The new recruit


Alec Hardy is out of the Broadchurch police and on teaching duty at the academy in Exeter, pending heart surgery. Rose Tyler has been sent there by her stepfather, him wanting a police presence within Torchwood and Rose has to work her way up. Sparks fly when she's put in Alec's class, Rose always disrupting him but she learns about his illness and they become more than friends.

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Chapter 1

Alec Hardy is out of the Broadchurch police and on teaching duty at the academy in Exeter, pending him getting a date for his heart surgery.  Rose Tyler has been sent by her stepfather to join law-enforcement, him wanting a police presence within Torchwood and Rose has to work her way up on her own merits.  Sparks fly when she's put in Alec's class, Rose always disrupting him but she learns about his illness and she mellows and they become more than friends.

A/N: Nothing regarding Sandbrook is included in this story.  Rose and Alec are living next door to each other in the caravan park and never even know it!  The fun starts when she turns up in his class on the following Tuesday morning and it takes a week for them to discover they are neighbours.

There was a debate going on in the office of Pete Tyler, Director of Torchwood, between his stepdaughter Rose, head of research, Mickey Smith and Jake Simmonds, heads of security and it seemed Rose was loosing.  Pete had decided that having a police presence within the organisation to take charge when they went out to assess situations and to liaise with local law enforcement would be a distinct advantage and it was down to the three people all sat on various chairs in his office.  Jake was pointing out he wasn't the right person, Mickey said he was too old to go back to school and everyone was looking at Rose.

''Why me?  Isn't there someone else?''

''It needs a senior Torchwood agent Rose, I can't just send anyone.  I've made enquiries and cleared it with the chief constable for the south and there's a new term about to start over in Exeter starting on Monday.  My secretary will take care of all the details and she'll book you into a hotel for a couple of nights while we sort you out somewhere to live.  You'll be there for three months and you'll concentrate on four classes, there are some you can skip and the rest of the time, you can keep in touch and make weekly reports and the rest of the time is yours.''

''Three months?  In Exeter?  What am I supposed do when I'm not training?  Can't I go stay by the coast for a while and just travel?''

''Well you could, if you don't mind travelling two days a week, from what I've been told, you can take two classes in the morning and two in the afternoons or spread them out, just speak to the admissions secretary, the chief constable says they've been told to accommodate you.  I believe it's the same tutor in the mornings but a different one in the afternoon.''

''Well if I can take two classes a day, it will save me extra travel time but I want to stay somewhere quiet, where I can concentrate on studying.  So is that it?''

''You can make the arrangements with Sandra, tell her where you prefer to stay that's easy to get to and from Exeter.  It's the end of the season so there should be plenty of places to rent.  I'll let you go and you can look some up then get her to rent it for three months for you.  Maybe your mother and Tony can go down for a long weekend when you get settled?''

So by late Thursday night, Rose was all packed and ready to go, she was driving down on Friday morning, spending the weekend at The Traders Hotel in a small coastal town called Broadchurch, only recently been in the news over the death of a teenage boy and she had figured the town's economy needed a bit of a boost in the aftermath and trying to get some sort of normality back to the people who'd been affected.

Alec Hardy was supposed to have been finished in the Broadchurch police, he'd stayed for the funeral and found himself unable to think of anywhere else to go.  He knew his chief had been mad with him for not saying there was something very wrong with him and there was only another week before the police wouldn't pay for his hotel room at The Traders Hotel.  So he swallowed his pride, called for an appointment first with a consultant at nearby Exeter hospital, after all his records had been transferred and called his ex boss to see if he could sit at a desk a few hours a day to stop him going crazy after ten days of being off work.

So on the Thursday before the new term started at the police training college in Exeter, he'd sat opposite CS Jenkinson in her office and waited for her getting off the phone.

''Right Alec, I've pulled in a few favours for you so don't you dare let me down.  It seems one of the tutors at the training college is taking extended leave for three months, the job's yours if you want it, two mornings a week teaching recruits in booking procedures, which you rather failed on recently but I'll let it slide and another subject to be determined.  Do you think you can cope for a few hours a day?  You'll have two one hour classes, you'll get a break between them and if you get taxis to the college, you'll get reimbursed.  They'll keep you on half pay though you'll have to move out of the hotel but they'll pay towards another place up to a limit so if you get something reasonable, it should be covered.  How long will you have to wait for an operation?''

''I've not been told yet, I see the consultant Monday afternoon, I'll get a better idea.  Thanks for this Elaine, I'll try my best not to let you down, I just need to keep myself occupied until I can go back to work.''

''Yes, well you'll have to stay there for three months before you can be considered to be let back on full duties, there will be no loss of rank though but only on the condition you get yourself fixed up so don't think about putting it off, understood?''

He got up.  

''Understood.  Guess I'll have to find a place to rent then?  I might try the caravan site next door for now, if I can't get anywhere tomorrow.''

''Yes, well good luck Alec and don't blow it, take it easy, there's no pressure and if you can't make a class, have the decency to let them know will you?''

He thought that would be more or less all the time but still, giving new recruits the benefit of his experience was better than climbing the walls of his hotel room and watching the local vicar and the hotel owner make eyes at each other in the bar every night, hoping no-one had spotted them but he had to practice his detective skills somehow.  Then there was the frosty way Mark and Beth Latimer were treating each other and he still didn't trust Nige Carter as far as he could throw him, which in his current condition was about two inches.

He made his way back up to the hotel, stopping at the mini-market on the way to get some bottled water since it was expensive in the hotel and picked up a copy of the 'Broadchurch Echo' to look for some suitable accommodation for at least three months.  He really didn't relish staying in the hotel and paying most of the costs, even with meals included and he wanted his freedom without Becca Fisher asking him stupid questions every time he collected his key, when he actually remembered to leave it on cleaning and laundry day that was.

Once in his room, he remembered to take his pills, which at least he didn't have to hide now and sat back on the chair Ellie Miller had sat on a few nights ago, when they'd talked until the early hours of the morning, Ellie trying to make some sense as to why her husband had killed a young boy and ruined everyone's lives as well as his own and for what?  Alec shook off the thoughts, it was over, Joe Miller was locked up, for now, pending a hearing whenever that may happen to be and people were trying to get on with it.

He'd heard Miller had gone over to Exeter, maybe he'd bump into her at some point while he was at the academy but maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea, she'd been busted back to PC so he'd been told, her choice as she'd said she didn't want the responsibility of hauling in someone else's husband for killing a child and all the lies that came with it.

Olly Stevens had of course tried to get another story out of him, he could just see the headlines now – 'How Alec Hardy solved the Broadchurch murder' – he didn't think it was that newsworthy, he'd done his job and surprised himself by escaping a heart-attack before locking up the culprit.  His conversation with the consultant at Exeter hospital had been brief, he'd taken the latest letter from them to mind and called them 'urgently' the other day after his last episode had been passed to a larger hospital than the local one and he'd got through to the consultant's private secretary and the consultant had wanted to know why he'd put himself at risk when it was a matter of walking in and walking out and would take an afternoon to have the procedure done if that.

That had been a far cry from his last consultant who had insisted he only had a 50/50 chance of survival and was having a debate with himself as to if he should stop being a knob as Miller called him and go and get it over and done with.  He went back out in search of a light lunch, taking the paper with him but was passing a shop with a notice board and stopped to look at the various ads when one caught his eye.  Since he was all for still punishing himself over his last failed case, the ad for a chalet to rent down by the river seemed suitable to carry out the sentence so he made a note of the number in his phone, ordered his lunch and called the number.

To his surprise though, it was still fully booked for another two weeks, people were taking advantage of the fact the town had become famous and wanted to visit and the owner told him it would be free from the first week in October and could give him a good rate for a block booking until March next year.  Alec didn't intend being around here past then, the hearing would be over and he could maybe make the effort to contact his daughter.  He asked if he could get the police to pay for it when he discovered it was within their budget for him so he agreed he'd take it until the end of March since he wanted to get back to work properly before moving on.

Satisfied with the arrangements though it was still two weeks before he could get the key, he took a walk down to the harbour, passing the caravan park and strolled into the reception.  He knew he'd never survive another two weeks or so in the hotel so he asked about a one or two bedroom caravan and was told to take his pick, bookings were still down on the previous year so after picking out a suitable model on the first access road, meaning a five minute walk at the most from the site's supermarket and facilities and the same back out onto the harbour area, he paid the deposit saying to send the bill to Broadchurch Police Station and took it for two weeks, at least he'd have some privacy and his freedom as pacing a caravan seemed marginally better to pacing his hotel room.

Rose had talked with Pete's secretary, Sandra, looking at suitable accommodation in various coastal towns, deciding Broadchurch seemed the best place to spend the three months and found a flat to rent just off the harbour road, just one bedroom but Rose thought if her mother and younger brother were to come to visit, there were two pubs nearby that had rooms and they could stay there.  The flat wasn't vacant though until the end of the month and alternate ones were just the same so Sandra suggested she just stayed at the hotel but Rose pointed out she would go stir-crazy in one room when not at the college and they discovered there was a caravan park right on the harbour.

Picking out a nice model caravan, Sandra booked it for two weeks, Rose delighted there was a recently refurbished swimming pool on site and intended to make full use of it when she wasn't studying, the courses may have been kept to a minimum but came at a price that she studied at home instead, a concession that had been negotiated for her, being who she was.  She just hoped she wouldn't be expected to wear a uniform.  So Rose had opted to spend one night in the hotel then move everything down to the caravan on Saturday afternoon, thinking the traffic would be easier on Friday than on a Saturday and was completely wrong, not getting to Broadchurch until just before six on Friday evening.

She'd said goodbye to her mother and Tony before he'd gone off to school and her mother had fussed over her as usual.

''Mum, it's not like I'm going to another planet this time, I'll be fine.  Maybe you and Tony can come down during the next school holidays, yeah?''

''Yeah, okay but be careful down there, they only just caught that killer.''

''He's locked up now Mum, don't worry, it was a rare occurrence in the town, you heard what was said on the news.''

''Well just be sure you didn't pick that town to move to because of who that detective looked like, that's all I'm saying.''

''I'd hardly thought about it Mum, I'm over all that now.  If the Doctor comes back for me, he wouldn't hide himself away and pretend to be a detective.  Besides, he's probably left town by now, I'm hardly likely to meet him, am I?''

Jackie thought it would just be her daughter's luck the detective was still in the town and be her new tutor, since no-one knew that Alec was taking over at the start of the new term.

Rose was just in time for dinner, Alec Hardy had been in early, intending to go get some more exercise after sitting in the station's personnel office for an hour sorting out his living arrangements with an harassed secretary, even more so by the time she'd finished dealing with him.  Rose decided she needed a drink and found herself faced with three locals trying to chat her up, one being Nige Carter who she found the least appealing of all and made her excuses she still had to unpack and was glad she was only there for one night, though she was keeping the room until she could collect the caravan keys.

Alec was used to getting up early, he always woke in a cold sweat anyway from his usual nightmare of drowning in the woods where Pippa's body had been discovered by him in the flooded river so he'd gone out by the time Rose came down to breakfast.  He'd packed all his things and planned a visit to the large supermarket on the way out of town once he'd got his caravan keys.  He'd spent the Friday by getting let into the station to look up what he was supposed to be teaching the recruits, having being given access to the college website and logged in, he knew he'd have to get there early each time to use the college's computers in the faculty room before each lesson and hoped someone would have everything prepared for him.

Rose had gone out to explore the High Street shops on Saturday morning, Alec had ventured down to the harbour for a walk then he was going to get a taxi to the supermarket, go collect his keys and go back and collect his things from his hotel room, well that was his plan.  Just after three, Rose drove down to the caravan park, got a map of the site and drove around the first service road and found her caravan, parking just at the side, dumped her belongings and decided to take Becca Fisher's advice and drive up to the supermarket by the roundabout, following the signs for the 'Superstore'.

Alec had completed his tasks and took a walk across the road from the site to get himself a takeaway since he was tired and couldn't be bothered making something for himself and settled down to watch the news on the TV, fell asleep and woke up after midnight, dragging himself off to bed, caravan mattresses being low down and not the most comfortable and ended up dragging a single mattress from the spare room and putting it on top, not ideal he supposed but would do something about it in the morning.

Rose was having the same problem, got up and went into the twin-bedded room and found the mattresses there more to her liking and flopped down, pulling the duvet over herself and went back to sleep, leaving the room door open as it was a bit claustrophobic.  Neither of them knew there were next door to each other, Alec had come back and noticed a car parked at the side of the caravan next to him, it was sticking out past the end of the caravan, he was criticising the driver's reversing and parking skills to himself, thinking it must have been a woman.

Rose had never noticed a taxi pulling up in front of the next caravan and Alec getting out with his luggage from the hotel, it had been too far to attempt to walk down he'd decided and thought about maybe hiring a car but knew he wouldn't get one, his condition wouldn't permit now and it would invalidate his driving licence plus he'd never get passed for the insurance.  He missed Miller driving him around everywhere, she had at least been useful for something he supposed.

Neither of them did much on the Sunday, Rose ventured over to the swimming pool and managed a few lengths before families started coming in and spreading out, taking up the lanes so she got out and took a leisurely shower, since the one in the caravan was a bit of a squeeze, then getting her hair dried once she got back to her caravan, got into the car and went off for a drive back to the supermarket since she forgot some things the previous day.

Alec had seen a blonde haired woman get into the less than skilfully parked blue car and knew he'd been right about the driver.  He didn't get a good look at her, he'd been staring out of the front window, opening the top to let some fresh air in and hadn't meant to be nosy.  Rose had never noticed anyone behind the net curtain of the caravan next door, she had been glad she'd reversed into the spot last night when she'd got back then remembered it was a one-way road and then had trouble turning right.  Alec was watching with amusement at the woman's two attempts to avoid the wooden fence opposite that surrounded the refuse area, just his luck to get a caravan for two weeks opposite the rubbish bins, still, it would make it easy to empty his on his way out every morning.

He thought maybe when she came back she'd drive straight in and he might catch a glimpse of her, still, she probably unlike him was not alone and maybe had a husband and two kids though he'd not heard anything.  He could be nosy and look through his bedroom window to see if anyone was moving around or talking he supposed so his curiosity got the better of him as he pretended to be messing around in the bedroom and decided to drag the other mattress from the other single bed and got the sheet off, moved the mattress already there from last night over and slide the new one next to it.  Satisfied he'd got it to his liking, he went to make some tea and sat purposely so he'd see the next door neighbour coming back, wishing the doors were facing each other instead of the caravans being back to back.  This was going to be a very interesting two weeks.

Chapter 2

Rose decided on Monday, she would take a look around Exeter since she wasn't due to start the training college until the following morning but needed to go complete her registration in the afternoon, finding out her options on classes and deciding to take the two on Tuesday morning from the same tutor and two on Thursday afternoon with two different tutors.  The new admissions officers were not yet aware there had been a change in tutors so Rose was under the impression she was to have a female one in the mornings, which just suited her fine.

Alec got a taxi to Exeter hospital, he didn't fancy travelling by public transport and found the department he needed for his consultation with the heart specialist, who expressed her concern that he'd left a simple procedure so long and had a near fatal episode only two weeks ago.  He was told he'd now be put forward for the surgery but may still have to wait but he'd be given priority if a cancellation arose but at least now he could claim he'd tried and if his symptoms got any worse, they would try and bring it forward and was told to ring her secretary if that was the case.

While he was in Exeter, he decided he'd may as well call in at the college and make himself known, that was a big mistake he'd thought.  He'd found the superintendent's office only to discover the programs he was running were still under the other tutor's name so students wouldn't be expecting him in the morning but one good thing was that the lectures were already prepared and he wouldn't be talking all the time, there would be a good deal of practical work.

While he was there, he asked about claiming back travel expenses and was told to hand the taxi receipts in every Tuesday morning and was pleased since he'd made the journey today, he could also include that.  He had found since being on reduced pay he could still manage as long as his expenses were paid, he wouldn't be out of pocket. 

Rose had just left having made all her arrangements that the other classes she needed to take could be done online and only the more practical ones required her to attend.  She got back to her caravan, having crossed over to the takeaway and settled down to watch some early evening TV, noticing a taxi driving past and Alec noticing the owner of the blue car had learned her lesson and had still reversed in but given herself enough space to turn right and the car was almost up against the side of the caravan as he'd passed to get to his own.

Why was he even bothered, he asked himself as he opened his caravan door.  He'd come in through the side of the mini-market after getting himself something to eat when he'd got dropped off by the taxi, being careful to get a receipt and wondered why he couldn't just use the same taxi company and get them to bill the college, he'd have to ask when he got there in the morning.  He'd still seen no evidence of anyone else staying there though, maybe she was on her own or maybe the other occupants were just being quiet.

They both had a more comfortable night, Rose opting to use the single bed again but meaning to ask at reception if someone could move the mattress for her or if she'd be better off just swapping caravans.  The next morning, Rose set off early to get to the college in time but Alec had already left, Rose not noticing another taxi as she got herself ready.  She'd escaped having to wear a uniform and had opted to wear black trousers, a white cotton blouse and a black jacket and if anyone were to quiz her about it, she was going to give the answer she was on a special assignment which wasn't far from the truth.

Alec collected his folders of what was to be covered in the first lecture, that of following lines of enquires, Rose was actually looking forward to it since she knew the basics and thought it would also help with Torchwood business and learning it the police way would be an advantage but she had questioned Pete's choice of booking procedures but since he'd thought it would come in useful, she'd had to go along with it.

Alec was shown his lecture room as Rose grabbed a coffee from the vending machine, meaning to get something in the college canteen during the 45 minute break between classes and with her study bag on her shoulder, containing a large notepad and a clipboard and other stationery she thought she may need, she followed other recruits into lecture room 103, not taking much notice of the person shuffling papers around on the desk at the front and finding a seat, preferably away from whom she noticed were mostly male students, some appearing to be hardly out of high school.

Then she looked up as the tutor called everyone's attention and she stared at one Detective Inspector Alec Hardy.  What was he doing teaching recruits she wondered?  Had he annoyed someone to get reduced to this?  Then she remembered reading something about him having an illness but not recalling what it actually was and this was probably the only job he was capable of doing.  Still, he didn't look that ill to her and it would be rather fun to try and wind him up, since there was no possibility she could get kicked out and the rest of the class already looked like they didn't want to be there.

She tried her best to get him riled but he was taking it all in his stride, answering her questions, him asking questions to see if they were paying attention, Rose seemingly the only one answering them until he asked for someone else to speak up.

''So no-one else has been paying attention then?'' Alec asked, five minutes before the end of the lecture and he had another class to take in less than an hour and he wasn't too happy about it.

Rose was the only one with her hand raised, Alec wondered if the blonde was just showing off to the male students or trying to get herself noticed by him, probably both.

''Someone other than – what was your name again?''

Rose thought he was making some kind of point, surely as a senior police officer he knew who she was or he'd been living in a cave for the last six or seven years.

''Tyler,'' she answered, wanting to add ''as if you didn't already know that'' but decided she had pushed her luck once too often in the last hour or so.

The bell went and everyone except Rose got up, she was taking her time, hoping he'd at least get up and chastise her for constantly disrupting his class.  He didn't, he gathered his folders, took his specs off and folded them into his top jacket pocket and walked straight past her.  Rose was slightly stunned, expecting to get chewed out for her earlier actions.

He had decided to ignore the blonde antagonist and go get some refreshments from the canteen, since there were 45 minutes to go and he had to call by the office and pick up another set of folders, on booking procedures of all things, like Elaine had pointed out, he was the last one to be talking about that subject and passing on his bad habits.  It had been pointed out to him he should not have taken Joe Miller's confession by himself before they had arrived at the station and getting told he'd be lucky if the confession stuck since he'd allowed the culprit's wife to beat him up.

He sat with his back to the entrance, Rose could spot him a mile off but chose to ignore him and grab something to eat instead, keeping out of his view so when he got back to the classroom, she was already sitting there and he was thinking it was just his luck she had two classes with him and she had got word he was taking it and booked herself in on purpose.  It never for a minute occurred to him it was the same blonde from the next caravan.

Sure enough, Rose made a good start, some were the same students as the previous lesson but since she wasn't appearing to wind him up, she went quiet for a while, much to Alec's relief but she started again when he wanted a volunteer to demonstrate a booking of a suspect in a robbery case.  Alec much preferred the 'hands on' approach to teaching instead of sending everyone to sleep so to everyone's amusement, he took hold of Rose's wrists and clamped a pair of handcuffs on.

Rose had a smirk on her face, she wished she could tell him it wasn't the first time, she and the Doctor had got into many a scrape and then there was the time she was locked in the cellar with the werewolf but she didn't want to even think about that.

''So, who here knows the correct way to inform a suspect of their rights?''  

A lone hand went up and a young man stood up as Alec waved him to stand at the front.

Rose suspected the man had been watching too much TV.  The man, who Rose learned was called Wilson, proceeded to inform Rose of her rights and demonstrate how to steer her across to the chair with minimum contact, Rose wishing it was Alec Hardy who had the hand on her shoulder though why, she had no idea.  Before Rose was allowed to go back to her place, Alec took the handcuffs off her and she rubbed her wrists.

''They were a bit tight, did they have to be?'' she asked, looking at him.

