Rockin' around the Christmas tree

Beth Latimer wants to remember Danny as Christmas approaches so she persuades the Broadchurch council to get someone famous to light the Christmas tree by the harbour and hire some entertainment. Rose Tyler has been asked to do the honours and Alec Hardy has been given the task of looking after her during her visit. What can possibly happen?

Inspired by ‘Rockin’ around the Christmas tree’ by Brenda Lee and the lighting of the tree in West Bay (AKA Broadchurch)
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Chapter 1

Beth Latimer was not looking forward to the upcoming festive season without Danny. No matter how much her husband and daughter tried to get her in the mood, her ailing mother was on her mind alongside thoughts of what she would have been buying for Danny and all the hints he would have been giving her.

As she was now almost six months pregnant and organizing something herself to remember her son seemed daunting, she went to the weekly town council meeting and waited until the end of business when any other points could be raised.

"Beth Latimer," she stated. "Is there going to be a Christmas tree on the green by the harbour this year?"

One of the councillors addressed her.

"Yes Mrs Latimer, why do you ask?"

"Because I'd like to turn it into a charity event in honour of my Danny."

"That's very commendable and I don't see any reason why not. Do you have something in mind?"

"Well I was thinking maybe get someone famous to switch on the tree lights and have a DJ and get some of the food stalls to stay open? If you get the harbour businesses to contribute, maybe have some fireworks on the beach?"

"That's a good idea Beth," one of the women told her. "We'll put it to the vote and let you know. Have you anyone in mind to light the tree, bearing in mind we need someone who will do it for free and can get themselves here."

"Well actually, I was reading about Rose Tyler, she does a lot of charity events with her mother."

"Splendid, we'll see if someone can contact her, we will be having the tree delivered on the 19th and we can plan the lighting the following evening, Friday night, we don't want to leave it too long."

"Yeah, that's great Mr Trent, I'll spread the word and have some leaflets printed to give to the tourist office. If Miss Tyler agrees, who's going to look after her?" Beth asked.

"Ah, well we could ask the chief superintendent if anyone is spare, pity Ellie Miller is out of town."

"Don't you talk about her in front of me," Beth snapped suddenly.

She realized it was a mistake as not everyone in the town knew that Ellie's husband had killed Danny.

"Well maybe someone is off duty?" one of the women suggested. "Isn't DI Hardy off sick?"

"Yeah, I think he still is, I keep seeing him in the supermarket," Beth replied. "I wonder why he's still in town? He should be able to look after a celebrity for the day."

"Right, we'll get on organizing things at our end and contact Miss Tyler and if she agrees, we'll let you know and you can get the leaflets sorted," Mr Trent told her.

There were murmurings amongst those present, Maggie Radcliffe, the newspaper editor had been taking notes.

"Beth, we can help with the leaflets and do an article in the paper," she offered. "I'm sure it will cheer up the town and give everyone something to look forward to."

"Thanks Maggie, I'll get on with designing the leaflets then?"

That agreed, Beth went off to see her mother, who had not taken Danny's death very well and hardly went out.

"You'll come down though Mum, if we get Rose Tyler to come and light it?"

"I don't know Beth, you all go though."

Beth was determined she'd get her mother to attend whether she liked it or not.

The council came to an agreement that it would bring in visitors and boost the local businesses if they could get Rose to attend and Mr Trent called CS Jenkinson to ask for her help the following day when he'd told Beth to go ahead.

"I'd be very grateful for any help you could give Elaine," Mr Trent was telling her when he explained the idea.

"Well I suppose any officers on duty that night can keep an eye on the crowds and I can ask for volunteers to work an extra shift if that's all they'll be doing for a few hours."

"We're contacting the catering stall owners to see if some will stay open and Mrs Latimer knows someone who could provide the music."

"Anything else?" Elaine asked.

"Well, we're contacting Miss Tyler tomorrow, we wanted to make sure all the other arrangements were in place. Do you have anyone who could look after her while she's here?"

"You want someone to babysit her Barry? Well I expect half the male officers would just love to do that but she might object to having an official police escort? Leave it with me, I think DI Hardy may just be available since he's on medical leave, it will give him something to do until it's agreed he goes to teach at the training academy after the holidays."

"Thanks Elaine, I'll give you all the details when we've spoken to Miss Tyler, she could still say she's not available."

"Then I'll wait to ask Alec Hardy when you get back to me."

Rose was in her office at Torchwood the next day when her secretary buzzed to say someone from the Broadchurch town council wanted to speak with her on the number they always gave out for non-Torchwood matters such as someone wanting her to appear on a TV chat show or attend a charity event, although most of those went to her mother.

"What do the Broadchurch council want with me?" Rose asked her secretary.

"They wouldn't say Miss Tyler, just that a Mr Trent wanted to speak to you about an event they're organizing."

"Well put it though then, I'll see what he wants."

Mr Trent had got back to Beth to tell her to go ahead with the DJ, whoever that was and got some people onto contacting the local businesses both in the town and down by the harbour. Becca Fisher had been talking to the vicar, who was calling in the bar most nights, much to her surprise after he'd managed to help her with her finances.

"Are you sure Paul?" Becca had asked him as she'd joined him for a drink.

"Yes, that's what Beth told me, she's quite excited over it."

"Why would Rose Tyler want to come here? Mind you, if she does, she's going to need somewhere to stay."

Paul nodded, not wanting to tell her Rose would probably opt to stay at the pub by the harbour green.

Rose had been connected with the leader of the Broadchurch council.

"Thank you for taking my call Miss Tyler," he was telling her.

"I was curious as to why you'd want to contact me."

"Yes, well I'm sure you know what happened here a few months back? While the residents are trying to get back to normal, it's a slow process and we were looking for ways to cheer everyone up. The boy's mother, Beth Latimer suggested we turned the annual tree lighting on the harbour green into something that Danny would have liked, some music provided by a local DJ, food available and fireworks afterwards."

"Yeah, that sounds like a great idea Mr Trent but why are you telling me? Do you want to turn it into a charity event, 'cos if you do you need to talk to my mother, she does all that."

"I'm aware of that Miss Tyler. No, we'd like you to do us the honour of switching the tree lights on. We thought because it was in Danny's memory, you may consider getting involved. We can't pay you much but I'm sure the local food stall holders would provide you with drinks and suchlike. We were thinking of having a large charity box by the tree that people could put money in and it would go to a good cause that Danny was interested in."

"Yeah, count me in, I'd love to come down there. When is it?"

"On the 20th, the music would start at 6.30, then if you switch the tree lights on at 7.30 and then someone will escort you across to the fireworks display."

"Sounds good to me, I'll look forward to it. So someone will meet me and tell me what I'm supposed to be doing?"

"We're in the process of appointing someone who will meet you on your arrival so I suggest maybe you took a room at one of the harbour inns? There's a hotel up in the town though if you'd prefer?"

"I'll get my secretary to look them up but if it's only for one night, I'd be better off just staying close by the harbour. Just send me the details."

"Yes, we will do that when everything is finalized. Thank you Miss Tyler, it will be a pleasure for us to have you in our town, even for just one day. Will you be bringing anyone with you?"

"Yeah, I might bring my little brother with me, he'll love that. Don't worry about accommodation, we've shared before, I'll book a twin room. Mind you, my mum might want to tag along as well."

"Then we'll be more than happy if they do. We'll stay in touch with you as we get the full details but the person who meets you will have it all."

"Great. Oh, is that detective still in the town or has he left?" Rose was curious to know.

"I believe he's still here Miss Tyler. Is that a problem?"

"No, I just wondered, I thought he'd have wanted to get out."

Rose ended the called and dialled Pete's number. If she was travelling all the way to Dorset, she'd need the day off.

"I think that's an excellent idea love," Pete told her when she'd told him about the invitation. "Mind you, Tony might be a bit upset."

"Why? I was gonna take him with me and ask mum if she wanted to come."

"Rose, it's Tony's school play, he's being the narrator this year."

"Oh, I didn't know, he's not told me."

"I only found out when I dropped him at school, he neglected to tell me."

"Well I can always cancel?"

"No, you go down and switch on the tree lights, they need cheering up down there. Is that detective who you say reminds you of someone still there? Not that me or your mother think he looks anything like a certain person," Pete joked.

"Stop teasing me about it Dad, I know it's not him but you've got to admit the resemblance, not that the Doctor ever forgot to shave."

"Sorry love but you know your mother will go on about it when you tell her. I think it's a very good cause, especially if it's for charity. Maybe she can give you some ideas how to raise even more money for it?"

"I'm sure she can. Right, I'd better get a room booked then, since I'm going on my own?"

Back in Broadchurch, the CS had received a call to say Rose had agreed to attend.

"Right Barry, I'd best try to get hold of Alec Hardy then, if he bothers to answer my call."

Alec Hardy had moved out of the hotel, much to Becca Fisher's disappointment but he could no longer justify the cost since he was only on half pay so he'd come across the fact that a certain blue chalet by the river was vacant and he'd agreed to take it until the following spring. He was sitting in the living room going over some case notes from Sandbrook and drinking a mug of tea when his mobile rang. He pulled it out from under a pile of papers and squinted at the screen.

"What does she want?" he mumbled to himself. He answered with just the same enthusiasm.

"I thought you'd made it clear I was out?" he asked his old boss.

"Nice to know you're still just as gruff Alec. I take it you're not enjoying forced semi-retirement?"

"That's an understatement. You called me just to ask me that?"

"You know I had no choice Alec, the CMO reported it to headquarters. I heard you accepted a post at the academy though?"

"Yes, I had to do something or I may as well just let the inevitable happen. So, this is not a social call I take it?" he asked, fingering a report.

"Well until you take up your new job, I have something you could help me out with."

"Why would I do that?"

"Well I thought you'd be interested that the council are dedicating this year's tree lighting to Danny."

"Well, that is very generous of them but what has that to do with me? I hope they are not going to ask me to light it or something?"

Elaine let out a laugh. 

"No, they already got someone to do that. What I was going to ask you was if you would look after the person they invited."

"Not some pop star I hope or some reject from Britain's got talent?"

"Surely you don't watch that Alec?" Elaine teased him.

"As if? Well, who is the unlucky person?"

"It's Rose Tyler, the Vitex heiress. Heard of her?"

"Yes, I have heard of her but if you ask me, what's she doing accepting offers of lighting trees? I would have thought at this time of year she'd be out partying all night?"

"She does a lot of charity work with her mother Alec and as for her going out all the time, it's mostly to charity events."

"Really? I remember my ex showing me articles about her when her mother married Pete Tyler. She was photographed with a different man every time."

"She has to keep up appearances Alec. Anyway, can you spare an afternoon and evening to accompany her to the event and back to her hotel? I'll get the council leader to give you her itinerary when it's all finalized."

"So when is the big event?" Alec had to go and ask, wishing he'd turned off his phone.

"On the 20th, a Friday night. Once the event is over, just drop her back at her hotel and walk away."

"Who walks away from Rose Tyler?" he wondered to himself.

"Well tell them to let me know what it involves then, I suppose it will do me no harm."

"Thanks Alec. Have you got plans for the holidays?"

"I am waiting to hear from my daughter, she may come for a visit."

Over the next few weeks, all the arrangements were made and Beth was in the newspaper office going over everything a few days before.

"So Olly, have you asked her for an interview yet?" Beth laughed.

"No, I keep meaning to but why would she want to be interviewed by a local paper?"

"Well she's always in the headlines of the glossy magazines," Beth teased him.

"Yes Olly, you should ring her secretary and ask, she can only say no," Maggie encouraged him. "We need a boost and it will be perfect to go with the story of why we're doing this. I called Barry earlier and I told him Miss Tyler can wait around in here while they organize getting everyone's attention so you may as well take advantage Olly."

"Can you call her for me?" he asked, thinking the reality star would turn him down flat.

"Why are you so nervous?" Beth asked him, grimacing at a kick by the baby.

"I hope you're going to be able to attend Beth," Maggie smiled.

"The kicking's getting more frequent, I swear the baby waits until I go to bed. Well go on Olly or it'll be too late and she'll have gone home."

"It's mid-morning Beth," Olly grinned.

"I don't mean from work, I mean from the event," Beth laughed.

Olly got Maggie's desk diary and found Rose's secretary's number. He was in luck as he was put through.

"Ah, Miss Tyler? This is Olly Stevens from the Broadchurch Echo. I was wondering, since you're lighting the tree if you'd care to give us an interview?" he asked her, crossing his fingers.

Rose had heard of the paper, she'd read the interview Alec had given after the arrest of Danny's killer.

