Strangers on a train

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Alec Hardy is taking the night train to Fort William to travel around the Scottish highlands after he fails to reconnect with his daughter. Rose Tyler is taking over a new Torchwood office there and they meet when they are in adjoining cabins. Thinking they only have one night, they spend it together but when they reach their destination, they both realise they want more. 

Chapter 1
Alec thinks she just wants the one night and wouldn't want to give up her new job just for him. Will she find him before he embarks on his travels when she realizes she also wants more two days later?

Rose was getting excited at the prospect of running her first office, since it was in the far reaches of Scotland – Fort William to be precise and she’d read up about the town and looked at local pictures and booked a nice hotel for a few nights just on the shore of the loch she had yet to learn the name of and would take her time choosing either a house or an apartment.

She’d persuaded her stepfather not to send Jake or Mickey with her just yet, she wanted some time on her own to get used to it and she had a few days to spare before meeting the team she would be in charge of. Her mother of course had argued Rose’s need to be so far away but expected Rose, despite being in this new world long enough would never get rid of the travelling bug.

“Mum, I’m only going to Scotland,” Rose reminded her a few days before, since she had opted to take the overnight train to save driving and had got her secretary to book her a cabin until it reached Glasgow, around eight in the morning since the train was a slow one, then she had to get one to Fort William and hoped she’d be able to manage her luggage or find a porter.

She had learned that from the town she was going to, regular steam trains ran to Mallaig and from there, ferries to some of the islands so she had plenty of exploring to do plus some of the bigger islands to visit. So the night before, since Pete was taking her to the railway station to board the train around eleven at night, she had read Tony a bedtime story but he wanted to know where she would be visiting.

“Aw, lots of places Tony,” Rose had smiled.

“Will you see the Loch Ness monster Rose?” Tony laughed.

Rose had been amused it had been rumoured to have existed in this world as well as her old one.

“I’ll take a picture if I see it but it might be a bit scary. Tell you what, I’ll see if I can get a book about it and send it down, yeah?”

“Yeah, great, thanks Rose. Dad said there’s a big mountain there as well, are you gonna climb it?”

Rose ruffled his hair. “I don’t think so but I might have a ride on the ski-lift and there are loads of castles to look around. I hope when I get settled, you can all come for a visit, yeah?”

Just then, Pete came in to remind Rose what time she had to leave, since the train was open for boarding earlier to give time for people who had booked cabins to find them and get a late night snack in the dining car. She wondered if such trains still ran in her old world but doubted it when people could fly in a fraction of the time. She could have done had she wanted but it all added to the excitement.

“So, looking forward to this?” Pete asked as they had said goodnight to Tony and Pete had switched the monitor on.

“Yeah, though Jake offered to keep me company again but I just want some time to explore. I hope it’s one of those old - fashioned trains.”

“It will be, I’m surprised you didn’t look it up. Got your ticket ready?”

Rose nodded. “Best go say bye to mum, it’s a wonder she doesn’t want to see me off.”

“She would but she’d only make a scene and make a fuss like you said she used to do when you were going off in that police box,” Pete had to smile.

“Trust me, she would as well, you’ve no idea. Just see me onto the train Dad, no point in waiting until it departs. If there are any delays, I’ll miss my connection in Glasgow but half an hour won’t make much difference.”

“Well you call me right away if the train gets cancelled, we’ll leave it until morning and book a plane, which you could have gone by you know?”

“Since when did I ever do something the easy way?” Rose grinned as they entered the sitting room her mother was in.

They finally set off after her mother let her go and Pete drove toward the train station, easily finding a parking spot and surprised there was no charge at that time of night. He went to get a platform ticket so he could help Rose with her luggage and find her cabin, which Rose had memorized the number and the carriage letter.

While Rose had been doing all that, Alec Hardy had left Sandbrook after saying goodbye to his daughter and leaving her to think of paying him a visit when he decided to go back to Broadchurch. That all depended on if the chief there would forgive him for not revealing his illness then having the nerve to take over a custody suite to arrest those responsible for killing two cousins.

If he was really lucky and took his time, she might have left. Why he’d suddenly taken up the idea of travellng around the Scottish Highlands, he couldn’t remember but he was going to end up in his home town of Paisley after a brief visit to where he was actually born in Bathgate, not that he remembered much about it, since he was quite young when they had moved.

He had decided to start off in Fort William, spend a couple of days going locally and have a car delivered to the hotel then head further north towards Inverness then around to the east coast and Aberdeen. Well that was half his plan, he’d not decided if he was going to end in Paisley or go back to Fort William but he’d miss a lot out if he didn’t. He had some savings he was going to fund his trip with and was now re-instated as a DI pending him deciding where he was going to apply and he had four weeks to decide or he’d been told he could end up anywhere where there was a vacancy for his rank.

He just hoped if he didn’t decide when he got back that it wouldn’t be in the same station as his ex wife, since he’d embarrassed himself and her by asking her to give them another chance. What had he been thinking when he was one day away from getting himself fixed and asking Tess to give him another chance?

He was getting a late train to London and travelling overnight, thankful there still was an overnight train and he’d paid extra to get a private cabin and just hoped there wasn’t a couple in the adjoining cabin who were having loud sex all night, well not unless it was him and he somehow doubted that.

Rose and Pete where walking down the ramp to the platform as Alec's train from Sandbrook arrived and he just had to cross the bridge without exiting the platform area and Pete was helping her find her cabin as Alec was getting on from the other end. Pete picked up the key from the inside and handed it to Rose.

“What are you going to do until the train departs?” Pete wondered.

“I think I’ll go find the restaurant car and get a snack and a coffee, then I’ll stay there a while, I’m not tired yet,” Rose replied, leaving her luggage by the window and pulling down the blind.

“Want me to pull the bed down for you?” Pete offered.

“I thought it would be like those old trains where there was a separate bedroom,” Rose mused.

“You watch too many spy films Rose,” Pete laughed. “Well, I’d best be off then, call us when you get settled in your hotel.”

“Yeah, I will and I managed to get a room with a view of the loch, not the car park around the back,” Rose smiled.

She locked the cabin door behind her and followed Pete to the exit, giving him a hug.

“Just relax Rose, have a pleasant journey,” Pete told her.

After waving, Rose followed the sign for the restaurant car just as Alec was following her, seeing her trying to argue with a door.

“Do you need some help maybe?” a Scottish voice came from behind her as she tried to pull the door.

“The stupid thing seems to be stuck,” Rose replied without turning around.

“Ah, maybe you pull it instead of pushing it?” Alec suggested, Rose having stepped aside.

Rose thought he didn’t have to be such a show-off, did he? Then she realized who he was. Alec held the door through to the next carriage, seeing another door through the short gap.

“Allow me to open the next one?” he suggested as Rose stared at him. “Have we met before?” he dared ask, also knowing who she was right away as she had turned.

“Don’t think so but I know who you are,” Rose had to smile, not believing her luck he was on the same train but considering he was Scottish and the train was destined for Glasgow, it seemed reasonable he was on board.

Rose followed him and he closed the other door behind her and indicated for her to enter the dining car.

“Would you care to join me, Miss Tyler?” he asked hopefully as a few tables were already taken.

Rose nodded and slid into a seat, Alec sitting opposite and taking the late-night menu which consisted mainly of over-priced sandwiches, which he hoped weren’t served in cardboard and plastic wrappers considering the prices.

A waiter came to take their order, Rose ordering tea since she wouldn’t sleep if she did actually go for the coffee so Alec suggested they shared a pot for two and ordered two egg-mayonnaise sandwiches.

“May I call you Rose?” he dared ask.

“Sure, why not, Alec? So, what made you take this train then? Did you leave Broadchurch after the trial?”

“Yes, I went to visit my daughter but she was having very little to do with me so I decided I would take a holiday and travel around Scotland for a while. Are you going on holiday?” he wondered as their pot of tea arrived.

“No, I’m going to be working up there, team leader in Fort William. I’m looking forward to it,” Rose replied, not wanting to mention Torchwood.

“I take it that’s not for Vitex then?” Alec smiled, offering to pour the tea.

“You’re well informed Alec,” Rose smiled as she watched him and the train began to move slowly.

Alec was hoping he wouldn’t spill the hot liquid on her or the white tablecloth, he’d surely suffer if he did either but he managed not to. Rose was relieved she wasn’t the one going backwards but Alec had hardly noticed, trying to impress his new acquaintance with his tea-pouring skills.

“So why are ya going off to Scotland in the middle of the night?” Rose continued after their sandwiches arrived, on a ‘posh’ plate Alec was relieved to see and no cellophane in sight but with a side-serving of salad.

“I had been to see my daughter and thought I would take advantage and travel overnight, I too am going to Fort William,” Alec told her as they ate. “I am going on a touring holiday, I am just staying there for a few days while I plan the best route.”

“Lucky you then. I was just gonna look around the place for a few days, take a steam train ride and a ferry to one or two of the islands and maybe go part way up the mountain.”

Alec thought she probably would as well, she seemed to keep herself in good shape and now he was paying more attention to himself, he was a lot fitter than a few months ago when he’d escaped from the jaws of death.

“That sounds more interesting than what I had planned,” he had to smile as he offered to pour more tea.

“Best not, I don’t have my own bathroom. Do these trains have private bathrooms?” she mused.

“If it is any consolation, neither does mine. May I escort you to your cabin?” he offered as he got up.

“Can we talk a bit longer, I’m not really tired yet?” Rose asked him.

“Maybe we can sit in my cabin for a while, or yours, if that’s nearer?”

Rose thought that hadn’t taken him long, had it? Still, he was cute, still had his scruffy beard and he reminded her of the man she had lost, who was part of the reason she’d taken up Pete's offer of being in charge up in Scotland since there had been rumours the canon project was showing some signs yet again after a few year’s silence and she didn’t want to be tempted.

“Are you in the next carriage then?” Rose wondered as he helped her up, getting a few stares from stuffy businessmen.

“Ah, yes. I followed you, remember but I suppose you could have wandered down several carriages,” Alec replied as he held the door for her and having to remember which way the other door opened.

Walking past a few cabins after stopping at the restroom, Rose stopped outside hers.