''They don't come in different sizes Tyler, in case you were inferring they should have some in yours.''

The rest of the class sniggered.  Alec frowned at them.  He carried on even though they were going into the realms of interrogation methods, which he wasn't taking but Rose was, she was hoping to pick up a few hints on her own methods of interrogation when out in the field, she didn't always do 'research', it covered a wide range of other activities .  Rose thought he was rather enjoying it and wished he was the one taking the interrogation class, so by the end of the lecture, Alec was glad she was leaving until next week.  He may just resign now and go back on medical leave.  Another three months with her, he may be wishing he'd got his surgery before then he wouldn't be teaching these classes and she wouldn't get the chance to drive him crazy.

Rose took her time again, Alec nodded to her as he walked past so she gathered her things and rushed after him, just seeing him going into the office so she decided to forget it and went to her car.  Alec had realised he was being followed and relieved the woman had gone and he wouldn't see her until next week.  That's what he thought.  He knew he had two classes on Thursday morning, the same as he'd just done that morning but to a different group but on his arrival, he was approached to take on an extra class – interrogation methods after the midday break.

Rose had spent Wednesday in Dorchester, thinking she may as well have a day off since she'd not yet received the rest of her course work, Alec decided to gatecrash the station again and use their computer, looking up admissions for his class until he found Tyler: Rose and looked her up.  The name still didn't register and all her information was kept to a minimum, Pete didn't want anyone to know why she was there, the superintendent only being told she had the highest clearance and no-one was to question it.  The superintendent had been a bit put out and was determined if she caused any disruptions, questions would be asked so when she heard some students talking from Alec Hardy's class, she decided to keep a close eye on him, thinking he wasn't up to the job of keeping his students in line.

Alec set off on Thursday morning, noticing the blue car was still parked and wondering if the occupant(s) were actually on holiday or living there just as he was.  Rose had seen a taxi pull up but wasn't taking much notice as it pulled off again, only being able to see the driver so she called Pete to let him know how she was getting on and decided to make use of the free internet in the park's bar area and download her course work since it was faster than connecting using her phone.

Thinking she would have another tutor, Rose walked into a different lecture room to see some of the students from her Tuesday morning classes then who should walk in but Hardy.  Rose stared, thinking she had walked into the wrong lecture.  Alec had done his two morning classes, had a bite to eat and collected his folder to take 'interrogation' in room 205 but as he walked in, he noticed at least one familiar face and thought it was just his luck she was there, she would be since she'd rather enjoyed him placing the handcuffs on her on Tuesday morning, having noticed how she'd not flinched and had a feeling she'd been cuffed before.  He was going to enjoy this.

He started off well then asked for two volunteers, one to be interrogated, one to assist in questioning.  Two males put their hands up, Rose kept quiet.  Alec noticed and called one of the two men out.

''What about you Tyler?  Nothing to say for yourself today?''

Rose felt everyone look at her.  Alec continued.  

''Well don't sit there Tyler, you had plenty to say the other morning, you can be the one to be interrogated.''

Rose thought if only he knew.

''Are you going to handcuff me again – Sir?''

The rest of the class sniggered.  

''Only if necessary and you don't co-operate, do you need restraining?''  

More sniggering.

Rose got up and took the single chair, the other student taking one opposite, Alec pulled out the other one and produced a tape recorder, switching it on and stating who was present.

''State your name for the records,'' Alec instructed a grinning Rose, quite pleased she seemed to be rattling Alec's cage.

''Rose Tyler and I'm not saying anything without a lawyer.''

Alec pulled a face.  

''One will be brought in but you've not been charged so until you are, I have some simple questions for you.''

Rose was rather hoping it was asking her phone number, he was quite cute really, in a scruffy sort of way and just as easy to wind up as the Doctor used to be.

Alec began asking her a few simple questions, such as where she was two nights ago, had she been near a certain jewellery store in Exeter and forced entry and robbed the place of a great deal of pieces of jewellery.  Rose had all the smart answers.

''No, I've never been near that store.  If you could prove I have, I would have been charged.''

''You were caught on CCTV entering via the rear entrance.''

''Wasn't me, I was with my boyfriend all night.''

''Two people were spotted in the alley behind the store an hour before the robbery took place.''

''So?  How do you know it was me?''

''You were wearing the same clothes as you are now.  So what have you to say to that?''

''You can buy these from any branch of H & M.''  More sniggering from the rest of the class.  Rose continued.  ''You need more proof than that, it's all circumstantial.  So charge me or let me go.''

Alec shook his head, thinking to himself if she ever did commit a crime, he'd get someone else to question her.  She was too clever for her own good.   He got up and banged his fist on the table, Rose smiled.

''You can go for now, don't leave town.''  He turned to the rest of the students.  ''So, if you get a suspect who thinks they have all the smart answers, let them think they've won, catch them again when they least expect it.  In the next demonstration, you, Tyler won't get off that easily.''

''Am I free to leave then?'' she grinned, getting up.

Alec shook his head and gestured for her to go back to her place.  He was glad he wouldn't be conducting the next one but if she were ever to grace a police station with her presence, he'd happily stay out of the way – that or enjoy doing it for real.  The class was dismissed, Rose had another one to go to, taking fingerprints and matching records in the police database and wished Alec Hardy was taking that one, dipping her fingers into the ink but why the police didn't use electronic fingerprint scanning, she'd could only guess.

She walked off to the canteen for a drink before her next lecture, Alec handed his folders over and was passing by and spied her sitting playing with her phone and pulled out the chair opposite.

''May I join you?''

''Depends if you're gonna interrogate me again, doesn't it?''

''Do I need to?  Why does your name sound familiar?''

''Should it?''

''You're not wearing a uniform like the rest of the recruits.''

''Mmm, I can see why you became a detective.''

''You know who I am?''

''Doesn't everyone?''

''Then you have the advantage.  So why no uniform?''

''I'm on a special assignment.''

''To annoy your tutors or just me?  Did someone called Miller send you?''

''Who's Miller?''

''Nothing, forget it.  Are you going out of your way to disrupt my classes?''

''Not in particular, I just don't like boring lectures.''

''Was I boring you?''

''Not any more.  I have another class soon, I'll go bother someone else unless you're taking fingerprinting?''

''No, you have another tutor to annoy in that particular field.  I don't envy them.  What other classes do you take so I can avoid getting roped in to take someone else's lectures?''

''Aw, you'd only miss me.  I only take four classes, sorry to disappoint you.  Do I have to call you 'Sir'?''

''In class yes, outside you can call me Hardy.''

''I'll remember that.  So I'll see you next Tuesday then?''

''If you must.  I was only filling in for someone today, I only do two mornings.''

''I'm disappointed, I thought your interrogation methods were rather good, you kept your cool and didn't try to intimidate me, well not until you hit the desk then said I could go, what was all that about?''

''A good police detective never reveals his own methods.  I'll not delay you getting to your next class Miss Tyler.''

''Right, I'll be off then.  Do you live in Exeter?''

''No.  I choose to travel.''

''Me too, when I got in here at the college, I didn't want to live here so I moved to a nearby coastal town.''

''Don't tell me, Broadchurch?''

Rose smiled – he was still there.  

''How did you guess?''

Alec swallowed.  Of all the coastal towns between where he lived and Exeter, she'd had to pick the one he was still residing in.

Chapter 3

Rose had almost forgotten she was supposed to be keeping a low profile, still, as a tutor, he'd probably already looked her up since she'd gone out of her way to get his attention.  Not wanting to give too much away, she asked if he needed a ride back.

''You have another class Miss Tyler, I can be back before then and it's not a good idea for me to be seen getting in a student's car.''

''Even for car sharing?  If it makes you feel better, you can pay me what you pay the cab company.''

''I can claim it back.  You're going to miss your next class.''

''Okay, I'm going.  See you next Tuesday then?''

''I expect so since you're in my classes and I've no other choice.  Don't expect to get away with disrupting them every time or I may handcuff you for real.''

''Don't make promises you can't keep.''

''You still have to tell me why you don't wear a uniform.''

''Another time since you pointed out I'll be late.''

She got up but he caught her arm.  

''Try not to disrupt your other tutors Miss Tyler, you may not get away with it so easily.''

They hadn't realised the superintendent had sent someone to spy on Alec as Rose left and Alec remained in his seat, running his fingers over his chin and wondering if he should give his beard a trim and wondering why he was letting the troublesome Rose Tyler get the better of him.  She obviously was, if he admitted it to himself, she was going out of her way and she was flirting with him but he needed to keep this job, he couldn't afford to get asked to leave or there would be no getting his old job back.

Rose went off wondering if he'd even realised she was flirting with him, ever since she held out her wrists on Tuesday morning for him to put the handcuffs on her, then answering his questions.  Maybe he wasn't interested in that way or maybe he'd already been warned off, she expected the training college had rules about students and senior officers.

Alec was about to call for a taxi when he was called over to the office and informed the superintendent wanted to see him.  He thought if he was going to be asked to take on the extra class on a regular basis, it may be worth it to catch Miss Tyler out.

''How are you getting on Alec?'' the superintendent asked, gesturing for him to sit.

''Fine, it's not that difficult and it will pass the three months I've been allocated here.''

''Yes and thanks for taking that extra class at short notice, the tutor had a family emergency and we don't know when he'll be back.  Would you be able to fill the post until we get another replacement?''

''I expect so, since I'm already here.  About my expenses, can I not just have the cab company bill you directly instead of me claiming it back?''

''I expect so, I'll have someone arrange it for you, just make sure your address is up to date, I noted you're in temporary accommodation?''

''For another week or so until my new place is vacant.  I'll let the office know so from Tuesday I'll assume I won't need to pay the cab driver?''

''If it's any different, you'll just have to still pay and hand in the receipt.  One more thing, don't let the recruits give you the run-around Alec, it's not good form to let them get the better of you.''

''What exactly are you getting at?''

''I think you already know, letting one of the students get to you, disrupting your class, you need to keep them in line and that includes the female ones, one in particular.''

''With respect, I know how to keep the recruits in line as you put it, I've spoken to her, she says she's on a 'special assignment' whatever that implies.''

''Yes, I'm well aware that Miss Tyler is here under special circumstances, exactly what they are I've not been informed but she still has to abide by certain rules and not disrupt classes.  I'll see how she gets on with the other tutor and make sure she's not just trying it with you and if that's the case, I'll have to have a few words with her, she's a bad example to the other new recruits.''

''That's hardly fair, the term has just started, I told you, I've already spoken to her and warned her she's had her fun and I expect her to behave appropriately next week.''

''Yes, well, I needn't remind you about getting personally involved with any of the recruits, even if they are on special assignments, it could lead to one of both of you being asked to leave.''

That left Alec wondering just exactly who this Miss Tyler actually was, he was still sure he knew the name but couldn't yet place her.  Maybe she was related to Peter Tyler of Vitex fame but hardly anything was known about his personal life except he'd remarried after losing his first wife to the Cybermen several years ago.  He didn't expect anyone related to him would be wanting a career in policing.  He left the superintendent's office and decided to delay his trip back to Broadchurch and pay a visit to where 'fingerprinting' was being held, silently opening the door and spotting the troublemaker sitting quietly at a desk taking someone's fingerprints. 

He just knew it, she had just been out to disrupt his classes and no-one else's.  He just hoped she wouldn't get either of them thrown out.  By the early evening, Alec was bored and thought he'd take a walk down to the park's entertainment centre, get a non-alcoholic lager and see what was going on, he could maybe brush up on his detective skills and make observations about people.

Rose was also bored of the TV so she picked up her laptop and walked down to the bar, passing her neighbour's caravan and noticing the door was open and headed for the entertainment complex, showing her pass to get in, ordered a coke and sat at one of the tables, spreading her stuff out and connecting to the internet.  She looked up suddenly at the sound of a familiar Scottish voice ordering a brand of lager.

Alec hadn't noticed Rose sitting with her back to the entrance and had walked past her, vaguely registering someone with blonde hair was at one of the tables and wondering if it was his neighbour.  As he was waiting at the bar, he turned around.  Just his luck he could only see the blonde from the side, got his drink and was about to cross to the side of the room when she moved her head.

Alec just stared, how was it possible the troublesome recruit was staying there?  Surely it hadn't been her in the next caravan?  He debated whether to take another table or cross back to hers though she had taken up most of her table.  Rose looked up as she was aware someone was looking at her, thinking a bloke was going to have the nerve of chatting her up and hoping it wasn't the one from the hotel bar last Friday night.

''Oh, it's you, spying on me were you?'' she asked as Alec pulled a chair opposite out, not bothering this time to ask if he could sit there.

''Nothing of the sort, in case you'd not noticed, you need a pass to get in here, it's not a public bar.  What do you think I'm doing in here?''

''Playing bingo?'' she grinned, holding up a book of six bingo tickets she'd bought on her way in from the shop in the corner that sold kids light-up toys and suchlike, not that she exactly needed to win a cash prize but it was a habit from her old world, she'd enjoyed a game of bingo with her mother before she had started going off to other planets with the Doctor.

Alec shook his head as she offered him the book.  

''I'll pass.  You don't happen to drive a blue car do you?'' he asked, taking a sip of his drink.

''Lucky guess.  You my next door neighbour who keeps getting in and out of taxis then I suppose?''

''Another lucky guess.  I noticed you'd learned your lesson about parking after it took you two attempts to get out the other day.''

''You were watching?'' she blushed, closing her email and shutting down her laptop, considering she was being rude and it was almost time for bingo.

''It was quite entertaining really.  I was rather disappointed you'd changed parking spots.  So, who are you Rose Tyler?  What's this special assignment at the training college, are you an inspector or something trying to catch out unsuspecting male tutors?''

''What?  Why did you ask that?''

''Because I saw you in fingerprinting and you were as quiet as a mouse so I can only assume you were either trying to catch me out or you were flirting with me.''

''Huh?  Why would I be doing either?''

''You're a bad liar Rose, you were doing one or the other, I'm a trained detective.''

''You think you're so impressive, DI Hardy.''

''I am and you can call me Hardy.''

''Not Alec?''

''No, I don't like the name, never have and I don't go for first names anyway.''

''You just called me Rose.''

''I was trying to prove a point.  You might want to pay attention, bingo is about to start and I'm out of here.  I'll be next door when you've won.''

He got up as the bingo caller announced the prizes and rules and Rose wondered why she was bothering and if she actually won, she would donate it to the kids club or something.  She won the second game so after collecting her prize money and asking one of the staff if there was a worthy cause she could give the prize money to, she went in search of Alec Hardy, why, she couldn’t decide since he seemed out to get his revenge on her for disrupting his classes.

Alec was surprised when thirty minutes later, he saw Rose Tyler come out of the room opposite and through the other door instead of walking out, which he half expected.  The warning he'd been given at college had been forgotten as he got up and asked her what she was drinking.

Setting her drink down, he asked if she'd won anything, she just replied with a grin and a ''what do you think?'' as she took a sip from the white wine and lemonade he'd put in front of her.

Alec knew he was wasting his time with her, she would have read the college rules about recruits and tutors but maybe she took as much notice of them as he was finding himself doing which was none at all.  An hour later, Alec decided to call time as he was no nearer finding out what she was really doing in the police training college apart from annoying him and asked if he could walk her back to her caravan, since she was next door.

Hoping to get more out of her than he had in the bar, which he thought was the reason she was reluctant to say anything, he accepted her invitation of her making some hot chocolate, knowing he shouldn't really but who was going to find out?  It was after eleven when he said he should be leaving.

''So Alec,'' Rose made a point of calling him by his first name as he had screwed up his face when she had called him it earlier, ''What do you do when you're not giving lectures at the training college?''

He was about to say look up troublesome recruits but decided not to bother.  ''I spend a few hours at the station revising the lectures I'm supposed to conduct but it doesn't help when someone keeps disrupting them.''

''Is that directed at me?''

''Should it be?  Just why are you so disruptive and why won't you tell me what you're doing there when you're not taking it seriously?''

''I can't tell you but like I said, I'm on a special assignment and it's all been hushed up but I'm not there to spy on you, I had no idea you were teaching there, I thought you would have left after you solved your last case.''

''I had nowhere else to go and I have to pass another medical before I can get my old job back so it's three months putting up with you or three months being bored out of my mind.  I decided it was more interesting to pass on the benefits of my experience than sit in a caravan all day.''

''I expect it is.  Do you intend staying here on the campsite?''

''No.  I'm waiting to move somewhere else.''

''Me too, I've got a flat just across the river, up one of the side streets.  Maybe we'll be neighbours then?''

''I doubt it, I'm not moving into a flat.  Goodnight Rose, I'll see you at the college on Tuesday if you manage not to get us both thrown out.  I've already had a talking to from the superintendent.''

''What for?''

''Letting you take over my class for one.''

''Sorry, it was just too tempting, I'll try and behave from now on.''

''Well don't drag me down with you, I need to prove I can still be of use to the police department and you are not helping my cause.''

Rose said goodnight and locked the door behind him, wondering why he'd not yet tried it on with her despite his warning.  So what if the college did have rules, she was there under special dispensation from the chief constable but would he stick up for her if she broke the college golden rules of no relationships between recruits and tutors?  Still, it hadn't yet come to that but the two of them were clearly on the very edge of thinking about it, well she was and Alec Hardy was a hot-blooded male, divorced and hopefully available.

She couldn't be blamed if she kept winding him up and he decided to do something about it but she wouldn't see him get dismissed for it when she had started it, she would own up and make sure she took the blame for it.  Pete wouldn't like it but since her mother kept going on at her to take up with a man she expected to get away with it.

Alec let himself back in his caravan, wishing he'd put the heating on and hastily put the room heater on before going into the utility cupboard and switching it on.  He hadn't intended stopping out so long and he wouldn't have, had he not bumped into his least favourite student.  What had been the chances of her being his neighbour?  This was going to be awkward, he had been watching for any signs of her all week, narrowly missing catching a glimpse of her apart from her medium length blonde hair, he'd seen her from behind as she had driven out on a few occasions but would she think he was a creep now he'd admitted watching her driving skills?

Rose saw nothing of Alec the next day, she even went to the club again, hoping he'd buy her a drink but he had stayed away.  Alec had given in and called Ellie Miller and she had agreed to come over to Broadchurch on Saturday and meet him since her son Tom had gone to stay with her sister and she was going to try to persuade him to see her or at least his baby brother. 

Rose went to the supermarket on Saturday morning, wondering to ask her neighbour if he needed to go as well and was just setting off when a green estate car pulled up outside his caravan and a woman in an orange jacket got out and went towards his door.  Rose ignored his visitor and got in her car and drove off, not bothering who it was, it was probably someone he used to work with come to visit him.

Ellie knocked on his door, not wanting to have to get her youngest son out since they had agreed to go visit Tom then get some lunch, Alec saying he'd have a word with the teenager and try to take some of the blame from her.  Ellie had noticed a woman drive up the narrow roadway from the caravan next to Alec's.

''Miller, you're early,'' Alec remarked, grabbing his overcoat.

''Excuse me, nice to see you too Hardy.  Your neighbour just drove off in a hurry.''

''She was probably trying to avoid me, I think I upset her.''

Ellie grinned.  

''Do tell, you upsetting a young blonde?''

''She's a new recruit at the training college and I may have implied we may both get thrown out after I inferred she was flirting with me.''

Ellie burst out laughing.  

''It's not funny Miller, come on, let's go see your son, what's his name.''

Ellie shook her head.  Who would have imagined Alec Hardy getting fussed over a young blonde?  She was going to get the tale out of him one way or another.  The meeting with Tom was less than successful for Alec, even though he'd tried to steer some of the blame away from the boy's mother and Tom only responded with an 'I'll think about it' when asked to go back to live with her, Alec saying the only one to blame was the boy's father, for choosing Danny over his family.

Over lunch at the harbour café, Ellie tried again to get Alec to admit he was smitten with his neighbour and alleged new recruit.

''She's a recruit Miller, though not an ordinary one, says she's on a special assignment, whatever that means but the moment she stepped into my class, I knew she was going to cause trouble.''

''The great Alec Hardy fazed by a young blonde, never thought I'd see the day.  Maybe she's there to spy on you?''

''She claimed she had no idea I would be there and I only found out a few days before I took up the post.''

''Then maybe she works for a secret organisation that needs to know how the police operate?''

''You may be onto something there Miller but what organisation?''

Chapter 4

After he got Ellie to drop him off, Alec was debating to knock on his neighbour's door and invite her for a drink later on but her car wasn't there.  Rose had done her grocery shopping and then gone for a walk along the esplanade, calling her mother and telling her how nice it was in the town.

''Well me and Tony may come down then, before it starts getting cold.  Have you made any friends?''

''Sort of but he's a tutor, he lives in the next caravan to me, it's a bit weird really.  I sort of made a nuisance of myself in his classes and I don't think he's talking to me any more.''

''Rose, be careful, you may get thrown out of the college.  Who is he anyway?''

''The detective from that murder case, Alec Hardy.''

''Oh trust you to go pick on him, I thought he was out of the police?''

''He is, that's why he's teaching at the college, I'm in two of his classes, possibly a third.  I know it's not allowed and if someone says anything, I'll take the blame but he's got something wrong with him and I don't know what it is.  I don't want to look up his police record so I'll just have to see if he says anything about it.  I'm not doing it because of who he looks like, if that's what you're thinking Mum.''