"Yeah, I'd be happy to Olly, I don't answer any personal questions about my family or who I'm currently dating though."

Rose thought she may as well add that even though her diary was empty apart from the upcoming tree lighting and Tony's school play, which she'd not dared tell him yet she wouldn't be able to attend.

"I understand, it will just be about the event and why you agreed. Oh and maybe a photo as you light up the tree?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Great, oh and my editor is putting our office at your disposal until the event starts."

"Thanks Olly, I'll see you on the day then? I don't suppose you know who's looking after me while the events take place? No-one's told me yet."

"They may not have decided yet but I'd be happy to escort you," Olly grinned.

Maggie and Beth looked at him as he finished the call.

"Seriously Olly?" Maggie asked him.

"Well if no-one's volunteered for the job?"

Rose hung up, still wondering why she'd not officially been told who had drawn the short straw of looking after her. She went out to see her secretary to find out if she'd forgotten to tell her.

"No Miss Tyler, I've not been told anything," Rose was told.

"Is my hotel room booked?" Rose asked, sitting on the side of the desk.

"Yes, I've got you a double room at The George, it's right on the edge of the harbour green so you won't have far to go. I can call the council, they may just have forgotten to inform you."

"Yeah, you find out while I go see Pete."

Once in Pete's office, Rose flopped on his comfy leather sofa.

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

"I've not told Tony I won't be there on Friday night."

"Well he's that excited, he probably won't even notice love," Pete smiled.

"I hope not. I don't even know who's looking after me when I get there on Friday afternoon. I can book in the room after two so I'll take my time going down and once I've booked in, I can relax for a few hours."

"So what have they told you?" Pete asked.

"Just general things, I'm doing an interview at the local paper, then I think I'm waiting there until the event starts. Apparently, Danny's mum has got the DJ to play just Christmas tunes, she said Danny used to love messing about to them and the charity box is going to the local sea scouts that have just started up again."

"That's nice Rose. Me and your mother are really proud of you, she never thought she'd get you interested in charity work."

"Yeah, well me and mum were known at every charity shop in Peckham," Rose smiled.

Beth, Maggie and Olly were still discussing the event.

"I wonder why no-one's told her who's looking after her yet?" Maggie asked.

"She'll be really unlucky if it's DI Hardy," Olly laughed.

"I keep seeing him in the supermarket," Beth told them. "He never seems really happy to be there. I expect he's waiting for the hearing?"

"Haven't you been told anything yet Beth?" Maggie asked her.

"I wish they would, I don't fancy going to court in my condition when I'm further along."

Alec had just received a call from the council leader.

"So, is that agreeable with you DI Hardy?"

"I'm not a DI any longer," Alec reminded the man and himself. "Yes, I know what I have to do. She's staying at The George and I go greet her on her arrival, which is estimated around two. I will introduce myself and go pick her up at six for her interview then stay with her throughout the evening then I escort her back to the hotel. I take it someone will be there to make sure the lights are ready to switch on?"

"It's all taken care of, you just look after Miss Tyler."

That's what Alec was afraid of, being responsible for the Vitex heiress while she was in town but after a few hours in his company, she would be glad to get back to her room.

Chapter 2

When Rose got home that night, she needed some advice from her mother of how to raise more funds for Danny's charity. She still wasn't sure who was looking after her when she got to Broadchurch, her secretary had said the council leader was in a meeting and Rose swore they were stonewalling her.

"Well you said they have a collection bucket," her mother told her. "Just point it out and make a joke out of it. So, who's looking after you down there or are they leaving you to fend for yourself?"

"No, they said someone would meet me, I expect it will be some council clerk who has nothing else to do."

"Don't be like that sweetheart, can't you get used to the fact you're famous? Crikey, they've even heard of you in Broadchurch," her mother laughed.

"You know I never really wanted to be famous Mum, I still don't get why they ask for me to be on those stupid reality programmes, you'd think they'd take the hint when I refused to be on Big Brother. I mean why would I want to go on there for some creep to get himself caught going into my room at midnight?"

Jackie laughed again. 

"I thought that's why all those wannabes went on there?"

"Trust me Mum, when you've appeared on there, people just remember you for what you did, whether it was true or not and as for when you get booted out?"

"Well maybe you're better off keeping on refusing? Mind you, I wouldn't go into that jungle either or that island. I think the more you refuse, the more sought after you become, some producer trying to beat the rest of them."

"Well they're not gettin' me in that jungle and eating worms that's for certain. I don't mind being on chat shows, as long as the male guests don't breathe down my neck. I just wish they'd ask me on the same shows as my favourite actor."

"You'd turn to jelly Rose and you know it. You were bad enough at that play you went to and he was there and he smiled at you."

"Mum, he was smiling at everyone," Rose blushed.

"It didn't look like it to me," her mother pointed out, twisting her earrings. "So, you're going Friday morning?"

"Yeah, shame Tony can't come, I thought he finished school on Thursday."

"Well I only got to know about the play 'cos his teacher phoned and asked me to help him rehearse."

"I'd best go tell him I won't be able to go, I hope he doesn't throw a tantrum."

The next few days, the final touches were being put to the plans. Some of the catering stallholders agreed to stay open, the council said they would suspend parking fees after five instead of six in the main car parks, the tree had been taken down to the green on Thursday morning and workers were busy stringing the coloured lights over the branches.

Maggie was sat in her office watching them when Olly came upstairs.

"Hey Maggie, I just had an idea."

"Well go on then petal."

"Well, when Rose Tyler's finished her interview, we could take some video of her lighting the tree and put it on the blog."

"Well if she gives her permission."

"She said I could take a photo. I wonder if she knows it's Hardy who's looking after her?"

"I expect so, she arrives tomorrow. Don't you get any ideas about pestering her."

"I want that interview, I don't want to put her off Maggie."

Rose was clearing her work calendar since she wasn't going to bother going back to work for two days next week. Her secretary buzzed her just after ten.

"Miss Tyler, I finally got hold of the council leader for you. The tree's being put up now and everything will be ready for your arrival tomorrow evening."

"Did you find out who's meeting me?"

"Oh, I thought I mentioned it the other day? It's going to be that detective, DI Hardy."

Rose thought her secretary had deliberately withheld that piece of information.

"Just what I needed," Rose muttered under her breath.

How was she going to cope with him? It was one thing convincing herself from a distance that he just happened to share the same face as the Doctor with a beard but quite something else to meet him in person and have him escort her for the evening. Then she found out why it had not been revealed to her he was the one doing the escorting as Mickey came in, holding two morning papers.

"Seems you've made the headlines again Rose," Mickey grinned as he tossed the papers on her desk.

Rose picked one of them up and read the headline: 'Rose Tyler to switch on tree lights in Broadchurch' followed by a short article.

"I wish they'd get their facts right," Rose huffed as she read that she was turning it into a charity event. "Beth Latimer is going to be so annoyed, it was her idea, not mine."

"Well that's what you get for not talking to the press Rose," Mickey laughed.

"I'd better call her and apologize."

Just then, her intercom buzzed.

"Excuse me Miss Tyler but I have Mrs Latimer on the phone, she seems upset."

"I bet she is, put her through Pam."

"Miss Tyler," Beth gasped as she'd read the morning paper.

Both Mark and Chloe had been trying to get her to calm down.

"Beth, I'm sure the press got it wrong," Mark had tried to tell her as she'd thrown the copy of 'The Herald' at him, thinking that if Karen was still there, she would at least have checked.

"What can there be wrong about Rose Tyler taking all the credit?" Beth asked him, grimacing at another kick.

"Sit down Mum," Chloe told her. "I bet she doesn't even know anything about it, she rarely talks to the press, they make it all up."

"Do they? Maggie said she'd notify other papers about the event but did they have to make it look like it wasn't my idea? Pass my notebook Chloe, Maggie gave me Rose Tyler's number."

"Mrs Latimer, I just saw the newspaper headlines, I'm sorry about this, I'll get the press team to put them straight. I never intended to take the credit for your idea," Rose told Beth.

"Well I should hope not, sorry I jumped to conclusions then."

"I understand Mrs Latimer and I thought it was a great idea. It must be difficult for you at this time of the year?"

"You have no idea, I should have been trying to hide his presents, last year I had to take them to my friend's house. Now I've got no Danny and no friend."

"Sorry to hear that. What happened to your friend?"

Beth wasn't sure everyone knew it was because she hoped Ellie Miller had gone for good but since her house hadn't been up for sale, she doubted it.

"It doesn't matter. Anyway, thanks for agreeing to do this, I hope I'll see you at the tree lighting tomorrow?"

"Yeah, come and introduce yourself before I switch the lights on. I just found out who's looking after me, I've been trying to find out for weeks but since I've just been in the papers, maybe it's just as well."

"Oh, well we've known all along, someone should have told you," Beth replied.

"Maybe they thought one of us would back out?" Rose mused.

Alec had taken a walk to the harbour stores and newsagents, which had recently re-opened after Jack's death and as he was about to pay for the newspaper, he caught sight of the headline. The woman behind the counter smiled at him.

"My kids are getting excited about tomorrow evening, we've just moved here from Kingsbere, it was too much to travel every day."

Alec wasn't really interested in the newsagent's travel arrangements as he paid for the paper and another notebook. The woman though seemed intent on chatting.

"So, are you going to the tree lighting? It's not every day you get to see Rose Tyler, my kids love her."

Alec didn't think it very prudent to disclose the fact he was going to have the pleasure of the Vitex heiress's company for the evening.

"I don't see how anyone around here can avoid it at some point," he grunted in reply.

"You live around here then?" the woman asked him.

'Hell," he thought to himself, "She lived nine miles away and she doesn't even know who I am?"

"You could say that, I was in charge of the murder investigation a few months ago."

"Oh, sorry, I never recognized you. I'm surprised the council never asked you to switch the tree lights on then?" the woman smiled.

Alec thought he would have liked them to have tried. He walked across to one of the food stalls, got a grilled chicken sandwich with salad to take back with him for his lunch and glanced at the article while he waited.

"Typical," he thought to himself since no-one else was around and he wondered what the three catering stalls were still opening for but it was only eleven thirty and there were a few people walking along the other side of the road. When he'd walked over the footbridge and got inside the warm chalet, he looked at the paper again, seeing they claimed Rose Tyler had come up with the whole idea.

"Bet she'd never even intended coming here for any other reason," he muttered to himself as he waited for the kettle to boil. He wondered though if she'd even been told who was escorting her around from tomorrow early evening until the fireworks, which he'd been told would last around forty five minutes once everyone had gathered on the east pier.

He was sure if she had, he would have heard about it, she would have surely changed her mind and they would have asked him to switch on the lights himself.

Mickey was laughing to himself as Rose had apologized to Beth Latimer but Rose caught him and threw a pen at him.

"Stop it Mickey, it's not funny. Why would I want to take credit for the event? I didn't want it in the papers."

"Well you said you'd agreed to be interviewed by the local paper," Mickey huffed.

"That's different Mickey. Anyway, I won't be back on Monday, there's loads to do, I promised Tony I would take him to the mall so he could get mum and dad's presents. He's been saving his pocket money since June."

"Have you told him you won't be at his play tomorrow night then?"

"No, he's gonna be nervous enough, it's probably better he doesn't know until it's all over. Dad can explain it to him afterwards and he's promised to video it for me, I can watch it on Sunday afternoon."

"Well watch out he doesn't refuse to do it because you're not there," Mickey joked.

Back at the Latimer house, Chloe and Beth were digging out the decorations.

"We'd have done this days ago Mum," Chloe was saying as Beth held a garland in her hands. "Are you sure you still want to put them up though?"

"Of course I do, then we'll go see your gran and try and get her to go to the tree lighting tomorrow night."

"She'll not come Mum, she hardly goes out except to the morning service at the church and even then, well it's taking her some effort."

"Paul mentioned she wasn't there last Sunday, she seems to have given up even going there. I'm worried about her Chloe and I don't know what to do about it."

Word had got around the town that Rose was to light the tree and Becca was upset Rose had not picked her hotel to stay in so Paul was trying to cheer her up as they sat outside the hotel.

"Why is everyone staying away Paul?" Becca was asking him as they drank coffee, trying to keep warm.

"You had those booking for Christmas Becca, things are still picking up."

"Yeah and thanks for sorting my finances out, you're a life-saver Paul."

"Well you can pay me back by coming to my place for Christmas dinner? Otherwise I'll be on my own."

"Well, we're doing nothing special here, just the normal evening meal, I expect that was the appeal to the guests who have booked. I'll come on the condition you let me help with the cooking?"