“My stepfather came to see me off, I’d just said goodbye to him,” Rose admitted as she found the key.

“May I?” Alec offered, holding his hand out for the key. “This door may also be a little tricky?”

Who was she to argue with him when he was being a gentleman?

“Alec, don’t take this the wrong way but I’m really not tired and could use some company right now.”

“Then I will not take it the wrong way,” Alec smiled as he allowed her inside first.

He was taken by surprise when she asked him to pull the bed down for her then fingered his jacket buttons.

“Alec, stay with me?”

Something inside him was telling him to leave. She was Rose Tyler, the heiress to the Vitex fortune, well most of it since she had a younger half-brother and she could have any man she wanted. Had it been fate that had caused them both to be on the slow overnight train to Glasgow? If Rose Tyler wanted some company, he was more than willing to provide it but would she throw him out?

“I would like that Rose but are you sure you don’t need some sleep?”

“No, not yet, I’m still wide awake. I know you’re only staying in Fort William a few days and I’m gonna be working there but are you opposed to spending one night on a train with me?”

“Certainly not Rose, I’m not opposed to it and you did have plans when you got there after all,” he agreed.

“Then take your jacket off Alec, tomorrow we’ll be in Glasgow and if ya want, we can travel on to Fort William together but after that?”

Alec wondered what she meant then realized she was offering him one night with her. Who was he to refuse and maybe the loud sex he was opposed to would be with himself and Rose, if he was really lucky.

“It would be my pleasure to escort you on the rest of our journey,” he replied as he took his jacket off and Rose went for his shirt buttons. “It would be my pleasure indeed to stay with you tonight and if that is what you want?”

Rose wasn’t sure but what was the harm in one night, on a train and pretending she was in a James Bond movie? They would go their separate ways once at their destination, she to her hotel and Alec to his and she doubted he’d opted for one of the posh hotels on the side of the loch.

Before either of them knew it, Alec was pulling the covers back on the pull-down bed and allowed Rose in first, not that there was much room but he was down to his shorts and Rose was down to her underwear and she was about to lose it as he reached for her bra fastener and she reached for the waistband of his shorts.

“Just one thing Rose,” Alec spoke up as they had kissed several times and he was about to kiss her cleavage.

“Oh, what’s that?” Rose smiled in the now dim light.

“I am just getting over a heart operation, I don’t know how good a job was done.”

“Well, there’s only one way to find out, Alec,” Rose teased him as she pulled his shorts down and they touched.

“Right, don’t say I did not warn you, Miss Tyler,” he teased back.

All he heard was a soft moan as he parted her from her own remaining underwear and figured maybe there was no need to actually have loud sex after all.

Chapter 2

It was quite late as Alec came away from her, trying not to fall off the narrow bunk and Rose giggling to herself.

“I suppose you think this is funny?” Alec asked her as she held onto him.

“A bit, come on. Haven’t you seen those James Bond movies?”

“I may have done but I don’t fancy having to throw someone through the window. We had best put our underwear on at least, in case of an emergency.”

“Yeah, wouldn’t want anyone to think we just has sex,” Rose giggled. “I feel great though, that was amazing Alec. So when did ya get yourself fixed?”

“Not long ago,” he replied as he put one foot on the floor. “I had best pass your underwear.”

“Yeah, where did it go?” Rose wondered, not remembering how they’d tossed things away when it became apparent neither of them could wait any longer. “In case ya were worried, I’m on injections.”

“Then I am glad to hear it since I forgot to stock up on protection when I was planning an overnight train journey. We seem to have stopped.”

“Yeah, it picks up other passengers at a few places. One’s York but we can’t be there yet.”

“Well if I were dressed, I would open the blind,” Alec grinned as he found his shorts, Rose getting a good look at his rear.

“Nice,” Rose giggled, Alec thinking she was finding it all amusing.

“I should go to my cabin,” was all he could think of.

“To stay?” Rose wondered, hoping not.

“Ah, no, to get some clean shorts for morning and a t-shirt, unless you don’t want me to stay?”

“Please stay Alec, I don’t want to be on my own. Whatever you read about me in the papers is just for show. I don’t really have a new man every week.”

“Somehow, I believe you, judging by your reaction. I thought I was the only one who’d not had sex in a good while.”

“Well, you’re not, are you? I’m not on the town every night, I only go out with my parents and the odd dinner date if I get asked nicely. Oh, the train's moving again,” she smiled as the carriage jerked slightly. “I wasn’t going to travel by train but I thought it would be more relaxing, except for this thing I have about the carriage I’m in getting left behind.”

“Really? We are more or less in the middle Rose, not the end one. I will just slip my clothes on while I go to my cabin, I won’t be long.”

Rose scrambled into her underwear then went to her small case to get her pyjamas out, thinking Alec would be annoyed but what if there was an emergency? Alec was soon back, having had a debate with himself at one in the morning and no clue as to where they were and the train was moving very slowly compared to a daytime one.

Why exactly was he going back to her cabin? Did she really want to wake up with him in the morning? Still, he had promised he wouldn’t be long but they wouldn’t get much sleep, he’d have to be back here at least half an hour before they arrived at Glasgow central.

Rose was wondering if Alec would actually return, had he any reason to? It had been a nice surprise to turn around earlier and he’d been behind her but she’d never expected to actually meet him, having followed his last case.

They could only have the one night though, she was going to start a new job and she had no idea what Alec had in mind apart from travelling around and she wouldn’t find it the same as travelling the other universe. She heard a tap on the door and opened it carefully to see Alec with a t-shirt over his arm and a pair of shorts sticking out from under it.

“I have set my alarm for seven, we had best get some sleep,” he told her as he took his shirt off, Rose staring at him and wishing he didn’t have to put the t-shirt on.

“Yeah, what about breakfast?”

“Ah, we should have time before we arrive in Glasgow, there is half an hour before the train to Fort William, we can eat then return for our luggage. We should get a porter to help us, you seem to have quite a lot.”

“Well, I don’t know when I’ll get chance to go home. What about you, are ya planning on staying in posh hotels that do your laundry?” she teased him, moving over.

“Something like that, don’t worry about it eh? So, where are you staying for now?”

“At the Glen Morris Hotel on the shore road, until I get a place of my own. I don’t suppose you’re staying there?”

“No, sorry. Just a budget hotel for me near the loch. I booked two nights then I’ll have a car delivered and be off. We may bump into each other?” he tried to hint.

As he climbed back in the bunk, he thought who was he kidding? They were a couple of strangers on a train, sharing a bunk for the night and had a pleasant time letting off some steam that had been building up since they met on the way to the dining car.

“Alec, can I lie on top of you, I’m right at the wall.”

“Sure, just don’t roll over and fall out eh?”

It didn’t take Rose long to roll his t-shirt up and rest on his bare chest. She’d often imagined lying with the Doctor but it had never become reality, not for the lack of trying on her part though. This was nice, she thought as she snuggled up to him, shame he only seemed to want one night but he wasn’t staying and she was.

All too soon, Alec heard his alarm and tried to get from under a still sleeping Rose, whose hair was all over the place and didn’t appreciate him trying to move.

“Come on Rose, rise and shine eh?” he asked her as he tried not to end up on the floor.

“Yeah, is that your alarm?”

“Whose else would it be eh? Morning.”

“Yeah, hi, morning,” Rose yawned, trying to figure out if she should get out or hide until Alec got ready.

“You can watch if you want but I expect the same in return.”

“Fair’s fair I suppose?” Rose grinned, getting ready for the show of the century as he took his t-shirt off and reached for his shirt.

To her disappointment, he turned slightly to change his shorts, smiling to himself.

“I don’t think you are ready to actually see me Rose, do you?”

“Well maybe not? Bet you’re a ten though?” she teased him.

“Really? I may be, I never bothered, what with being married. I’m divorced by the way, well and truly, she turned me down a while back when I suggest trying again.”

Rose had got out of bed and was getting her clean underwear and a t-shirt she’d left in the small case. She was just going to throw her other stuff in and sort it out at the hotel.

“Blimey, well at least ya tried? Anyway, last night was really good, ten out ten. Give me a hand with my fastener?”

"With pleasure but we will have to hurry to get breakfast or have to wait until we get to our final destination.”

“Yeah, I’m really hungry but we won’t have a lot of time. I meant it Alec, it was really nice.”

“Yes, it was for me as well. My daughter was teasing me about one of those dating sites but I told her it was a waste of time. I’m undecided where I go after my travels.”

“Not going back to Broadchurch then?”

“I may do, it’s as good a place as any. Ready?” he asked as she picked up her purse and phone, Alec having already picked his phone up.

After a quick breakfast and being told they were waiting to be allocated a platform, they went back to their cabins, Alec stepping inside Rose's for a moment. He leaned down to kiss her, making Rose melt.

“Mmm, that was nice too. I don’t expect we’ll get a private carriage on the next train?”

“We can try to sit out of the way?” he suggested.

“Yeah, we could. So, whatcha gonna do today and tomorrow then?”

“Ah, organize a car and go find somewhere to buy a good map of Scotland. The car will have a navigation system but I would rather plan some sort of route. What about you?”

“Heading for the shops?” Rose mused. “We may bump into each other?”

“Yes, probably, before I leave. Best call a porter to help,” he suggested as the train came slowly to a halt, hopefully at a platform or they’d miss their next train.

Alec was in luck as he went to his cabin and caught the guard, saying his next door fellow passenger needed help with her luggage.

“I’ll call a porter for her, are you both together?”

“Ah, we met last night and at breakfast. I would offer myself but I have my own to manage.”

Rose had her door open, having dragged her things over to the doorway.

“Any luck?” she asked as the guard went off to tell everyone to not forget anything as they departed the train.

“Hopefully. Sorry, I have enough with my own but we still have time to get the other train. If we miss it, I will hire a car to get us there.”

“Aw, ya don’t have to do that, they’ll be another one.”

“At what time though?” he asked, raising his eyebrows and seeing a porter passing the window. “He had better be coming to help you.”

He saw the porter enter the carriage and waved as people were getting off.

“My friend here needs some help,” Alec told the man.

“Of course Sir, that’s why I’m here, I know who she is. Can you manage the smaller items Miss Tyler?”