''What makes you think I was going to say anything?''

Rose smiled to herself and said goodbye and getting an ice-cream, deciding to cut through by the supermarket instead of walking all the way around, she bumped into Alec, who had run out of milk after Ellie Miller's visit, having to give some to her young son.

''Hi again, you didn't come into the bar last night.''

''Very observant Miss Tyler, you'd make a good detective if you took it seriously.''

''And you didn't think you had a sense of humour.  Buy me another drink later?''

''Is than an invitation or a bribe?''

''Take it which way you want.  I'll be in the bar from half seven if you'd care to join me or do you prefer being on your own every night?''

''What makes you think I never go out?''

''Maybe because your lights have been on every night except for Thursday, so your choice.''

''Are you playing bingo again?''

''Probably, you can join if you want?''

''I'll give it a miss but I'll wait in the other bar until you've won again.''

''I just enjoy playing, I don't do it to win, I gave my winnings away last time towards buying prizes for the kids.  I've got a younger stepbrother, he'd love it down here.''

They had reached Rose's caravan, it was getting on for five and she'd not decided what to have to eat so she took a wild stab in the dark and asked if Alec had anything planned.

''So Alec, are you cooking for yourself tonight?''

''I expect so but I need to go grocery shopping again, I've been out most of the day.''

''I noticed you had company, female.''

''We used to work together, the woman whose husband got caught for killing that boy.  Her son won't talk to her, I'm trying to make things right.''

''You don't have to explain it to me Alec.''

''I wouldn't want you to think she was my girlfriend or anything.''

''It's a free country, the last time I checked.  The reason I asked is because I hate cooking for myself, care to join me?''

''We could eat in the bar or one of the pubs across the river.  Don't make anything special for me.''

''It wouldn't have been much, just chicken and rice.  Tell you what, you go back to the shop and get a bottle of white wine and some lemonade and come round at seven.''

''What about playing bingo?''

''Aw, I wouldn't like to give the impression I'm showing off, would I?  We can go down later, maybe catch the show?''

''Don't let me stop you.''

''It's no fun on your own, what else is there to do?''

Alec supposed she had a point.  So he said he would see her later and went back to the shop, picking up the wine and a box of chocolates, since she had offered to cook for him.  He thought since he'd accepted, she might let slip what she was doing at the college, she was no ordinary recruit.  Rose decided to call Pete after putting the rice on to simmer, just in case she was tempted to tell Alec Hardy what she was really at the college for.  It never got to that.  Alec had sat down to check his messages on his phone, trying to ignore his irregular heartbeat and putting it down to being nervous at getting invited to his neighbour's caravan for dinner.  

That's all it was, he told himself as he reached in his pocket for his pills, he was starting to remember he could take them now without hiding them but he'd done it for so long, it had become second nature to him but as he got up to get a glass of water, he felt dizzy.

Rose had dinner ready, she had told him seven but expected him to be early, trying to impress her though why, she had no idea.  They were clearly attracted to each other but playing some kind of game between them, well she was, that of trying to get him to notice her.  Tuesday had been innocent enough but Thursday had been a bonus and she had enjoyed being 'interrogated' by him as much as him clamping the handcuffs on her.

Ten past seven, no knock on the door but she looked out and could see no movements in his caravan, she had put the living area lights on, his was still in darkness.  She knew he had something wrong with him but it had never registered with her what it was so she was cursing herself for not taking the time to find out.  Maybe she should check on him?  She picked up her mobile and her key, locked the door and walked round, thinking he'd surely not welcome her checking on him if he was just getting changed or something but as she approached the door, she heard a noise and banged loudly, calling his name.

''Alec, are you okay in there?''  

No answer.  She tried the door, it was unlocked and she pulled it towards her, let it swing outwards and went up the two steps, seeing him on the floor.


She got her phone out of her pocket, ready to dial the emergency services when she heard him groaning ''Pills, my inside jacket pocket, quick.''

Rose reached in his pocket, bringing a blister pack out and dashed for some water, grabbing a cup, filling it and popping two tablets into the palm of her hand.  Alec was trying to sit up so she helped him and held the cup with him while he swallowed the pills, him looking slightly worse for wear.  He sat for a few minutes, letting go of the cup and put his hands over his face.

''Thanks,'' he managed, motioning to Rose he wanted to get up.

Rose helped him onto the seating area.  

''Feeling better?  What the hell was all that about?  Care to explain?''

''No, I thought it was self explanatory, doesn't everyone know what's wrong with me?''

''Not me, I missed that bit, not all of us read the local papers, I doubt it was syndicated to 'The Times' so come on, out with it.''

''I've got heart arrhythmia, I need a pacemaker and I'm waiting for an appointment.''

''Are you kidding me?  Why haven't you had it done yet?''

''Because I just found out I've got a better chance of surviving than I was originally told, I kept putting it off.  Now I've been put on the waiting list, that's what you get for putting it off but if I'd known my chances I would have applied before, I wasn't ready to give up.''

''What about medical insurance?  Surely it's covered by the police?''

''No, I failed to declare it, my insurance is invalid and it wouldn't cover that kind of operation anyway.  I'm fine, I'll last a bit longer until they call me, if there's a cancellation, I'll get to know.''

''How can you live like that?  How long?''

''Eighteen months or so, I've been covering it up to my bosses but they found out the day before I arrested Danny Latimer's killer, that's why they put me in the training college, to keep me out of the way.  Then you come along.''

''Sorry, I didn't help, did I?  How was I to know?''

Alec took her hand.  '

'You were not to know, I never publicised it, only to the local reporter and like you said, it probably was not that newsworthy.  You invited me to dinner?''

''Yeah, it's ready, I wondered where you'd got to, I know what time the shop closes and your caravan was in darkness, good job I did.  How long had you been out cold?''

''I don't know, maybe twenty minutes or so, it's happened before.''

''Alec, you can't go on like that, what if you don't come around the next time?  You need to call the hospital, is it the one in Exeter?''

''Yes but I can't do anything now until Monday, I'll call and say I had another episode, I was told to let them know if I did.''

''Well I've got nothing planned tomorrow, I'll just have to keep an eye on you, won't I?  Are you okay to walk around to my caravan?  You may as well leave the wine, you shouldn't be drinking it now.''

''So I don't get a day off from you tomorrow then?'' he asked, getting up and pulling her up with him.

''Nope, so tough, get used to it and don't think I'll give you an easy time either.''

''Oh I know you won't, Miss Tyler.  So are you going to tell me who you are?''

''While we eat, you really don't know who I am then?''

Alec shook his head and picked up his pills, putting them back in his pocket and picked up his mobile.  

''No idea except you're a troublemaker,'' he grinned, gesturing for her to go first, then picking the box of chocolates up from the side of the door.  ''For you.''

''Thanks, we can share them later.  Are you sure you're okay?''

''I'm fine and I don't need anyone fussing over me, I'll be okay, I was late taking my medication, that's all, I need to remember next time.''

''Well I'll keep reminding you tomorrow, maybe we can go for a drive somewhere, maybe down the coast?''

''I need to go get some groceries and not from the camp shop either.''

''Then we'll go there first, you shouldn't be doing it on your own but if you wait until Monday, I'll go do it for you.''

''I'm capable of getting my groceries thanks.  Okay, we both go on Monday morning, after I call the hospital but they still may not be able to get me in right away.  I have classes on Tuesday and Thursday and I got roped into doing that extra class again, the one you were messing about in.''

Rose was serving up the food, thankful it hadn't got spoiled.  

''Huh?  You were encouraging me, everyone could see that.''

''Could they?  Did you behave like that in your next class?''

''You'd know, you were spying on me, don't think I didn't notice you sneaking in.''

''Yes and you were behaving yourself for a change.''

''Only 'cos I knew you wouldn't be able to resist checking if it was just your lessons I was disrupting.  I was right.''

''Okay, I'll give you that and I'd just got a lecture about letting you be disruptive, you may get told about it on Tuesday.''

''No matter, they can't kick me out.''

''But they can throw me out, where does that leave me?  This is very good by the way.  Did you make this from scratch?''

''Yes, are you implying it's store made?  Don't worry, I won't let them throw you out, I'll take the blame, I'll say I did it on purpose to get you going.''

''What makes you so sure they'll believe you?''

''I've got special permission to be there, from the chief constable, the superintendent can't suspend either of us, if I stick up for you.''

''Is that so then?  You may as well tell me now who you are.''

''Who I'd like to be is your friend.''

''Really?  You have a funny way of showing it.  Are you going to keep me guessing all night?''

''It could be fun but no, I'll put you out of your misery.  Are you sure my name doesn't ring any bells?  Rose Tyler?''

''Should it?  I don't exactly keep up with the social pages of the trashy newspapers.  Are you supposed to be famous?''

Rose smiled.  

''You tell me, obviously I'm not as famous as I thought I was, am I?''

''So are you related in some way to the Vitex chairman?''

''Well done, we'll make a detective out of you yet, you've not gone rusty being relegated to a college tutor.  By the way, your interrogation methods are a bit odd.''

''I like to put suspects at ease, they trip themselves up in the end.''

''Is that what you did with that boy's killer?  Left him to trip himself up?''

''Yes and it worked, it just took me longer than I estimated but I was also trying to hide my illness.''

''Maybe if you'd been honest about it, you'd have your operation over and done with by now and it would have been paid for.''

''Maybe but back then I was not ready to give in, things have changed now.''

''Yeah, you're getting worse and I dread to think no-one will find you next time, you need someone with you until you get the procedure done.''

''Don't get involved with it Rose, I'll be fine.''

''Tough, I'm already involved in case you'd not noticed and to hell with college regulations, I'm taking you there, at least on Tuesday and no arguments, we'll sort something out for Thursday.''

''I get taken by taxi, don't worry, you only go Thursday afternoon, I'm meant to take that class again.''

''Well see if you can get your appointment for Thursday afternoon, while you're over there, I'll come with you.''

''There's no need for you to take me Rose.''

''Maybe I want to make sure you don't back out but don't worry, I won't go easy on you in the classes.''

''I know you won't but you are asking for trouble.''

Rose smiled.  

''Trouble's just the bits inbetween, I told you, I'll make sure the superintendent is taken care of, I only have to call my stepfather.  She's already been told I'm to get special treatment so I don't know why she's spoken to you.''

''You may be getting special treatment but I have to prove I'm still worth keeping on staff.''

''Well when you've had your surgery, you can apply for your old job back, can't you?''

''I was meant to stay three months at the college, they are not expecting me to re-apply for my old job back just yet and besides, I may not get it done right away anyway, I may still have to wait my turn.''

''Not if you pay for it doing you won't.''

''I told you, the insurance won't cover it.''

''Who said anything about insurance?   I'm the Vitex heiress in case you'd not been paying attention.''

''So?  Do you think I would try to take advantage of the fact?''

''Yes, why not?''

''Lots of reasons, I can't ask you to pay for it Rose, it's not my nature to accept that kind of help.''

''Really Alec?  So they would let you get worse rather than give you an appointment, surely you've been waiting longer than others?''

''Possibly but they probably did not keep ignoring advice and turning it down.''

''Why did you do that, if you knew you were so bad?''

''I told you, the other consultant I saw did not give me very good odds, unlike this one so I put it off.  I had another unsolved case I wanted to finish.''

''And that's more important than getting yourself fixed?  What case is that?''

''Never mind.  Do you still want to go out?''

''No, I've changed my mind.''

''Right then, thanks for the food, I'll get out of your way then.''

''Leaving so soon?''

''You don't need me in your way.''

''You're gonna go back to your caravan and feel sorry for yourself and leave me here on my own?  Don't you enjoy my company?''

''Rose, you don't need me to keep you company, there are plenty of men in that club who would jump at the chance to do so.''

''How do you know?''

''I was watching them the other night, believe me, they wished they'd been sitting with you instead of me.''

''I chose to sit with you Alec, I was just hoping when you stood in front of me it wasn't someone who had been trying to chat me up in the hotel.  I'm sure they all knew who I was.''

''No doubt they did but I'll keep out of your way, I would not like to spoil your fun.''

''You think it's fun having men trying to chat me up because of who I am?''

''It's not?''

''No, it isn't, they don't care about me, Rose Tyler, they care about who I am so they can get their name alongside mine.  You didn't even know who I was and it's a nice change, really.  I don't want anyone chatting me up Alec.''

Alec had got up and put his jacket back on.

''Please don't leave.''

''You don't need me hanging around Rose, I'll call the consultant on Monday morning, don't worry but I doubt anything will come of it.''

''Then let me pay for it, don't be so stubborn Alec, think of it as an investment in the college.''

''I can't accept it Rose, really.''

''Why on earth not Alec, when it can save your life, I might not come looking for you next time and how do you think that would make me feel?''

''I told you, don't get involved with me.  Goodnight Rose, thanks again for dinner.''

Rose got up, determined not to give up, grabbed his jacket lapels and pulled him down towards her.

''I want to get involved with you, what do you think I've been trying to do since I entered your classroom on Tuesday morning?''

''I don't know Rose, what have you been trying to do?''

Alec leaned down, a fraction away from Rose's lips.

''You've been trying to drive me crazy since you walked into my classroom Rose.''

''Did it work?''

She soon got her answer when his lips brushed hers lightly and she melted into him.

Chapter 5

Alec pulled away, holding Rose back.  

''This doesn't change anything Rose, I'll not let you pay for my operation.''

''Okay, you win but wait until you've called the hospital on Monday, see what she says.''

''Well don't you dare call and make the arrangements, I'll find out.''

''I wouldn't do that Alec.  So are we still going out tomorrow?''

''If you insist, since you won't let me stay on my own.  Come over in the morning, you can make breakfast.''

''I thought you needed to get groceries?''

''I have enough for tomorrow though you'll have to make do with toast and eggs.''

Rose put her arms around his neck, Alec found himself buried in her neck, kissing it without even realising.

''So are you going to be okay tonight?''

''I'll be fine, give me your mobile number though.''

Rose let go for him to get his phone out of his pocket and he handed it to her, Rose tapping the number into it and saving it.

''Call me, for the slightest thing, okay?''

''Yes, okay, I get the message Rose.  I suppose I don't have to leave just yet, if you want to still go out?''

''No, I'm not in the mood now, maybe we could watch something on TV?"

Two hours later, they were both stretched out on the seating, Alec leaning against the cushion and Rose snuggled against him, playing with his shirt buttons, daring herself to undo another one as his tie was now off and she'd undone the top two for him, after he'd half protested and given up battling her hands away.  They had shared a few brief kisses, when he had dipped down to kiss her neck again and she buried her head in his chest and they had got comfortable.  Not that it was going to make him change his mind about them getting involved and Rose getting her own way of paying for his operation.  Well so he thought.

''Rose, I should really be going now, it's getting late.''

''Oh, sure you don't want to stay?''

''You'll get into trouble if I stay, I'm not registered in your caravan.''

''What's the difference?  We're both paying for them, they can't complain.  What they gonna do?  Do a check on every caravan on the site?''

''Maybe not but they'll have some way of checking, never mind but I should get back.''

''Is your mattress just as uncomfortable as mine then?  I'm using one of the single beds.''

She tried to move but he was still holding her around the waist, Rose thinking maybe he really didn't want to leave and was just saying he did like some kind of half-hearted attempt at 'I should really go now but I'll stay if you really insist but don't try too hard'.

''No, I dragged the single mattresses to the double bedroom and put them on top, they can put them back when I leave, how are you meant to sleep on a thin mattress that's too low down?''

Rose smiled to herself, trust him to be so clever, maybe he'd move hers if she asked nicely but he shouldn't really have moved two heavy mattresses on his own, not in his condition anyway.

''Don't suppose you want to help me move mine then do you?''

Alec raised his eyebrows as if to say, ''after what happened earlier?''  Rose didn't think so.

She tried to move his arm to get up but he held her firm.  

''You want to keep a close eye on me then?''

''Yeah, I said so, didn't I but you're insisting you leave though you're not making that much of an effort, are you?''

''You could make sure I get back to my caravan, you could sleep in the lounge, it's just as comfortable as a mattress.''

''Really?  Is that the best you can offer a girl?''

''Well since I've got the two other mattresses, that would imply you want to share?''

''Is that an invitation or a bribe?''

''What do you think?  I'm not in the mood to move another two mattresses Rose, take it or leave it, the offer is there.  Just be sure you don't snore and hog all the duvet.''

''Is the heating on?''

''I seem to remember switching it on before I collapsed on the floor, it was cold when I got back the other night so I was taking no chances.  Why?''

''If it's warm, I won't hog all the duvet, will I?''

''I'm still going to have trouble with you, am I not?''

Rose answered by pulling him down for another kiss.  She went to gather what she needed for the morning and followed him round to his caravan, wondering why he was bothered about getting caught having someone overnight in his caravan, they were both paying customers and her car was registered, she wasn't moving it anywhere.

''So Alec, if you're so bothered about putting down who's staying in your caravan, you go put me down for yours and I'll put you down for mine, it will give the staff something to gossip about.  I take it they know who you are?'' she asked, closing his caravan door behind her and locking it when he handed her the key.

''Yes and I'll lay odds they know who you are as well so be careful you don't get yourself in the local paper.  I'd hate to have you accusing me I was trying to get my name in alongside yours.''

''Oh, I don't mind being associated with your name, at least you are someone.''

''Am I?  Really?  I'm a semi-retired detective who can't keep his job.''

''Don't put yourself down Alec, you'll be back at work as soon as you've had your surgery.  I told you anyway, my stepfather is well in with the chief constable so if you want to come back here to work, you only have to say, you'll be back in before I put the phone down, your boss will be only to pleased to reinstate you.''

''I told you Rose, I'm not going to use you to get any favours done, I'm not like that.''

''You should try to be, since one of the offers could save your life.  Which side of the bed do you sleep on?''

He leaned down, slipping his arms around her waist and kissed her neck, a slight grin on his face.  

''The middle?''

Rose smiled back as she reached up to meet his lips.  

''What a coincidence Alec, so do I.''

Alec woke up the next morning, the first time he'd not been woken during the night with a panic attack, that of finding the girl in the swollen river and his heart trying to keep up, he had normally woken in a cold sweat, crying out to the empty space next to him but this morning, he had woken up with the strange feeling of someone asleep on him and it felt strangely calming.  Then he remembered it was the irritating new recruit who he had been certain had been planted in his classes to see if he was really capable of doing the job, which he was trying to prove he was but Rose Tyler had not helped him prove his point any.

If he wasn't extremely careful, he would be back on just sick pay and have to remain in this caravan, his housing allowance would be surely reduced and his savings wouldn't last long if he were to pay for that chalet on his own.  Maybe he should just forget it and stay here a few more weeks then look for somewhere else, Rose had told him she'd found herself a flat.

He had made his mind up she was not going to get to him but if she wanted to tag along to take him to the college and march him into the hospital, who was he to argue?  He had not been exaggerating when he'd told her all the men in the club and the bar had been looking at her on Thursday night and he'd been surprised she'd let him sit with her then go to find him later.  He was right, she could have any man she wanted but here was Rose Tyler, asleep on him.

He felt her moving, he'd been awake ten minutes, not wanting to move his arm even though he'd lost any feeling in it and disturb her.  She was beautiful and she knew it so why was she interested in him?  She'd gone out of her way to get herself noticed last Tuesday, the sexy way she had rubbed her wrists when he unfastened the handcuffs and the way she had cheekily questioned his interrogation methods but he was no nearer finding out what she was doing in the college, if she hadn't been sent to annoy him, which he was certain she had but maybe Miller was right, maybe she belonged to a secret organisation and that was why the chief constable had been involved but could she get him his old job back or at least manage not to get him fired from the college if the superintendent thought they were involved?

Were they already involved though?  Rose seemed to think she was when he tried to warn her off or maybe he'd not been insistent enough with her, he'd let his guard down and kissed her, she had kissed him back and they had fallen asleep together after lounging in her caravan.  It had felt good, holding onto her waist, kissing her neck and smelling her fragrant shampoo and kissing her warm inviting lips.  She was far too young for him, he knew that but would it be so bad?  It would give his fading ego a boost, he'd been feeling low now he had nothing to do except teach recruits, thankfully all not like the woman who was waking up next to him, a smile of her face as she felt his arm around her and she had her arm over his waist.

''Hi Alec, hope you slept as well as I did, are you okay?''

''Yes, if I could have my arm back you've been sleeping on.  Good morning Rose.''

''Sorry, I'll move.  Do you need to take your pills yet?''

''No, when I have something to eat, I've no idea what the time is, I can't reach my phone.''

Rose moved and grabbed her mobile.  

''It's almost eight, there's no rush is there, this is nice.''

She flopped back down again and slid her arm under him, Alec shuffling to let her and pulling her towards him, her head then resting in the crook of his neck.  He leaned down to kiss her forehead.  It was nice and a long time since he'd last had a woman in bed with him but how long would it last?  Still, she hadn't run off yet but if she was looking for something more than a morning cuddle, she was out of luck but she probably already knew that now.

Suddenly, Rose moved over, almost lying on him and he was glad he'd bought some pyjama bottoms and left his shorts on as she landed on him, taking him by surprise as she reached for a kiss.