"Done. I'd best get down to the supermarket before they sell out of turkeys then?" Paul smiled.

Down by the river, Alec had decided to take a break from reading and re-reading all the Sandbrook case notes. He was getting nowhere except going around in circles, finding faults with the main suspect's wife's statements and his own stupidity of not seeing what his ex wife was doing right under his nose. His phone buzzed and he thought it was his old boss again checking up on him but it was Daisy.

"Hi darlin' how's things with you?" he tried to ask cheerily.

"Fine Dad but I can't come down for a visit," she replied sadly.

"Why not? Is your mother stopping you?"

"She wants me to stay here with her and that loser Dave, I'm old enough to make up my own mind but she said until I'm sixteen, I have to go by her rules. Can't you talk to her?"

"I've tried Daisy, you know I have. I will come up there the day after Boxing Day when the trains are running again. What do you want anyway? I've not got a clue what to get you and don't say something expensive, I'm only on half pay now."

"I wasn't going to Dad, geez, you're as bad as Mum."

"Well she was the one who did not want me to contribute to your upbringing. Take care and don't be so cheeky to your mother."

He hated the fact that he never actually got to see her on the day since the divorce but at least this year she was actually talking to him and calling him without him sending her endless texts to prompt her to do so, that at least was some improvement. He looked at the paper again and the standard photo of Rose Tyler smiling. She was surely in for a disappointment when she found out all the council could find to look after her during her stay was a detective on medical leave.

Back in Rose's office, she was trying to hint to Mickey to leave her.

"So, why go to Broadchurch anyway? No-one had heard of the place until that murder," Mickey was asking her.

"It sounded a good idea, they need something to take their minds off it Mickey, have a little sympathy will ya?"

"So who's showing you around, that detective what's his name? Don't keep calling him 'Doctor' if it is," Mickey joked.

"Haven't you got any work to do or someone to hassle Mickey?" Rose asked him as he put his arms behind his head and leaned back.

"Nope, thought I'd just come and annoy you," he grinned back.

"Actually, I just got told it is him, he must have really got unlucky to get stuck with the job of escorting me around all night."

"He probably thinks the same, that he'll be stuck with you all night, especially if he's got a girlfriend."

"Well it's only for a few hours, he'll soon be rid of me, won't he?"

Rose wasn't looking forward to the event so much now since she'd learned it was Alec Hardy himself who had drawn the short straw but she'd agreed to and she wasn't going to back out this late in the day but if she kept her distance from him and just let him do his job of getting her where she needed to be, they'd get along just fine. It wasn't as though she was being forced to make friends with him, was it?

Rose was hoping Tony wouldn't be asking any questions when she got home but being Tony, he had plenty.

"You are going to come to my play Rose, aren't you?" he asked her while waiting for dinner.

"Tony, I'm sorry but I have something on tomorrow, I'll be away until Saturday morning."

"But Rose, you always come," he objected, folding his arms like his mother did.

"I know Tony but I'm going to a charity event and I can't say no now. You never told me it was Friday night, I thought it was tonight."

"It was a Thursday night last year Rose," Tony replied, leaning his arms on the table while his mother wasn't looking.

"Yeah, sorry, I got mixed up but I'd already said yes and it's for a very good cause. Remember dad saying that boy had died earlier this year?"

Tony nodded, moving his arms before Jackie told him to.

"Well it's for the sea scouts he used to belong to, I'm lighting the town's Christmas tree, in his memory."

"Oh," Tony replied. "What are sea scouts?"

Rose smiled. "It's like scouts but they learn about the sea and how to sail a boat and all the other things. You're old enough to join the scouts now."

"Don't want to, I never liked the junior scouts, I never got any badges."

"You have to earn them tiger," Rose smiled back.

After dinner, Rose was going to prepare for going off the next day when Pete caught her.

"Are you sure you'll be okay, meeting Alec Hardy?" he asked her.

"Yeah, I think I'll survive a few hours of his company, you're as bad as Mickey was earlier. You know I'm coping with it all Dad."

"I know but you get a bit sad around this time. I know you explained to me about crash-landing on Christmas Eve after he went and changed his appearance on you. It took a while to get out of you why pink paper hats are banned," Pete smiled.

"Yeah, well the Doctor handed me one, it's not quite the same being given one by anybody else. We had one Christmas in our universe and the next in this one. I still can't get used to having a party on Christmas Eve like the ones mum throws. She used to have a few mates around the flat and that was it and new year, we went to the pub."

"Yeah, she told me but it pleases her, you know she loves a good party? It doesn't remind you of what happened that night does it?"

"No, I can attend a party here without thinking the Cybermen are going to gate-crash or the Doctor laughing when a dog answered to my name."

"That's my girl. What time are you leaving tomorrow?"

"Mid-morning to avoid the rush. I'm just taking a change of clothes, nothing fancy since it'll be cold standing around watching fireworks. Once they're over, I can get something to eat at the pub."

"Maybe DI Hardy will treat you to dinner eh?" Pete teased her.

"Stop it Dad, why would he want to do that? He's probably been talked into it somehow."

"Just enjoy your day out Rose, Tony will do fine in his play, I'll record it for you."

The next day, Rose had decided what time she was leaving and had wished Tony good luck narrating the school play.

"I still wish you'd be there Rose," he told her.

"You'll be great, you just remember your lines."

Beth and Chloe had put up the decorations and the tree in the corner of the living room.

"Cheer up Mum, Danny would have loved all this. Are you sure Jim's got all those Christmas songs to play tonight?"

"Yeah, so he said. I feel awful now, accusing Rose Tyler of trying to steal my ideas."

"It was the press Mum, don't go blaming her. She must get tired of it."

"Well it's her lifestyle Chloe, being rich and famous."

"She wasn't always like that, I read about her. She came from nowhere Mum, she's come a long way from where she grew up."

"Well since her mother met the Vitex chairman that's not surprising. We'll go round and see your gran, she might have changed her mind about going tonight."

"It might be too cold for her later, it's nice during the day but that cold airs hangs around the harbour at night."

Beth laughed. "How do you know, hang around there a lot do you? Why did you break up with Dean anyway?"

"I don't want to talk about it Mum, I already told you. I think I'll stay clear of boys for a while though."

"Yeah, until you meet someone else," Beth smiled.

Before Rose left, her mother gave her a warning.

"Don't overdo it asking for contributions will you?" Jackie asked her.

Rose smiled as she stood by the car. 

"I've been at enough of your events Mum. I joke around with them and make sure they enjoy themselves. I'm only pressing a button you know. Speaking of buttons, the Doctor used to love pressing buttons."

"Don't bring that up again Rose, you always think about him more at this time of year."

"Yeah, dad was reminding me about pink paper hats last night."

"Don't worry, all the Christmas crackers have no paper hats in them, I made sure of that. Every year Rose, you always look nervous when you pull one open."

"Can you blame me?" Rose smiled. "Right, I'm off then. I'll make a stop half way, I've put the pub postcode in the satnav. I'll call you tonight when it's all done with."

"Well enjoy yourself and never mind that detective, you'll only have to see him for a few hours."

"Yeah, I might as well have a good time. See you tomorrow Mum and give Tony a cheer from me."

Olly was pacing up and down the small newspaper officer, thinking of questions to ask Rose.

"Stop it Olly," Maggie told him. "Now I wish we'd never moved down here early but when the agency said it was ready to move into early, well it's saved us a lot of money."

"I know Maggie but maybe we need someone to take messages when we're both busy, I want to develop the paper's blog."

"Well if you can find someone who just wants a few hours a day?"

"My mum might be interested, she's sobered up somewhat since my uncle got arrested."

"I'll think about it petal. Now, what are you going to ask Rose Tyler? Don't you go clamming up on her when DI Hardy brings her here," Maggie laughed.

Olly was not the only one who was nervous at the thought of coming face to face with Rose Tyler as Alec sat on the doorstep of his riverside home but why was he nervous?

The postman had just been and he had seen the logo on the envelope he'd been handed. He didn't need to open it to know it was another reminder to call the hospital appointments department and get a date for his surgery. He'd already been told no consultation was needed after his last hospital visit but if he wanted, he could call the consultant's secretary to arrange an appointment. He'd also been told that upon his phone call, he'd be fitted in as early as possible.

He opened the letter anyway and put his glasses on but as he suspected it started with the words, 'Dear Mr Hardy, please call the appointments office urgently.' Well, he'd call them when he felt like he could face up to the fact that if he didn't get sorted soon, he'd be teaching recruits until his time was finally up. Maybe he'd consider it after the holidays, he didn't really want to spend three mornings a week teaching rookies the basics.

Rose got to the pub on the harbour just after two and paid for a ticket in the car park outside thinking it was better safe than getting a parking fine but was surprised to see a notice that parking was free after 5pm in view of the upcoming event. She took her overnight bag and walked in the front door of the warm pub and went up to the bar.

"Where do I book in? I have a reservation for tonight."

"Oh, you needed the other door, you can go just through there," the barman pointed to his right.

"Thanks. Are you serving food?"

"No, not until six, sorry but we'll be serving up until nine."

"Great," she thought, then remembered something about catering stalls and hoping some were open. She found the reception area and rang the bell, being greeted by an older woman. Rose gave her name and signed the register, handing over her bank card since she wasn't handed the card reader and was given her key for room five.

"I've given you a room with a harbour view Miss Tyler," the woman told her as she handed Rose the card machine to put her pin number in.

"Thanks. You were told I'm only taking breakfast in the morning? I'm going to be out most of the evening."

"Oh, we know that, you're lighting the tree. Welcome to Broadchurch."

"Thanks. Oh, if DI Hardy asks for me, will you send him up?"

"Yes, I'll do that. Were you expecting him to call?"

"Well I'm not sure, he's supposed to be meeting me, I just assumed he'd come looking for me."

She went off to her room as Alec was walking across the river footbridge. The pub was so near yet he had to cross the river to get to it. He'd assumed since he'd not been told otherwise that he should go meet her at the pub so as he got to the side entrance that had been pointed out to him was the guest entrance, he rang the bell and was told what room she was in without asking. He wondered if she had really been expecting him then.

He knocked on her door after taking his time walking up the flight of stairs and waited for her to answer. Rose was just coming out of the small bathroom and assumed it was either the manager bringing more towels or it was Alec Hardy. She opened the door slightly to see an anxious Alec trying to put a smile on his face that once he saw her, didn't seem so hard to do.

"Miss Tyler? I take it you were expecting me?"

Chapter 3

Rose managed to smile back at him. 

"Hi, yeah, come in then. Nice to meet you Alec and call me Rose."

He really hated being called that, it reminded him of Tess saying it slowly just to annoy him and he didn't now do first names but he could hardly go around all night calling her Miss Tyler.

"So, have they told you what is happening tonight? If not, I can go through it with you," he told her, getting his smaller notebook out of his pocket, an old habit.

"Aw, you wrote it all down?" Rose smiled, indicating for him to sit on the chair by the window.

Alec was wondering why she'd booked a double room but he imagined that was what she was used to and she'd already filled the wardrobe with clothes, trying to look around for a case but just seeing an overnight bag.

"Yes, the policeman in me I suppose? Your interview at the newspaper office is at six so I will call back for you ten minutes before, it is only a few doors down."

"Ah, I wondered why they'd offered to let me stay there until the event started."

"Yes, well I can imagine the reporter will soon run out of things to ask you."

"Yeah, since I told him no questions about my family or my love life, such as it is. So, what then?"

He knew she was just toying with him but he was willing to play along.

"You have the choice of staying in the newspaper office or joining in with the crowds listening to the entertainment."

"Well in that case, I'll be sure to wear an extra jumper, I love Christmas songs, don't you?"

Alec thought he would rather not have to listen to them for an hour but if she wanted to, he had very little choice in the matter.

"Yes, well if you want to join in? Five minutes before the lighting, someone from the council will be there to meet you behind the small stage that will be erected outside the amusement arcade and I will escort you on to it then stand aside while you are introduced."

"Great, then you'll take me to where the fireworks display will be?"

"Yes, that was the intention but after that, I will escort you back here."

"Sounds well planned then? Would you mind if we went to get something to eat? I'm starving."

"Well there are some stalls open, you go ahead and eat."

"Oh, won't you join me?" Rose asked, trying not to sound disappointed that he was ditching her already.

"I was under the impression you would want to rest after your journey?"

"Nah, I'm fine. So, where do you live then?"

That took him by surprise.

"Nearby, just at the side of the river. If you are ready then? I will join you for a drink, I ate earlier."