“Yeah, I’m heading for the train to Fort William, which platform is it?”

“I will help you over Miss Tyler, I have a trolley waiting. Are you catching the same train Sir?”

Alec wondered why he’d not been recognized, he’d been in the papers recently but maybe just not in Glasgow. The porter piled everything onto the trolley, Alec still carrying a shoulder bag and offered to take Rose's but she said she would manage. They waited for the lift to take them up to the footbridge, Rose looking around as it was quite busy.

They were soon on the platform, their train already there but the doors were closed.

“I thought it would be open?” Rose asked the porter.

Alec just smiled at his new friend. The driver came along a few minutes later and the porter indicated to the trolley so the doors were released and the porter and Alec soon had their cases in the rack by the door, Rose hoping no-one else needed it.

Alec gave the porter a tip and Rose sat just behind the rack.

“Not taking any chances?” Alec wondered.

“No, would you? Sorry, I’m a bit irritable when I wake up early,” she smiled, slipping her arm in his.

“That’s okay, I used to wake up like that before my surgery. My DS could tell you a few things about me, trust me.”

“Yeah, I bet she could as well. I wonder if there’ll be a tea trolley comes around, it’s a few hours until we get there.”

“Ah, almost four hours I believe. It wouldn’t have been much faster by car I suppose?” Alec replied.

“No, it would have been tiring, we didn’t get much sleep. Do ya mind if I just close my eyes for a bit?”

“No, go ahead, I may do the same but if a tea trolley does come round, I may miss it.”

“Aw, it’s okay, you didn’t get much sleep either, did ya?”

“It was you who said you weren’t tired, if I remember correctly?”

It was too late as she leaned on his arm and closed her eyes. Alec smiled to himself, thinking it was a shame all she seemed to have wanted was last night, she certainly wouldn’t want to tag along with him, wherever he was going first but he may head towards the tip of Loch Ness and take it from there.

Rose woke up and nudged Alec, who smiled and said he would go see if the trolley had missed them, since he spied someone with a paper carton. As they approached their destination, Rose hoped there would be a porter or at least a luggage trolley and a taxi-rank outside the station.

As the train stopped, Alec got up to try to catch the attention of a porter but no-one was around so he suggested Rose took the light things and waited on the platform while he got the three large cases one at a time. Luckily, there was a taxi rank outside as Alec did the same again, seeing no spare trolleys.

“Do you need dropping somewhere Alec?” Rose turned to him as the cab driver took Rose's two large cases and her other things to the back.

“No, I can manage, it’s not far. So, I may see you around before I leave?”

“Yeah, I’ll probably get settled then come back for a walk around. It was really nice meeting you Alec.”

“You as well Rose, take care and if I come back this way, I may run into you?”

Rose was hoping so. Now she was regretting not saying anything.

“Bye Alec, take care on your travels.”

The driver got back in, having left the door open for Rose.

Alec leaned over to kiss her cheek but caught the side of her mouth.

“Bye Rose, it was more than nice. Here, take my card, if you want to know where I have got to, maybe?”

Rose took the card and kissed his cheek back. Alec stood holding the taxi door while she got in, Rose leaning over to tell the driver where she was going, which wasn’t far but she couldn’t have walked. He watched as the driver indicated to pull out then turn left out of the station forecourt then waited to join the main road. He set off in the general direction of his hotel, seeing it in the distance and hoping it was nearer than it looked.

Would Rose bother to call him? If she did, he’d maybe be a good distance away, then what could he say? He did hope he’d get back this way, Rose being here should help him make up his mind. The taxi arrived five minutes later in the driveway of her hotel and seeing a porter coming out to greet her. She paid the driver extra for him waiting for her to say goodbye to Alec, probably amusing him.

What could she do though? She’d not come all this way to take a touring holiday like Alec had done. Pete would be annoyed to say the least after giving her priority when the vacancy had arisen, though she’d no idea why she’d wanted it, it just sounded different.

“Miss Tyler,” she was greeted when Rose went up to the desk. “This is a pleasure to have you staying in our hotel. I’m Donald, I hope you had a pleasant journey?”

Rose was about to say it had been more than pleasant.

“Thanks. How long does it take to walk back to the shopping area?”

She half expected a funny remark.

“Around fifteen to twenty minutes depending on your pace. We can call a cab for you if you wish?”

“I’ve been stuck on trains for a long time, I need a walk, thanks. What time are the meals?”

Once in her room, she took what would get creased out of her cases and left the rest in favour of getting a cab to the town centre and finding something to eat and figuring walking around the shops would be enough exercise. Alec had hung up his shirts that weren’t too creased and looked up the car hire company and checked they had his reservation and asking if he could leave it at another office if need be.

Then he decided to take a walk around, wondering if Rose had got unpacked but why was he still thinking about her? It had made the journey up here more enjoyable than being on his own, even the second train where Rose had been leaning on him for a good while. He knew he had to forget about her, then if he still felt the same way when he got to Paisley, he would consider continuing and coming back but what then? No, he should forget about her altogether but if he were to bump into her before he left, he may ask her out for a meal, if there was anywhere to go.

Despite having a late lunch, Rose had found herself in the outdoor centre that also had a book department and thought she would get something to read to help pass the time, spying the centre also had a café. Alec had been looking around the same place and got himself a compact map that was readable and thought he’d study it later if he had no luck bumping into Rose again.

He’d given her his phone number, it was up to her if she used it but he had just got himself a pot of tea and a pastry when he swore he saw Rose going towards the counter. Not wanting to shout out, he tried to get her attention. Rose turned around and saw him waving and waved back, getting a latte and a piece of cake.

“Hi, fancy see you here!” Rose greeted him. “I came to get something to read, how about you?”

Alec held the plastic carrier bag up.

“Map, easy to read,” he grinned. “So, how is your hotel?”

“Good, a bit posh even for me. Maybe I should have gone to where you are? I only got it because I could get a view of the loch. So do you get meals included?”

“No, only breakfast. Did you walk back?”

“Nah, I’m still a bit tired and I walked the length of the main shopping area. Bet ya I can sleep tonight?”

Alec thought he wouldn’t mind finding out but dare not suggest it.

“I will have to find a place to eat later. Rose, would you care to join me somewhere? I could maybe call you at the hotel when I have found somewhere?”

“Oh, you can have my number, you gave me yours at the last minute, remember?”

Alec did remember, he hadn’t thought she would have any need for it or she would have given him the card right back asking what the hell he was thinking.

“Why don’t I look something up now? Would you care for another drink?”

“No, I’m good, thanks. I’ll write my number down then?”

“Am I going to need it?” Alec smiled, thinking she was tormenting him.

“Well it’s not compulsory,” Rose grinned. “Have you found anywhere?”

“There are quite a few but there is one called The Stables that seems nice. Shall we meet at say seven thirty? We can have a drink afterwards maybe?”

“Yeah, that would be nice. I’ll have to find out if I need a code or anything for the hotel after a certain time.”

“Ah, my hotel has twenty four hour access, so I was informed. So have you had a good look around?”

“Yeah but I resisted buying anything, I was gonna do that another time. I was thinking of getting that steam train tomorrow, want to come along?”

She thought it was worth asking, he’d be driving away the day after, wouldn’t he?

“Where did you say it went to?”

“Just to Mallaig, it’s only a tiny place but the ride would be nice.”

“After all that way we’ve come already?” Alec mused as he finished his pot of tea.

“Well I could wait and go on my own?” Rose teased him.

“Well since you put it like that? I suppose it would be interesting? Were you planning on shopping when you got back?”

“Well maybe but ya don’t have to tag along.”

“I could do with a visit to the supermarket, I passed one near my hotel.”

“Yeah, I saw it. Anyway, I picked up a leaflet for the train, wanna meet me at the station?”

“Sure, just tell me what time but in view of waking early this morning, maybe we could have a later start?”

“Yeah, okay then? So I’ll meet you at half seven tonight? I should have hired a car,” Rose joked.

“I should have ordered one early or back in Glasgow?”

“Alec if we’d driven up here, we might have only just arrived?”

“True I suppose? Am I keeping you Rose?”

“Well, I should be getting back and choose something to wear tonight? I look forward to it then?”

“As do I. May I walk you out?”

“I expect if I get a cab later, they’ll know where the restaurant is?”

“I expect so. Until later then?”

As they got outside, Alec saw a taxi rank and walked her towards it. The second time today they had said goodbye, thinking it was the last time and now, he’d have the pleasure of seeing her later. At this rate, with seeing her tomorrow, maybe it would be more difficult for him to just drive off the day after?

Rose was thinking more or less the same thing. She’d only half expected to meet Alec again and now he’d asked her out later. Would she be able to let him just drive off after dinner tonight and another train ride tomorrow?

Chapter 3

As Rose went back to her hotel to get ready, hoping at least one of her dresses wasn't badly creased, Alec was planning their evening out. It had been a pleasant surprise when she'd walked into the café he had stopped in, could he really have avoided her in such a small town though?

Her invitation to take another train ride with her tomorrow had also come as a surprise but the day after, he'd be gone and so he may as well make the most of it he supposed. Maybe she would agree to go back to his hotel room or he to hers, though his was the nearest as he headed back there, he could leave getting the few things he needed until tomorrow as he bypassed the supermarket.

Rose was wondering whether she should just hire the car now and be done with it, she had to book a taxi for later then get one back. She'd stopped off at reception to see about getting in if she was late back and had been told after eleven to ring the night bell at the side of the double glass door.

Maybe Alec would see her back though but would he want her to sneak him to her room of he sneak her to his? Could she spend another night with him, albeit more comfortable than in a train cabin? If he asked then why not?

Alec was wondering the same, would the famous Rose Tyler be willing to spend another night with him? He was going away so what would it matter? It would give him something to remember and may even encourage him to come back and not give the car back when he got to his home town. Would she want him to come back though and if he did, what then?

He still had to decide if he was going back to Broadchurch though and Rose, well she was taking up a post at Torchwood, why wouldn't she want to stay? Last night had just been his lucky night, a casual encounter but it could be stretched to another night, couldn't it?