''Mmm, I could do more of this as well, any objections?''

''Not that I can think of when you are lying on me, I was right, you are distracting so do not let me be late taking my medication.''

''Not a chance mister, so are we still going out later?''

Two hours later, they had parked up by Weymouth railway station and Rose was heading for her favourite coffee shop with the famous red logo, Alec pulling faces at her suggestion he tried the vanilla flavour and complaining about the price of a pot of tea.  Even though it was almost into October, it was a nice enough day as they walked down the seafront, Rose looping her arm through his and chatting away, telling him about her mother and younger brother and where she came from, just that it wasn't in this version of the world.

Rose now had a very big decision to make, well two decisions really, to carry on at the college as if nothing had happened and whether to let Alec Hardy in on her secret, one that could mean the end of their all too brief friendship because at this stage, that's all it was, except for the kissing.

They stopped for lunch and Alec told her about his daughter and her reluctance to speak to him.

''Aw, I wouldn't read too much into that Alec, I remember what I was like when I was that age, I'd skipped school and taken up with a guitar player much to my mother's annoyance but I came round and saw sense then got myself back to finish school and got a job in a big London store.  She'll come round.  Have you told her what's wrong with you?''

''No, would it make any difference?''

Rose was appalled.  

''Of course it will Alec, you need to tell her, she deserves to be told and so does your ex, no matter how bad you parted company.  Call them.''

''Yes and what do I say to them?  Oh by the way I need life-saving surgery but I may or may not survive it?  I can see that going down well.''

''Then go and see them, where do they live?''

''Just outside Sandbrook, I did not want to stay there after what happened.''

''Why, what happened?''

''Are you sure you've not been living in a parallel world Rose?  Everyone knows what happened, a killer got away because evidence went missing, on my watch.  Two cousins, one found in the river three days after she went missing, the other still not found.  It was big news Rose and I had to leave, it was too much.''

''Sorry, I really didn't know about it, I mean I heard something but I didn't know it was you.  Who lost the evidence, not you?''

''My ex wife, she left it in her car when she went to meet the man she was having an affair with, I took the blame so our daughter would not find out it was her mother.''

''Does she know now?''

''No idea, she doesn't talk to me, remember?''

''Then Wednesday, we go see them, tell them about your surgery.''

''What's with the 'we go tell them'?''

''How else are you going to get there?  I'll stay out of the way if you want me to, they have to be told, it's not fair if something were to happen to you.''

''I've made my will and the police will take care of my benefits, don't fuss over it Rose, I've not even got a date yet, it may take a while still.''

''Alec, at least they'll know what to expect though, you can't spring it on them the day before.  We could go Tuesday afternoon after college, take an overnight bag and stay up there, I think I know where it is.  Let's see what your consultant says then ask her how long it will be if it's paid for.''

''You and I are going to fall out over this Rose, if you are not very careful.''

''Alec, you don't know anything about me.  Me and my mum, we lived on a London council estate until she was introduced to Pete Tyler then before we knew it, we had everything we could ever want and I got adopted by him and given a top job and until now, nothing made any sense, why suddenly I was who I was but now, I've got a cause, you.  Let me help you Alec, please?  Is it so bad for you to accept you need someone to take care of you?''

Maybe she was right?  He had never really had to struggle, even when Tess was off work bringing up Daisy, they had still managed but Rose had said she had nothing and had suddenly found herself becoming one of the richest women in the country and now, she wanted to spend some of it paying for his operation.  Maybe it meant something to her but something else was bothering him, if she worked for Vitex, why was she training in the police?

They got up and Rose wanted to go look around the shops, Alec pulling faces and said okay but he drew the line at going in the lingerie department of a well-known store.  As they walked back towards the shopping area though, Alec baled out and said he wanted to get a few things and they would meet in an hour by the coffee shop they had been in earlier.

He really wanted time to think about what Rose had been saying, about telling his daughter she may soon be without him and since she had hardly spoken to him in almost two years, they needed to put things right if the surgery didn't go well, how would Daisy feel if he didn't get through it and she'd not known there was even something very wrong with him?  What would Tess think even though they had not parted so amicably, she would still want to know if he wasn't going to survive and with or without the surgery, it had already caught up with him, after last night.

What if Rose had not found him?  Would he have come round properly in time to swallow his medication?  Maybe he should think very carefully before driving away the only person who cared enough to stay with him and pay for his much needed surgery, she'd said she had nothing else to spend her money on so why shouldn't she spend it on him or did he already think it was a lost cause and it would be a waste?

He made his mind up, if he couldn't get the surgery this week on his own, he'd agree to Rose footing the bill on one condition, she told him why she was really pretending to be a cadet in the training college.  That settled, he bought himself some new plain t-shirts, a dark blue sweater and some black jeans then passing the accessories department, saw some nice brightly coloured scarves and thought maybe Rose would like one and proceeded to the cash desk, asking for the scarf to be wrapped separately as it was a gift for his girlfriend.

There, he had admitted it, since Rose thought she had that title already and made his way to their meeting place, seeing Rose already sitting outside with a red carton filled with what he presumed was vanilla coffee and a tray with a white teapot and a cup and saucer.  He smiled, reached over to kiss her cheek and put down his purchases and sat next to her, noticing several carrier bags with various store names on them under the table.  It seemed Miss Tyler had expensive tastes judging by the store names, a few he recognised Tess used to frequent when she got a bonus and went on a spending spree and he knew he was just asking for trouble taking up with Rose.

Well if she liked spending her money on expensive clothes and shoes, who was he to turn down the offer of getting his surgery paid for, she probably spent her whole month's allowance on clothes that cost nearly as much as a pacemaker operation anyway.

Chapter 6

Alec kept quiet on the way back to Broadchurch, trying to figure out how he'd suddenly admitted Rose was his girlfriend and how to bring up the subject he was now prepared to let her pay for his surgery under certain terms and if she'd agree.  If she wouldn't tell him what she had been doing disrupting his classes, would he still go ahead though? 

They went to Alec's caravan after calling in at reception and asking if they had to register for each other's caravans and the woman there saying she'd not been asked that before and being told as far as the staff were concerned they were covered, making Rose smile and nudging Alec for being paranoid last night but this was the second time in a few hours he'd admitted to someone he and Rose were now an item even if he wasn't ready to admit it to himself.

Rose wanted to go put her new purchases away and get a few more things for the morning, Alec saying she may as well leave them in his wardrobe and then deciding maybe she would take it over anyway, without the invitation and resigned himself to maybe using the wardrobes in the spare bedroom.  Rose had gone back to her caravan anyway to get a dress to change into to go out later if Alec wanted to and made a quick call to her mother.

''So he's talking to you again is he?'' Jackie asked her when she said they had been out for the day and it was now just after four.  ''So have you found out what's wrong with him then?''

''Yeah, he's really sick Mum, he needs a pacemaker, he collapsed and I found him on the floor of his caravan, he needs surgery but he may have to wait and it may be too late, he won't let me pay for him to get it done sooner.''

''Then don't give up Rose, if that's what he needs, why won't he accept any help?''

''I think he's still punishing himself for a case that got away from him, a girl is still missing and the one that died, the killer walked free.  He still blames himself.''

''Well you'll just have to work on him then, won't you?  Make him see it's not worth it if you're willing to help him, he'll come round and see sense, surely?''

''I hope so Mum, before it's too late but I think I talked him into telling his daughter he's ill, I'm gonna take him there after college on Tuesday, if he doesn't change his mind.''

''Then make sure he doesn't.  Rose, I never made sense of having money to spend and I know you took to it less than I did, maybe that's what you're meant to do with it, put it to some good use.''

''I know, I'm gonna try and make him change his mind without him walking away from me.  Is Pete around?''

''Yeah, I'll put him on and I want to meet this Alec Hardy, okay?''

''Yeah, I know.''

Pete came on the line.  

''If this is about you being disruptive in college Rose, I don't want to know.''

''Who says I've been disruptive?''

''No-one but I know what you're like Rose so have you been behaving yourself?  It was Jake who said you'd rebel.  Anyway, your mother may have mentioned about a certain detective you've taken a liking to.''

''Yeah, well I think I may more than just like him, I've offered to pay for him to have pacemaker surgery, if I can talk him into it but there's one other thing, can you talk to the chief constable, that when Alec's had his surgery, he'll get his old job back in Broadchurch without having to go back to the training college?  Did mum tell you he was my tutor?''

''She mentioned it and you be careful, they have rules about that sort of thing,'' he laughed.

''Yeah, we already know that and we're about to break them I think, well I am anyway so if I get warned, I might need some help if you want me to finish the courses.''

''Just call me, I'll get things smoothed over, just don't tell anyone why you're really there, well except for Alec Hardy since you already asked me if you can tell anyone, I presume now it's him?''

''Yeah, I want to tell him,  I really like him but I don't want to get him fired.''

''Don't worry, he won't be, just let me know if he's about to.''

Alec was wondering what was taking her so long, he didn't want to spy on her by looking out of the rear window to see if he could see her moving around in her bedroom so he made a drink and one for Rose and waited for her coming back.  Had his life been so empty all this time he was craving her company?  Hell, couldn't he even go an hour without wondering what she was doing?  She would surely want to go out tonight, whether to play bingo or not and he'd liked sitting with her the other night and cursed himself for getting in such a state last night she didn't want to go out and leave him on his own, what was happening to him?

He smiled as Rose tapped on the door and let herself in, wearing a red jersey figure-hugging dress and a black jacket, a far cry from Thursday night when she had worn jeans and a t-shirt, she was meaning to go out tonight that was for sure.  He got up and put his arms around her.

''All sorted then?''

She had an overnight bag which she put on the ledge by the door and put her own arms around him.

''Yeah, do you want to go out early and grab something to eat first?''

Just after six, they walked across the bridge to the pub and Alec studied the menu, putting his rimless glasses on and making Rose smile, he looked so sexy in them she thought, watching him pull a face as he couldn't eat half the items on the menu then seeing something reasonably plain and opting for it so Rose felt obligated not to show him up and ordered the same.  He noticed.

''You don't have to order the same as I do Rose, don't feel sorry for me.''

''I'm not, I don't like fancy food, I don't know why it's the 'in' thing to do when you go out, I wish they'd just put normal dishes on the menu instead of that cuisine.  I told you, I had a very simple upbringing.''

She just wished she could say 'not around here though' but Alec had said something earlier, something about her being from a parallel world when she'd mentioned she hadn't realised he was the investigating officer from Sandbrook.  Maybe he'd be open to her casually talking about it.  While they waited for their orders to arrive, Rose thought she would test the waters and Alec was hoping he'd be able to swallow his pride and accept her help but how should he put it to her?

He didn't need to worry about it, Rose was determined she wasn't about to give up.  They went back to the caravan park's club, Rose going off to get her tickets to play bingo, hoping she might get Alec to stop being so stuffy and play along but he was having nothing of it, Rose even volunteering to show him how to play, which got her a frown.

''I do know how to play Rose, I just choose not to, it's not dignified to call out 'house' when you getting the winning number.''

Rose smiled at him, taking his hand.  

''Aw, don't be so stuffy Alec, you might not win.  If I win again, I'll gather up all the kids and buy them a slush drink, I only play for the fun of it anyway.''

''Maybe you could keep the winnings, if you're intent on paying for my surgery.''

Rose looked at him.  ''You're gonna let me?  Seriously?  When did you decide that?''

''Earlier on while you were buying out that department store, I like your new shoes Rose.''

''Mmm, so did I went I bought them though I'm not so keen now, you may have to carry me back to your caravan.  I hate breaking in new shoes, I just never learn my lesson.  So, you came to your senses then?''

''On two conditions.''

''Go on, I might have known you wouldn't do it without a fuss.''

''One, we give the hospital a reasonable time to fit me in without paying then if it's too long, then okay, I'll let you pay.''

''What's the other condition then?  I go away and leave you alone afterwards and let you go back to teaching without being disrupted?''

''No, why did you think that?  Are you going to go away and stop bringing chaos to my classes?''

Rose smiled.  

''What do you think?  I spoke to my stepfather again, he said don't worry, you can't get thrown out as long as I take the blame, which I will and I'll try and behave in your classes, I promise.  So tell me what the other condition is then.''

''You tell me why you are really there because I'll be honest Rose, you got me, I have no idea what you are really doing there, you do not seem to be taking it seriously, you don't wear a uniform and you only take four classes so go on, what's this special assignment you're on and don't say for Vitex, I doubt they need someone trained in police work.''

''I'll tell you when we get back, I honestly can't tell you here, it's classified but I promise, as soon as we get back, you'll know why I'm really there and I don't work at Vitex but something you said earlier, about me not knowing about Sandbrook, you didn't realise how close to the truth you were.''

Alec looked at her, was she even being serious?  

''Really?  You expect me to believe what I said as a joke is true?''

''Tell me Alec, did you read comic books when you were a boy?''

''Yes and it sounds like you read the same ones.  You'll be telling me next you've seen little green men from Mars.''

''Not actually from Mars but close enough.  Take it or leave it, you wanted to know, didn't you?''

''I suppose I asked for that, I want details, very precise details and don't leave anything out either.  Think of it as a practical test in writing reports.''

''I'm not in the report writing class Alec, I can write reports in my sleep, trust me.''

''I hope not, there are better things to do in bed Rose, sleeping for one.''

''Aw, I'm disappointed now, I thought you were going to say something good then.''

''Maybe when I get well again but until then, sleeping is about my limit.  You do know they are getting ready to play bingo?''

He nodded in the general direction of the stage and Rose half turned, picking up the book of tickets and offering to tear them in half, giving him three.

He shook his head.  

''No thanks, I'll go wait in the bar, I would not like to distract you though why you play is beyond me.''

''It's a training exercise,'' she grinned, picking up her pen.

Alec raised his eyebrows again, something Rose thought was very endearing but wished he'd stop because that was what the Doctor used to do, frequently and she was trying her best to stop comparing Alec Hardy with her best friend.  Rose had thought Alec had taken the last conversation extremely well, considering so this might be easier than she thought.

''Training exercise?  Seriously Rose?''

''Yeah, hand eye co-ordination, paying attention, finding numbers in quick succession and beating your fellow players plus not forgetting it can be very competitive.  Then there's anticipation as you're one number away from calling, being careful not to miss your chance before they draw the next number.''

Alec shook his head and got up, kissing her cheek and having several people, mostly men, staring at him and wondering why he was sitting there talking to the blonde, stroking her hand and then getting up and leaving her on her own and it wasn't them.

''Whatever you say darlin', come and find me in the bar when you've finished clearing them out of slush drinks.''

Rose smiled at him and took his hand.  

''Don't worry, I will unless you want to come back in here and we'll go dance when they put some music on?''

''Maybe not, I have to take it easy, remember?''

''Yeah, sorry, I'll come and find you.''

''Okay.  Have fun and don't wipe them out, give someone else a chance eh?''

Rose dropped her pen.  He had called her darlin', things were definitely looking up.

Needless to say Rose won again, Alec could probably hear her over across the foyer in the bar so collecting her money, she asked the host to shout out any kids who wanted a free slush drink to go to the bar, Rose standing there counting how many there were and the slightly harassed girl behind the bar hoping there was enough in the machines to go round.  Alec thought she must have won considering she was taking her time.  What had he got himself in to?  She would constantly keep him on his toes, she was spontaneous, full of mischief and far too young for him, he reminded himself, what was he even thinking of, telling two people she was his girlfriend?

Now he was faced with calling the hospital tomorrow and hoping he could get a date for his surgery without having to pass the phone to Rose and her telling them to send the bill to her or probably her accountants, then he had to call Tess and arrange a meeting for Tuesday when Daisy got out of school and if that wasn't daunting enough, have Rose go with him to the hospital as well as Tess, they would both want to be there and that would be fun, he thought he may as well invite Miller at the same time.

That was a thought though, should he tell his old DS he was finally going to stop being a pain and get himself sorted?  Would she even want to know or would she prefer to read his obituary?  No, stop thinking like that, he told himself, Rose wouldn't let that happen and if he didn't make it, well it wouldn't be that he'd given up like he was on the verge of doing until he had met the disruptive Rose Tyler and fallen for her in a big way because like it or not, he had, why else would he be admitting she was his girlfriend?  Just let Tess say anything, that was all, he'd show her she wasn't the only one who could find somebody else.

He saw Rose coming through the doors and waved to her and got up to greet her.

''Wiped them out did you?'' he asked as he kissed her cheek and she took his arm as they sat down together

''Yeah, what do you think?  I'll probably get banned from playing but at least there are about a dozen happy kids in there with large slush drinks and the bar staff are happy.  Are you going to get me a drink Alec?''

''Spent up did you darlin'?'' he asked, raising his left eyebrow and Rose really wishing he wouldn't, how was she supposed to ignore he looked like the Doctor when he did that?

''Really?  I may have to go to the cash machine though at some point but you get charged to use the one out there, cheek.''

Alec smiled, the Vitex heiress seemed to object to paying to get her money out, maybe old habits really did die hard and she'd not fully accepted who she was after all.  He was looking forward to finding out just exactly what she'd been hiding when they got back to his caravan since it seemed she now preferred his double bed to the single one she had been occupying and he just hoped she had been joking about Mars.

Once back in the caravan, Rose having brought over her jar of hot chocolate and Alec forgoing the marshmallows she wanted to put in his, he decided it was time to get serious.

''So come on Rose, tell me what you are doing at the college, there is no point in delaying telling me now, you've given half of it away.  I know Vitex would not send someone to learn police methods.  So, is it a secret government agency, such as Torchwood?''

''You got me, yeah, I'm a Torchwood agent Alec, does it make any difference to you now you know?''

''No, should it?  I do know about them Rose, I just did not expect you to belong to it somehow, how did you get involved with them?''

''Short or long version?''

''I want details, not the official version.''

''My stepfather is the director, he just doesn't make it known to the public, not many people know, except high up officials.''

''Such as the chief constable eh?  So what has that got to do with other worlds?  Were you trying to see if I would run away?''

''Honestly?  Yeah, it's not a deal breaker when you're about to take up with someone and you suddenly ask them if they believe in parallel universes.''

''So that means you have first hand knowledge of parallel worlds does it?''

''Yeah, done the whole tour.''

''Really?  So are you trying to tell me you come from one?''

''Yeah, does that cause a problem?''

''No, should it?  Come on Rose, those Cybermen had to go somewhere and all those strange reports that keep cropping up and get swept under the carpet, does Torchwood charge in and take over?''

''Yeah, a team usually goes in to access the situation, that's why I was sent to the training college, to learn more about police procedures, to make it less daunting to any members of the public when we ask questions.  Pete figured if we treated them the same as the police, we'd get better results.''

''So does that mean you could be sent anywhere?''

''Within reason but I can in turn pass what I've learned on to other agents, that's why I don't need to know everything.  Take fingerprinting, we can learn a lot from that, to eliminate human contamination of a scene and interrogation, to take a different approach to how we do it now, if we come across someone we suspect is part alien or hiding something.''

''You've come across part aliens?'' he asked, doing the eyebrow thing again that was driving poor Rose crazy.

''Yeah and real live aliens though not that many, one was sort of my boyfriend.''

''Seriously?  So did you lock him up then?''

Rose went quiet and Alec moved nearer.

''Sorry, did I hit a raw nerve there?  Did he get taken away?''

''No, he's not here, he's not on this world.''

''He's not?  You mean you got separated?  How did you even get here Rose and who else is from there?''

''There are three of us Alec and thanks to the Cybermen, we're trapped here, there's no way back, not ever and my friend is back there, he stayed to seal off the worlds so they couldn't come back and the gap they made got closed before we could get back, we don't belong here.''

''Well it sounds to me like you are not the only ones, if others are here, apart from you and whoever came with you, did they get trapped here as well?''

''Maybe, most we've come across are brought here by what we call 'The rift', it's a rift in time and space, don't ask me to explain it, we have experts back in London to do that, things sort of get brought here, not just beings but don't worry, no Cybermen have washed up here yet and if they do, we're ready to contain them this time.''

''Then why can't your friend get back or can't you control it?''

''No-one can control it Alec, it can happen at any time, it doesn't run to a timetable.  It can take things as well.''

''Missing persons?''

''Yeah, we've had reports people have vanished in a flash, the police think the reports are from cranks, I'm sure you've had a few?''

''Possibly, now I come to think of it I suppose.  So let me get this right, if something or someone gets taken by this 'Rift', can it get back?''

''Yes and no, sometimes people come back but they're changed, sometimes beyond recognition and we try to help them but so far, there have only been a handful of people who've come back after a few years but there are far more who never did.  You can't control it Alec, we've tried, not in London but at the most powerful spot, Cardiff, there's a Torchwood base there, that's where people are returned to.''

''So they are locked up then?''

''No.  They are looked after in a special unit until they die or go mad and try to end their own lives, we have a specialist team there to take care of them, we find it's best not to let their relatives know, it's soul destroying Alec, trust me.  It's best to give them hope their loved ones will come back.''

''Maybe but they have the right to know.''

''You're one to talk about people having the right to know Alec.  You weren't going to tell your ex wife and daughter you needed life-saving surgery so don't lecture me on Torchwood practices that were brought in before I even came to live on this world.''

