing Rose.  Did you ever love me?''

''What sort of question is that James?  I did love you, you know that but you're forever going off filming somewhere and you never even tried to get me to go to Las Vegas with you, why?  Just to star, well not even star in a crummy sixties vampire movie remake?  Why was it so important?''

''You want to know why?  You don't get it do you Rose?  The travelling around, not wanting to stay in one place but having a base, do you not see it all?''

Rose opened her mouth to speak as it dawned on her – she had been right all along.


He changed his voice.  ''Took you long enough, Rose Tyler but technically no, well, yes but not wholly, I'm a duplicate Doctor and I got left here – to find you.''

Rose fell backwards on the bed, narrowly missing the open suitcase.

''You have some explaining to do.''
Chapter 13
When Alec had received the text from Rose first thing, he had quickly replied since he was awake and fished for his glasses because he hated how small the letters were on his stupid phone, telling her he loved her and to hurry back home and she had only been gone for a few hours.  He was a wreck and he knew it but what if she made up with James?  What if she sent someone to get her things and was never coming back?  Most importantly, if Ashworth came back, would he still be able to keep up with the charade he was the actor?  He doubted it though, not with Rose being gone.  Did he still want to pretend he was Smith?

Rose had said she was sorry for dragging him around the wedding venue last Sunday but because of his reluctance, would she think he never want to go down that particular road again?  Did he, with the right woman?  With Rose saying she was coming back, did it already mean she wanted something permanent with him? Well at least he would no longer have to pose as her fiancé especially since it made him jealous of the man, being really engaged to Rose but now all this stuff about another universe and him actually believing her, was it too much?

Another man might have gone running but not him and he knew he loved her, she had told him her worst nightmare, something she had never shared with even her fiancé and he had shared his, she had been there for him when he had woken from it and it hadn't sent her running.  He made his mind up he would use the tablet PC she had left him to look up rentals they could go see once the hearing was over with and she wouldn't have said that if she wasn't going to stay, would she?  He just wondered what sort of press release she would come up with.

Rose was trying to come to terms with what she had just heard.  James, or rather the duplicate Doctor was pacing the bedroom, looking between the clothes on the bed and the now almost empty side of the wardrobe that had been hers.

Rose found her voice.  ''Well you owe me an explanation but how long have you been here, on this world?''

''Since 2005, I had to live through the aftermath of the first Cyberman invasion, keep out of the way then when they began to disappear, I knew you would come back and I got myself noticed so you would find me.''

''Then why didn't you just knock on my front door and tell me you were here?  Why let me find you?''

''Because you had to.  How would you have reacted if I'd knocked on your door and asked if you'd missed me?  You had to want to find me Rose, I was determined not to make it easy for you since like I said, I'm not really him, I was created out of him and it's not as gruesome as you think.  Something happened back in your world, the walls of reality were breaking down but it didn't affect this one because it runs ahead.  Jack came back, he found my hand from that swordfight and I got it back, then this woman called Donna touched the jar containing it and I was created while the Daleks were trying to wipe everything in existence out, as they do.''

''I thought they were all in the void?''

''So did I but four of them, the ones we encountered at Torchwood in your world turned up in the 1930's and one got away and flew into the Time War and rescued their creator, Davros.  He planned to wipe everything but the Daleks out but it went wrong and a group of us defeated him but I wiped them out and the other me considered me to be dangerous and sent me here, to find you but his timing was off, as usual.  I didn't think I deserved you after what I did.''

''You saved the universe, from what you said, more than one of them, that was brilliant and no, I wouldn't have thought you were dangerous, you did what you needed to do.  What would have happened if you'd let them get away?  The Daleks just keep coming back, I doubt you would have got rid of them entirely, they always escape.  There may be others in the future or the past that will turn up, how could you have wiped them out?  You thought you'd done that in the Time War.''

''Thanks for the confidence in me, you always did believe in me and when we finally got together, it had to be for who I am now, not who I was but you're leaving me, why?''

'"What do you want me to say?  It doesn't change anything, you'll keep moving around, making films and TV shows and I'll keep following you, even if we did get married, I can't sit at home with three kids and wait for your latest project to end and yes, I know lots of couples do but they're not me, that's not who I am and do you think I could do that now I know who you really are?  I've suspected for a while but I'd convinced myself I was wrong.''