Why was he even doubting it? She had willingly joined him in the café, she could have just ignored him or told him it had been one night and that was it, if she'd wanted. Why was he even worried about it though? No, he'd not ask her to stay the night unless she brought up the subject, he didn't want to ruin everything but he hoped he wouldn't look nervous when they met later.

Rose went downstairs to order a taxi to take her to the restaurant, thinking the staff would be finding it amusing but she had been wondering why Alec hadn't volunteered to hire a car earlier? Maybe he'd already arranged it though and didn't want to mess around?

Alec had got changed, had a bit of a shave and put some cologne on and hoped he was presentable. After all, it wasn't like he was meeting someone he'd not met before, his daughter had been trying to get him registered with a dating app but he'd told her not to dare. When she'd asked why, he'd made up the excuse he wasn't sure where he would end up.

Maybe he should have waited for his touring holiday and brought Daisy with him? He'd had to smile though when Rose had asked him how he was going to manage his laundry. He'd been spoiled back at his riverside chalet, it having been equipped with a washing machine and a dryer but he couldn't have stayed there, there had been too much going on.

If he went back to Broadchurch though, where else could he find something remote, apart from that white cottage on its own halfway up the east cliff? It was an idea though, no-one would bother him and the fair couldn't set up behind it.

He set off to find the restaurant and hoped Rose wouldn't change her mind. He was relieved when he saw her getting out of a taxi just after he got there.

"Hi Alec, hope I'm not late?" she asked, Alec helping her and kissing her cheek.

He noted she was wearing very strong and probably very expensive perfume and he hoped between that and his own cologne, it wouldn't send her dizzy.

"No, I just arrived, we have a few minutes to claim our reservation. I should have altered my hire car and got it today, to save you getting a taxi every time."

"It doesn't matter Alec, I'll get a car in a few days. You look very smart by the way."

"You look very nice in that dress," he replied, out of his depth at complimenting his date for the evening.

He opened the door for her and saw the small reception table and a man all dressed up behind it.

"Do you have a reservation Sir?"

Alec thought of just asking the man if he recognized the woman who was standing in front of him but this was Scotland, not London.

He was sure Rose never needed a reservation in her home town.

"Yes, the name is Hardy," Alec replied instead, Rose holding onto his arm as if she was miffed the man didn't recognize her, considering even the porter that morning seemed to know who she was.

They were shown to a corner table near the window, Alec relieved it was not in a corner near the door with people going in and out all the time.

"This is very old-fashioned," Rose smiled as Alec held her chair until she was seated, something he had remembered how to do as Tess had insisted he at least did that if they went out.

"Yes, very authentic," Alec agreed, sitting opposite and handing the menu to her.

"Alec, you're not nervous are you?" Rose teased him.

"Honestly? A little, not everyone gets the pleasure of dining with you."

"We were in the dining car last night," Rose smiled, looking at the prices and feeling guilty.

If she'd known, she would have insisted they had just a pub meal instead and hoped Alec wouldn't have to cut his tour down because of it. Alec was just glad he had some savings plus he'd been pleased earlier that his salary had been made up and he was back on full pay since they owed him holiday payments.

"I'm sure that was different Rose. Would you like a drink while you decide?" he offered as a waiter came towards them.

Getting their drinks ordered, Rose decided what she wanted, she still didn't like all the fancy dishes despite who she now was and Alec noticed.

"We don't eat fancy food at home, in case you wondered," Rose smiled at him as he took his specs off and put them in his top pocket. "Me and mum didn't always have money. So, are ya gonna tell me where you come from?"

"Did I not tell you? Originally Bathgate, then we move to Paisley, I went to the grammar school there then to collage so I could join the police. So what did you do before your mother met Pete Tyler?"

Rose always had trouble getting her head around the story that had been invented for herself and her mother but Pete had thought she was safe enough going with her original one, less her travelling in time and space and not being from this world.

"Oh, just a normal shop girl, mum just got lucky. Pete made me finish college before he let me join the organization though but he let me do one day a week training. I met my last boyfriend there but he went off exploring, I've not seen him since. He was the head of research and things were a bit slow."

Alec seemed to be interested more in the fact she was now on her own or not.

"Really? He went off and left you? That seems rather hard to believe."

That was what they had decided to say about the Doctor to anyone outside family.

"Yeah, it happens, even to me. I didn't trust anyone after that. Did I tell ya I don't have a different boyfriend every week?"

"You may have done but in a hurry last night," Alec smiled as their soup arrived.

Rose had been hoping to talk about him, not herself but she had to stick to certain facts and not trip herself up. Alec paid close attention to her, telling her how he'd solved an old case while attending a trial and now he was just deciding what to do, even though he knew he'd have to attend another trial, unless he got really lucky and the three of them went down without a fight. He doubted that Claire would go quietly though.

"So ya left your surgery all that time?" Rose asked him.

"Yes but I'm fine now, really. The last suspect may have got away but the other three won't. Enough of that anyway," he smiled as Rose sat back. "Would you care for anything else?"

Rose was tempted to say only if he was on the menu but had to restrain herself. Instead, she let him pass the menu and hoped he could afford the bill. When Alec had seen the prices, he thought it served him right for not looking first. Rose was surely worth it but when she said about her humble beginnings, he thought maybe she still felt out of place eating in such surroundings.

Alec paid the bill and suggested they moved to the bar area, Rose just opting for tonic water after the wine she'd had with her meal.

"Rose, if you want another drink, you only have to say."

"I'm fine with this, thanks. It was a nice surprise being asked out."

Should she mention staying with him again? Just after ten, Rose was feeling tired, not getting much sleep on the train.

"Rose, may I escort you back to your hotel? The driver will have to return anyway. Then I will see you in the morning."

"I feel you've paid for enough Alec. If I'd known this place was expensive, we could have chosen somewhere else."

"You are worth it Rose," Alec smiled, helping her up. "There is a taxi rank just nearby, I will only go with you if you want me to?"

"Yeah, if ya want? Sure it's not too much trouble?" Rose relented, thinking he may take it personally if she said no.

"No trouble, there are some taxis waiting," he nodded down the narrow street. "So, after our trip tomorrow, what do you have planned?" he asked as Rose put her arm in his.

"Ah, maybe some shopping? Don't worry, I won't drag ya with me."

Alec thought he wouldn't mind if she did but having had experience with Tess and Daisy, thought it wise to decline.

"Then I will give it a miss. Here we are," he told her, passing a few cabs to get to the one in front. He held the back door open then leaned to the driver. "We are going to the Glen Morris hotel to drop the young lady off, then the premier."

Rose tried to hide her disappointment he was not intending to try his luck gaining entry to her hotel. She could see the driver through the mirror and wondered what he thought about it. Still, last night had been an impulse to spend the night together, Alec may just like her company but didn't think she would agree to a second night. Maybe if he asked her tomorrow though?

As the cab set off, Alec knew it wasn't far but it wouldn't be far enough to have time to ask if he could stay with her again. Maybe she just wanted some company and that was why she had accepted the dinner invitation. The ride was fairly short, Alec just holding Rose's hand but let go as the taxi turned into the driveway.

"Can you wait one moment?" Alec asked the driver.

Alec got out and went to Rose's side, though she was used to getting out on her own but she thought he seemed disappointed enough but it was up to him to ask her.

"Thanks for a lovely evening Alec," Rose smiled, the light coming from what was probably the bar and the lanterns outside.

"Yes, it was very pleasant. May I kiss you goodnight?"

Rose had noticed the driver had turned the cab around and thought Alec maybe shouldn't delay, if he wasn't going to ask to stay with her again.

"Yeah, I'd like that. Night then Alec."

He leaned down and gave her a lingering kiss, leaving Rose slightly dazed.

"Goodnight Rose, I will see you in the morning."

While she was still recovering, he got back in the cab, waving as she stood. He wished she would just go inside, he'd been hoping maybe she would be the one to suggest he stayed. As the cab drove off, he glanced around to see her going inside.

"No luck tonight then?" the cab driver asked him.

"Ah, sadly not but we only met last night, on the way here," Alec replied, wondering why he was discussing his lack of a love life with a cab driver.

"Well there's always another night," the cab driver hinted .

"No, I will be leaving soon, she will be staying," Alec told him as they approached his hotel.

"Well why waste time man?" the driver told him.

Alec paid the fare and thought maybe the man was right? What did he have to lose if he asked Rose tomorrow night? He got to his room and was surprised Rose sent him a message, thanking him for the night out. Well at least now, he had got her number but what was he going to do about it? Knowing his track record, probably nothing.

He composed a suitable response and went to get ready for bed, he was tired after the journey, Rose would have been too and that was probably why she'd not invited him in. Maybe if he failed tomorrow night, he'd just have to come back and see if she still wanted anything to do with him. Had she expected him to text her every so often to say where he was?

He'd only given her his number, why had she decided to give him hers if she didn't want to stay in contact? Rose smiled at his response, he must be tired as well after the journey so she'd excuse him this time and hoped he'd get around to asking her tomorrow night. It seemed to her after last night, they were being coy around each other but it wasn't very often she had a one-night stand so that was her excuse.

She looked at his text again – 'Tonight was more than pleasant – Alec – X', Alec having remembered taking lessons from Daisy in texting etiquette but he hoped he'd not presumed too much. It had made Rose smile at his attempt though.

She decided if tomorrow went well, he might get the hint to ask her to stay the night with him but what then? Say goodbye the next morning and him drive off? She wasn't sure now that she could do it. After an early breakfast the next morning, Rose set off for the station, determined to have bought the tickets before Alec got there.

"Rose, you should have let me get them," Alec told her as she waved them at him.

"I was the one who suggested it. You bought dinner last night."

"I believe I asked you out Rose," he replied as they showed their tickets at the barrier and he saw an old steam train they had to cross the bridge to get to.

"Well, we're even then," Rose smiled as they climbed the steps.

Alec knew he wasn't going to win but what could he do to get her back?

"I looked up the place we are going to , there's hardly anything there apart from the ferry."

"Yeah, I know Alec, it's just I wanted to go on the train. The train doesn't stay long anyway, we’ll have time for a look around and a drink. Are ya mad at me for getting the tickets?"

"No Rose, I'm not mad at you but I should have paid."

"I'm very independent you know?" Rose smiled as he allowed her on the train first.