Rose shrugged him away but he held on to her.

''I'm not giving you a lecture Rose, maybe you are right, would anyone want to know if their relatives came back beyond all recognition?''

''I'm glad you see it that way so are we good about this then?''

''Yes, for now but I have a feeling you are still holding something back though, care to tell me?''

''Maybe, how long have you got?'' she asked, reaching for a kiss.

Chapter 7

It was quite some time before Rose had satisfied Alec's curiosity, about the differences between the two worlds and the time difference, Rose finally having to admit that although it was 2013 on this world, it would be 2010 back on her world and she wasn't as old as she was made out to be.

Alec knew he should really back off before he got too involved with her, she wasn't really that much older than his daughter, what would Tess think?  Well Tess had nothing to do with it, since when did he care what she thought any more?  Rose made him realise he could still attract a woman, she was clearly just as gone on him as he was on her, the way she smiled at him, the way she tormented him so what if she was younger?  Even though she was three years younger than she made herself out to be, she was beyond her years judging by what she was telling him.  He saw the sadness in her eyes as she told him what happened to her friend, the one she called 'The Doctor' and how he had chosen to send her and her mother to safety and carry on fighting on his own and seal off the two worlds, knowing he may never her see again.

His broken heart went out to her as she recalled tearfully her last ditched effort to go back to help him and almost getting pulled into what she called 'The Void' and how Pete had saved her at the last possible second as her friend had shouted for her to hold on until the gap closed and the terror she had seen on his face as Pete caught her and vanished, how her friend must have been feeling as he watched helplessly as her fingers slipped from the lever she was holding and the force pulling at her from the void.

He was now holding her as she told him how she had sensed him at the other side of the white wall when the devices they had been using had stopped working and she had yelled for it to take her back.

''Rose, I understand, really I do but I'm sure he knows you are safe, that was probably the most important thing to him and I'm sorry for making you bring all this up, I really am but I needed to know.''

''Yeah, now what?''

''Now Rose, you complete your training, maybe I can give you a few private lessons eh?''

''In interrogation or are you gonna handcuff me again?''

She tried to dry her eyes and Alec reached for a tissue, handing it to her and touching her cheek.  

''Here, let me?''

She leaned into him and he knew she wasn't through yet.  

''Come here Rose, it's okay to cry, you miss him and you miss your own world, I get that but let me help you, like you've been helping me.  At least you have your mother and your other friend, you could have been lost, how would they have felt if Pete had not saved you?''

''Do you think I didn't know that when I went back?  I promised him I'd stay with him and I broke that promise Alec.''

''I'm sure he knows it was not intentional, he had to watch you disappear in front of him or fall into this void, I'd say that was a choice there was no doubt as to the outcome.  He must have known that you did not break your promise willingly, that has to count for something Rose.''

''Yeah, maybe you're right Alec but it doesn't make me feel any better about it, thanks for being so understanding about it, I thought you'd walk away when I told you.''

''I would not do that Rose, you annoyed the hell out of me last week, you know that but this is different, you've been honest with me and I respect that.  So is that all, have you left anything out?''

Rose hesitated, should she tell him she came here before and went back and travelled with a Timelord?  Maybe not, he was good with the knowledge she came from another world, she could break it gently to him her friend was a time-traveller.

''That's it Alec, you know everything about me now, sorry about the Mars jokes, I couldn't resist them,'' she tried to smile.

''That's okay, I knew you were making fun of it.  So, nothing else to tell me, nothing I need to know?  That Doctor, you are over him now?''

''I thought I was, until you made me drag it all up again but I know I have to be over it, it's not like he's gonna drop in via the rift, just so you know though, we were never any more than friends, nothing happened, not for lack of trying on my part, it just wasn't meant to be.  That's why I was so upset at leaving him, I wanted more, maybe nothing would still have happened even if I'd stayed, I'll never know.''

''Maybe you are better off not knowing, like you said about the relatives of those who came back changed, maybe he's changed?''

''Yeah, maybe I won't even recognise him if I did see him again, it's not his fault, it just happens, if he's in danger and seeing him change once was enough, since I was the one who made him change.''

''So how did he get to your world then?''

''He never told me, I just accepted it.  I don't want to talk about it any more, it's over with.  My life's here now and until now I couldn't settle, maybe now I will.  So do you know how you're gonna tell your ex and your daughter you're having heart surgery and you're going out with Rose Tyler?''

Alec pulled her back to him.  

''Well they may believe me about the surgery Rose but I'm not so sure about you, you may well have to come with me to meet them.''

Rose smiled, trying to forget being guilty about not telling him she had been here before and how she got here but maybe that was a tale for another day.  Rose went to get changed and Alec waited in bed for her, she entered the bedroom wearing a nightdress, making Alec smile since he'd ditched the pyjama bottoms in favour of some cotton pyjama shorts he'd picked up on their shopping trip.

Rose smiled at him and snuggled up to him.  

''So we're all good then?''

Alec opened his arms and held her close, kissing her forehead.  

''Yes, now about what I said, that of just sleeping in bed, maybe we can stretch that to other activities, nothing too strenuous?''

''I'm sure we can figure something out in that department, just don't go collapsing on me again, you gave me a scare last night.''

''You are not the only one who was scared Rose, trust me.  That's partly what made me reconsider your offer to pay for the surgery if I can't get an appointment this week but I still want to give them a chance before I tell them you will pay the bill.''

''I know, have you thought about warning the collage you won't be back if it's successful?''

''I will have to go back, maybe I can ask for an appointment on Thursday then, we can leave early and I'll be off until next Tuesday.''

''Alec you don't have to go back, if you don't really want to, just go to your old chief and tell her you want your job back.''

''I expect you have that covered as well?''

''Guilty, what do you expect?  We are about to break the rules if we both stay in the college.''

After just kissing for a while, Alec decided he wasn't satisfied and persuaded Rose to lie on him properly, both giving in and Alec wriggling out of his shorts after he persuaded Rose to part with her new underwear.  Alec thought he'd already passed to a better place as she made him feel all the sensations he'd almost forgotten about, calling her name as she let him swap places, telling him he had nothing to prove to her but he did as best as he could in view of his condition, which was more than he expected to get away with.

The next morning, after Rose used the last of the eggs and bread, Alec made the call to his consultant, not happy she wouldn't take his call, only getting her secretary.  Rose put her hands on his shoulders from behind.

''What do you mean she can't take my call?  I was told to ring if my symptoms got worse and they did, I collapsed on Saturday night and I was lucky someone found me, I need to be seen again, urgently, you said I would be fitted in, is collapsing not an emergency?''

''I'm sorry Mr Hardy but the consultant's calendar is all full up, she has three surgeons working under her, there are no appointments at the moment, do you have enough heart medication?  If not you'll need to see your own GP.''

''Well that's not good enough, when are you expecting to have more appointments available then?''  

He was willing to give them a few weeks without giving in to Rose paying for it.

''We're not taking any more for this year, we're already into next February.''

''Really, four months and you're not putting people on the waiting list?''

''Well those who are urgent are being put on it and any cancellations will be offered but if you get worse and are admitted in an emergency, they may have to perform the surgery on the spot.''

Alec was livid.  

''So you have to be dying to get the surgery you need then?  Right, what about if I go private and get the surgery paid for?''

He didn't have to turn to Rose to see the smirk on her face that he'd given in and asked.

The secretary didn't falter in her answer.  

''In that case Mr Hardy, when would you like to come in, we can fit you in on Friday afternoon at two or Thursday at four?''

Rose knew she had won as he answered, ''I'll take the Thursday appointment at four, how do you want me to pay?  I can pass you over to my girlfriend, she's paying.''

The consultant's secretary wondered who his girlfriend was that she'd be paying over the phone, was she Rose Tyler or someone?

''That's okay Mr Hardy, we can take your financial details when you come in on Thursday.  Don't eat or drink anything an hour before your surgery and if you want to go home the same day, someone will have to be with you before you can be discharged.''

Alec said fine and hung up, turning to see the look on Rose's face.

''Yes, okay, you win then, can you believe it would be over four months before I can be seen?''

''So I gathered by your reaction Alec.  I guess I should make the arrangements with my accountants to pay the hospital bill, did they say how much it would cost?''

''I never asked, guess you'll have to go play bingo again tonight then and not give your winnings back to the club darlin'?'' he asked, putting his arms around her and kissing her neck.

That over with, he still had to call his ex wife, the now DS Tess Henchard.  Alec wished Rose was not listening and asked if she wanted to go over and get some more things from her caravan or just move into his.  Rose pretended to consider her options.

''Come on Rose, stop pretending it's that difficult to decide.  I've already got the double bed set up so what is the point in keeping two caravans?  When do you get the keys to your flat anyway?''

''Saturday, why, do you want to come with me?''

''I've booked this caravan until Monday but I suppose I can come with you until my new place is ready but maybe I won't need it now, I should call the owner and back out now before it's too late, he did not seem so keen in letting it anyway.''

''You mean you want to share my flat?''

''Well that was the idea unless you want to find somewhere else to live and besides that, there is always the possibility I won't need anywhere after Thursday, did you not even think of that Rose?''

''No, I've got every confidence things will go well, haven't you?''

''It's possible I suppose though up until now, I've tried to avoid thinking about it, it always seemed like something I would not have to face since I kept on putting it off all the time, until someone made my mind up for me about it.''

Rose put her arms around his neck.  

''Yeah, who was that then who got the great Alec Hardy to actually change his mind?''

She reached up and they kissed, Alec's arms around her waist, pulling her closer.

''Go get all your things Rose, then we'll go hand your key in and give them something else to talk about eh?''

''Okay, you call your ex wife and warn her and then we'll go get some groceries unless you want to stay here?''

''I'm capable of going shopping Rose, I'm not that bad yet.  Go on, I'll be fine.''

They kissed again and Rose went off to pack her things, wondering how that had been settled so easily considering that on Friday she didn't even think he was talking to her any more.  Just how had he accepted everything she had told him last night and did she really have to leave a few things out?  Maybe if he survived, she'd see how he felt about time travel, since he'd believed everything else so far and not locked her up for insanity – yet.  She had been surprised just how well he'd actually taken it and guessed some of it.

Alec was waiting for his ex wife to answer her phone.

''Alec, what are you doing calling me on a Monday morning?''

''Nice to hear from you too Tess.  I need to meet with you and Daisy, tomorrow afternoon when Daisy gets out of school.''

''What?  What's the special occasion Alec?  I normally have to drag you up here for a visit these days, what's wrong?''

''I'll tell you tomorrow.''

''You'll tell me now if I've got to get time off work.''

''Okay but you don't tell Daisy this, I've got to go in for an operation Tess.''

''What kind of operation, is it life threatening then?''



''I need a pacemaker Tess, is that serious enough for you?''

''Bloody hell Alec, how long have you known about that?''

''Since we got divorced, well before that, not that you cared.''

''I would have done, it could have changed everything Alec.''

''You mean you wouldn't have been shagging Dave while your car was being broken into and that evidence being taken out of your car?''

''That's not fair Alec, I only did it because you never paid any attention to me, or your daughter.  If I'd known you were ill, I wouldn't have done it.''

''That's meant to make me feel better?  I was not going to tell you but someone persuaded me you needed to know.''

''Your conscience?''

''Talk about not being fair Tess?  No, a friend.''

''The DS you worked that case with maybe?''

''Does it matter?  I've told you, my conscience is clear now but don't tell Daisy, I have to tell her myself.''

''How long have you been planning this Alec?  Surely there's a waiting list for pacemaker operations?''

''There is but I'm not on the waiting list, not any more anyway.''

''I hardly think your police medical insurance will pay for it.''

''It doesn't, I failed to tell them I was ill.''

''That's just typical of you Alec Hardy so how is it being funded then?  You got more insurance you never told me about?  Have you made a will, in case the worst happens?  Who's going to make all the arrangements?''

''Really Tess?  Is that all you are bothered about eh?  Yes, I've made a will, such as it is, Daisy will be my beneficiary when she's eighteen but no, I did not get any more insurance, I got myself a rich girlfriend.''

Tess started laughing.  

''Really Alec, do you expect me to actually believe anyone would put up with you?  So who is she then, if she's paying for your operation?  Don't tell me, you've taken up with that Rose Tyler, word is she moved to your area somewhere.''

''Actually, you are right, she's enrolled in the training college, that was where we met.''

''Come off it Alec, you expect me to believe Rose Tyler is your girlfriend and she's paying for your operation?''

''Believe me or not, do you want to meet her Tess?''

Tess decided she would play along with her ex husband's little game and catch him out when he turned up to meet them the following afternoon, then she could gloat.

''Okay Alec, if you say so, we'll meet at half four in the coffee shop we used to go in.''

''Actually Tess, Rose prefers the other one, there's one of those near the railway station I seem to remember.''

Tess laughed again, if he was going to play this game, he wasn't going to win.  

''Very well, we'll see you there with your new girlfriend but I'm not telling Daisy, she's that age now it will be all over the school by tomorrow lunch time and I'm not facing the mothers there for our daughter spreading tales, we'll see shall we?''

''Yes, you will Tess, tomorrow then?  Does Daisy need anything?''

Tess sniggered.  

''Why, are you going to get your rich girlfriend to pay for it?''

''No, the thought never crossed my mind.  We'll see who's right tomorrow, won't we Tess?''

Alec hung up, imagining his ex wife's expression at seeing him and Rose walking into Rose's favourite coffee shop tomorrow afternoon and her ordering a vanilla latte.  Well it may impress his daughter if nothing else, Daisy was quite taken with the heiress he seemed to remember, not that Rose was in the news much except when she appeared at charity functions with her mother and now he thought about it, Tess had been quite jealous.  He was going to enjoy this.

Rose came back with one of her suitcases, asking Alec to come round and help her with some of the lighter things such as some groceries she had left and personal items, then when she had unpacked again, she drove them to the supermarket.  Alec still couldn't believe they had only really been together a short time, only since Saturday night, when Rose had decided she was going to take charge of him.  Just how had it got to her moving in until Saturday then he was considering telling the chalet owner he no longer needed the place and he had to go tell someone he also no longer needed his housing allowance as he was moving into a flat with his new girlfriend. 

He just hoped no-one at the station was going to ask him who his new girlfriend actually was.  They got the groceries they would need until Thursday, taking into account they would be away tomorrow night since it would be too far to come back after their meeting with Tess and Daisy and Rose had said she would book a hotel when they got back to the caravan.  She also asked him while they were having lunch in the supermarket's café how he'd got on with his ex wife.

''So you had to tell her who I was then?'' Rose mused, eating her tuna sandwich and chips, much to Alec's amusement at her choice of meal, him opting for a ham salad sandwich and forgoing her offer of putting chips on his plate.

Then she amused him further by getting up and bringing back a large cream cake after he shook his head as she picked up the plate in the self-service area then getting herself another latte.  They continued their conversation, well Rose did.

"So did she believe you then?'' she asked, Alec thinking how sexily she was eating the cream cake and willing himself not to bring on another attack tonight if she wanted to take things even further than they had last night, which he hoped she would.

''No, I don't think she actually did, she was just going along with it, I can't wait to see her face tomorrow when we meet her.  You do want to come with me now?''

''Yeah, wouldn't like to spoil your fun Alec, would I now?''

Chapter 8

Alec shook his head, Rose Tyler was something else entirely, how would he be able to keep her interested even if his surgery went well on Thursday?  He'd not bothered to find out the alternative, that of if the pacemaker couldn't be fitted, would they patch him up and send him on his way?  He doubted it somehow but was he ready to give up?  He had been, before he'd met Rose.  Now she had given him a reason to get through it and a reason to go back to work should he survive but would he survive Rose meeting Tess and Daisy?

Rose would certainly give Tess a run for her money, that was for certain.  They drove back to the caravan, Rose had given her key in much to the receptionist's amusement after their conversation about staying in each other's caravans and thought it would be worth a mention to her new boyfriend, one Olly Stevens, who had decided not to accept a job at The Daily Herald and had decided that Maggie could still teach him far more than Karen White's boss ever could do.

They decided to stay in that night after Rose made dinner and Alec daring to have a drink of the wine they had not yet opened from Saturday, following his most recent collapse, him having to admit to a rather saddened Rose that it had happened on several other occasions.

''You're lucky you're still here at all Alec, do you know that?''

''So I've already been told, don't fuss Rose, I am still here and maybe there is a reason, I'm not done yet, am I?''

''So you keep saying but you've just been punishing yourself and you know it so it's time you stopped.''

''Yes, you made me see that Rose, I still can't get over losing that other case, maybe when I get well, you'll help me with it?  What do you say love?''

''Yeah, I'll help you, if I ever finish my training course.  You do know tomorrow we'll have to act like there's nothing going on between us?  Just until we get you sorted then you'll be out of there so it won't matter.''

''Are you going to finish the training?''

''Yeah, I have to though I don't know now if I'm going back to re-join Torchwood, unless I can get Pete to set me up down here.''

''Why don't you want to go back Rose?  That's where your family are.''

''You don't want me to stay then?''

''I never said that but that's what you do Rose, you work for Torchwood.''

''We have other branches too, I told you there was one in Cardiff, there's no reason why we can't have one here on the south coast.  Pete will just assign a team and I can run it from here just as well as I can from London.''

''Is there any reason to open a branch of Torchwood here then?''

Rose stopped what she was doing and went to sit beside him, taking his arm.

''Don't be daft Alec, you know why I want to stay and open a branch here.''

''I do?  Oh, so you can keep an eye on me and make sure I go for my surgery?  Well I go on Thursday, after that, well?''

''You think I'm gonna leave after your operation?  What do you take me for Alec?''

''Oh, so you want to stick around and make sure your investment was worth it?''

Rose didn't know if he was actually being serious or not.  

''Seriously Alec?''

''Relax Rose, I was just seeing your reaction.  I still can't understand why you're doing it though.''

''Come on Alec, you know why I'm doing it, do you think I'd let you join a four month waiting list, really?''

''Is that the only reason Rose?''

''No you plum, I care about you.''

''I know you do but you might be spending your money with no return on your investment.''

''No, that's not gonna happen, I know it will be okay and you should too.  I can get Pete to call a few favours and have one of the best heart surgeons brought in, they only fitted you in on Thursday because whoever is performing the surgery will be claiming overtime and they'll have to pay for the theatre staff, it won't make any difference to them who's actually doing it.''

''So your stepfather knows a lot of heart surgeons does he?'' Alec asked, putting his arm around her and pulling her closer.

''You'd be surprised.''

She pushed him back against the cushion and began unbuttoning his blue shirt, a smile on her face.  Alec thought nothing could surprise him any more.

They set off for the training college the next morning, having got a lot closer during the night and them delaying getting out of bed that Alec thought they were going to be late.  He wasn't so keen on getting out of Rose's car outside the building so she dropped him off around the corner, him just kissing her cheek and telling her to behave in his class – as if she was going to take any notice of him, he'd told her to act like there was nothing going on between them.

The superintendent was keen to see how the tutor and trainee were going to behave around each other and had approached one of the cadets to report back to her if Miss Tyler showed signs she and Hardy were already involved and orders or not, she wouldn't have any of her classes disrupted.  So Alec went to collect his folders with the day's lectures and made his way to the classroom, hoping Rose wouldn't give the game away.

While he was waiting, Rose was having a coffee since they had still got there early despite trying to keep Alec in bed longer than necessary and smiled to herself, wondering what she could do to keep anyone from guessing they were already more than just sleeping together after coming close last night, Alec's condition the only thing keeping them from going the whole way.  She hoped once his surgery was out of the way, they would share more.  Did he think she was too young for him though?

Rose gathered her things and walked to the classroom just behind a group of male recruits who suddenly turned around having been talking about her in the hallway.

''So are you going to flirt with the tutor again?'' one of them sniggered, blocking Rose's way.

''What's it to do with you what I do?'' Rose replied, trying to get past so she could find a seat and keep out of Alec's line of sight and not distract him.

''Come on, you were showing off last week, why don't you flirt with one of us instead?''

''Why would I want to do that with a bunch of schoolboys?  Grow up first.''

They wiped the smiles off their faces as she tried again to get past them, thinking she may have to resort to kneeing one of them.

''Think you're too good for us then do you?  Maybe we can all meet after class and get to know you better?'' the ringleader tried, reaching for her arm but Rose grabbed it and twisted it, making him pull a face.

''I don't think so, do you?  My boyfriend wouldn't like it if you didn't invite him as well and I wasn't flirting with the tutor, I was just bored, I really don't want to be here but my stepfather wants me to be.  Now are you gonna move or do I have to break your arm?  I know several different ways of doing it, care to try me?''

She let go and the young man rubbed his arm.  

''This isn't over Tyler.''

''I think it is, get over it.''

Inside the classroom, Alec noticed Rose still hadn't entered and neither had four other students and he was waiting to begin, wondering what had happened to delay her.  He couldn't see through the narrow glass pane as Rose was just to the side of the door as were the young men but then he caught sight of the top of Rose's head and walked forwards towards the door.  Opening it, he saw the young man rubbing his arm and a smirk on Rose's face.

''So, what's going on out here then?  Why aren't you lot in my classroom?  Tyler, not you again?''

''Ask them, they tried to stop me going in.''