"Well I planned eating on the way down but there were two coaches at the rest stop and it was packed, I had to queue to just get a latte from one of those machines in the newspaper shop. I thought I'd just wait until I got here but the bar wasn't serving any food. I'm really looking forward to tonight. Would you point out the Latimers to me?"

"Sure, did you not see them in the papers?"

"Well yeah but I can hardly just go up to them, can I?" Rose grinned.

"I am sure Mrs Latimer feels the same way," Alec remarked, getting up and looking out of the window.

As they walked downstairs, Rose keeping the keys with her, he hadn't planned on spending any more time with her than had been originally suggested. They walked across the street and stopped at one of the stalls then sat at one of the tables as Rose tucked into her food, Alec sipping his tea.

"So, let me guess," Rose smiled as she ate. "You're in that blue chalet right there then?"

"Ever thought of becoming a detective Rose?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.

"No, I became a Torchwood agent, not that I get out much these days. It's been a bit quiet lately."

"Really? No aliens to chase?"

"They seem to be staying away. Just count yourself lucky there's been no spaceships hovering above on Christmas Day."

"That would keep you away from your family," Alec smiled.

Rose thought he had no idea how true that was. It was easy to joke with other officials and those at Torchwood about things that had actually happened on her world. As she finished her late lunch, Alec got up.

"Alec, can we go for a walk?"

"Sure, we can go around the other side, along the esplanade. It's not a long walk though."

"It doesn't matter, I just want to take a look around."

They crossed over the harbour road, Rose putting her arm in his and wanting to ask him loads of questions as to why he was still in the town but thought they could wait. As they stood at the far end of the esplanade, Rose leaned against the wall.

"It's nice here, I can see why you stayed."

"I only stayed in case I had to appear at the hearing."

"I thought the man had confessed?"

"He did but after my case before that, well let's just say I want to make sure the charges against him stick."

"I can understand that Alec. What about that other case?"

"He got away, end of story."

"I bet you're still mad about it though?"

"You could say that. Still, it would take a lot of work to get the case re-opened."

"Maybe it would give you something to do?" Rose asked him.

"I will have, I take up a post at the academy in the new year."

Rose nudged him. 

"Good for you Alec. So, can I see your chalet then?"

Alec thought so much for her having the afternoon to herself but he'd made no plans and he was glad he'd thought to put the Sandbrook case files away in the drawer, well he hoped he had. They made their way back across the harbour and Alec led her to the gap in the wall to get to the footbridge.

"Are you sure you want to see my place?" Alec turned back to her as they were halfway across the bridge.

"Yeah, I've got nothing else to do, I hate watching daytime TV."

Alec was rather surprised at that statement, given her background. Getting inside, he made some tea and Rose made herself at home on his worn-out sofa. Before either of them realized, it was starting to get dark and he got up from the chair opposite to put the lights on.

"How long have you been here Alec?"

"Just over a month or so, I was up at the hotel but it cost too much. You should be getting back to your room, there are only two hours until your interview."

"Aw, it's fine, it's only a few minutes walk Alec. So, you were telling me about that suspect's wife? She sounds a bit loopy to me."

"Well she had changed her story twice and even now, I doubt that was her real story. I am surprised she didn't get him off without the evidence being lost."

Rose got up and crossed to the window, putting her hand on his arm.

"That's in the past Alec, maybe there's still something you missed?"

"I would like that to be true Rose but I have been going over it all again, there is nothing, trust me. I am sure you did not come all the way down here to talk about my failed case?"

Rose smiled as she looked at him. Yes, he could pass as the Doctor on one of his lazy days but that was it.

"Sorry, dad says I never know when to quit. So, I'll go across to pick up an extra sweater just before the interview, if I'm invited to stay a bit longer?"

"You are most welcome to stay Rose," he told her.

"Do ya think they'll be a good crowd tonight?" she asked, looking at the lights reflecting on the river.

"It has been well advertised, I should think so."

"Well I hope they're not coming because I'm here, that's not why I agreed."

"Mrs Latimer knows that."

"Not at first, she was a bit upset when the paper got it wrong," she smiled, seeing the paper on his table.

"Trust that trashy paper to get it wrong, I am surprised Karen didn't write that article."

"I thought she'd quit that paper?"

"What makes you say that?"

"Well I thought with her getting duped by the local paper when it got your story, she'd have been a bit upset."

"I am sure she was, after what she wrote about me, why should I give my story to her eh?"

"I agree, she was a bit mean to you. Do ya mind if I make another drink?"

They were leaving just before 5.30 to go get another jumper for her to wear and to the newspaper office, Alec locking the door behind him.

"I envy you Alec, living here."

"I just get by, as soon as the hearing is over, I will probably move away. I will go over the bridge first, just watch your step," he told her as they walked alongside a wooden building.

"It's a bit of a weird way of reaching your home Alec," Rose laughed as she kept two steps behind him.

He stopped suddenly and she almost collided with him.

"Well if you would rather walk all the way up that field and all the way back down the road, then be my guest."

"Nah, I'll pass, thanks. Come on or I'll be late," she laughed as he set off again.

"Well you were the one who wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon sitting in my chalet," he called back to remind her.

Remembering to use the side entrance to the pub, Alec followed her up to her room, hoping the woman who he'd seen earlier was busy elsewhere and the word wouldn't get around the town he'd been to Rose's room twice in a few hours. It had been bad enough the night Ellie Miller had visited him at The Traders after her husband had been arrested and he hoped she'd managed to dodge the CCTV cameras or the thrifty hotel owner had recorded over the tapes or whatever was used.

Rose unlocked the door and held it open for him.

"Well come in then, I don't bite," Rose laughed, throwing the keys on the dresser and taking off her purple woollen coat.

She went to her overnight bag and pulled out a black sweater and taking off her thick cardigan, put it over the top of her pink and striped top as Alec closed the door but remained by it. Alec was admiring the fact she didn't seem to care that a man she'd only met a few hours ago was standing watching her get changed, well adding another piece of clothing, the same difference in his mind. He wondered if she made a habit of it.

"Warm enough?" he asked as she put the cardigan back over the sweater, cashmere by the looks of it but she could afford it.

"Yeah thanks. What about you?"

He had put his old teal jumper on before they had left while Rose had gone off to locate his bathroom, which sometimes even he forgot where it was. The chalet was like a maze, all bits added on at various stages.

"Your place is very unusual Alec," Rose smiled as she picked up her shoulder bag.

"You could say that. We had best be getting to the newspaper office."

"I thought it was close by?"

"It is but there was a crowd gathering already by the green, we have to get you past without everyone stopping you to ask for your autograph."

"Not used to handling celebrities then?" Rose teased him as he opened the door.

"You are my first," he replied, gesturing for her to go out first, the room door locking behind him.

He thought it would be just his luck she'd like the town so much, she would come back for another visit but she wouldn't be his problem. They had just got downstairs when the landlady came through from the bar.

"Oh, going to light the tree already Miss Tyler?" she asked, looking Alec up and down.

"No, I have a press interview first. Your barman said you served food until nine, can I order something in advance for after the firework display?"

"Of course, I can save you something, the special perhaps? Would that be for one or two?"

Rose turned to her escort. 

"Whatcha think Alec? You have to eat."

"It depends on what it is, I have to be careful what I eat."

"It's cottage pie," the woman replied, wondering why Rose Tyler was already addressing the detective by his first name.

"I think I can manage that."

"Right, I'll tell the bar staff to expect you before nine then? I might sneak out myself to watch the tree lighting, it's normally just switched on by a council worker after it gets dark, you're the first celebrity we've had."

Rose tried not to blush. 

"Well, it's for a good cause. Come on Alec or I really will be late."

Alec shrugged his shoulders as if to say it was all her fault and followed her out into the side street. He didn't even bother that she put her arm in his again as they turned the corner to see hordes of people gathered around the outside of the green since tape had been put around the tree and a covered stage had been hastily erected and loads of wires from a portable generator ran from it.

They passed the busy arcade, people taking no notice as Rose huddled in at the side of Alec, him wondering if she was going to do that the rest of the evening, not that he minded. Stuff what Tess would make of it if someone were to accidentally get them in a photo and put it out on that bloody social media site he hated so much. Daisy was always teasing him about if he signed up to it, they could message each other but he didn't see the point of letting the whole world know what he and his daughter had to say to each other.

Alec stopped them outside the door to the newspaper office and tried the handle, since the lights were on and found it was open. Olly was playing on his phone and Maggie was upstairs, still trying to figure out if she could afford some help for a few hours a day. She at least knew Olly's mother Lucy but since the woman used to have a gambling problem, letting her work next to the arcade didn't seem like a very good idea.

Olly looked up when the door opened and Alec stood to one side to allow Rose to enter.

"Miss Tyler, thanks for coming. Are you staying DI Hardy?" Olly asked, hoping the answer was no.

"I am responsible for her during the evening, you expect me to leave her with you?" Alec huffed, wishing now he'd taken his pills before leaving.

"Have a seat Miss Tyler," Olly continued, ignoring Alec's remarks.

"Thanks. So, what do you want to ask me?"

Olly still had no idea what he wanted to ask her that didn't either involve her love life or her family but then remembered what Maggie had told him.

"Yes, right, may I record this?" he asked, Alec wondering what happened to the good old reporters notebook.

"Yeah, sure. Are you sitting down Alec?" Rose turned to him as he remained at the bottom of the stairs.

He looked around and spied a spare chair and pulled it across to sit just at the side of Rose. Olly was also amused the way Rose spoke to the detective.

"Can you tell me why you agreed to come here tonight?" Olly thought was neither nosy or intrusive.

"Yeah, well when I was asked, I thought it was a really nice idea to remember Danny."

Olly went on to ask her various other questions and twenty minutes later, Rose was getting concerned that Alec was looking uncomfortable after telling Olly she'd had to issue a press statement to say the tabloids had got it all wrong and it had been Beth's idea, not hers.

"Alec, do you need your medication?" she asked, as if she knew.

Alec nodded, wondering why he was still being coy about taking his pills in front of anyone.

"Olly, can you get him some water?" Rose asked the reporter.

Olly got up and got a glass of water and brought it back, Alec reaching in his jacket pocket.

"How did you know?" he asked, grinning slightly as he pushed two pills through the blister pack.

"I'm a trained Torchwood agent Alec, I notice things," Rose smiled back as Olly returned, handing Alec the glass.

"Well, are we done?" Rose asked as Alec handed the empty glass back. "Only I wanted to go listen to the music, sounds like they're almost ready."

"Yeah, sure. Would it be okay if I did a video of you lighting the tree?"

"Why not?" Rose smiled as Alec seemed to recover slightly.

"You are not putting it on any file sharing sites are you?" Alec asked him.

"No, just the paper's blog. Don't let me delay you then," Olly told her, wishing she'd ditch Hardy for the evening and spend it with him.

Just then, Maggie came back downstairs and introduced herself to Rose.

"Nice to meet you Maggie. Well, they're starting the music, come on Alec, I want a spot at the front."

Alec raised his eyebrows as he got up slowly, he didn't want or need to have a dizzy spell in front of the town's guest of honour. It was all he needed to be looking after her all night if she wanted to spend an hour swaying in time to Christmas pop songs.

"Well, thanks for your time Miss Tyler," Olly told her as he held his hand out.

"No problem, just make sure everyone knows it was Danny's mother's idea, not mine, yeah?"

They went back out into the cold night air just as the DJ was introducing himself to the crowd, who were now being allowed onto the damp grass but still away from the tree itself, which had a large collection box, not a bucket as Jackie had predicted chained to a low wooden fence that surrounded the base of the large fir tree.

Rose spotted some room just in front of the stage and grabbing Alec's hand, made her way through as the DJ was testing the microphone.

"Hello Broadchurch!" he shouted after several tests. "We have an hour's entertainment for you before we have a special guest, who I see has arrived. Give everyone a wave Rose," he encouraged her.

Alec let go of her right hand as he became aware people would be trying to snap pictures of her as she waved back to the crowds, which stretched back across the road and people were standing or sitting on the wall opposite. He also noticed the lack of cars and thought the CS had ordered the road to be closed for an hour or so for the special event.

She turned back round to the face the stage, absent-mindedly grabbing Alec's hand again as the Christmas music came blaring out of the nearby speakers either side of the small stage. The crowds soon started waving their hands above their heads and singing along to various catchy tunes, some were even grabbing hands and dancing on the spot, including Rose, who had grabbed Alec's other hand and was trying to get him to move in time to 'Merry Christmas everyone' by Shakin' Stevens.

Alec wondered why on earth he'd got himself talked into this, he was supposed to be taking it easy and Rose Tyler was expecting him to move as she'd grabbed both his hands and seemed like she had no intentions of letting go.