"Yes, I can tell. Shall we get one of these compartments or do you want to sit elsewhere?" he asked as some compartment doors were open but some already had people settling down.

"Let's get one of these now and sit elsewhere coming back?" Rose suggested.

Alec gestured to an empty one and pulled the blinds down.

"That'll just make people curious," Rose teased him as he sat beside her.

"Let them be. Do I have to ask you if I can kiss you again?"

Rose pretended to think about it.

"Well if you are not going to answer me?" Alec teased her back.

"Well it depends. Alec, don't get me wrong, I really like you but you'll be gone tomorrow."

"I am aware of that Rose but you knew that the night we met on the other train," he reminded her as the guard blew his whistle, then the engine whistle sounded.

"Yeah and we both felt the same, didn't we? Let's not complicate things Alec, let's have a nice morning out, then you can buy me a late lunch."

Was that supposed to make him feel better she had beaten him to buying the train tickets? He supposed that was all he was going to get but it wasn't going to stop him from trying to kiss her again. He got her to turn towards him and found the right angle, hoping the ticket collector wouldn't choose that moment to open the door nor anyone looking for a seat.

"Mmm, that was nice," Rose smiled. "Don't let me get used to it."

"Maybe we can have more before I leave? I would be disappointed if you said no."

"Well maybe? Alec, they are nice but what about when you leave?"

"You knew I was leaving when you agreed to spend the other night with me," he reminded her. "You were right, let's have a nice morning out eh? Don't get annoyed if I try to sneak in a few more kisses though."

Rose took his hand. "Well okay then and ya did say ya may come back this way?"

"Yes, I did Rose. Maybe now I have a reason to?"

"Yeah, maybe ya have?" Rose had to agree as they heard the ticket collector outside.

The train arrived at its destination and they walked the short distance into what Alec thought was only a village and Rose wanted to watch the ferry depart, him glad she'd not wanted to go on one. She dragged him into a shop that had a few souvenirs, getting her mother a fridge magnet and a toy boat one for Tony then they found a café and got a drink.

Before they realized, it was time to get the train back and Alec insisted they got a compartment to themselves again, going for a kiss as it set off.

"You can't blame me for wanting more Rose," Alec smiled as Rose recovered again.

"No, I told ya, they're nice. So what are ya gonna do after lunch?"

"Ah, try to make sense of the map I bought and plan my route. I have no idea except I am going to head towards Inverness though I may take a detour from time to time. So when do you start work?"

"Monday, though I'll have to call in and meet everyone. I expect they'll be annoyed at an outsider taking over."

"So you may meet with some hostilities? Were you aware of that?"

"Not at first. One of them already there put in for the job, I expect they think I got it with being who I am."

"You’re not going to give in are you?" Alec asked, wondering if she'd be gone by the time he got back.

If that was going to be the case, what was he going to do about it?

Chapter 4

As they sat arm in arm on the journey back, Rose leaned on his shoulder.

"Still going shopping when you get back?" he asked her.

"Yeah, I'll have a wander down the main shopping area, then I'll walk back to my hotel from there. You could look around the shops with me, we could have some lunch?"

"I may take you up on lunch. I noticed there was a museum, care to visit it with me?"

"Yeah, I noticed it. I'd love to look around Alec, thanks. What time do you plan setting off tomorrow?"

Alec wondered why she wanted to know, was she maybe hinting she wanted to go with him? No, she came here to take a job, why would she give it up, especially when there was a rival?

"When my rental car arrives I expect, sometime before ten or I will be charged for another night at the hotel. How was your hotel?"

"A bit posh, I never realized. I wish I'd booked a more basic one now. I won't be there long anyway, I'll be looking for a place to rent. Where are you planning on staying?"

"Wherever I find myself? What you said, about laundry, don't worry about it, I had planned for it."

Rose felt herself blush – he would surely think she was being daft.

"Yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to imply you'd be going around in the same shorts for a week."

"I know that," he smiled as they approached the station. "End of the line. We could go to the museum first or are you hungry?"

"Can't walk around feeling hungry, let's eat first, yeah?" Rose replied as Alec got up when the train arrived at the platform and trying not to lose his balance as it jerked to a stop.

He helped Rose up and she took his hand, Alec opening the door and leading her to the exit. They exited the station and found a café then went to locate the museum. Two hours or so later, Rose wondered about going on a boat ride around the loch but doubted Alec would want to join her. She asked him anyway.

"As much as I enjoy your company, I can't go with you. I don't feel quite as bad about water but going on it for fun? Sorry Rose, maybe I will get over it one day but not yet."

"Well, I thought I'd ask. It's not the same going by yourself. I'll wait until my mum brings my little brother up then?"

"I'm sure they will be better company than I would be. I will take my leave of you then?"

He wasn't sure he wanted to though but then what? It was no good prolonging things, he was leaving and she wasn't. There was a little café just next to the museum so Alec led her inside and ordered a pot of tea and some scones. Rose thought he was delaying on purpose but what did she expect?

"It's been a great day out, thanks Alec."

"You are most welcome. So when do you meet your new team?"

Rose allowed him to pour out the tea, since she never hardly used teapots at home.

"I may go in before the weekend, not that I expect them to be over-friendly. The funny thing is, well the woman who almost got the job, she might be a bit jealous."

"I think you already mentioned that," Alec smiled, about to split a jam and cream scone and remembering someone playing a trick on him when he was younger and putting chili sauce on it instead of jam – it was unpleasant to say the least and his friend thought it was hilarious. He thought that was the sort of thing Ellie Miller would do.

He was using delaying tactics and he knew it, he didn't want her to leave but he knew she would. Should he ask her out again? No, they had met on the train and spent one night, he didn't own her but the extra meetings had been nice – very nice and he shouldn't take advantage – should he?

Rose knew he was delaying her on purpose.

"Well, thanks for the tea and scones. I'd best go walk them off."

"You really don't need to, all that walking around the museum. Rose, may I walk you out?"

Rose paid a visit to the ladies room, Alec waiting outside and wondering if he should say anything or let her just walk away. He'd thought the previous day was going to be the last time he saw her but it hadn't been.

"I will maybe see you before I go?" he asked hopefully.

Rose just wished if he was going to invite her out again, he'd get on with it. It didn't look like he was going to though as he took her to the side of the café.

"Yeah, maybe we'll bump into each other before you go?"

"I have to get a few things from the supermarket before I leave. Rose, it was really nice meeting you. Maybe I could look you up when I come back?"

"Yeah, I'd like that Alec, if you're coming back this way?" Rose replied, trying not to look embarrassed.

"I was debating, did I mention? I have separate return tickets, I can come back this way or return from Glasgow. I think I will see what happens? Rose, if I come back, will you still be here?"

"I guess so?"

"What if you and your new team don't hit it off?" he smiled.

"Ah, then I have two choices. They get on with me or I'll fire them."

"Really?" he asked.

Rose smiled. "Just joking. I'll have to think about it but as agents, they have no choice in the matter, my stepfather will just give them a transfer and replace them. That's if I want to actually stay but I like it here so far. Yeah, if ya come back, I'll probably be here. I should give you my number or did I give it you?"

"No, I gave you mine. It was just in case you wanted to ask me where I was. Maybe I also gave you it so you could ask me if I was coming back?"

"Pass me your phone then?" Rose put her number in and gave him it back. "Hey, I sent you a text last night."

"Ah, so you did. Now you may want me calling you to tell you where I am?" he teased her.

"Aw, I wouldn't mind if ya did sometime? So, it's goodbye then?"

"I guess so? I mean unless?"

Rose knew what he was trying to do – not be the one who walked off first.


"Ah, maybe get a drink or get something to eat later? Although I would settle for a drink." He spied a pub across on the corner. "Maybe across there, say eight?"

"Yeah, that would be great. See ya there?"

"Yes, indeed? Bye for now then."

He kissed her cheek, Rose grabbing his arm and kissing him back. They'd not really kissed that much, well except on the way back earlier and now, Alec was delaying all he could to see if he could get another chance but he didn't know how. He had to let her go sooner or later though now, he wasn't sure he wanted to.

He watched her walk off then walked into the mini-market to get some water and a few other things and looked forward to seeing her later. He had thought she'd say no but was glad she'd agreed. He was putting it off and he knew it but he knew not for much longer.

Rose wandered around a few shops but soon lost interest, which wasn't really like her and decided to go back to her hotel and call her stepfather.

"Changed your mind?" Pete asked her.

"What makes ya say that?"

"I know you get tired of things easily. How was your journey? I expect the reason you haven't called before was because you were tired yesterday?"

"Yeah but I had a wander around and I've been out today. I took a ride on the steam train then went to the local museum."

"Alone?" Pete laughed. "Your mother bet me the reason you never called was because you met a tall, dark, handsome Scotsman."

"How did she guess?" Rose laughed.

"What? I was joking Rose," Pete replied. "Well?"

"I met someone on the train Dad. You'll never guess in a million years who it was?"

"A certain detective who reminds you of someone perhaps? Come on Rose, we all tried to tell you. So what was he doing on the night train?"

"Going on a touring holiday and he leaves tomorrow. He took me out last night and we were out earlier. Now he asked me for a drink tonight but that's just it, he leaves in the morning. I came here for a job Dad, it's not fair."

"Did he ask you to go with him?" Pete wanted to know.

"No, he's not asked me but I got his phone number. I think he's trying to drop a few hints but I'm not certain. It's like he wants to go off but he's reluctant to leave. He said I could call him to see where he was, then he got my number and he joked I'd want him telling me where he was. It's like we're both dropping these huge hints and neither of us are taking them."

She heard Pete laughing.

"Well you two are the only ones who can take them Rose. Oh, there's something in the way? Your new job perhaps?"

"I know. I asked for the job, angering Gwen though why she settled in Scotland is beyond me. You know I asked for some time to settle in?"

"Rose, you were the one who said the sooner the better. However, if you need more time?"

"I don't know Dad, he thinks I'm here for my new job, maybe he doesn't want to ask?"

"Rose, take all the time you want. I'll leave Gwen in charge for now, she's going to be your deputy anyway and take my advice, don't let Alec Hardy get away and when you do start, let Gwen think she's still in charge."