''Yes, it looks like it, you are not the one rubbing an arm.  In the classroom, now, all of you and Tyler, see me after class."

''But Sir, I didn't start anything, they were trying to get me into trouble.''

''You seem to be able to do that on your own Tyler.  Do you want me to report you?''

''No Sir but I didn't start it.''

''I seriously doubt you are wholly innocent in all this Tyler.''

Alec gestured for the four men and Rose to go in front of him, Rose pulling a face as she passed him.

''I saw that Tyler, you can volunteer your services to do a little demonstration with me.''

Rose put her things down and followed Alec to the front of the classroom, wondering what he was going to 'demonstrate'.

The lecture passed quickly, Rose getting into more bother when she failed to impress him, well so everyone else thought and the four young men soon changed their minds Rose had been flirting with Alec as he told her as much a few times.  Rose was looking forward to the next lesson, booking.  She would get her revenge on him.

The bell went and the rest of the class filed out, Rose gathered her things.

''Not you Tyler,'' Alec called after her.

''But Sir, it's break time.''

''Not for you, I want an explanation what was going on outside, think of it as an exercise in reporting.''

Rose wanted to call him a smart ass but thought better of it until everyone had left.  Alec steered her away from the window and from anyone who happened to be looking through the glass in the door and leaned down to whisper in her ear.

''Trouble Rose?''

''Nothing I couldn't handle, you came out and spoiled my fun.''

''I bet I did.  You are supposed to stay out of trouble, I heard something when I was picking up this morning's lecture.''

''Do tell, I hope it's good?''

''I believe the superintendent is sending someone to spy on my classes to see if we are getting up to something.''

''Well we wouldn't want to disappoint them, would we?''

''I think you already put on a good show Rose, when I hauled your ass in here after what was going on outside.  What did they want?''

''To get me to go out with one of them.  Really?  As if I'd get involved with those little creeps, they're barely out of high school.''

''Well stay out of trouble, you may be being watched, don't give any cause to get yourself hauled into the office, even if your stepfather knows the chief constable.''

''Relax Alec, I only have to make a phone call.''

''I know but don't make a big deal out of it and consider yourself told off, Tyler.''

He leaned down and kissed her.  

''Don't let me catch you again.''

''Don't worry, you won't.  Can I go now, Sir?''

''Don't be so cheeky Tyler.  Go on, get out of here.  I'll see you in the canteen, you can ignore me if you like?''

''No, come and sit with me and tell me off again.''

''Don't tempt me darlin'.  Go on, you still have time for a break.''

Rose let go of him and kissed his cheek.  

''See ya then.''

Alec decided to bypass his girlfriend when he entered the canteen, opting to get a mug of tea and went to sit with his back to her.  Rose thought he was fooling no-one with his gruff disposition.  There were only twenty minutes before the next class so Rose got up and made a point of sitting opposite him.

''Can't stay away Tyler?  Are you looking forward to being booked again?''

''I thought I could maybe do the booking this time?''

''Then be my guest, let's see what you've got.''

When they got to the classroom, Alec didn't know what he was letting himself in for as he called her out and told her to choose a suspect.  She had to call out the young man who had confronted her in the hallway.  Alec took the seat next to Rose, handing her a notepad.  Rose smiled as it said, 'make it look good'.

Rose got up and went around the back of the young man's chair.

''So, you are accused of harassment of a young woman.  What do you have to say for yourself then?''

''What?  What harassment?''

''That of a young woman you cornered in a college hallway and suggested she 'got to know you'?''

''I was only having some fun with her.''

''Oh, you think it's 'fun' to suggest a woman goes out with you and that you'll see her later and tell her as I quote, 'this isn't over'?''

Alec was trying not to smile.  This wasn't meant to be the interrogation class but who was he to spoil her little game?

''I didn't mean anything by it, really.''

''The harm may already have been done, what do you have to say to that?''

''She had been flirting, I didn't think it was fair she wasn't flirting with me.''

''So a woman's not entitled to just flirt with one man then?''

''It depends on who she's flirting with.''

''You were jealous then?''

''Yes, I thought I would ask her to join me after class, I didn't want to take no for an answer.''

''That's harassment.''

Alec decided this was enough, she had given him a clear picture of what had happened earlier in the hallway and he meant to do something about it.

''Very good Tyler.  You, however, are fortunate I don't report you to the superintendent.  If I hear of any more incidents concerning you and Miss Tyler, I'll haul you in myself, got it?''

The young man was about to get up, Rose glaring at him.

''Yes Sir.''

''Now apologise to Miss Tyler.''


The lesson ended and Alec held back as Rose gathered her things.  When everyone had gone, Alec approached her.

''I don't think you'll have any more trouble there Miss Tyler, if you do, let me know,'' Alec said loudly as the door was still open.

''Thank you Sir but I don't think I will, do you?''

''I doubt it Tyler, is it against your personal rules for me to join you for lunch, as I made you miss part of your break?''

''Fine but I have to be somewhere later, don't make me late, will you?''

''Would I do that Miss Tyler?'' he asked, doing the eyebrow thing again that made Rose want to throw the rulebook out of the window and snog him senseless in the doorway for all to see.

The snoop that the superintendent had sent to Alec's class had nothing much to report to the disappointed head of the college, she told him to try better next time and didn't let him off the hook as he told of the scuffle he had got caught up with inadvertently outside the lecture room earlier and that Miss Tyler could hold her own.  The superintendent didn't doubt for a minute that she could, she had heard that Miss Tyler may be more than she was letting on and there was a reason she was a trainee.  She was determined to find out if the woman was indeed a spy to see if she could handle the newest tutor, Alec Hardy.

She watched with interest as the man handed in his folders and headed off for the canteen, eager to see if he made contact with Rose Tyler.  He did, as she saw him take his tray to the same table and the woman smiled at him.

''Ready for our trip Rose?'' he asked, taking a bite of his sandwich.

They had decided they should have lunch before they set off, Rose had booked a motel just off the motorway for the night since she had told Alec after their introduction of her to Tess and Daisy, Alec should go have dinner out somewhere with them on his own.  He hadn't been so keen but Rose had insisted and she would drop him off and collect him again.  Alec got up to clear his tray since Rose was taking her time but he was approached by the superintendent.

''Alec, a word please?  In my office.''

''Now?  I have to be somewhere.''

''It won't take long unless you would rather do it here?''

''Fine but I don't have a lot of time.''

He followed her out and across the hallway to her office next to the general one, Rose seeing him and hoping it wasn't about them and they wouldn't be late for their meeting at the coffee shop since she had no idea how long it would take them to get there and book into the motel, they may have to do that later.

''You seem to be getting rather personal with one of your trainees Alec, do I have to remind you of the college rules?''

''No and I am not getting personal with one of the trainees, she just likes to show off, I was trying to make her see the error of her ways.  Did you know one of the other trainees tried to cause trouble with her earlier?''

''Yes, it was brought to my attention.''

''Well that was outside the lecture room, I'm hardly responsible for what takes place in the hallway, am I?''

''Even so Alec, I have it on good authority you allowed her to 'interview' the trainee who caused some of the trouble, is that right?''

''Yes and why not?  Miss Tyler had the right to know why she was confronted for no reason other than the trainee's ego.  Apparently he was trying to get a date with her but he had a strange way of doing so if you ask me.  Was there anything else, I'm going to be late for an appointment.''

''No, for now at least but just in case you need reminding of the college rules, don't get involved with the trainees.  Your career is already in serious doubt pending your surgery, have you actually done anything about it yet?''

''Yes. I'm now on the hospital waiting list, it's rather long, I have to wait unless there's a cancellation or it's an emergency and I don't want to be dying before I get to have it.  Now if you will excuse me, I have to be somewhere.''

Alec got up and looked across to the canteen but Rose was no longer there so he figured she was waiting in the car for him and sent her a message asking where she was.  She had got tired of waiting and didn't want to make it obvious she was waiting for him coming out of the office.  Alec went off to find her further up the road from the training college and got in, reaching over to kiss her cheek.

''Got a lecture about college rules did you?'' Rose asked as she drove off.

''Yes, you'll get me fired Rose, your little set-to outside the lecture room did not go unnoticed.''

''Well that's hardly my fault is it?  Tell that creep who had a funny way of trying to chat me up.  You could have warned him off.''

''I tried, in a round about way, I could hardly tell him to back off and that you're my girlfriend could I now?''

''No, I don't suppose so.  Anyway, it won't be for much longer, hopefully Thursday will be your last day there, you can go back to your old job next week, I've just spoken with Pete, he'll speak to the chief constable and all you have to do is apply.  You'll need to take a medical and you may have to go on light duties for a few weeks but it's better than what you're doing now.''

''You mean keeping you from disrupting my classes?''

Rose smiled.  Alec put his hand on her leg and smiled back.

Tess Henchard was preparing to leave for the day having told her daughter she would collect her from school as her father wanted to meet with them.  Daisy was wondering what he could possibly want on a Tuesday afternoon as to travel all that distance from where he had been living, Broadchurch, she had learned since he had been in the news recently and her mother had said he'd gone to work in the police training college, why, she didn't know but assumed the high profile case of the murdered schoolboy had been too similar the case he'd had near home and it had been too much for him.

Still, Daisy was determined to at least get a free meal and some cash out of him for a new phone she wanted that her mother said was too expensive and it would take her ages to save her allowance he sent her every month.  Tess had been tempted to mention her ex husband had a new girlfriend but wanted to wait and see if it was actually true or he was just making it up to sound good.

Rose found the motel just outside of the town and they still had time to check in and take their overnight luggage to their room, Rose huffed it had twin beds when she had asked for a double and Alec telling her not to fuss, they could both squeeze into a single bed if they tried.

''It's standard in motels Rose, trust me, we'll manage love.  Come here, we have half an hour before we go meet with Tess and Daisy.''

Alec puts his arms around her and leaned down to kiss her.

''Alec, I'll just say hello then leave you to talk shall I?''

''No, there's no need, they'll just have to get used to you being around and I want you to have dinner with us as well.''

''I thought we'd agreed you'd go on your own?  I don't want to seem like I'm stopping you being with your daughter Alec.''

''You won't be, she'll get over it.  She hardly talks to me as it is unless she wants something.''

''We can all be like that, I used to do the same with Pete when I first got here.  I suppose it's because my own dad wasn't around.''

''Yes, well that's only to be expected since you lost him, Daisy has not lost me, she just took her mother's side in things.''

''Well maybe she had no choice Alec, could you have coped with a teenage daughter while you were ill?''

''No, maybe not but she could make the effort, she still thinks I'm the bad guy in it all.''

''Well now you have the chance to put that right.  Surely Tess has admitted her part in the lost evidence by now?  Won't Daisy be aware she has a boyfriend?''

''Yes, I expect so.  Come on then, let's get this over with.''

Rose found somewhere to park near the coffee shop, Tess and Daisy were already seated when they walked in, hand in hand, Rose making a point of being seen with him, there was no need to keep it a secret she'd told him as they got out of the car.  Tess was sat with her back to the entrance, Daisy was playing with her phone that she was hoping to replace if she could con her dad out of a new one while he was in town for an unexpected visit as Rose and Alec stood looking around, Alec spying his daughter and nudging Rose then pulling her forward with him.

Daisy looked up, saw her father then saw he was holding someone's hand.  

''Mum, there's dad and he has someone with him.''

Tess turned around as Alec approached them.

''Tess, Daisy, meet my girlfriend, Rose Tyler.  Say hello Rose.''

Daisy stared open-mouthed.  There was no way Rose Tyler was his girlfriend, this had to be a wind-up.

Chapter 9

Tess was the first to speak.  

''Bit young for you isn't she Alec?  I'm Tess Henchard, I dropped my married name when we got divorced, I didn't want him to think I was using his name to further my career.''

''More like you just wanted your boyfriend to not think you were still married.  Any news on that front Tess?''

He knew that was rather a sore point since Dave was only separated and not yet divorced, something Alec thought the man had done purposely to avoid getting caught by Tess and the man was nowhere near ready to go down the same road again so soon.  Was he himself ready though?  Here he was, introducing his recently acquired girlfriend to his ex and his daughter, who in their right mind actually did that if nothing was going to ever come of it?

''Very amusing Alec, since when did you develop such a dry sense of humour?  Go on then, tell your daughter exactly why you've dragged us here on a Tuesday afternoon.''

Rose could see you could cut the atmosphere with a blunt knife.  

''Nice to meet you too Tess.  Hi Daisy, your dad's told me a lot about you, he talks about you all the time.''  

Rose held her hand out to the teenager who had not yet let the fact sink in Rose Tyler was actually here and talking to her.

''Yeah, I bet he does, shame he doesn't talk to me though.  Hi Dad, you kept her quiet didn't you?''

''Daisy, we've only been together a short time, I've not had chance to tell you about her yet.  Anyway, I wanted you to meet her and she wanted to meet you.  We have to talk but maybe not here, why don't we all meet for dinner at seven, somewhere a bit quieter?''

''Just get it over with Alec, I'm not having dinner with your girlfriend.''

''Then why don't you bring Dave along, even things out eh?'' Alec replied sarcastically.

Rose went off to get a latte for herself and a tea for Alec, this time in a takeaway carton in case they had to make a hasty retreat.

Alec sat next to his daughter, knowing Rose would thank him for making her sit next to Tess.  

''Daisy, there's something important I have to tell you.''

''What?  You're not getting married already are you?  You said you'd just met her Dad.  What about me?''

''What about you?  No, it's not about Rose and me, not yet anyway and if it was about us, then you are old enough to understand.  Your mother has someone else, why should I not have anyone?   Let's wait for Rose coming back, you know who she is.''

''Well to be honest Alec, I never believed you when you called but I suppose I have to now.  Why is she involved with what you have to tell Daisy?'' Tess asked.

''You just have to don't you?  Rose, come and sit here,'' Alec said, seeing Rose approaching with two cartons and getting up, making Tess move over.

At least he wasn't making her sit next to his ex wife Rose thought as she handed him the carton of tea and sat down, smiling weakly at Daisy.

''This is not the place to tell you Daisy but since your mother insists, I have to go for an operation on Thursday, in Exeter and Rose is paying for it or I would have to wait over four months.''

Daisy took her earphones out and stared at him.  

''What?  How come?  What's wrong with you, is it serious?''

''Yes, I need to have a pacemaker fitted, I have a heart problem.''

''Wow, some news that is Dad, why didn't you tell me before?''

''Would you have behaved any differently if I had?  I'm telling you now, when I found out I was ill, I'd just left and things were difficult, then I was told there was not a lot of chance I'd get through the surgery, now my chances are better.''

''Then why now?  Are you getting worse?''

''Yes, I collapsed on Saturday night, Rose found me so you can thank her I'm still around.  I don't want either of you to come to the hospital, Rose is coming with me.''

''You are joking Alec, of course we're coming, both of us so just accept it, what if something happens to you?''

''Rose will take care of everything.  Tell them Rose.''

''Whatever happens, I'm involved with this, I'll make all the arrangements but don't think I'm handing any of it over to you Tess, I'll make sure Daisy is taken care of, anything she needs, just let me know and if she's going to college or university, I'll pay for all her fees.''

''We don't want your money Rose, I can put Daisy through college myself thanks very much and his police benefits will pay for his funeral.''

''I'm still here you know Tess, I've not gone anywhere yet and I don't intend to either.  Don't argue, just let Rose take care of things, I'm putting her down as my next of kin at the hospital on Thursday and I don't want you two there.''

''Well we're coming down to Exeter whether you like it or not, you can at least see your daughter before you go into the operating room.  You can allow Daisy in before they put you under.''

''Okay, that's my only concession then, no more arguments and I don't want you fighting with Rose if the worse happens, the hospital have to abide by my wishes and I'll make it clear Rose is in charge of any arrangements, she has my solicitor's details.  Right, so now that's over with I guess there is no need to meet later then?''

''It's okay Alec, go ahead and meet them later.''

''No Rose, no matter, I am not going without you.''

''Fine Alec, be like that then, can't you spend some time with your daughter?  Choose a place and I'll drop her off since you don't want me to come along,'' Tess huffed.

''Okay, meet us at that place we used to go to, at seven then.''

''Right, that wasn't so difficult was it?  Since you obviously don't want my company, don't let me keep the two of you.  I'd say it was a pleasure Rose but we both know I'd be saying it for the sake of it.  Just don't try to buy my daughter's attention.''

''I wouldn't dream of it.''

Tess and Daisy got up, Alec moving out of the way and Daisy pushing back her chair.  

''Nice to meet you Rose,'' Daisy offered, thinking she may yet get that new phone she wanted.  

Even if her mother wanted nothing to do with her dad's new girlfriend, she could see what she could get out of it, at least she wasn't a creep like her mother's boyfriend.

Rose watched Alec's ex wife walk out, she knew it wasn't going to be easy but she may still win over his daughter.  Alec took the inside seat and Rose got up to sit next to him.

''Well that went down well then didn't it?''

''You knew what to expect Rose, I did try to warn you.  I think you may win Daisy over though, maybe she will even start talking to me again.''

''Yeah, you never know, do you?''

They went back to the hotel to get changed then made their way to a branch of a famous food chain, Daisy was waiting by Tess's car for them just down the street.

''We'll take her home Tess, no need for you to come out again,'' Alec offered.

''Fine, she has school in the morning, don't keep her out late.''

The meal went well once Alec found something to eat he could actually understand what it was, Daisy telling him to try and keep up now he had a young girlfriend.  The teenager spent most of the evening talking about a boy she fancied at school, Alec giving her a stern look and wishing he wasn't so far away that he couldn't warn them off when she announced she was going out with one.  Daisy was trying to find out how old Rose was since her details were never given out in the media.

The teenager was determined she was going to get something out of the meeting with her dad's rich new girlfriend.  Before Daisy got out of the car outside the house Alec used to live in, Rose had promised she would look after the girl in the hospital and bring her the phone she wanted but as Daisy was about to go inside, she turned and hugged Alec.

''Dad, everything will be okay, won't it?  You're getting the best surgeons if Rose is paying for it.''

''Yes, don't worry, it's going to be arranged, Rose's stepfather is taking care of it.  I want you and Rose to be friends, even if I don't make it through the operation, can you do that?''

''Yeah, I promise Dad and I'm sorry, for not believing it was mum who lost that evidence, I read about it in the paper, even though you didn't mention her name, it had to be her and you took the blame.''

''Yes, I did, I did not want you to know it was your mother but now, you are old enough to understand and I want things to be right between us, in case it's all over for me on Thursday.''

''Don't say that Dad, you'll be okay, won't he Rose?''

Rose put her hand on the girl's shoulder.  

''He'd better be.  Don't worry Daisy, he'll get the best of care.  I don't want you to think you're not welcome at the hospital, you can wait with me, it's just best I don't get in a fight with your mum that's all, your dad doesn't need that.''

''I know.  I'm glad I met you Rose, dad seems happy with you, unlike mum is with that creep Dave, I don't know what she sees in him, he even wants me to call him dad, I told him never in a million years and mum grounded me for a week for being cheeky.''

''I'll talk to your mother, you are not calling him dad – ever, even if I don't make it.  We'll see you on Thursday at four, your mother knows which hospital.''

''You have to be okay Dad and I'm really sorry now.''

''It's okay, it's not your fault, is it Alec?'' Rose reassured her.

After getting back to the motel, they lay together, Alec reassuring Rose that Tess would come around and not cause any problems at the hospital and Rose said she would be the bigger person and let his ex wife stay at the hospital with her and Daisy.  Alec pulled her closer and kissed her.

''Thanks Rose, you don't have to do that but don't take any nonsense from her, don't let her intimidate you.''

''No chance Alec, I know you want me to take care of things and you have a few to take care of tomorrow, remember?  You have to change your personal details and make me your next of kin, if you still want to?''

''Well yes, Daisy is too young and I do not want it to be Tess so no more discussion Rose.  Now come here, I want us to get as close as we can tonight, okay?''

''Yeah, okay.''

Alec eased off her underwear then Rose helped him with his shorts, she insisted on going on top and they both moaned as they touched.  Rose shuddered at the feelings Alec was giving her.  Suddenly, he flipped her over and hovered above her, kissing her neck and whispered, ''I love you Rose.''

Rose put her arms around his neck.  

''I love you too Alec, you have to get through that surgery, I want us to be together properly.''

''I will get through it now I know you feel the same way as I do.''

They set off back to Broadchurch the next morning and Alec went back to the police station's personnel department and changed his details, then he took Rose's advice and went to try his luck with the chief superintendent, hoping Rose had successfully persuaded her stepfather to help him get his old job back.

''Alec, I heard you were in the building.  How's life tutoring trainees?''

''As if you did not know Elaine?  Surely the head there keeps you informed?''

''Actually, she's a friend of mine, that's why you got in so easily Alec but she's a little disturbed as to your behaviour with one of the trainees, a certain Rose Tyler?''

''News travels fast then?  That's why I'm here, I'd like to be considered to get my old job back next week.''

''Really Alec, I can't let you back until you've had a medical and you won't pass it in your state of health.''

''I'm getting my operation, on Thursday.''

''That soon?  How did you manage that?''

''I got myself a rich girlfriend, how else?  That's why I need to come back, even if it's on reduced hours and yes, I am involved with one of the trainees and I don't want her to have to leave because of it, she needs to finish.''