''But you weren't wrong Rose and I'm really sorry for not telling you but I couldn't plus, I didn't really know how this Torchwood would react, whether they would welcome me with open arms and make me their resident alien expert or lock me up, with or without your stepfather being in charge.  Did he suspect or did you tell him?''

''He had his suspicions and so did my mum but I think they just wanted it as much as I did but I used you James, I mean Doctor, I let myself believe it was you until I convinced myself finally that you weren't, then I used you as a substitute and I'm sorry for that but I never saw Alec as that, I never for a moment suspected it was him instead of you who was the Doctor.''

''Well I guess that says it all then.  Being the Doctor is no consolation when there's no Rose Tyler, I learned that when I got here and waited for you, the girlfriends were fake by the way, there was only ever you I was with, if that makes any difference but I know you too well once you've made up your mind to do something, I hope you'll be happy with him.  I hear he's been through a lot?''

''Yeah and he's survived an operation he thought was going to finish him off and he has a court hearing on Monday that I'm gonna attend with him and stuff all the reporters that will be there because it's not about me.''

''Then I'll let you issue a joint statement, I'm going back to finish that film and there was something going on out there, a bunch of fun-loving humanoids thought it was a lark to disrupt everything but they left, it'll be quite boring when I get back.  You asked why that remake?  You still want to know why?''

''I know, it was one of the last films the old you, me and Jack watched, Jack was making faces and throwing popcorn all over the place and you kept trying to say how it was going to end.  I should have known.''

''I don't hold any grudges Rose, it was good and I just want you to be happy because I never got to tell you the end of that sentence back on the beach all that time ago.  If I'd been clever enough, I knew the day you went there, I could have been there in person but it would have just freaked you out, appearing on the beach just after I'd left the first time but it wasn't meant to be.  Trust his timing to be off again but he only had one shot to drop me here and get back, there wasn't a chance to check what year it was.  I had some help by the way, becoming an actor but the accent should have given me away really, from the time we met Queen Victoria.''

''Yeah, I should have known I was right but that would have just been too much, I had to convince myself it wasn't real and it was just me wanting it to be you and I'm really sorry it happened but you're right, I would have freaked out if you'd actually got left behind on that beach when the Tardis disappeared, that could have made things go in an entirely different direction with us.''

''Yeah, it could but it could still have ended this way.  I should let you pack and when I've finished the film, I'll come back and give this place up, get something else a bit smaller.  You'll come to the film première?''

''Yeah, you bet.  So are we still friends?''

''Oh you know me Rose Tyler, we were always friends, why let a little thing like breaking off an engagement spoil it?  You can keep the ring if you want?''

Rose went in her pocket.  ''No, I couldn't keep it, sell it or whatever you want to do with it, I don't think Alec would like me to.  Do you want to meet him?''

''When you come to see my film, you'll be the guests of honour, even though it will give the media something to talk about eh?''

''You're taking this very well, considering.  Were you expecting this?''

''Well, sort of, just after Alec started pretending to be me but I'm glad he's ok.  If I had been a full Timelord, I could have fixed him, well if I still had the Tardis.''

''I thought you had your ship hidden away somewhere and it couldn't work properly in this universe.''

The Doctor laughed.  ''Really Rose?  Well I suppose if I had I would have got it to work while I was waiting for you to find me.''

''Well I'd best get packed, I was sorting out what I was leaving at my mum's and what I was taking back with me and yeah, I'm happy to be going back there, I've had enough of being famous for being your girlfriend, if it had just been you were a normal bloke then maybe it would have been different and please don't say you can be that, it's not you, you're no ordinary man.''

''Well thanks, I think but you're right, I'm kidding myself thinking I can settle down because I know I'll always be going off somewhere and I've quite got the acting bug but this film Rose, I was doing it for you.  That's why I didn't want you to go with me, I had to do it on my own and I think when it was complete, I was going to tell you.  Either that or you'd know because I ditched the Scottish accent and used my own.''

Rose finished her packing and James offered to help her down with her cases then they went back for her other stuff.

''So this is it Rose?  We are still friends aren't we?  I mean, if that's ok?''

''I don't know what to say.  I feel so bad about this now I know the truth but I know Alec needs me.  He may have got his operation but he still has the nightmares, from his old case.''

''It's ok Rose, I understand, you're worried about me but look at it this way, you could never have found me and never realised who I was.  I'll be fine and at least I got to say I love you, you deserved that after I left you on that beach.''