"I know her reputation Dad," Rose laughed. "So, you're not mad at me?"

"If it were anyone else, I'd tell you that you asked for the job. Just let me know what you're going to do eh? Call your mother."

"I haven't anything to tell her yet Dad. Just tell her I'm fine and I'll call her later. Thanks."

"We just want you to be happy Rose, you know that and if you've met Alec Hardy, at least you know who he is and I promise not to get Jake to do a search on him."

Rose hoped he was joking.

"So you always do a search on my potential boyfriends? Since when?"

"I'm kidding Rose. Look, I know you haven't had many boyfriends but don't be too hasty eh? How much do you know about him?"

"Not much but, well we sort of stayed together on the way up here. I swear, we both thought it was just gonna be one night, then we bumped into each other yesterday afternoon and I asked him to go with me this morning. I told ya, it's like neither of us want to let the other go but we can't tell each other. Someone has to make the first move."

"Well neither of you know who that is?" Pete joked.

"Yeah, I'll see what happens tonight but I may just cancel. I mean what good's it gonna do? We go out for a drink, then what? If I come out and ask him if I can go with him, he may just walk away. What do I do Dad?"

"Don't go asking me Rose. Do what you think is right love, only you can decide."

"Yeah but he said he was coming back and wanted to see me. If I cancel tonight, he may just end his tour and not come back. That's something I suppose – him wanting to come back. Maybe I should just leave it at that?"

"How long is he going to be away?" Pete wondered.

"No idea but it's gonna be at least a couple of weeks. He may call me to tell me where he is and if I say I'll wait for him? Yeah, I think that's the best thing. I won't cancel tonight, maybe he'll just come out and ask me to go with him."

"Yeah, you never know do you?" Pete agreed. "Don't spoil it eh Rose, at least he says he's coming back."

"I'll have to settle for that then, won't I? Thanks Dad but if he asks me, I'm not gonna say no."

"I know that Rose. I'll call Gwen and tell her there may be a delay in your starting. I can't see her objecting, can you?" Pete laughed.

"I'll let you know what happens," Rose promised.

She went off to get ready for dinner then she fancied a walk into the town since it would still be light at that time. Alec in the meantime was debating what to say to her later. If he came right out and asked her to go, would she tell him to forget coming back?

No, if he went off as planned, she would have got settled and did he want to stay in the town? Maybe it was easier to come back, say goodbye to her unless she was willing to go back with him. It was only one night, he'd let her go off last night and tonight could be no different, could it?

He waited outside the busy pub, glad he'd not taken her there last night for a meal but for a drink it was okay he supposed. Rose walked along the still busy street, right to the end and saw Alec waiting on the corner. He greeted her with a kiss on the cheek.

"Hey, hope I'm not late?" Rose smiled.

"Of course not. Want to go some place else, it seems rather crowded."

"No, it's fine. Maybe we can have a drink and we can go for a walk, by the loch?"

"I can just about walk alongside water," Alec joked.

He was already kicking himself for saying he couldn't take her on a boat ride earlier but he would have suffered and neither of them would have enjoyed it. A few drinks later, they left the pub and walked across the road.

"So, where's your first stop then Alec, have you decided?" Rose asked as they stood by the railings near the boat landing.

"I think I will head towards Fort Augustus, that's on the tip of Loch Ness."

"Aw, my brother wanted me to take a photo of the monster if I saw it. I said it would scare him if I did," Rose laughed as they sat on a bench.

Alec laughed at the thought.

"Are you going to miss your family?" he asked her as he held her hand.

"Yeah but I expect they'll pay me a visit once I get settled. What about you?"

"Divorced with a teenage daughter. Once I go back, she's considering living with me to see how she gets on. I went to see her before I came up here, that was why I took the train from London. She's old enough now to make up her own mind but the damage may have already been done."

"Aw, don't say that, there's plenty of time. I had no dad until my mum met Pete, he made up for it by treating me like his own. When she married him, I was just getting over losing someone, well not losing someone exactly, I travelled with someone and he left me in the last place we visited."

Alec knew now it would be a big mistake to ask her to go with him.

"I'm sorry to hear that Rose. Where was that then?"

Rose thought she may as well stick to nearly the truth and the story she'd told her mother and Pete she'd tell if she met anyone.

"Up in Norway of all places, would you believe? It turns out he only wanted to be my boyfriend. I told him I loved him and he walked away and when we got back to the hotel, he said he'd see me home and that was it, he went to get another room. Seems he wasn't big on commitment."

Rose hated saying that but what could she do? Tell someone he faded away after getting her a message through the void? Mind you, he seemed the sort of person who may go for it, maybe when he came back because he may not want to come back if she told him now.

"Well he did not deserve you then," Alec smiled, kissing the back of her hand. "I should get you a cab back to your hotel. Rose, I know we just met, maybe you're not quite over the fact someone left you and I go away tomorrow but unlike him, I am coming back. Will you wait for me?"

Rose smiled back. "Yeah, I can wait for you coming back. Let's walk back and get a cab but don't come with me Alec, I'll be fine, it's not far."

"If you insist? I would not want you to think I was being rude. May I call you from time to time to tell you where I am?" he asked, getting up and holding his hand out to help her.

"Yeah, I'd like that. Maybe one day, I'll get over the fact I got left in Norway?"

"That would be good," Alec replied as he led her back to the main area. "I'm sure not everyone is like that."

Rose wondered if she could risk giving Alec the chance to prove that. She couldn't bring herself to ask him to take her with him, he may want to be alone anyway to think of his own future.

"So, where did you travel exactly?" he asked her.

"All over but Norway was our last stop. He worked for Torchwood as a researcher and I talked my way into going with him."

"Maybe that was where you went wrong?" Alec wondered. "I mean if you worked together? I made that mistake with my ex."

"Maybe I shouldn't have insisted I went with him and waited?" Rose smiled as they neared a taxi rank opposite the station, mainly so it was easier for Alec to get back to his hotel.

Alec knew there was no chance she would agree to go with him now, even if he had the courage to ask her and time was running out. He led her to the back of the taxi rank and said goodbye.

"So, I will see you upon my return?"

"Yeah, I'll be here, have a safe trip. Alec, have you considered coming back to live up here? Where are you from anyway?"

"Further south, near Glasgow. I don't know about coming back Rose, I've not thought about it. Just one thing before I go. Don't give up on me coming back Rose, I'm not like the man who left you and when I come back, I want to know what happened, okay?"

He leaned down to kiss her and hoped all the cab drivers were otherwise occupied.

"Okay. Bye then, I'll see you when you get back."

He walked her to the cab at the front and opened the back door for her.

"Bye Rose, take care."

He watched the taxi drive away and then double-back on the one-way road system then he made his way back to his hotel. It would have been a mistake to invite her back or go to her hotel but when he got back, what then? Should he apply to the local police, if they actually had a police force in the town? Then he'd never be able to talk Daisy into joining him, she had been undecided about moving to Broadchurch, she'd never entertain a small Scottish town.

Rose had seen him walking off as the cab had doubled-back. She was letting yet another man walk away but she had little choice. He'd never agree to her going with him now, not after what she'd just told him. Maybe she'd made a mistake in telling him, it wasn't likely he'd be going to Norway, was it? Going to her room, she had a decision to make by morning.

Alec got back to his room, wondering if he should send her a text but it would just make things worse. Why had he stopped himself asking her to go with him? She had said maybe she'd get over the fact someone had left her and Norway was not on his itinerary, though maybe the thought put her off. When he came back though, what then?

Chapter 5

Neither of them could get to sleep though Alec knew he had to try or he wouldn't get very far once his hire car was delivered in the morning. He wondered if Rose was asleep, should he at least call her and say thanks for a more than pleasant evening? Her company had made his decision to get the train and spend a few days in the town worthwhile though he'd decided to go travelling on his own, some company wouldn't go amiss, would it?

He made his mind up that if she'd wanted to, she would have already asked to go with him so seeing her when he got back would have to do but would it make him want to shorten his trip? Both of them were awake early, Alec hadn’t much to pack and waited until breakfast was served then sat around waiting for a call to say his car was outside.

Rose had done more or less the same, sitting around until breakfast but suddenly, she'd had enough. She went downstairs to reception and asked for a taxi in half an hour to take her to Alec's hotel.

"Are you leaving us?" the receptionist asked.

Rose was about to say something but she was in a hurry as she had no idea what time Alec would be leaving.

"No, I want to catch someone before they leave. I'll be in the dining room."

Once there though, she decided just on cereal and then it seemed dry and she left half of it, putting it down to nerves so she got up and went to wait not so patiently for her taxi. Meanwhile, Alec had left to meet the person bringing his car and it was being checked over. He didn't see a cab arrive and Rose hurriedly paying the driver. She went inside and up to the reception desk.

"Can you call Alec Hardy's room for me?" Rose asked the woman behind the desk.

The woman looked at the computer screen.

"I'm sorry, he checked out about fifteen minutes ago."

Rose's heart sank. He must have got his car delivered early and decided to leave.

"Thanks anyway," Rose replied as she walked away.

The other receptionist had finished what she was doing and turned to her colleague.

"Was that woman wanting Alec Hardy?"

The other woman nodded as she tried to answer the phone. "Why?" she asked, covering the phone.

"He's just taking delivery of a hire car, he might still be in the car park."

Rose was standing in the entrance, looking around to see if he was still there. Should she call him and see how far he'd got? If it wasn't too far, he may offer to come back for her. Why had she left it until the last minute, he may not even want her to go with him, wouldn't he have already asked her?

She thought she would walk back across to the supermarket then get a taxi from there and was just leaving the entrance to the hotel when Alec came from the back of his hire car, where he'd just signed for it and had put his luggage in the back.

He saw Rose walking off, well he thought it was her.

"Rose!" he called out, making her turn. He walked the short distance to her. "What are you doing here? Have you come to see me off?"

"Alec. They told me you'd left."

"I was putting my things in the car. Why are you here?"

"Can we talk? Does the supermarket have a café?"

"Yes, I have to call there anyway to get a few more things. We can drive across. Rose, it's not that I'm not happy to see you but I thought when we parted last night, I wouldn't see you until I got back? Yes, I think maybe we do need to talk?"