''Rose Tyler?''

''Does it matter?  Yes, if you must know, it is and I would be grateful if you did not tell your friend before I have chance to get out.  Will you take me back after my surgery?''

''I'll have to clear it, with the chief medical officer and the chief constable.''

''No need on that score, Rose can sort that out with a phone call.''

''I just bet she can.  Okay I won't tell the college superintendent and if I can get the chief constable to agree, pending the CMO clearing you, you can come back a few hours a day until you're fit to come back full time.  I had a call from Ellie Miller, she hates it over in Devon and she wants to come back as well.  I told her I would consider it, things haven't settled down yet, the town will take some healing.  I don't expect things to settle down properly until the case goes to trial and that could still be some time away.  If she comes back, she'll need all our support.''

''If I get through my operation, we can share the responsibilities until I recover sufficiently.''

Rose was waiting at the caravan park's bar with a pot of tea for Alec and a coffee for herself as he walked in and told her it was all sorted.  Now all he had to do was survive the following afternoon but before that, he had one more class to tutor that Rose was in.  Still, if he got fired, it wouldn't be for long.

After a quiet night in, Rose packed a few things in case they were keeping Alec in overnight, though she wished them luck on that score.  Alec had sent a message to Tess to confirm she was bringing Daisy and told her Rose had agreed to her being there on the provision there were no arguments.  They drove out to the college, Rose had spoken to Pete who had assured her the hospital would have their best surgeon on hand to insert Alec's pacemaker and he would get the best care.  She dropped Alec at the college and went into the city centre to pass a few hours before heading back for one of her classes. 

Alec had to tell the office he was waiting to get back to Broadchurch police station and he may not be there next Tuesday.  The superintendent wasn't too pleased.

''Really Alec, it's short notice and you just agreed to take the extra afternoon class.  How am I expected to replace you?''

''I'm sure you'll manage somehow.  I go for my operation later today, in case you are interested.''

''Oh, that's different then but how are you sure you won't be coming back here afterwards?''

''I've already spoken to CS Jenkinson about it, I only have to see the CMO to get cleared.''

''So Miss Tyler has nothing to do with you leaving then?''

''I'm not saying anything about that.''

''You don't have to Alec.  Who is she anyway?  I had orders to leave her to choose her own classes and she doesn't have to wear a uniform but it does not mean she has free reign to do whatever she likes and disrupt the other cadets and the classes.''

''You will have to take that up with her, that has nothing to do with me I can assure you.''

''Don't worry, I will.  Good luck later on then and I hope you get your old job back and it's lucky you are leaving, either you or Miss Tyler would have been in serious trouble, it will be interesting to see if she disrupts other tutors.  I take it you'll finish out the day?''

''Yes, I can do that and don't be too harsh with Miss Tyler, don't you know who she is?''

''Should I?  I don't have the time to check on every trainee, special treatment or not.''

Alec shook his head and knew he was wasting his time.  Rose arrived at the college just before lunch and was going to wait for Alec in the canteen thinking it didn't matter any longer if they were seen together since this would be his last day.  The superintendent caught sight of her and walked over.

''Miss Tyler, I'd like to see you in my office.''

''Sure, I'm early anyway because I went shopping in Exeter.  Lead the way.''

The superintendent didn't like the way the young woman seemed to disregard authority and a career in the police, no matter how specialized, seemed a bit far-fetched.

''Take a seat, I've been meaning to have a word with you about your behaviour, you've been very disruptive in DI Hardy's classes, any reason?''

''No, do classes have to be so stuffy?  I was only trying to make them interesting, the man could send you to sleep.''

Rose knew Alec wouldn't thank her for that if he found out but he would maybe see the funny side and sort her out later – in bed.

''We have to follow certain guidelines but you threatened one of the recruits with breaking his arm, I have to take it seriously.''

''Really?  Did he make a compliant?  DI Hardy told the recruit concerned that if he bothered me again, he would haul him to your office.  Did you know he also threatened me, more or less saying he would get me later and it wasn't over when he tried to ask me out?''

''Not quite but several witnesses state you twisted his arm and told him you knew several ways of breaking it and you'd be happy to demonstrate.''

''Well surely sexual harassment takes precedence over a threat to break an arm for him suggesting he was gonna force me to go out with him, he's a young kid just out of school, seriously, what did he think his chances were I would consider going out with him?''

Chapter 10

''That's beside the point Miss Tyler.  I don't know why you are here but you can't expect to have free reign here, you should have reported it.''

''I did, DI Hardy intervened so I left it at that.''

''Yes then you interrogated the recruit concerned, in a class not intended to demonstrate how to interrogate a suspect, it was meant to be booking procedures.''

''I was about to book him, believe me.  I don't take threats so lightly, he got what he deserved, humiliated in front of the other recruits, everyone knows now he goes around sexually harassing female recruits and that's far more effective than breaking his arm, an arm heals, his ego will take a lot longer.''

The superintendent knew Rose had a point but couldn't afford to be seen agreeing with her.

''Well I'll let the matter settle for now, DI Hardy is leaving anyway, his last class is this afternoon, you'll find it more difficult to disrupt the other tutors Miss Tyler, they've had far more experience than he's had.''

''I hope he's not leaving because of me, he's a good tutor, at least he has a hands-on approach to tutoring.''

''So do the others if you give them a chance, make sure there are no more disruptions, understood?''

''Loud and clear and no disrespect ma'am but you really should look my records up, I don't like going around bragging who I am, I prefer to blend in.''

Rose walked out of the superintendent's office and since there were still ten minutes before Alec would be free walked around the corner to the ladies room but the recruit and two of those that were with him the other day saw her and followed her and as she walked in, the main one nodded to his cronies and followed her through the door, silently telling the other two to stop anyone going in by saying a female friend was in there throwing up.

Rose heard the door squeak open after her and as she approached a cubicle door, caught a glimpse of a man in the mirror.

''Hey mate, you're in the wrong place, oh sorry, it's you, maybe you are in the right place, the little girl's room.''

''Very funny Tyler, you should have taken notice of my request to join us for a drink the other day.''

''Why?  You're not even old enough to drink and I wasn't going to break the law by encouraging you and your little friends.''

The young man moved towards her and Rose was almost by the back wall, going in a cubicle her only means of escape.  Rose knew full well why the little creep had followed her and probably had his mates outside watching out and Alec didn't know where she was.  She felt in her pocket for her phone, knowing if she lit up the screen she would have to take the lock off and try pressing the shortcut for Alec's number but she had to at least try and do it or seriously have to consider injuring her would-be attacker.

''I don't know what you're little game is Brennan, half the female recruits will be heading this way in five minutes so you're wasting your time.''

''I've got look-outs that will tell them someone's in here throwing up, they'll go to the other block so Tyler, don't bother trying to scream for help, it won't work.''

''Creep, get out of here while you still can or I may have to get rough with you.''

''Really Tyler, is that the best you can do?'' Brennan scoffed, getting closer.

He got nearer to her and Rose knew she didn't have the time to get in the cubicle and lock the door and it was a shame the doors didn't open outwards or she could have slammed the door in his face and made a run for it but Alec would be coming out of the lecture room in less than a minute and would be looking in the canteen for her and hopefully see two male recruits acting suspiciously outside the ladies rest room.

''You've nowhere to go Tyler, just give in to the inevitable,'' Brennan said, putting his hand on her shoulder and leaning towards her ear then whispering, ''I'm gonna take my time over you.''

''I don't think so you creep now back off before I have to hurt you, didn't you get humiliated enough the other morning?''

''Think you're clever then do you?  You won't be so clever when I've done with you, you bitch, throwing yourself at that loser of a tutor, he's old enough to be your father.''

''What would you know, you're barely out of diapers, you think you're man enough to take me forcibly?  Go on then, let's have a laugh and see what you've got.''

He pushed her up against the wall, the final cubicle had a larger door that was halfway opened and Rose edged her foot to catch the bottom of it and got her shoe under it, waiting for the right moment to make it move and hopefully hit Brennan's arm.  Meanwhile, the bell had gone and several female students were heading for the ladies room to see two men outside.

''My girlfriend's in there throwing up, you might want to use the other lot, it won't be pretty in there,'' one of them offered with a grin, wondering how his mate was faring with the Tyler woman and hoping he could go next since his girlfriend wouldn't let him get past a bit of touching below the waistline and he was the only one out of the three of them who still hadn't scored in that department and he felt left out.

The girls went off past Alec's open door and complaining whoever was throwing up in the ladies rest room should get to clean it up.  Alec came out and saw two of the recruits whom he'd noticed had skipped class and decided to find out why they were standing outside the women's rest room.

''You lot, what are you doing there, why were you not in class?''

''Sorry Sir, my girlfriend wasn't feeling well, she's been in there twenty minutes already.''

''So it takes two of you and you've not checked on her?  Where's your friend, the one who was harassing Miss Tyler?''

''Don't know Sir.''

Inside, Rose was balancing the bottom of the door with her foot as he reached for the top button on Rose's white blouse, she could feel his breath on her neck as he looked down, his other hand trying to pin her arms to the wall but she got one free and grabbed his wrist.

''Hands off, that's reserved for my boyfriend and believe me, you wouldn't want to tangle with him.''

''Shut up Tyler, you're hardly in a position to argue with me, I'm stronger than you.''

''Yeah, wanna bet on that?'' 

She twisted his wrist until he called out and at the same time, Rose brought her foot back and let go, the door catching his leg making him move it.  Outside, Alec was beginning to suspect that these two were lying since he'd caught them with the other one and Rose was missing when he'd glanced into the canteen and she would have been sitting where he could see her.

''Out of my way or you'll know about it.''

He stared at them and they decided it wasn't worth crossing Hardy since he might have them expelled or fail them both in his classes.  Alec pushed the first door open then the second and saw Rose pinned against the wall then let the door slam into whom he assumed was the same cadet from the other morning, the name having escaped him for the moment.

''What's going on here?  Tyler, I might have known it was you and you, what's your name, what are you doing in here?''

Brennan had let go and was rubbing his leg.  

''Office, now, both of you.  Miss Tyler, was he trying to get you to submit to him?''

''Yeah, thanks for the rescue but I was doing quite well on my own.''

''Yes Tyler, I could see that now out, both of you and Brennan, the next time you get someone to keep watch for you, pick someone who's believable.''

Rose fastened her blouse button and Brennan limped towards the door.  The superintendent had seen the two recruits back away and Hardy go through the door and was waiting outside.

''So what do we have here then?  Brennan, did you not learn your lesson the other day?  What were you doing in there?''

Rose spoke up.  ''Trying to attack me, what do you think he was doing in the ladies room?''

''I'm asking Brennan Miss Tyler.  Well explain yourself.''

''His two friends were keeping guard and preventing the female cadets from entering, I went over and moved them out of the way then saw Miss Tyler was pinned up against the wall and her blouse buttons undone, it was obvious what he was trying to do in there.''

''Thank you DI Hardy, since Brennan here seems to have lost his voice.''

''Well he had plenty to say in there,'' Rose interrupted.

''All of you, my office - now.''

Once inside, Rose noticed Alec didn't look too good but she was certain he'd taken his pills before they had set off.

''Brennan, I'm surprised at you, we don't tolerate this sort of behaviour towards female students, I heard what happened the other day and Miss Tyler questioning you in front of the other cadets, I thought you would have learned your lesson.  Well, what have you got to say for yourself?  You must have skipped class to be in there.''

''I had a free lesson.''

''Yeah and you used it to wait for me you moron, I told you I've got a boyfriend, can't you get it into your thick head?'' Rose wanted to know.

''Then why were you flirting with DI Hardy?''

''He's got nothing to do with this and who I flirt with is none of your business.''

''Miss Tyler, let me conduct this interview if you will?  Brennan, you are suspended for two weeks for sexual harassment of a female cadet, effective immediately.  Now get out of here.''

Alec got up, still not looking too good for Rose's liking.  

''Not so fast Brennan, apologise to Miss Tyler first.''

''Why, she was asking for it, she's not even wearing a proper uniform, what does she expect?''

Alec crossed over and grabbed Brennan by his collar, Rose getting worried he would bring on another attack and he'd had no further ones since Saturday night thankfully.

''You apologise now or don't bother coming back here, I'll make your life a misery.''

''DI Hardy, let him go.''

''Not until he apologises to her.''  

Alec had to let go, he was feeling that tight knotting in his chest and he knew he'd set himself up for another attack, Rose was looking at him.  He staggered back towards the chair, clutching his chest with one hand and making a fist with the other.  Rose dived into his pocket and brought out his pills.

''Quick, someone get him some water.  Alec, look at me, here, take these.''

Surprisingly, it was Brennan who dashed out of the office to the water cooler and was back a few seconds later, handing the plastic cup to Rose, who held it to Alec's lips as he swallowed one pill then the other.

''Sorry,'' Brennan offered weakly.

Rose turned on him.  ''You almost killed him and you're sorry?  Well it doesn't cut it, get out of here or I'll do more than break your stupid arm you moron.  Alec, come on, are you okay?''

Alec had relaxed his arms, just still making a fist with his left hand, the other coming away from his chest.  He was fortunate the pills were fast reacting, he'd considered getting some injections for faster reaction but it was a case of carrying them around in his pocket and being questioned about them.  Maybe he would have, had he not been going for his surgery in a few hours.

The superintendent was observing Rose looking after Alec and she noticed.  

''Okay, guess the game's up then?  So throw me out, if you can though the chief constable will having something to say about it.''

''Well since DI Hardy is already leaving, I won't take any further action.  Are you feeling better now?'' the superintendent asked Alec, who was holding Rose's hand as she crouched beside him.

''Yes, I'll be fine, thanks to Rose.''

''Come on Alec we're out of here, forget your afternoon class, I'm taking you to the hospital early, we can wait there, they can admit you early since I'm paying for it and you Brennan, you're not off the hook when I tell my stepfather what you tried to do in the ladies room, he's a good friend of the chief constable's so your two week suspension may be permanent.''

''Leave it Rose, no matter, let me get a drink then you can take me to the hospital, I can't eat anything anyway.''

''Fine but he's not getting away with it, I'm still telling Pete and if my mother gets to know, well we won't even go there.  I've got a phone call to make.  Ma'am, I won't be attending my afternoon classes as you've probably already guessed.''

''So I gathered.  There's no need to call the chief, I'm suspending Brennan for the rest of the term, he'll have to re-apply to get back in, is that satisfactory?''

''It'll have to do I suppose, I'd still rather break his arm.''

Brennan was itching to get out, who was she?

''Don't recognise me do you Brennan?'' an amused Rose asked him, getting up and putting her arm around Alec to help him up.  ''Tyler, as in Vitex Tyler?''

Brennan wished the ground would swallow him and made a fast retreat.  Holding on to Alec, they said their farewells and they crossed over to the canteen, Rose sitting him down and went to get a tray to get drinks and a sandwich for herself, Alec had been told not to have anything at least an hour before he was due in but Rose was taking him straight there now after what had just happened.

''Feeling better Alec?''

He managed a weak smile, some colour coming back into his cheeks already.  Rose thought he was going to argue he could still take his class but he'd thought better of it when he looked at her, knowing he would never win that argument with her.  Rose looked across at him and smiled.

''I'm just gonna call Pete, see if he's arranged a surgeon for you.''

''Are you going to tell him what just happened?''

''About that moron or you having another attack?''

Alec smiled back and leaned forward, taking her hand.  

''Both sweetheart.  Are you okay?''

''Me?  Just fine, he wouldn't have got any further, I'd just slammed his leg with the cubicle door, you spoilt the rest of my fun, I was going to knee him where it would hurt.''

''Sorry I spoiled it for you then, I should have known you could take care of yourself.''

Rose got through to Pete and asked about the surgery.

''Don't worry Rose, Alec will have the best of care, I already told you that.  Their top surgeon is already on standby for Alec's arrival at four.''

''Yeah, well he had another episode so I'm taking him there early, we'll wait if we have to, I'm not risking it.  There was a bit of trouble in the college and he lost his temper.''

''Why, what happened, is he okay?''

''Yeah, we're in the college canteen, one of the recruits was trying his luck with me and Alec caught him.''

''I hope you sorted whoever it was out?  Did it get reported?''

''Yeah, the idiot's been suspended.  Did you ask about Alec's reinstatement in Broadchurch?''

''Just tell him to go back Rose, his job will be waiting for him, he's back on full pay from Monday but try to get him to take some time off, there's no rush is there?  Take him off for a few days before you let him go back eh?  When are you bringing him to meet your mother?  She's looking forward to slapping his face if he doesn't treat you right.''

''Very funny Dad, tell her I'll call her when Alec gets out of the hospital later on hopefully, I don't fancy their chances of keeping him in.  I'm gonna check into the nearest hotel if he does have to stay in or if he's not recommended to travel.''

''Well he has all weekend to recover, try and get away, I'll make sure they keep your place if you stay away from the college any longer.''

''Yeah, about that, do I really have to finish there?  I was hoping you could set me up with an office in Broadchurch?''

''We'll talk about this later shall we, get him through this first eh?  Don't worry about the expenses Rose, it's already been taken care of.''

''Thanks Pete, we'll see you all soon.''

They drove off to the hospital, it seemed Pete had contacted them already and Alec was shown to a private room and told to get changed.  A nurse came in to check on him and take his vitals and said the surgeon would be in shortly to speak to him.  Rose sat on the side of Alec's bed, leaning into him.

''Promise you'll be here when I wake up Rose.''

''You know I will Alec.  Tess and Daisy will be here soon, I've left word at the desk to send Daisy in here, I take it you don't want your ex to be here?''

''Not really though I should say goodbye to her, if I don't come back.''

''Quit that now Alec, you are coming back.  I don't care what that first consultant told you, you got brainwashed all this time into thinking you weren't gonna survive and now you've been told you've got every chance.  I'm gonna have Pete investigate that other consultant, putting those ideas into your head that you delayed it until it's almost too late to do anything.''

''Leave it Rose, promise me?''

''No Alec, I can't let it go, you could have had your surgery a long time ago but you put it off, for nothing.  You could have been healthy again all this time and you waited instead.'' 

''Yes Rose but had I not, I would not have gone to Broadchurch and found out who killed Danny Latimer and I would never have been assigned to the college so I would never have met you.  Rose, you are the one good thing that has come out of all this.  I love you.''

''I love you too Alec but if you don't make it, I'll make sure that consultant never puts anyone else off like that, making them believe they won't make it and leaving it too late.  Give me a name Alec.''

The surgeon came in, just two hours before they were taking Alec down to the operating room.  Alec filled in all the necessary forms citing Rose as his next of kin and they were left on their own.  Tess had sent a text to say she and Daisy would be there at three thirty and Rose asked him if he wanted anyone else to be informed of the outcome besides the CS in Broadchurch.

''There's just Miller, the DS I worked with.  Pass my phone, I should send her a text.''

Rose was appalled with him and told him so.  

''Alec, you can't send her a message, call her and tell her.  You worked with her for two months, you have to let her know.''

''Really Rose, we were not that close, I put her husband away.''

''Alec, if you hadn't been in charge, she would have put her own husband away.  Call her or I will.''

Alec knew she would as well so he retrieved Ellie Miller's number and hoped she wasn't in the middle of a high-speed traffic incident.

''Hardy, what do you want?'' was all Ellie asked as she answered during taking a break.

She had been hassled all morning and her young son had been throwing a tantrum with his new child-minder.

''Nice to hear from you too Miller.  I'm over in Exeter, just so you know, I'm at the hospital.''

''Are you visiting someone?   What do you expect me to do about it?  Wait, don't tell me you're in again?  What did you do to yourself this time Hardy?''

''I get my pacemaker fitted in less than two hours, I was advised to let you know in case I don't make it.''

''What?  How long have you been planning that for you idiot?''

''It was rushed through, I got priority for coming forward and giving them the go-ahead.''

''Well where are you?  In the cardiology unit or something?''

''Or something, don't bother Miller, my daughter and my ex are coming and I'm with someone.''

''Someone?  As in a girlfriend someone?  Oh that I've just got to see, who'd put up with you?  Did you take up with Becca Fisher after all?''

''No, I took up with Rose Tyler.''

''Stop messing about Hardy, as if I'd believe that one, so who is she?''

''Not you as well?  I had enough of that with my ex wife, until the two of them met.  Hold on, you can talk to her.''

''Very funny I'm sure Hardy.  Well I'm coming over now if you like it or not, even if it's only to prove you are a complete ass.  If the surgery doesn't kill you, I'll bring seeded grapes this time to finish the job.''

''I'm not staying in once it's over so don't gloat, stay away Miller, I don't want you here.''

''Well tough, I'm coming even if it's to prove you're a liar.''

''If you must but get ready to eat your words Miller.''

''You get ready to admit you're such a liar Hardy.''

''We'll see Miller, won't we, when you get here, I'll be sure to send you an invite to the wedding.''

Rose stared at him, was he being serious or just winding up his old DS?  If he survived the surgery, she was going to have to find out but she didn't have to wait that long as he put his phone down and pulled her closer.

Chapter 11

''Rose, sorry about that, I was trying to prove a point to Miller, I hope I did not offend you in any way?  I thought you might play along, when she arrives here?''