"Aw, this is great Alec," Rose laughed as she moved even closer to him that forced him to let go with one hand and put it behind her back. "My little brother would have loved this," she told him as the tune stopped.

The DJ took to the microphone again. "Just ten minutes to go to the tree lighting everyone. Remember, this is in Danny's memory and if you've not already done so, please dig out all your spare change and throw it into the collection box by the tree, all the money is going to the newly re-formed Sea Scouts."

He leaned forward and called Alec towards the stage, Rose still holding onto him behind him.

"Can you bring her around the back of the stage in five minutes DI Hardy?" he asked Alec.

Alec nodded and the DJ went back to play 'Last Christmas' as some couples around them grabbed each other while others just swayed to the music but unfortunately for Alec, Rose grabbed hold of him again as they swayed together. Alec saw all the cameras and phones flashing and sincerely hoped it was dark enough so as not to show him dancing with Rose.

Olly though was already out and about, tapping people on the shoulder to ask them for a photo and he couldn't help but see Rose with her arms around Alec, swaying to the music but he thought better than to snap them, her stepfather would kick his butt or sue the paper and both were equally as bad if he didn't ask her permission. Then he thought he'd already asked her if he could take one of her lighting the tree but he doubted the agreement stretched to her dancing with the town's ex lead detective.

Just as Alec thought he was going to escape as she moved away slightly, the DJ couldn't resist playing an old favourite tune of 'Rockin' around the Christmas tree' and Rose suddenly grabbed him, moving closer again.

"Aw, this is my all-time favourite, I love this!" she told him as Alec saw the DJ wave him forward to take Rose around the back of the stage.

"Rose," he said in her left ear. "We have to get you on stage now, come on."

Rose let go reluctantly but was still dancing on her own as he pulled her around the side of the covered stage, everyone cheering as the music stopped and the DJ took the microphone again.

"Just a few more minutes to the main event folks. Just a reminder for those of you at the back who may have just arrived, we have a very special guest tonight who has kindly agreed to switch on the tree lights. When the tree has been lit, if you all wander across to one of the piers, there will be a firework display starting at eight."

Alec could have sworn it was at 7.45 but maybe they'd not purchased as many fireworks as they had predicted and were going to have to stretch them out a bit. Mr Trent himself had arrived and greeted Rose as she let Alec pull the flap of the enclosure across to her allow her in the small space behind the stage.

"Ah, Miss Tyler, welcome. I trust DI Hardy has been looking after you?"

"Yeah, he's been a good sport. You must be Mr Trent?"

"Please, call me Barry. Right, Jim up there will call you in a few minutes, I will go first and hand you the yellow button to push after the countdown."

"Great. This has turned out to be a success then?" she shouted over the top of the cheering crowd.

The DJ was calling everyone's attention. The Latimers, minus Beth's mother were standing at the side of the tree.

"We should have gone to the front Mum," Chloe was telling her. "How are we going to meet her?"

"We'll let everyone go towards the pier and wait for her coming off the stage," Beth replied, holding her stomach as the baby moved.

"Well you need somewhere to sit down Beth," Mark told her.

"Don't fuss Mark, I'm fine," she told him, trying not to pull a face.

"Can I have your attention?" the DJ was saying. "I want you all to put your hands together and welcome on stage Miss Rose Tyler. Rose, if you would join me?" he asked as Mr Trent went up the two steps first and Alec indicated for Rose to follow.

"Come with me Alec," she hesitated on the first step.

"You don't need me up there with you Rose," he replied as the crowd were cheering for her and Mr Trent had picked up the yellow button attached to the yellow cable that led across from the tree and had been covered by plastic boards by the council workers.

Rose looked disappointed in the dim light and held her hand out.

"Yes I do, you put Danny's killer away and almost killed yourself in the process. You deserve to be up there more than I do. Please Alec?"

"Rose, don't be shy," the DJ was joking. "Everyone cheer a little louder," he called out to the crowd as they shouted her name.

Alec was looking at her as she waved her hand at him.

"I'm not going up there without you Alec."

"Fine, go on, I will be right behind you," he told her, thankful he'd taken the two pills an hour before.

He stepped up behind her as she came into view of the crowds and the DJ pushed the microphone into her hand.

"It's all yours now," he told her as she stepped forward to the side of the sound deck, Rose blinking at all the camera flashes.

She turned back round and gave Alec a big smile that made his broken heart melt. He knew then she was something else, the way she had been concerned about him earlier so as she turned back to the cheering crowd, she lifted the microphone and spoke into it.

Chapter 4

The crowd were still cheering as Rose spoke into the microphone. She was well used to addressing crowds of people at her mother's charity events, unlike when she'd had to speak on behalf of the earth in front of the Sycorax.

"Hi everyone! Glad you could all make it. Before I press the switch to light the tree, I'd like to thank the Broadchurch council for inviting me tonight to this very special event and I'd like to thank DI Hardy for taking care of me when I arrived earlier, let's give him a cheer."

Alec was trying to keep back out of the way, knowing it was a mistake in letting her talk him into coming on stage.

"Don't be shy Alec, give everyone a wave," she tried to encourage him.

He came out of his hiding place and gave an awkward wave, reminiscent of when Miller had asked him to pay for a round of drinks when someone had been leaving and they'd gone off to the pub without him. He was so close, he whispered in her ear he was going to get her back for that.

"So, if you'll all count down from five with me and don't forget all the proceeds from the charity box are going to the sea scouts that Danny used to be a member of. His family are out in the crowd, give us all a wave."

Everyone began looking around and some of the locals saw them standing near the tree and began calling out. Chloe was the first to recover, giving a timid wave.

Rose could see they were trying to keep a low profile.

"Everyone, let's have a minute's silence in memory of Danny. DI Hardy, will you keep time for us?"

Alec couldn't help but admire the way she handled herself in public despite trying to shy away from those ridiculous reality shows and press conferences. As the minute was up, he held up his hand to indicate and Rose started to count down from five, holding the button that Mr Trent had passed to her in her hand. On zero, she pushed the button, remembering the Doctor pushing the big red button on the Sycorax ship.

Everyone cheered again as the lights twinkled brightly and the DJ began to play 'Jingle Bell Rock'. Rose handed the button back to Mr Trent and grabbed Alec's hand then stopped.

"Will you play that last song again, I missed most of it coming up here," she asked the DJ.

The man nodded and Alec helped her down the two steps. The Latimers were the only ones not making their way across the road to the piers and as Alec led Rose out of the back of the covered stage, he stopped her as he saw them by the collection box as people had crossed over the road to put money in it.

"You wanted to meet the family?" he asked her as she put her arm in his again.

Mark was the one to step forward as he saw Alec and Rose approach them.

"DI Hardy, nice to see you again," Beth told him.

"You see me in the supermarket all the time," Alec replied. "This is Rose Tyler. Rose, meet Mark, Beth and Chloe."

Beth was the one to offer a hand. "Thank you for coming, Danny would have loved all this."

"Yeah, I wanted to bring my younger brother but it was his school play tonight, the first one I've missed. This must all seem a bit much."

"Well we wanted to do something and thanks to you, it's been better than we'd hoped," Mark told her.

"I was only too happy to help and I'm really sorry for your loss."

"Thank you Miss Tyler," Beth managed tearfully.

"Come on Beth, let's go watch the fireworks?" Mark encouraged her.

"Yes, I should be getting you across to them," Alec told Rose.

"It was nice to meet you all and I hope everyone's been generous. Come on Alec, which is the best place to watch the display?"

She put her arm in his and as they walked off in front of the Latimers, Chloe nudged her mother.

"Well would you look at that Mum. Who would have thought the grumpy detective would have made friends with her?"

"Looks like they're more than friends to me," Beth laughed.

Alec led her away from the stone pier as people were walking along it trying to find the best spots to watch the display and followed the rest of the crowds to the east pier near the car park. Rose wanted to go right to the end to get a good view of the cliffs that seemed to glow in the dark but Alec thought she must be a bit of a romantic to come out with such things as she told him.

"Don't you think there's a glow to them?" she asked him as they managed to get a bench at the end to themselves, since there were still ten minutes to go before the fireworks were lit.

"Not that I have ever noticed. You seemed quite at ease up on the stage."

"Aw, it was nothing compared with one of my mother's charity events," she smiled, wishing she'd brought her gloves with her.

She tried to put her hands under his arm to warm them up and he noticed.

"That'll teach me to leave my gloves in my room," she grinned as he reached for one of her hands that was on top of his arm.

"Yes, it will. So, you enjoyed the music?"

"Yeah, me and my brother always dance around to them on Christmas Eve. I missed his school play to come down here."

"I heard you telling the Latimers. I always tried to go to my daughter's school plays but sometimes we both could not get the time off."

"Your wife worked with you?"

"Yes, she was the one who lost the evidence. Do not repeat that."

"No, why would I? You never said in that interview."

"I asked them not to print who it was but my daughter knows now. She was meant to be coming down for the holidays but her mother won't allow her."

"Aw, that's too bad, sorry. So what are you gonna do?"

"Go see her afterwards."

"What about Christmas Day?"

"I'll be fine, I have been on my own before I came here. If you want to watch the fireworks you should turn around."

"We always have a party on Christmas Eve and some friends round for Christmas dinner. If you can get up to London, you could come and join us."

"I would feel I am imposing, I will be fine."

Rose wasn't going to let it rest but the first of the rockets soared into the sky and she turned around, kneeling on the cold bench and resting one hand on the back of the bench and one on his shoulder.

"Turn around Alec," she told him.

He tried to turn sideways but Rose caught his arm and got off the bench, pulling him with her. They watched the rest of the display, arm in arm and it reminded her of when she'd watched them after getting the Doctor back when they'd gone to 2012 in her universe. Alec was watching her face as the fireworks lit up the night sky.

"Something wrong Rose?"

"It just reminds me of something, before we went to live with Pete, it's nothing."

She almost jumped as the last of the rockets exploded in the sky, revealing pinks and greens almost the same as that night when the Doctor had told her something was in the air and something was coming. Then weeks later, she'd found out the hard way that he was right and it had plunged her and her mother into another universe.

They stood for a few minutes as people down the other end made their way off the pier.

"Come on Alec, I'm hungry," Rose told him, holding out her hand.

They made their way across to the pub and went up to the bar, which was quite busy but the landlady saw her.

"I'll get your food for you, just pick a table."

"Thanks, can we get some drinks?"

They found a table in a corner and waited for their food to arrive. It was almost nine and Alec hadn't eaten properly since just after twelve and he'd been told he had to keep his strength up, which was why he was avoiding making his appointment. Rose was still talking about the fireworks and the tree lighting.

"It was great tonight Alec, they had a really good turnout."

"Yes, it was very successful, better than was expected. There will probably be some complaints about the road being closed."

"Aw, I'm sure they won't have minded. Sorry about dragging you on stage but you deserved as much credit as anyone else."

"I only played a small role, you were the main attraction," he insisted as he took a drink.

"I said I never wanted the attention."

"You gave credit to the family and visitors were reminded as to why it was taking place. You did not have to give any credit to me."

"Don't put yourself down Alec, you got the killer."

"No-one needed reminding of that Rose."

She thought how wrong he was, he'd done his job, yes but at what cost to himself?

"Well, you're welcome to try and get me back for it," she smiled as their food arrived.

Over their late meal, she couldn't resist asking what had brought him to the town.

"The chief here was the only one who would take me on after Sandbrook died down. You really want to know about that?"

Rose thought she had better change the subject.

"I meant it earlier Alec, if you're gonna be on your own at Christmas."

"I appreciate the gesture Rose but I cannot accept, what would your family make of it?"

"I told ya, we have a party and have friends round on the day. One more won't make any difference. Look, before I leave, you take my number, then you'll have someone to talk to. What about your daughter, won't she be calling you?"

"I expect so at some point. Why would you want to talk to me while you are spending time with your family?"

"Then call me in the evening. Geez Alec, if I was going to be on my own, I would jump at the chance to have someone to talk to."

Alec swallowed. It was difficult for him to accept that someone was actually concerned for his well-being but she looked like she wasn't going to take no for an answer.

"I will take your number then but I am making no promises."

"Tough guy," Rose smiled. "My younger brother wants me to take him shopping on Monday to get presents."

"I only have my daughter to buy for but what do you get a fifteen year old?"

"Ah, things were different when I was fifteen. She probably wants the latest phone or tablet."

"I don't need telling that Rose, she can ask all she wants, I only get half pay now until I go take up that other job."

"Sorry, you did ask. What music does she like?"