Rose got in the hire car and they drove across to the supermarket car park, sitting there a few minutes.

"Are you going to tell me?" he asked her.

"Yeah, all I thought about last night was you going off and I wouldn't see you for goodness knows how long. I had no say in it when I got left behind last time and now I've thought about it, well I couldn't let ya go without knowing how you felt."

"Rose, these last few days have been great, you know that but I thought because you'd got left behind, you wouldn't want to go travelling with someone else."

"I didn’t think I could. Alec, I know it's a bit late but can I go with you or do ya need to think about it?"

Alec thought if they weren't in a supermarket car park, he'd kiss her.

"Rose, I would love you to come with me, if you're sure? What about your job?"

"It'll wait. Yeah, I'm sure and I might just tell you what happened the last time."

"Well I'll be sure to miss Norway out then? Unless you want to go there, so I can prove not all men leave you there but there's something you're not telling me about it, is there not?"

"Yeah and if I tell ya, you'll leave me there as well. Can we just forget about it? Anyway, I'm dying for a latte, can we go inside? I didn't have much breakfast this morning, I was all mixed up, thinking you'd have left when I got to your hotel."

"I'm sorry Rose, I was wrong not to ask you. I should have given you the choice but I was afraid you would say no. I thought it better not to, to avoid disappointment. I was wrong. We'll get a drink then go get your things but there's one thing before we go."

Rose reached over and kissed his cheek.

"What's that then?"

"You'll have to make your own laundry arrangements Miss Tyler," he grinned.

Rose pretended to hit his arm. "I guess you were gonna buy something to wash your underwear with?"

"You are too clever for me. Guess we'll have to get two tubes of travelwash then?"

"As long as you don't mind seeing my silky underwear on the radiator?"

As they got out and Alec went around the other side of the car he whispered, "Can't wait" to her.

Rose ordered a light breakfast since she'd hardly eaten due to the lump in her throat thinking she shouldn't be letting Alec go without her, Alec asked if there was anywhere else she wanted to avoid.

"No, I don't think so. Alec, I was used to ending up anywhere, when I went around before, we never knew where we'd end up. I just wanna stop off by Loch Ness and get a Nessie toy for my brother, I promised him and maybe a book about it so I can send it home. Are we gonna be able to go to some of the islands? I mean you're not keen on going on water, are you?"

"I can manage a ferry for a while, there's somewhere I want to visit on the way back, where some of my ancestors came from. We can go to the Isle of Skye, there's a bridge now, we can go there first then double back to Fort Augustus."

"Well you're the driver," Rose teased him, feeling much better now, all her fears of losing him disappearing. Alec drove them to Rose's hotel, having to face the receptionist she'd seen earlier.

"Sorry but I'm checking out. Can you have my bill sorted when I've got my things? I'm not changing hotels, well not really, I'm just going on a touring holiday – with my boyfriend," she added as Alec waited by the stairs.

He went to help her with all her luggage but before they left, they kissed.

"I don't think I would have got far you know," Alec had to admit. "The moment you would have called and asked where I was, I would have come back for you or waited while you got there. Why did I ever think I could leave you behind, even though I'd promised to come back?"

"Alec, knowing me, I'd have called before the end of the day but I really didn't think you'd want me to go with you, I don't know why."

She did know why but admitting it to him would take some explaining. Alec wondered how he was going to get all Rose's luggage in the back and had to re-arrange a few things but managed to keep the smaller bags on the back seat, covering them with a rug Rose had bought in the supermarket and they set off to visit the Isle of Skye, well just a part of it then set off for their overnight stay but when they found a small B&B, Rose was going to discover that the older folk of the Scottish Highlands were very strict about sharing rooms.

"So how long are ya staying?" the man asked Alec as he had asked for a room. "Did you mean to book two rooms?"

Alec knew what the man was getting at and Rose smiling wasn't helping, especially since she wasn't wearing a wedding ring.

"Ah, maybe two nights, so we can look around the area. Rose, sweetheart, can you give your details on the registration card? You did insist on paying for your own rooms while we are away."

That was news to Rose but she suspected he'd not budgeted for paying the cost of two rooms every night so she played along though she had no intentions of sleeping on her own, not after thinking about that night they'd had on the train and she was now wanting more.

"Yeah. The name's Rose Tyler, heard of me?" Rose asked the man as he handed them both a card to fill out.

"Should I have done?" the man replied, with a thicker accent than Alec himself had.

"Never mind, I suppose no-one drinks Vitex this far north," Rose mumbled to herself as she signed her name.

They were given two keys and Alec said they should sort out their luggage to make it easier than bringing all their things in everywhere they stopped. Luckily, the hire car had a cover across the back so some cases could stay in the back so helping Rose, they struggled up the narrow staircase after being told their room numbers were opposite each other.

Rose suspected the man had done it on purpose and there was a door between the two rooms that were next to each other. Getting inside, there was only a single bed so Alec went to check the other, which was the same but considering what they'd been charged, Rose should have expected a single room each.

"Alec, I don't want to be on my own tonight, do you?"

"We are going to get the same everywhere we go and you being the Vitex heiress carries no weight by the sound of it. Next time, we'll insist on a double and single room but I can't afford to pay for both, I did not take that into account."

"Well I didn't expect ya to, I'll pay for both if ya want? It's my fault anyway."

Alec took hold of her shoulders, rubbing them with his thumbs.

"Don't say that Rose. I was an idiot for not assuming you would give up your job and come with me and do you know why?" Rose shook her head. "Because I didn't think you wanted any more than that one night but the more time we spent together, the more I wished I could get up the courage to ask you."

"Alec, I would have said yes if you'd asked me. I began to think I wanted more than that one night but I wasn't sure you did. Guess we were both as bad as each other then? Let's stay in my room tonight and yours tomorrow but we'll have to mess up the beds a bit," Rose giggled as he held her closer.

"I can see you're going to be trouble," he told her.

"That's my middle name. We were always getting into trouble when I travelled around before, breaking customs and that. My friend used to be able to talk himself out of anything."

"I bet he could. So are you going to tell me more about him?"

There was only one way she could and that was by telling him what Pete, herself and Jake had come up with between them then if Alec didn't believe it, he'd want to know more. She hoped he would though after thinking the last few days she wouldn't see him again for a while.

They went off to find a pub to get an evening meal since they weren't offered any where they were staying and Rose began to tell Alec of the project at Torchwood they'd been running to find out where all the Cybermen had disappeared to after the old regime had let them escape.

"So your stepfather was a secret backer then? No wonder he wanted to take over afterwards. So, you were part of the team who followed them? You must have been young then?"

"I was old enough or Pete wouldn't have let me join. It was Mickey who got us involved, after the first time, I wanted nothing to do with them but the Doctor was curious and wormed his way into Torchwood with us. Anyway, we crossed over, shut the other side down but he got trapped before he could get back. There was just a small gap left, he got a message to me to go to Norway, then I watched him fade away before he told me he loved me."

"Rose, I'm really sorry to hear that but you have to trust someone and I'd like that to be me? Is that why you hesitated, to ask to come with me?"

Rose knew this was her only chance.

"Yeah, sorry. There's more to tell but we did travel around, before we went back to join Torchwood and I never forgave Mickey for getting us involved. He thought because we were there that night Pete's mansion got invaded, we'd want in. I only went to see what it was like, him having the same name as my dad though mum never said anything. I think Pete let me in because I tried to save his wife that night and he wanted to repay me after all that time."

She was trying to judge Alec's reaction but he was giving nothing away.

"Rose, you could have got left behind as well, then what would your mother have done eh? You were very lucky you got back. I can see why you were reluctant to get close to anyone and why you told me what you did. Did it make it easier for you to think he was still around somewhere?"

Rose was beginning to think she'd made a big mistake. If she told him the truth now, he'd surely go off and leave her.

"Yeah, it did and made anyone back off, to think if he came back I'd still want him but he's not coming back Alec and I could never get over it. I'm sorry I told ya what I did at first, it was just easier."

"It's okay Rose, I understand. Still no visits to Norway though?" he smiled. "Well not unless you want to get it out of your system?"

"I don’t know Alec, maybe it's best left alone?"

"Maybe so? How did your mother meet Pete Tyler anyway?"

"That's a story for another time Alec," Rose smiled.

She was just happy he seemed to accept what she'd said and that she wouldn't have to admit it was her that was trapped.

"Ah but Rose, Torchwood is all about the extraordinary, who knows that one day, they may find a way? Were they close to something and that's why you came up here?"

"How did you know?" Rose asked, thinking maybe it was going to be easier than she'd thought.

"We hear things from time to time."

"They keep trying to get the original devices we went over with to work again without the Cybermen knowing. It's an ongoing project but as soon as someone comes up with something, the board finds a flaw in it but now, well we think it may be possible so yes, that's why I'm up here 'cos Pete would stop me being the first to try it."

"Well you can't blame him Rose, can you?" Alec asked her. "He took on responsibility for you, what would your mother think if he let you go eh?"

They'd already had that debate, if someone were to find a safe way of going back or to other universes but there were too many variable to be sure they'd ever get the right one and the board kept trying to shut it down. It was only for Rose that they kept trying. She was sure though that part of the reason was she and Mickey were the resident alien experts and were too valuable to be put at risk.

They went back to their lodgings, Rose saying for Alec to mess his bed a bit then sneak over to her room and not get caught. They spent most of the night just kissing and Alec said they'd find a bigger hotel next time that weren't as strict.

"Rose, if we have to stay somewhere small, there is a way you know?" he told her as she was getting as comfortable as she could in the single bed. "The next town we come to, you could get a simple gold ring and wear it."

Rose giggled. "Alec Hardy, I'm surprised at you. Why didn't I think of that?"

It took them a while but Rose got up the courage to go into a shop on her own and buy a plain gold ring, putting it on her right hand and hoping the assistant didn't ask any questions but she got away with it. The next place they'd stayed at didn't seem all that bothered and they finally reached Inverness and a big hotel where Alec had already rung and asked if they had a laundry service, which they had much to their relief.