''Yeah, well a bit of notice would have been nice Alec and what are Tess and Daisy gonna think?''

''Never mind them, is there any need to even mention it?  Just you being here will be proof enough to her and she won't bring up the subject, trust me love.  Okay?''

''Yeah okay, I forgive you for saying something before your brain's engaged, I'll put it down to you being worried about your operation then shall I?''

''Yes, sorry but there is one thing you can do for me Rose, before Daisy and Tess get here.  You can say no.''

''What is it Alec?''

''If I were to ask you to marry me, would you?  I just want to know that if something happens to me today, that I didn't leave you without you knowing exactly how I feel about you and I know it's not even been a week yet that we've been together but it feels so right Rose.  I love you and if I get through this then we'll talk no more about it until we both feel it's the right time but I'd die happy knowing you would have said yes if I was still around.  Please Rose, just tell me how you feel about it?''

''Alec, I don't know what to say.  I do love you, you know that now and you are going to get through this, you have to because you have so much to live for now, me, Daisy, stopping Ellie Miller getting your old job, that alone has to be worth it.''

Alec smiled.  ''This last week or so, with you, has made it all worthwhile and if I get through this, one day, Rose Tyler, I hope you will consider your answer if I ask you to be my wife.  Will you consider it Rose?''

''Yes Alec, I'll consider it but I can't give you an answer right now, we don't know that much about each other yet, there's so much I don't know about you and I have secrets I can't tell you about yet, about my life in Torchwood or my life before me and my mum met Pete Tyler and it will take too long to tell you now plus you'd have to meet them and Pete will have to explain everything to you.''

''Why can't you tell me Rose?  Is it so bad?''

''No Alec but you won't believe me, you'd believe him, being who he is and he needs to show you the evidence, the proof that what he tells you is true and if it was just me, then I'd tell you but it involves my mother and my best friend Mickey and I can't speak for them, they have to give Pete permission to tell you.''

''Then that is something else I have to live for, Rose Tyler, mysterious heiress and I look forward to hearing it.  Now come here and kiss me properly, never mind this breathing tube, I can manage a few more minutes without it.  I love you Rose.''

He took the tube out and put his arms around her.  ''I love you too Alec and I will tell you when you get better, tell me you're gonna do it just to ask me at the right time to marry you, not for any other reason.''

''Yes Rose, that is the only reason, that one day we will get married, I've never been as sure about anything, the fates sent you to that college so we would meet, that I am certain of, my love.''

''So am I now, Pete almost sent Mickey.''

They kissed for a while until Rose heard voices outside the small side ward.  Alec put his breathing tube back in when he heard his ex wife's voice arguing with probably a nurse that her ex husband and Daisy's father was in there.

''I was told we would be allowed in, just ask that woman who's with him, Rose Tyler.  Yes, that Rose Tyler, look it up and let us in.''

Rose got up, squeezing Alec's hand.  

''It's up to you Alec, do you just want me to let Daisy in?''

''No, you can let Tess in too, I have to say goodbye, just in case.  Can you give us a few moments?''

''Sure, if that's what you want?''

Alec nodded and she got up off the hospital bed, rubbing her side where the metal frame had been digging in that she hadn't even noticed.

''It's okay nurse, you can let them in.  Tess, Alec wants to talk to you and Daisy, I'm off to get a coffee, don't upset him or you won't know what hit you, right?''

Tess managed a nod, she wasn't used to being bossed around but something told her this woman wasn't someone who was used to being ignored.

''Okay but only for Alec's sake, not yours.  I still have more rights than you do, I'm only complying to keep the peace, a hospital room is not the place to start a cat fight.''

''Good, we understand each other then.  Daisy, your father wanted to speak to you alone first, go on, he has some things to tell you.''

The girl opened the door and Rose left Tess standing by the door.  What Alec had to say to his only daughter was not for her ears nor his ex wife's.  Rose went back five minutes later, there were only twenty minutes before they would come for him to take him to the operating room so if Ellie Miller was going to put in an appearance, Rose wondered where she had got to.  Daisy opened the door, tears streaming down her face and called her mother, who held out her arms around the distraught teenager and went inside.

A woman in a bright orange coat appeared in the ward entrance and looked around.  Rose assumed it was Ellie Miller and waved.  Ellie walked towards her, Hardy had not been joking earlier.

''Hi, you must be Ellie?  I guess you know who I am then?  Alec's ex and his daughter are in with him but he wanted a minute with you when they come out.''

''Sorry I never believed him on the phone.  How did you meet?''

''I disrupted his classes at the training college, it sort of developed from there, then he collapsed on Saturday night, we were in adjoining caravans in Broadchurch and I'd invited him for dinner, he was late and I found him and got him his pills.''

''So you only happened to save his life then?''

''No, I did that when I offered to pay for his surgery, they were gonna make him wait four months, it was outrageous.''

''Well if you've got the money and he needs the surgery, it makes perfect sense to me.''

Tess and Daisy came out of Alec's room, Tess still holding the girl.  

''Are you Ellie Miller?  Alec wanted to talk to you.''

''Right, I'll get this over with then I'll go.''

''No Ellie, stay and wait with us, he'd want you to.''

''Would he?''

''Miller, I might have known you would not stay away, can't you let me die in peace?''

''Get over it Hardy, you're not going anywhere, you've got a rich girlfriend to go back to and you're not done annoying the hell out of me yet.''

''No grapes Miller?  I'm disappointed.''

''Shut up Hardy.  So this is it, you're really going ahead?''

''I'm not here for the fun of it Miller.  If I don't make it, there's still a good case against your husband, he'll get what he deserves, one way or another but promise me, if he somehow gets off, make sure he still pays for killing Danny, I'm sure the town will back you on that.''

Ellie was lost for words, for a change.  

''He won't get away with it, one way or another, he destroyed everyone, not just Mark and Beth.  I'll send your girlfriend back in, good luck then.''

Ellie was trying not to let him see the tear in her eye.  She'd hated him for taking the job she had been promised but she didn't want him to die for doing so, no-one, not even Alec Hardy was worth that.  Rose had just five minutes to tell Alec she loved him.

''Well, this is it Alec, not gonna change your mind then?''

''No, now give me one last kiss and if I don't come back, you know what to do but before they take me into the theatre, I'm going to ask you again in front of everyone, so I have witnesses.''

They kissed again, Alec putting the breathing tube in just as the staff came in to wheel him to the operating room.  Rose gathered his phone and his wallet and put them in her shoulder bag and followed them out, hurrying to his side as everyone else followed to the lift, all cramming in to the amusement of the staff at Alec with four women standing there but since Rose was holding his hand, it seemed clear which one of them was actually with him. 

They stopped outside the theatre and Alec was left for a few moments while the staff went to check everything was ready for him.  Rose had to trust Pete had kept his word and got the best surgeon there was to insert the pacemaker.  The surgeon had been to see them earlier and assured them it was a fairly routine operation that would only take about an hour, if that and there was only a 1 in 10 chance it wouldn't be successful, despite the earlier predictions.

Rose had got the name of Alec's last consultant out of him, promising him if things went wrong, she would get Pete to have the consultant investigated for making him so afraid to go ahead and get it done sooner.  She had also promised he would be cremated, he didn't want to be buried he'd said and she said she would oversee everything and take him back to where he was born in Scotland, Alec telling her about the town near Glasgow he had grown up in then moving away.

Alec squeezed her hand one last time as she leaned over to try to kiss him, not caring they were being watched.

''You had something to ask me Alec, remember?''

''Yes, so listen everyone.  Rose Tyler, if I get out of there alive, promise me if I ever ask you to marry me, you will seriously consider it.''

''Yes Alec, I promise I will give it careful thought, if you ask me to marry you.''

''Then that's all I ask.  I really hope this was all for nothing and I'll wake up in an hour or so and you lot throw something at me for making you come here today.''

Ellie had to be the one who answered with her usual witty remarks.  

''We will, I'm going out to get some seeded grapes for starters.''

Rose smiled, Alec had told her what Ellie had said the last time he'd been in hospital but Tess and Daisy were at a loss as to what she meant.

''It's a joke between them, I'll tell you later,'' Rose offered, giving Alec one more peck on the lips.  ''You'd better come out of there Alec, I want you to be able to ask me properly one day.''

''I will.  I love you Rose, I'll see you when I come round.''

The staff had come back out and taken hold of the ends of the bed.  Rose called after him, ''Not if I see you first.''

She watched with the other three as the door closed and Rose felt her own heart sink.  That was what she used to say to the Doctor, oh so long ago and now, all she could do was wait and hope the man she had fallen in love with in less than a week would come back out and she could spend the rest of his life with him, she was a lot younger than him, it was almost as bad as the difference had been between her and a 900 year old Timelord in another universe.

She just hoped the fates here were kinder than the ones in her old world and that she wouldn't be ripped apart from the man she knew she had been destined to meet, there had been too many coincidences for it not to have been their destiny to meet, Alec needed the surgery and she being able to provide the means to provide the funding for it, why else were they meant to meet?

They all went to the seating area just opposite and sat down, except for Ellie, who felt like the odd one out.  Rose Tyler was obviously in love with Hardy, who would have ever thought he'd been telling the truth?

''I'm out of here, you don't need me around.  Rose, will you call me when it's over, whatever happens?''

''Yeah Ellie, of course I will, I've got Alec's phone.  You don't have to go, stay with us.''

''No, you're all his family.''

''He used to talk about you, in classes, give us examples of how you conduct interviews.''

''You were actually at the training college?  What for?''

''My stepfather sent me, to learn how to do things the way the police do, I work for Torchwood.''

Tess and Daisy raised their eyebrows.  

''So Alec's mixed up with a Torchwood agent?  Interesting, I didn't know he had it in him, who would have guessed?'' Tess remarked, getting up and crossing to the vending machine.  ''Anyone want a drink?  It could be a while before we hear anything.''

''No, I can't drink anything while he's in there,'' Rose replied, standing up and stretching. 

It had been quite an eventful day, what with getting a lecture in behaviour from the college superintendent then almost being assaulted in the ladies room, not that it would have got that far, she would have kneed her attacker where it hurt.

Tess took no notice and got an extra tea and handed it to Rose.  

''Here, it will calm you down, it always did with Alec when he got angry.''

''I wouldn’t know, he's never got angry with me, he's had no reason.''

It had been an everyday occurrence in the Hardy household for some time before he had actually left.

''Not ever?'' Daisy asked.

''No, well except for him getting annoyed several times when I disrupted his classes but he admitted he'd enjoyed that.  I just did it to get his attention and it worked.''

''We can see that Rose,'' Tess said sarcastically, sitting next to her daughter.

''What have you got against me Tess?  I promised Alec I wouldn't fight with you but you're not making it easy to keep my promise to him.  Is it because he just more or less asked me to marry him, in front of you?''

''It didn't help but I'd already decided I didn't like it.''

''Well he warned me not to let you intimidate me but it's the other way around, isn't it?  You're intimidated by me because Alec fell in love with me and that boyfriend of yours won't even get divorced.  Daisy told him that you wanted her to call him 'dad' but Alec said never in a million years would Daisy ever call him that.''

''I already know that Rose, what do you think we were talking about before he went in there?  I promised him I wouldn't make Daisy call Dave her dad, I won't go back on it if Alec doesn't make it, who are you to tell me that?''

''Mum, please,'' Daisy interrupted.  ''Don't argue with dad in there.  He wanted Rose and I to be friends, even if the worse happens and I agreed, if Rose will let me?''

''Yeah, it goes without saying Daisy, I want to be your friend and I have something for you in my car that I bought this morning but something happened in the college and I had to bring your dad here early, he had another attack this lunch-time because one of the cadets tried to attack me in the ladies room.''

''What happened?'' Ellie asked, finding now she was going to be missing out on a cat fight.

''One of the trainees tried asking me out on Tuesday morning and I showed him up in front of the class so he followed me into the ladies room and tried to attack me.  Alec found his mates outside and came in after me.''

''So he rescued you?'' Daisy asked.

Rose couldn't bring herself to spoil the illusion the girl had of her father by saying no, she was about to knee him in the groin and make him suffer.

''Yeah, he did, he dragged him by the collar into the office, the cadet got suspended.''

Rose saw no harm in making Alec out to be a hero, even if he did survive, he wouldn't make a big deal out of it.

''Well I expect you encouraged him Rose,'' Tess remarked.

Rose felt like tipping the rest of her drink over the woman but remembered her promise to Alec and starting a fight in the hospital with a police officer already present was not such a good idea, Ellie Miller may just take her side but Tess herself being a DS put paid to it, for now.

''No, I was too busy flirting with Alec to take notice of a kid just out of nursery school.''

Ellie smiled, glad she had decided to stay, she loved a good round of insults with women being catty to each other, she often practised it herself with her sister but since Lucy was now being paid to look after her eldest son because he refused to live with her after she put his dad in jail, it had stopped.  Watching other women fight was now the highlight of Ellie's day.

Rose had since sat down again, she was tired and worried and all Tess wanted to do was start a fight with her.  Normally she would have obliged the woman and given back far more than was dished out but after the morning's events she was in no mood for it.  Ellie looked disappointed but sat down next to Rose, taking her hand.

''He'll be okay Rose, he's too stubborn to give in.  I mentioned to my old boss I wanted to go back to work in Broadchurch, I'm sure she told him, he won't let that happen, me getting his old job, I'm certain of it.  We fought like crazy but I was with him the night we were chasing a suspect, I got him to hospital in time to save him but you saved him too from what he said.  He also told me you found him the other night, if not for you, he wouldn't be in there now.''

''I know, I can't lose him Ellie, I lost someone a long time ago and I thought I'd never get over it but then I met Alec, I can't go through that again.''

''Did he tell you it was my husband who killed Danny?'' Ellie asked her in a low voice since Joe's name hadn't been released to the public but Tess already knew, being in the police herself.

''Yeah, he told me, sorry.''

''Yeah, well my husband destroyed everything, my eldest boy won't live with me and the town hate me but I'm going back, with or without Alec Hardy because he told me in his room not to give in to them, that staying away proves to them I'm guilty of knowing what was going on and I'm not so whether he makes it or not, I'm going ahead with my transfer back, if I get permission that is.''

Rose squeezed Ellie's hand back.  

''You'll get your transfer Ellie, I guarantee it, just wait for it to come through, very soon.''

''Now I know why he loves you Rose, you don't mess around when you want something, no wonder he gave in to your flirting.''

Almost an hour went by, Daisy and Tess were sat on one side of the waiting area, arm in arm, Rose and Ellie were sat on the front row in the middle, arm in arm when they heard the sound of voices coming from across the way as a double door swung open and a nurse came out.

''Which one of you is Rose Tyler?'' she asked nervously.

Rose sprang to her feet.  Surely they wouldn't send a nurse to give any bad news, would they?

''That's me, I'm Rose Tyler, what's wrong?  Is he okay?''

''They wanted me to inform you, there's been a complication and they're trying to re-start his heart, they're still working on him.  I'm the theatre sister, the surgeon didn't want to leave him, they've got Mr Hardy on a ventilator, it's not looking too good, we just wanted to keep you informed, we knew you would be worried.  I'll keep you up to date with what's happening.''

Rose staggered back as Ellie stood up and caught her.

''How long can they keep him on a ventilator?'' Rose managed to ask.

''We're uncertain, it depends on a few factors but there's every chance it's just the pacemaker not kicked in yet, they're taking every aspect into account and doing everything necessary I can assure you.  His heart stopped a few moments ago, it could have re-started again while I've been telling you.  I'll come back out when we know something.''

Daisy was sobbing into her mother's shoulder, Ellie put her arms around Rose, glad she had decided to stick around despite Rose and Tess opting to stay away from each other, she owed Hardy that much to stay and comfort his girlfriend if he didn't make it and it wasn't looking so good.

Rose sat down and got her phone out and called her mother, she really wished she was there with her right now, how she had thought she could do this on her own, she didn't know, it was clear she couldn't despite making a new friend in Alec's one time DS.

''Mum, it's Alec, I don't think he's going to make it.''

Jackie didn't know what to say to her distraught daughter, almost 200 miles away in a hospital and waiting for the man she had gone and fallen in love with to come through a simple enough pacemaker operation.

''Rose, he'll be okay, you have to let the surgeons do their job,'' Jackie replied after Rose told her what she had herself just been told.  ''I wish I could be with you, I should have come down but Pete reckoned it was fairly simple and Alec would be in and out in a few hours, he must have been really bad, maybe he never wanted to tell you how bad he was?''

''He kept putting it off Mum, another consultant told him his chances weren't so good.''

''Maybe they were right after all, Pete spoke to the surgeon himself earlier, he said Alec's chances were high but maybe that attack he had last Saturday made him worse?''

''Yeah it wouldn't have helped him any but if he'd not delayed it, if he'd had it sooner, his chances would have been better.''

''Rose, if he'd had it earlier, you wouldn't have met him, would you?''

That was what Alec had already told her.  He was going to be okay, why else were they destined to meet, for him to be snatched away from her a week after they met or was it so Alec could spend his last week on the earth peacefully with a woman he loved at his side?  He'd deserved that much, Rose thought as she said goodbye to her mother and went to sit back next to Ellie.

''He'll come through Rose, every single person in there is working to make sure he does, they can't do any more than they're already doing.''

''I know that Ellie.''

Tess was standing in front of her before Rose realised.

''I'm sorry Rose, I really didn't expect this to happen, I really never knew how ill he'd been and maybe the attack he had the other night did the final damage but Ellie's right, if you hadn't found him, it would have all been over then but you did and you gave him a fighting chance because he may be in love with you now Rose but I was married to him and Alec Hardy is not a quitter, even when that case folded on him, he never gave up, he took the blame for me and I can't repay him for that but he went on to catch another killer and he's not through yet.  He has you to come back to.''

Rose got up and hugged the other woman.  If Alec didn't come out of there alive, she could at least make up with his ex wife.  Daisy came to join her and so did Ellie and a strange sight hit the theatre sister as she came out again.

''Miss Tyler, he's come through, he's going to be okay.  They're still working on him but his heart started again and the pacemaker is working properly.  As soon as they're done, we'll take him to recovery, someone will come and get you when we do.''


Rose stayed overnight in Alec's hospital room, throwing her weight around and saying she had paid for his surgery so she was entitled to stay, the ward sister gave up and left, knowing Rose Tyler's reputation.  She was calling Pete the next morning while Alec was getting dressed and being discharged, to thank him for everything and to ask for Ellie to get her old job back before Alec got back to work.

''Leave it with me Rose, I'm glad you had someone with you and I regret not insisting your mother went to be with you but she's looking forward to meeting him though.''

''Thanks, I've called the caravan park and extended our stay in Alec's caravan, we'll stay there a while longer, I don't want Alec climbing those stairs to that flat and he's gonna give the chalet owner a call to say he's decided not to take it.  Can your secretary take care of the flat situation?''

''I'll get her on to it, now get him home and look after him Rose, that's what you do, you take care of people.''

She said goodbye, promising to call her mother when they got back to Broadchurch and Alec came out of this room on his own and Rose went up to him, kissing him lightly.


A few days later, they were enjoying the late afternoon sun, sitting by the swimming pool of a top hotel in Torquay Rose had booked at the last minute and Rose had driven them over after lunch with Ellie, Tess and Daisy in Exeter on their way over on Sunday afternoon, booking a three night stay for them in a luxury king-size room with a sea view, Alec saying he could put up with it for her sake.

Pete had contacted the chief constable, Ellie was to go back to work as a DS, being given a week to move back on full pay and Alec was to go back as soon as Rose told him he could, she'd said she wasn't taking any notice of what the chief medical officer said, she decided when he was going back.

So as Rose came out of the swimming pool, Alec with his sunglasses on and enjoying the view of his girlfriend in her swimsuit and letting out a low whistle, she lay down on the lounger next to him, taking his hand.

''Hey, how are you feeling, enjoyed your nap did you?''

''How did you know I was asleep, with these sunglasses on?''

''You trained me too well Alec, I did learn something from your lectures.''

''You were actually paying attention then were you Tyler?''

''Only when you turned around and I could stare at your cute ass Alec.  You look dead sexy in those sunglasses you know, had enough sun yet?''

''Depends what you had in mind love?''

''Well that depends how good a job your surgeon did, doesn't it now?''

''I was told I died, technically.  You must have had a scare Rose.''

''We all did, Ellie said you died on her, the night you were chasing her husband from the clifftop hut.''

''Aye, she won't let me forget it either.  Did your stepfather help her get her job back?''

''Does it matter Alec?  Besides, someone needs to keep you in line when I'm not there, I'll be busy organising my own team once it's set up, Mickey and Jake are coming down to help me.''

''I'm looking forward to meeting them then.  So apart from detecting anything not of this world, what else do you do then?''

''Really Alec?  If you've had enough of lounging by the pool, that you won't go in – yet, come up to our room and I'll tell you, it's top secret.''

''Do I get extra privileges then?''

''Oh yes, Alec, lots of extra privileges.''

''Good because you got me through that surgery and I'd hate for you not to get a return on your investment and you promised to consider marrying me, when the time is right, I love you Miss Tyler.''

''Just as well then, I intend getting every single penny back, Alec Hardy,  I love you too.''

The End!