After an awkward hug and a final kiss, one Rose thought Alec wouldn't mind, Rose drove back to the Tyler residence and sought out Pete after getting someone to help her with her luggage.

''Dad, I was right.''

Pete didn't look surprised.  The Doctor had said she could only tell Pete, he trusted him not to tell the rest of Torchwood who he really was.  She didn't need to explain to her stepfather what she meant.  He had asked her not to tell Alec but she had said he knew everything and she wanted no secrets from him but she had said one thing before she left.

''Doctor, thanks for coming back for me and not leaving me here and I do still want to be friends, like we always were but I'm sorry he thought you had done something really bad to make you stay here, I hope he wasn't punishing you by leaving you here?''

''No Rose, he was making up for having to leave you here, he wanted to put things right and I tried.''

''Yeah, you did.''

After telling Pete that they had parted amicably, Rose went to her room to call Alec, who had virtually worn a hole in the carpet.

''Rose, are ok love?  I was worried.''

''Alec, I'm fine.  Did you think I'd made up with James?''

''Me?  No, why would I think that?''

''You don't fool me Alec Hardy.  It's all over and I'll just spend tonight with my family and I'll be all yours.''

''Do you mean that?''

''Yes Alec and when I get back, you can take me somewhere nice for dinner and when we get back, I'll tell you what you want to hear.''

''Rose, that would make me very happy.  So everything went ok?  No rows or throwing things at each other?''

''No Alec, sorry to disappoint you but James isn't like that and I can't say much on the phone except I was right.''

''Seriously?  Well fancy that, who would have thought it but you're over it now yes?''

''Yes Alec, I'm over it and I'm coming back to you.  I'm just gonna write out a joint statement for dad's PR team to release on Monday afternoon, after the hearing but I'll still only give an exclusive interview to The Echo, they deserve that much.''

''So what story are you coming out with then?''

''Oh maybe the one I was using you as a decoy groom to avoid the fact James and I split up before he went off to the Nevada desert.''

''Rose, you are very sneaky, did I tell you how much I love you?''

''Not today but you can tell me when I get back, if you want?''

''Only after you tell me.''

''I will Alec, I'll see you tomorrow, I miss you cookie.''

''I miss you too, call me when you're leaving.''

''I'll call you later if you want?  How's the house-hunting?''

''Slow but I've told the agency I need to move, that my girlfriend needs a bigger wardrobe.  So can I go back to being me now?''

''Yeah but maybe not if Ashworth comes to call.  My friend Jake is gonna come down and keep him away from you.''

''I don't need any help Rose.''

''Yes you do, Jake will be bringing a friend with him and between them, they'll make sure neither Claire or Ashworth bother us again.''

''How are they going to do that then?''

''Oh let's just say you might get a confession out of them, Jake and Mickey will help them get their memories back.  Where did you say Claire was?''

''I didn't but I know where she is, Ashworth's probably found her by now, they could have left the country.''

''It won't matter.  Is your ex still in charge of the case?''

''Unfortunately but I'm sure she'll be happy to see them both.  Is it always going to be like this?  You solving my problems for me?''

''Better get used to it detective inspector.''

''Oh I think I just might as long as you promise not to drag me around any more wedding venues, cookie.''

''I won't, I don't want a big wedding, I just want to sneak off somewhere, were I still want to get married that is.''

''Good and if by any remote chance I'd ever want to go down that road again, I would too.  I love you Rose Tyler.''

''I love you too, Alec Hardy, see you soon.''

''Not if I see you first.''

Rose almost dropped the phone.  What had Alec just said?  Then she realised.  James was an actor.  Had she been wrong about this all along?  Was Alec really the Doctor?  She shook her head.  No way but if he was a clone and something had gone wrong when he was created but James knew everything, about the Daleks and the Time War, there was no way Alec would have risked telling something like that to an actor.

She dismissed the idea as being stupid and unpacked the things she was leaving and set to work writing the press release, something along the lines that Rose Tyler and James Smith had wanted to keep their split private so Rose had gone to Broadchurch to escape and put out the story they were still together but while she was there, she had met DI Alec Hardy and fallen in love with him and wanted some privacy and that none of them were available for comment and Miss Tyler would be making a further statement at a later date.

It would make the press look foolish enough to leave her alone.  She just wanted a quiet life with Alec Hardy, the man with the recently mended heart and sit looking out across the harbour every night and wait for him to come home.  Yes, she could live with that and whichever of them was the clone Doctor, she loved Alec because he had found her.

The End!