Alec put his fork down and used the napkin, hoping Rose wasn't staring if he had food on his beard, which was starting to get thicker.

"Don't ask me, she never tells me such things and she's probably already got a tablet knowing her mother."

"I'm sure you'll think of something, gift sets are always good, us girls love being pampered."

"I may just do that. I should let you get to your room."

"Tryin' to get rid of me?"

"No, I thought you would prefer some time on your own, you must be tired of my company."

"Don't say that Alec, you've been really good to me. Can we go back to your chalet?"

"Why would you want to do that?" he asked, finishing his light beer.

"I think the landlady here would give you another funny look if you went back to my room again with me," Rose smiled.

"Even just to escort you upstairs?"

"You saw her earlier, want to risk it?"

Rose excused herself to the ladies room, giving Alec her coat to look after. As he stood in the entryway, trying to fasten his coat one-handed, he wondered why Rose was so interested in his chalet. Was she thinking of coming for another visit and renting it when he'd left town? She was soon back and using the front entrance this time, they crossed the street and Alec insisted Rose went first.

There were lights coming from the wooden restaurant so it was easy to cross the bridge, Alec warning her about the step down at the end and they were soon in Alec's warm chalet.

"It's nice and cosy in here," Rose remarked as he took her coat.

"I suppose so. Can I get you a hot drink?"

"I'll make it. Do you need any more pills?"

"I am fine, you fuss too much."

"You're supposed to be looking after me but who looks after you?"

Before he could really answer, she was in the kitchen making tea. He thought she was going to be difficult to forget once she left in the morning, he could at least see her off.

"Is my car okay in front of the hotel?"

"Yes, it will be fine," he called back, picking up yesterday's papers from the table. "You will need to move it just after eight but I doubt the traffic warden will get down here much before nine. What time do you leave?"

"Going to make sure I go?" Rose smiled, putting the mugs on the coffee table and sitting next to him on the sofa.

"No, do you need me to?"

Rose sat back against the cushion, both hands on the warm mug.

"Oh, I'd best give you my number before I forget and I meant it, about coming to stay with us."

"Your family does not need me around."

"I hate to think that you'll be all alone Alec, you don't even have any neighbours."

Alec took the mug from her and put it on the table.

"Yes and I hate to think you will be worried too much about me to enjoy yourself with your family. I will be fine Rose, it's just another day."

"Well it's not fine with me, sorry. I had one Christmas, with this friend of mine back on our old estate. The next, he was gone and we were living with Pete. I never got to see him again, I worry about him every year, that he's on his own. I can't do anything about him but I can do something about you."

"I give in, I will call you, at some point during the day but you may be too busy to take it," he relented, handing her mug back to her.

"No, I won't. Why do you make things so difficult Alec?"

"I would not want to ruin my reputation for being difficult," he smiled.

It was Rose who took his drink from him.

"Alec, I'm gonna ask you something really stupid."

"Oh, what's that then? About why I almost drown then choose to live by the river?"

"Oh, no, I never thought about that. No, something personal."

"I don't talk about my condition, I am under the hospital for it."

"Yeah and have you done anything about it? That wasn't what I was gonna ask anyway but now you mention it."

"I just have to call them and they will fit me in, if I get any worse."

"You didn't look so good earlier."

"You are very observant. I was just late taking my medication, someone was keeping me talking."

"Seriously Alec, you shouldn't put any treatment off. What will they do?"

"They want to fit a pacemaker," he admitted.

"And until then, you just take medication and hope for the best?"

"That was the idea and it was working until you started asking questions."

"Sorry, I was just concerned, you can't blame me for that. I take my other question back then."

"You may as well ask now."

Rose considered it, would it do him more harm than good?

"I was just being stupid."

"Then finish your drink and I will walk you back to the hotel."

"Can I stay a bit longer?"

"If you change the subject? What was stupid about your question anyway?"

"Never mind, it doesn't matter."

"You were concerned for me, no-one has been for a long time."

"I'm sure they would be, if you let them?"

"I learned not to trust anyone, after my ex wife cheated on me."

"Maybe it's time you did trust someone then?"

"You mean a Torchwood agent or a reality TV star?"

"I'm not a reality TV star, they just make out that I am, I turn them all down."

"That will just make them go after you more."

"That's what my mum keeps telling me, you don't know her do you?" Rose smiled.

"Can I trust you Rose?" he asked, finishing his drink.

"Can I trust you? All those things they write about me, a different man every week. None of it's true, I've not had a proper boyfriend for a long time."

"The friend you spent that Christmas with?"

"No, he was just a special friend. We had that one Christmas together, then he was gone."

"I am sorry to hear that Rose," he told her as she looked sad.

He absent-mindedly reached out and tucked her hair behind her ear and Rose took his hand and placed it on her cheek, then kissed the back of it.

"Those fireworks reminded me of him. Alec, when was the last time you let someone get close to you?"

"A long time Rose, how about you?"

"Too long. How do you feel about one-night stands?"

"Really? Well someone turned me down a few months ago but I had collapsed on the bathroom floor a few nights before," he smiled.

"That's not funny Alec, you could have died."

"I am still here. How do I feel about one-night stands?" he asked, taking his hand back and resting it on the back of the sofa then touching her other cheek with his other hand. "I'd have to say no, what can I do, in my condition?"

"Just relax and chill out, you don't have anything to prove to me. Why don't you drop the tough guy act?"

"Who are you Rose? Besides the Vitex heiress? Mmm?"

"You'd never believe me if I told ya. Kiss me Alec."

He leaned forward and put his hand gently on her shoulder and pushed her back onto the cushion then kissed her cheek very gently.

"You must be warm in those things," he whispered, trying to pull the cardigan off her shoulder.

Rose moved her arms and put them around his neck.

"I may need to borrow a t-shirt."

She pulled him down and their lips met briefly before he put his arms around her and she moved over. Rose thought it was the best kiss she'd had, apart from when she snogged the Doctor whilst being possessed, a memory that had come back to her. The kisses that began as short and sweet began lasting a few seconds longer then they stopped to get their breath back and Alec went for the buttons of her cardigan.

"You want to stay, here, with me tonight?"

Rose nodded and went for the hem of his jumper.

"I only have a single bed," he smiled as the cardigan buttons came undone.

"So?" she asked trying to ruffle up his jumper to get it over his head.

"You paid for a room at the hotel, it cannot have been cheap."

"You forget who I am Alec. Shut up and take that jumper off."

He awkwardly pulled it over his head as Rose struggled out of her cardigan, then he helped her with the cashmere sweater she'd put on earlier.

"That's better," Rose smiled, fingering the buttons on his shirt as he put his hand under her pink striped top.

They fell back against the cushion and kissed again then Rose suggested they took it to the bedroom.

"Sure you want to stay?" Alec asked her again.

"Yeah, I think we both deserve a little fun? So, about that t-shirt?"

"You have one," he smiled, reaching for hers that he'd thrown over the back of the sofa.

"Ah, I think I may need one to cover me."

"Well, in that case, I will go get one for you. You know where the bathroom is?"

"Yeah, I think I remember the way."

"I am glad someone does."

"Yeah, this place is very deceptive, it seems bigger on the inside."

Alec looked at her, trying to divert his eyes from her cleavage and her black lacy bra.

"I think they just kept sticking bits on," he smiled, pulling one of the straps down.

Rose tapped his hand. "If you give me a few minutes, you won't need to do that."

"You take all the fun out it," he replied, wondering why all this time he'd been so off with people or was it just her that was making him forget how he'd become?

Alec went off to the bedroom and got out his grey t-shirt and handed it to her.

"Still need to go to the bathroom?" he asked, hoping she would do as earlier.

"I need to freshen up Alec. I won't be long."

He watched her walk across the room and down the corridor, then Rose realized she should be prepared for morning.

"Alec," she shouted. "Do you have a spare toothbrush?"

"In the cabinet, there is one still in the packaging. You should have brought something with you."

"I only asked you on the spur of the moment Alec," she called back. "I thought you would turn me down."

Alec wondered why they were having a conversation at a distance. Rose had changed into just the t-shirt, leaving her underwear just covered by it. She folded her clothes and picking them up returned to find the living room empty and the bedroom light on. She put her clothes on the sofa arm and called out.

"I'm out of the bathroom."

Alec looked around the doorway. "I can see that. Rose, you need to know I am somewhat limited, you may be disappointed."

"Don't say that Alec. I thought you'd invited someone else, what would you have done if she'd not turned you down?"

"It never came to that, she knew my condition, I was just being polite and asking."

Rose walked up to him and reached up, since he now seemed taller.

"I hope you're not sleeping in your trousers Alec?" Rose grinned as she finished unbuttoning his shirt.

"I was waiting to use the bathroom. You may have thought I was being presumptuous in waiting for you in just my shorts."

"Well you could have put a t-shirt on," she teased, running her finger down his torso.

"You have my only clean one."

"Well, if ya want it back?"

"Maybe later eh?"

"You're welcome to try. So, do you have anything?"

"Anything?" he asked as he tried to move her arms from around his neck.

"You mean you don't know what I'm on about?"

"Oh, you mean protection? No, I was not expecting to have a one-night stand."

"Good thing I'm covered then?" Rose smiled, kissing his cheek.

"I apologize, I would never presume that a woman should take all the responsibility."

"You're very old-fashioned Alec. Well, hurry up then?"

Alec went off to the bathroom wondering how someone like Rose Tyler would be remotely interested in him when she knew he was ill. He just hoped now he would survive the night to find out.

Chapter 5

Since it was only a single bed, Rose decided to sit on the edge and wait for his return. Alec was in the bathroom splashing water on his face to convince himself he had not fallen asleep on the sofa and Rose really was waiting for him in his bedroom. He had almost messed it up, she could have told him to just forget about it and demanded he took her back to the hotel but with all her fame, maybe she was just as lonely as he was?

He still couldn't bring himself to accept her more than generous invitation to spend Christmas at her family home though. He could survive one night as long as he was careful but that was all she wanted. Maybe he could also bring himself to give her a call later on Christmas Day, just to let her know he was still alive.

He went back towards the bedroom and as he went through the doorway, he turned out the light.

"I thought you would have got into bed Rose."

"I was waiting for you. Still gonna sleep in your trousers?"

"It would not be the first time, I fall asleep on the sofa all the time."

"Why'd ya turn the light out?"

"You do not want to see me getting undressed and I was not going to presume anything by walking around in my shorts."

"I was looking forward to it, you walking around in your shorts I mean. Quit messing around Alec and just get into bed."

She pulled the duvet back and scrambled to the other side, not that it was far to go and could feel the wooden window blinds behind her. Alec stepped out of his trousers and folded them across the back of the chair. Rose was admiring him in the dim light coming from outside as his shirt came off.

"If I had known, I would have stopped off to get something," he told her as he got into bed.

"I just thought with you being a police officer, you'd take your own precautions?"

"I do not make a habit of escorting someone for the evening then inviting them back although in your case, you invited yourself. Why the fascination with my home?"

"It's unusual and it reminds me of something."

"Somewhere you stayed on holiday?"

"Not exactly, somewhere I stayed while I was travelling, with the friend I lost."

"What happened Rose?"

"It doesn't matter, stop asking questions, anyone would think you were a detective."

Rose moved on top of him and initiated the kissing, which led to Alec claiming back his t-shirt as he tugged at his shorts when Rose slid her hands down the back and he'd helped her with her underwear.

"Rose, just don't expect too much eh?"

"Shush, stop putting yourself down Alec, you might be surprised."

He moved Rose onto her back when they had finished seeing just how far Alec could go and she wrapped her legs around him.

"See, told ya," she giggled softly.

"Well I had some help. Want my t-shirt back?"

"Yeah, best put something back on, just in case? Alec, promise me you'll do something, yeah? Are you gonna make any new year's resolutions?"

"I never keep them," he replied, going to kiss her cleavage.

"Well make one this time and keep to it. Call the hospital and book your surgery."

"I will consider it, no promises though. Tired?"

Rose rubbed her hand on his back. 

"Nope, shut up and kiss me again."

When Rose woke up, Alec wasn't there but she heard him moving around in the kitchen. He crossed back over and got back into bed, Rose snuggling up to him again.

"Hey, morning Alec," she said, going to lay on him.

"Did I wake you? I had to take my pills."

"What's the time? I don't want to get charged for another night in the room I never even slept in."

"Whose fault was that eh? It is only seven, you have plenty of time."

"For what? The morning after the one-night stand?"

As they moved around again under the duvet to rid each other of their underwear, Alec decided if he was going to feel any discomfort, he may as well have a reason. He didn't though, Rose was just as easy on him as she'd been the night before but he knew he'd got a little further this time, the way Rose was giggling softly as she moved.

"Mmm, that was nice, are you okay?"

"Stop asking me that, you would be the first to know if I was not. Did you pay for breakfast at the hotel?"

"I didn't stay there, I'd feel guilty claiming breakfast. Is there a café apart from the outdoor ones?"

"Near where we were last night but you may as well get something out of paying for the room."

"Nah, it doesn't matter, it was worth it to stay here with you. Have breakfast with me but I want to say goodbye properly before we set off."

Rose let him get out of bed then leaned on his shoulders as he reached for his trousers.

"I really enjoyed my visit here Alec, I don't think I would have done without you," she told him as she put her head on his shoulder.

"You would have. Are you going to get dressed?"

"Yeah, after I watch you put your shirt on."

"Very amusing Rose. Do you really want to pay a parking fine?"

"You could get me off it?"

"The traffic wardens work for the town here, not for the police."

"Ah, well I have a contact in the council offices."

"You may be famous Rose but you still have to pay the price for getting a parking ticket. Maybe it is the warden's day off?" he mused as he got up and retrieved his shirt.

"Here, let me fasten that? Then you get to take your t-shirt back."

"I look forward to it."

Rose went off to the bathroom and Alec was just making the bed when she got back.

"Want to remove any incriminating evidence?" she teased him.

"I do not get many visitors Rose."

"Why am I not surprised when it's so awkward to even get to this place? So, kiss me goodbye properly before we go get my things."

Rose put her arms around his neck and he lifted her up slightly as their lips met. Rose felt dizzy when he let her down.

"Wow, that was some kiss Alec. Oh, give me your phone, I'll put my number in it."

They walked across to the hotel, Rose hoping the landlady wasn't around and they were in luck. She gathered the few things she'd taken out of the overnight bag and then rushed into the bathroom to change her underwear. Coming back out, Alec picked up the bag.

"I hope that woman is not downstairs."

Rose giggled again. 

"I might just hint that we've been here all night."

"Stop it Rose, I have to live here, remember?"

"Chill Alec, I was just messin' around. Just tell her you're making sure I leave town."

The truth was, he didn't want her to leave town but she had to go home. What would the Vitex heiress do in a place like this? She'd wanted one night and had got a bonus plus he'd actually survived it. Maybe his luck was changing and if he gave in and got a date for surgery, he may even survive that. Well he'd think about it, there wasn't much difference between that and spending his days teaching recruits, the surgery would be quicker if it didn't work compared with a slow death boring students.

There was no-one around downstairs, Rose seemed disappointed Alec thought as she left the key on the desk and he pulled the latch back on the door and allowed her to go first. Rose was also lucky as the traffic warden had just finished in the harbour car park and was on his way to where her car had been parked, Alec pointing him out as he put her bag in the back.

"Just in time then," Rose smiled as she checked the road.

Alec could have sworn the traffic warden had a disappointed look on his face as they drove the short distance to the harbour café. He got out and paid for an hour's parking then he was the one to take her hand as they walked over to the entrance. Rose was now regretting having to leave but didn't want to say anything. She'd asked for one night and that was what he'd given her.

"Alec, about last night."

"You do not have to explain Rose, you were lonely, so was I, we kept each other company."

"Yeah, since you put it like that. So, I hope your daughter manages to persuade her mother to let her come and see you."

"No chance, I will go see her. I will consider what you said, about a new year resolution."

"Good, don't give up Alec, you could be worrying over nothing."

She went quiet as their food arrived and they ate in silence, Alec had opted for the healthy breakfast but Rose eating a normal one didn't help. She excused herself to the ladies room and Alec was waiting by the door when she came out.

"Best not have that traffic warden waiting to pounce on you," he smiled.

"Yeah, he's probably got his spy glass out and is watching. Walk me to my car?"

She remote unlocked it as she reached the metallic blue SUV type car.

"It was nice meeting you Rose, have a safe journey home."

"Yeah, it was more than nice meeting you Alec and last night was really special."

"You made me believe in myself again, Rose Tyler, that I am still alive. I will make the effort to call you on Christmas Day, since you insist."

"Then I'll wait for your call but if you want, you don't have to wait until the 25th, you can call me any time. The offer still stands, if you find yourself thinking you don't want to be alone."

"I will bear that in mind. Bye Rose, take care."

Rose couldn't help flinging her arms around his neck and lean on his shoulder.

"Go on, before you really get a fine."

"Bye Alec, I won't forget you. You're the first decent man I've met in a long time."

"You mean after your friend? Who was he Rose?"

"It doesn't matter Alec, I thought no-one could replace him, that's why I never wanted to get involved with all those rejects from reality shows. I was wrong though, there was one man who came so close."

Alec didn't know what to make of that. Instead, he pulled her gently to face him and looked into her hazel eyes that looked like they already had a tear in them. They kissed one last time and he let her go, opening the driver's door for her.

"Drive carefully, Rose Tyler."

"Yeah, the roads should be quieter now, bye Alec."

Rose pulled herself together and starting the engine, put the car into the 'Drive' position since there was now no-one in front of her and let the window down.

"Take care of yourself Alec, promise me that."

"I will."

He waved as she drove off over the car park, the traffic warden had just reached the edge and Alec smiled to himself. Yes, Rose Tyler was something else and she was someone he was never going to forget that easily. As Rose drove up the road, she thought of going back but he was a loner, he wanted to do things his own way and regrettably, she had to let him.

Alec walked the short distance home but it didn't seem like home now, not after Rose had stayed the night. He needed to go get a few groceries since Rose had been making drinks but thought he'd go locally, he couldn't face seeing Beth Latimer in the supermarket, she must have noticed him and Rose going off arm in arm last night and the woman would be sure to ask questions.

He went to the drawer and pulled a pile of folders out and decided he was going to have to forget about Rose, it would do him no good dwelling on the fact he'd let her just drive away. He got to mid-afternoon and decided to go for a walk and it was just his luck to bump into Paul Coates.

"Quite a turnout last night?" Paul remarked.

"Yes, the Latimers should be pleased."

"I saw you trying to hide on the stage, Rose Tyler wasn't going to let you though."

"I do not need reminding of that. If you will excuse me, I have groceries to get."

"She seemed to have taken a liking to you."

"She has gone home to her family, where she belongs."

"You may think you are fooling everyone but are you fooling yourself? You let her go."

"I had to and I am not explaining myself to you."

"Well don't take it out on everyone else. Let me give you some free advice DI Hardy. She liked you, you obviously liked her, do something about it."

Alec shrugged his shoulders and carried on to the mini market. Maybe the vicar was right but what could he do about it?

Rose finally got home and Tony went running to meet her.

"Rose, you should have seen my play! I remembered all my lines."

"That's great Tony, well done."

Her mother stood in the doorway. 

"Tony, go find your father and tell him Rose is back. Rose, I want a word with you."

"What? I've just got back."

"Did you know that tree lighting was gonna be on the local news last night?"

"What? No, I didn't. How did you find out?"

"From Jake, who else? You know what he's like when you go somewhere, he makes sure the press don't go after you and he was on their website. He sent the link to Pete."

"I was only doing what you said Mum, getting everyone to give generously to that charity. The local reporter said he was only putting it on their blog."

"Yeah but did you have to thank that Alec Hardy in public? The way he was looking, he didn't want any mentions."

"I know but he deserved it. What's the fuss about?"

Jackie went to pick up the newspaper. 

"This. Other papers picked up on it Rose."

"It's nothing Mum, it was just another charity event."

"You've not read it properly Rose, there's another picture inside of you and that Alec Hardy leaving the event together."

"We were only going to watch the firework display."

"Arm in arm?"

"Honestly Mum, haven't they got anything better to do?"

"Well I suppose it's an improvement from normal. Pete wants to know if you want to issue another statement?"

"There's nothing to issue one for."

"I'm glad you think so Rose," Pete told her as he stood in the doorway.

Alec was still unaware he had hit the headlines for being Rose's 'Date' for the evening until he got a call from Tess that evening.

"I see you got yourself in the papers again Alec? Honestly, how do you expect Daisy to talk to you properly?"

"What are you talking about Tess? I spoke with her, she says you won't let her come for a visit."

"For two days? You two barely communicate, she'll just have me driving down to get her on Boxing Day. You need to learn to stay out of the tabloids first."

"I still do not know what you are on about."

"The Broadchurch Echo's website or blog, whatever you want to call it. You and that Rose Tyler, on the same stage."

"She was turning on the tree lights, my old boss asked me to look after her."

"Did that include sharing the stage with her and her encouraging you when she thanked you for looking after her? As if that wasn't bad enough, there are photos of you two walking off together."

"I told that reporter to be careful where he released that video. Yes, she told him he could record the switching on of the light, I bet he started the recording early."

"Well obviously Alec, since it's all there."

Alec thought it was just as well Stevens had not recorded him being coaxed into dancing with her.

"So, what else was there?"

"Read it for yourself Alec, you were there, what else?"

He knew it would all blow over in a day or two. He was one in a long line who had shared the news headlines with her and he probably wouldn't be the last. The only advantage he held over the rest of the hopefuls was he'd had her in his bed and spent the night with her. After Rose looked so lonely, he doubted anyone else had succeeded.

Monday soon came around and all Rose had done over the weekend was watch the recording of Friday night's events. She'd not seen his reaction to her mentioning him until she'd turned around. As she joined the others for breakfast, her mother went to get Tony ready to be taken out and Pete was going into work later.

"Come on Rose, what's wrong?" he asked, finishing his coffee.

"Nothing Dad. Mum's never stopped going on about me getting in the headlines again."

"She'll soon forget about it. What about you though?"

"I had a good time there, he was really nice. He has this quaint little chalet by the river."

"Went for a visit did you?" Pete smiled.

"Don't tell mum but yeah, he showed me it after lunch."

"I'm not your mother Rose. Sure you only went once?"

"I went back with him after we'd eaten, when the fireworks had ended."

"I see. Was it serious?"

"No, I just stayed with him and I left the next morning but now, I'm beginning to regret it."

"What? Staying with him the night or leaving?"

"Leaving. I gave him my number."

"Anyone can call you at Torchwood love."

"I know but I won't be back there until after the holidays, will I? I don't think he'll call though but he said he might, on Christmas Day."

"Rose, talk to you mother eh? You always get so sad at this time of the year and I wasn't there when it started."

"Yeah, when I get back."

Rose set off with Tony to the shopping mall, getting a space easily enough in the car park since it was still early and he dragged her off to get the presents he wanted. They were just having a drink when Rose was staring at a store.

"Earth to Rose," Tony laughed.


"You're miles away again. What are you thinking about?"

"I met someone while I was away and I don't know if I'm gonna see him again."

"Why not? Has he got a phone?"

Rose smiled at her younger brother's optimism.

"I didn't get his number but I gave him mine."

"He might call you then? Are you getting him a present?"

"What for?"

"If he likes you, he might come to see you?"

"I asked him but he said no."

"Aw, don't give up Rose. If you buy him a present, you can always take it to him."

"Yeah, thanks little bro. Come on then, help me choose something."

Twenty minutes later, with Tony's approval, she had bought a light blue sweater and a brown tie with blue swirls that reminded her of the ones the Doctor used to wear. On the way back, Tony asked her what she was going to do.

"Talk to mum and tell her."

"Doesn't she know?"

"She was mad 'cos I got in the papers again."

Tony started laughing, he was used to seeing his big sister in the headlines, his friends thought it was really cool.

Getting home, Rose decided to come clean with her mother.

"You should have said something Rose. Do you like him?"

"Yeah, I do but what can I do about it?"

"Rose, it's Christmas Eve tomorrow, get his number and call him."

"Mum, he's hardly likely to be in the phone book."

"Oh for goodness sake Rose, you're a bloody Torchwood agent, act like one. Call the police station and ask them or have them get him to call you."

"I can't Mum, for all I know, that's all he wanted. I thought that was all I wanted but I can't forget about him."

Back in Broadchurch, Alec was having the same problem only he had no-one to talk to about it and he certainly wasn't going to talk to the vicar. Paul Coates had hit the nail on the head and he knew it. He had coped, just about on Saturday, Sunday hadn't been too bad, he'd made a little progress in going through his old case but that may have been because he knew it all off by heart by now. He knew he was still missing something and that didn't include Rose.

What had she done to him? He'd never missed someone he'd known for less than 24 hours as much as he missed her yet he couldn't bring himself to call her. He tried to convince himself that her offering her phone number and telling him to call had just been a gesture, nothing more. By Monday afternoon, he'd got a taxi to the supermarket and was wandering around with the trolley trying to decide whether to buy something for his Christmas dinner the day after tomorrow or buy a present for Rose, get on a train and hope she'd genuinely wanted him to join her family for the holidays.

The worst that could happen would be he'd get there and she'd tell him she hadn't meant it, he might get the last train back or at a pinch find a room for the night as far as he could get before the trains stopped. The best that could happen would be she or her mother would feel sorry for him and invite him to stay until the trains were running again.

He snapped out of it, went to the gifts department and remembered what she'd said about being pampered and found a nice gift set then thought he'd best get something for the rest of her family. Fortunately, his pay had just come through, not that he was desperate but a ticket to London wouldn't be cheap.

His mission accomplished and getting some cards and wrapping paper, he headed home and debated whether to call her or tell her when he got on the train tomorrow. He used the internet on his phone to find out the train times, there was one at nine thirty that took almost three hours since it was one that seemed to stop at every station between Broadchurch and London Waterloo or a later one at eleven but he'd have to change trains.

Thinking the first option was the lesser of two evils, he decided he had nothing to loose. He would prepare himself for not getting to see her and maybe still have time to get back though he'd have nothing special in his freezer but he could get by. One of the shops in the town would bound to be open late for last minute shoppers.

Rose was eating her evening meal and Tony was chatting away.

"Mum, Rose was sad today."

"Yes, I know love but only Rose can do something about it," Jackie replied.

"Do you want him to be your boyfriend Rose?"

"Leave her be eh Tony?" Pete asked him.

"But Dad, she bought him some presents, she must want to see him again."

"It's not that easy Tony," Rose tried to explain to the young boy.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Okay, if I don't hear from him by lunchtime tomorrow, I'll call the police station and ask for his number."

"Then what?" her mother asked her.

"If he answers, I'll drive down and get him, if he doesn't, well I'll drive down anyway and if he doesn't want to see me, well I'll know, won't I?"

Jackie smiled, knowing her daughter still missed the Doctor but now, she was at least making an effort not to be her usual miserable self every time someone pulled a Christmas cracker.

"Well I think he'd have to be mad to turn you away," she told Rose.

Rose just hoped she was right.

Alec was up early, he was ready to leave an hour before his taxi was due to take him to the station, wishing there was one in the town but it was only a few miles away. If the worse did happen, he'd at least be able to get back, there would be some taxi cabs hanging around as long as trains were stopping even if only to charge double rates.

He got to the station and still had twenty minutes to wait but since he'd reckoned he may have to queue for a ticket, he thought he'd be on the safe side. He asked the price difference between a single and a return and thought he would chance a single, if Rose really did want him to stay but what then?

As the train arrived, on time he noted, he found a vacant double seat and put his holdall on the luggage rack and the Christmas carrier bag beside his legs and tried to stretch out for the next three hours or so, hoping the train wouldn't get busy as it got towards its destination. He wondered when he should actually let her know he was on his way.

Maybe it would be better to get it over with if she told him she didn't want to see him, he could get off at the next station and hope the train back stopped there but maybe he'd go on anyway and stand on her doorstep and ask if he could at least talk to her. He gave in when the train left Southampton, that was more or less the last main station for getting off so he had nothing else to lose.

He thought someone was going to sit next to him but a man just moved further down so finishing the last of the tea he'd got from the trolley, he found the number Rose had put in his phone. He smiled when he saw her name and pressed the green phone icon next to it.

Rose was in the kitchen wrapping her presents for Alec, in case she got the courage to go down and drag him back here, her phone on the table beside her. Pete had taken Tony with him to get a few last minute things, Jackie having convinced him if Alec turned up, there should at least be a present for him under the large tree in the hallway.

Jackie was still rushing around telling the staff about the party and those who were working during the next two days had gone off to see friends and family. Rose was just finishing when her mother came in.

"Well?" her mother asked. "Rose, if you leave it much longer sweetheart, it'll be dark by the time you get there and too late to come back."

"Yeah, I'll do it now and if they won't give me it, I'll have to give them a sob story."

Putting the presents to one side, she was just finishing her drink when her phone rang, a number she didn't recognize and her heart skipped a beat or two as she pressed the answer button.


Alec's own heart was also playing up.


"Hi Alec. See, you did call me. Are you at home?" she asked, hearing some noises in the background.

"No, I'm on a train."

"Oh. Are you going to see your daughter?"

"No, I am on the train to London."

"You are?"

"You sound surprised," he added, looking around as people were walking up and down the aisle.

"A bit, yeah. I didn't think you'd even call me before tomorrow."

"Well I took a chance your offer was genuine."

"Yeah, I thought you trusted me Alec?"

Jackie Tyler could take a hint when her daughter wanted to talk to someone.

"I do but no-one has ever extended an offer to spend the holidays with their family before when they just met me."

"I said we had friends round Alec, that includes you."

"Well I will be in London in just over an hour, if this train does not stop at every single station."

"Which station, I'll come and get you."

"Waterloo but it will be busy Rose, I can get a cab."

"Do ya know how much it'll cost today? No, I'll get someone to bring me then if there's no parking spaces, they can wait or drive around. Just wait for me at the entrance if I'm not there but I'll set off soon, the traffic will be mad."

"You are going to a lot of trouble for me Rose."

"Aw, it's no trouble Alec. I was gonna call Broadchurch police station and ask for your number."

"You were? Well it's a good thing I called them the other day and told them if you asked, to give you it."

"You did?"

"Well yes, although I thought it was just what you meant, for one night."

"So did I. I was gonna come down and get you, or just stay with you, if you weren't ready to meet my family."

"You would spend Christmas away from them for me?"

"Well yeah, how could I leave you on your own?"

Alec stopped for a moment as he thought someone had got tired of walking up and down the carriages and was going to sit next to him but they moved on.

"You are most kind Rose. I will see you soon then but I have some questions."

Rose smiled. "Of course you do, you're a detective."

Rose hurried upstairs to get changed then after putting Alec's presents under the tree went to find one of the male staff who ferried them around from time to time, forgetting to tell her mother there would be an extra person for Christmas dinner.

"So, he's coming here then?" her mother asked as she waited by the front door for Stuart, the part-time gardener and handyman and one of the few she trusted to drive her car when she was going to a party or event.

"Yeah but you have to promise not to stare at him."

"Rose, I wouldn't do that but you'd best warn Jake and Mickey."

"I'm not worried about Jake, it's Mickey that will open his big mouth, he was there that Christmas Mum, remember?"

"Well you'd better call him and tell him before the party tonight. It's a good thing no-one else knows what the Doctor looked like."

She got her phone out and indicated to Stuart to take her car keys and start the car.

"I won't be a minute, we're going to Waterloo station."

"Take your time Miss Rose, I know a quicker route where there will be less traffic."

"Mickey, listen to me very carefully," she told him when he answered.

"Are you crazy Rose? You've invited him for Christmas?"

"Shut up Micks. You have to promise me you will not mention the Doctor, not even a hint that it reminds you of that Christmas, got it?"

"Yeah, I get it. Have you told Jake?"

"I'm not worried about Jake blurting out about how he remembers the pink paper hat Mickey. Listen. I have to go meet Alec at Waterloo, warn Jake for me will ya?"

"Well okay but I hope you know what you're doing Rose."

"I know exactly what I'm doing Mickey," she told him as she opened the front door and her car was waiting.

Forty minutes later, she was being dropped off, the traffic just as bad on the route they'd taken as the others would have been and Stuart apologizing.

"Don't worry, the train's still not due yet, I wanted to go onto the platform. If I'm longer than the twenty minutes allowed, just drive around, yeah? Don't get a fine, I had to dodge them twice recently."

Stuart smiled at her as if to say she could afford them, why was she dodging parking fines?

She made her way through the glass doors and looked at the arrivals board, trying to figure out where the train Alec was on had started out and figured it was from Exeter and that one was due in fifteen minutes. She saw the long queue for tickets then saw the machine and wondered if she could get away with saying she was just meeting someone but the ticket collector looked bored as she approached him at the bottom of the escalator.

"Do I need a ticket to go meet someone?"

The man looked at her since everyone else was using the automated barrier.

"You need a ticket from the kiosk."

"Have you seen the queue? I'm not getting on a train, I'm meeting a friend."

"Then wait here Miss, your friend will see you when they come through."

Rose thought it was totally unfair you had to pay to go on a platform when all other stations on the line were free but if she joined the long queue, she would miss Alec getting off the train and the ticket would be useless so all she could do was find a place to wait and send him a message – now she had his number.

Alec heard his message tone and squinted at the screen - 'I'm just by the barrier – Rose xx'

He typed a message back – 'I will look for you'

Rose looked at the arrivals board again, six minutes until the train's arrival and it seemed longer than the five and a half hours she and Mickey had waited for the Doctor on that spaceship when he'd trapped himself in the past. Alec heard the guard announce they were almost at Waterloo and got up to retrieve his holdall, placing the bag with the presents on the seat.

As the train arrived at the platform, Rose couldn't quite see and she anxiously waited for him to walk down the platform, half thinking he may still turn around and get on the next train going back but she thought she saw him behind two or three people and stood where he would see her. Alec saw her and waved with a little more enthusiasm than he had at the crowd around the stage.

Putting his ticket in the barrier, Rose was on him before he even got through.

"Hi, had a good journey?"

"Three hours on a train? It could have been worse," he told her as she offered to take the bag containing the presents. "No peeking," he added as she took it and hooked her arm in his.

"Come on, I've got someone waiting outside if he's not had to move. I tried to get a ticket for the platform but the queue was too long."

"You have to pay to get on the platform?" he asked as she led the way to the escalator.

"London – different world," she smiled as they stepped onto it.

They were soon back at the mansion and taking Alec's things from the back of the car, Stuart handing Rose's car keys back.

"Avoiding a fine were you?" Alec grinned, taking the holdall.

"I may be trying to avoid them Alec but I don't want a reputation of collecting them. Come on, it looks like dad and Tony are back."

After the introductions and her mother staring at Alec for a while, she took him up to her room.

"Do you need a rest before tonight?"

"No, I closed my eyes for a while on the train, after you said you would be waiting for me."

"I missed you Alec," she told him, putting her arms around his neck.

"I missed you too Rose, I thought that one night was all you wanted?"

"I thought that was all you wanted, guess we were both wrong? I got you a present, it's under the tree. I was gonna come down and get you."

"You already said. You were right Rose, being alone at Christmas was not such a good idea."

"Well, you're here now, that's all that matters."

A few hours later, Rose was getting ready for the party, Alec waiting for her coming out of the bathroom.

"You look stunning Rose. I was a fool to let you drive off like that."

"I couldn't stop thinking about you, how you'd be on your own."

"Like that friend of yours?"

"Alec, leave it, please? He's gone, it was a long time ago, a lifetime."

"How do you mean, a lifetime Rose? Who are you?"

"Just an ordinary girl from a London council estate who had her life changed in more ways than one. Alec, did you hear what I said? Before I left Broadchurch?"

"Yes, then you left anyway."

"I meant it, I thought no-one could replace him but you were starting to fill that gap I felt after I lost him. He's a long way away Alec, further than you could ever imagine."

"Was he taken by those Cybermen?"

All she could do was make this easy on him, his heart condition could worsen if she told him the truth and this way, she would find out if he really could accept it.

"Yes, sort of but he wasn't killed though. He followed them Alec, to stop them getting back and sealed the gap they made while escaping. He was the only one who didn't make it back."

"I am sorry Rose, he is still out there then, somewhere?"

"A parallel universe. We tried getting the way they escaped working again but it won't and even if we did, how many other exact worlds are out there?"

"Very true. We are going to miss your party."

The party was a success, although Mickey had to go stare at Alec but Jake took her to one side when Jackie caught Alec.

"I've not seen you this happy since that night you and the Doctor were first here."

"Yeah, it took a long time Jake, maybe Alec is who I've been waiting for? I'd best go rescue him from my mum."

"So, are ya gonna get yourself fixed then?" Jackie was asking him.

"Yes Mrs Tyler, I have something to tell Rose."

"Tell me what Alec?" Rose asked as she put her arm around his neck.

He pulled her to one side. 

"I took your advice and called the hospital. They gave me a date, the third of January."

"That's great Alec."

"Would you go with me?"

"I wouldn't let ya go on ya own Alec, I was the one to encourage you. Come on, let's go dance."

"Just as long as it is not a fast tune. No dancing around the Christmas tree though eh?"

"That's rockin' around the Christmas tree," Rose smiled, kissing his cheek.

The End!