They explored the surrounding area for the best part of a week, since now there was no hurry for Alec to get back but even for the time of year, the weather was a bit on the cold side. Rose had got Alec on a ferry to some of the islands and he'd been surprised it hadn't made him feel ill but he put it down to being with Rose and getting over his heart problem.

Leaving Inverness, they made their way down towards Aberdeen, Alec wondering if Rose was aware there was a ferry across to Norway from the port. He wondered what her reaction would be if he suggested they went so taking her out during their stay, he asked her.

"It's up to you Rose but just maybe you can put it behind you once and for all? We could go and I will answer you when you say you love me. I know neither of us have said it, I certainly want to but I never wanted to scare you off. You must know how I feel about you though? I know you loved him Rose, maybe you can let it go, the fact he never said it back to you. Want to give it a try? We would have to be early leaving for the ferry though and stay overnight but you can tell me where it was. Please Rose, let me do this for you?"

So despite her hesitation, Rose knew she had to get over it and maybe it was time to tell Alec the truth though she had an idea he suspected something, that there was more to it. After all, he was a detective, that was what he did but she had no idea he really loved her but was afraid of spoiling what they had, just like the Doctor had been and he'd been about to finally admit it when he'd faded away.

Rose was excited the next morning, having packed an overnight bag and keeping the room in one of the better hotels at Rose's instance she paid for it, which was Alec's only concession as he insisted he paid for the fuel and everything else. They arrived for the ferry in plenty of time, getting on board fairly quickly and going to the lounge, Rose saying she needed coffee to stay awake.

On the long journey to Norway, Alec saying they should maybe have flown and hired a car, she dragged him on deck as they were approaching their destination, seeing land ahead.

"Glad we're nearly there?" Rose asked him, her arm in his.

"Why do you think I stayed inside hmm? You already know I only did it for you love?"

"Yeah, I know and thanks. I know it's taken a lot to get you on board. We'll check in at the hotel and have a look around before dinner. Alec, you won't be disappointed, if I can't go through with it?"

"No love, take your time eh? I hope you don't think I am putting you under any pressure?"

"No Alec, I don't think that. Once we get there though, I don't know how I'll feel about it."

"Then you must allow me to tell you first. We should get ready to leave."

"You mean disembark," Rose teased him.

He kissed her cheek and whispered, "Show-off," making Rose smile.

Once off the ferry and booked into their hotel, they had time to walk along the waterfront, the place was still crowded then Rose was going to tell him where they needed to be.

"Will we have time to look around tomorrow?" Rose wondered.

"If we set off early. The ferry leaves at two, unless you want to extend our stay?"

"Let's see what time we get back? Can we come back out later when it's all lit up?"

"Sure love, anything you want. Want to look around the shops?"

"Yeah, to get something for my mum and Tony."

"Take your time love, I wanted to go get a little something for you anyway."

"Aw, ya don't have to Alec," she smiled as they headed for the hotel.

Alec already had something in mind, since Rose had hurriedly bought a simple gold ring to save them getting two rooms at out of the way places who didn't approve of them sharing. If she could tell him she loved him, he was planning buying another ring that would also be suitable if she wanted to wear it on the same finger as her pretend wedding ring. If she wasn't ready, she could wear it on her other hand.

He'd made his mind up that no matter what happened on the beach tomorrow, he was still going to tell her he loved her. After an early dinner, they wandered back out and Rose found a few gift shops and Alec said he'd meet her in half an hour in a nearby coffee shop. Alec went off and hoped she wouldn't buy too much, they still had a long way to go once they got back.

As they got to bed later, Alec assured her he was not going to fade away before he'd said those words, if she could get over her fear he was going to leave her.

"Rose, sweetheart, I am not going to leave if you can tell me, you know that?" he tried to tell her after they'd had sex.

"Yeah, I think I know that Alec but it's difficult. We've come all this way when you hate being on the water, I hope I don't let you down."

"Well we could stay another night, if you can't. Would that help? We could change the ferry booking."

"Yeah, maybe? It's just I don't know what I'll be like when I step out onto that beach. I had my mum with me last time, you should ask her what I was like back then," she tried to joke.

"Rose, it will okay, I promise you. I was going to wait until tomorrow but now, Rose Tyler, I love you, since we met on the train. I would not have got very far before I called you to join me, I don't think I could have waited until I got back."

Rose reached up to kiss him. "Alec, I want to get over it, really I do. If anyone can help me, then you can."

"Get some sleep eh? Then we will drive to that bay you told me about though how you managed to pronounce it is beyond me. What does it mean in English?"

"It translates roughly to Bad Wolf Bay. I know how to say it Alec, after all this time. When we've been, well maybe I won't think about it again?"

Alec hoped not, he wanted her to get over it once they had been for their visit but he wished they'd have opted to fly but since they needed the car and they already had one, there wasn't much point in getting another one just for a day plus they could relax more instead of getting off a plane, visiting the bay then going back.

He wasn't sure once they got there that Rose wouldn't break down but she had to put it behind her if their relationship was going to move forward. He was ready and prepared to give her the time she needed if when they got there she couldn't tell him. It must have been heartbreaking for her to stand there and tell the Doctor's image that she loved him and have him fade away before he could say it back.

He'd got her to tell him a few more details such as somehow, the Doctor had made a hologram and had used it to talk to her through the gap but as for a device to go find him again? There had to be more to it and one way or another, he'd get her to tell him – after she'd told him she loved him.

Chapter 6

As they drove to the beach where Rose had said goodbye to the Doctor all that time ago, Rose remained quiet, Alec just glancing at her now and then.

"We can turn back if you're not ready for this," he told her.

"No, I can cope with it Alec. You've been so good about it, I hope I don't let you down."

"Rose, you could never do that love. If you can't say it when we get there, then maybe we're expecting too much? I can live with the fact you can't let go but I know you are with me now and you will let go in your own time. Let's see what happens on the beach?"

"Yeah, it's not like I'm gonna see another hologram, is it?" she tried to joke.

"I hope not love," he smiled back as he saw a sign and hoped the sat-nav had got the right beach.

Rose was also hoping that her going there wouldn't prompt the Doctor into making a trip across the void. Who knew what had been going on in the other universe while she'd been gone. He could have adapted the Tardis to work in this one, he could have changed a few times but if he had, he'd maybe think she wouldn't want to see him again.

As Alec drove onto the beach, Rose was wondering if Pete's jeep tyre marks would still be there or if other vehicles or even the tide had erased them.

"Looking for something love?" Alec asked as he stopped the car engine.

"Just signs we were here before, I'm just being daft."

"You are not being daft love, I believe you were here, you don't have to prove it to me. You would not have learned how to pronounce the name had you not been before. Is there anything else you may want to tell me, now is the time. Just how did he get a projection through to the right spot?"

"One night, just after we'd moved in with Pete, I could hear his voice calling me through the gap. He told me to drive as far as we could and I'd know where we were going. Bad Wolf was a bit of a standing joke between us and when Pete looked at the map, I did know where we were supposed to go."

Alec wanted to believe her but she worked for Torchwood, she must be well practiced at covering things up.

"I think it's a bit more than that Rose and we are staying right here until you tell me. I've been trying to work things out and I think I finally got it. So, tell me Rose."

"Do ya believe there are other worlds out there? If ya don't, you may as well take me back to the hotel and I'll fly back to London. I'll have someone pick up the rest of my things from the hotel in Aberdeen."

"You're being serious. It's all to do with the Cybermen, is it not? Then tell me the whole story Rose and don't miss anything out. When you've finished, tell me you love me."

"You might leave before I get the chance, then it'll be just the opposite of what happened before."

"Never. I love you Rose and yes, I believe it's possible other universes like ours exist but you would only be asking if you came from one yourself and maybe your mother? Then how did you get here exactly?"

An hour or so later, they were sat in the car, trying to keep Rose warm as she hadn't realized just how cold it was there and Alec was trying to keep up.

"So, you were safe here and you still went back to help him, then Pete caught you as you were being sucked into this 'Void'?" Alec wanted to make sure he'd got it right.

"You're taking this all very well. Yeah, my mum kept on at him to go get me even though the walls were closing. He took us to his house, it freaked me out going back there after what happened but mum knew nothing about it at the time. There are three years difference Alec, we suddenly found ourselves stuck here and we had to blend in. Pete covered everything and claimed he'd met my mum through me when he'd been looking for me, to thank me for trying to rescue his wife."

"You faced the Cybermen Rose, not many people could have done that. So it was that madman Lumic?"

"Yeah, they turned him into their cyber leader, he went mad."

"Rose, I think he was already mad, that just sent him over the edge. So you got back and then the Torchwood in your world got involved when they thought they were harnessing a new energy form?"

"Yeah, the Cybermen couldn't get through properly, well some did, the rest appeared as ghosts, everyone thought their loved ones were coming back. Even my mum got to think my granddad had come back. The Doctor guessed it must have involved Torchwood, we went there and my mum refused to let me go on my own with him. That was when Pete appeared, she got a shock he looked just like my real dad, I'd not had the heart to tell her I'd already met him."

What else could she say without involving time-travel?

"So, you and the Doctor crossed into the other universe with your other friend Mickey when the Torchwood here made a gap?"

"Yeah, the Doctor was a bit on the curious side."

"Come on Rose, tell me the truth. He was no ordinary doctor, was he?"

"I'll have to get Pete's permission to tell ya. No-one knows about him."

"Then call when we get back to the hotel because I want to hear it all. That's why you were so reluctant to say you love me, you thought I wouldn't believe any of it?"

"I didn't want to tell you then you walk away and leave me when you found out."

Alec turned to her.

"Rose, I would never do that. I'm glad you could at least tell me some of it and I suspect that your stepfather agreed with you that if you had to, that would be what you would tell anyone. I understand Rose, really I do. Feel like a walk on the beach?"

She knew she had to this, to put it all behind her. Alec loved her, she knew that already, he deserved to know whether she loved him or not. Alec led her to the water's edge, not being all that keen but if it meant Rose told him she loved him, he could put up with it. Rose stopped suddenly, seeing something on the wet sand.

"What's wrong love?" he asked as she stopped. "What have you seen?"

It was impossible after all that time that the Tardis had got through without the Doctor contacting her but there were four marks on the sand, roughly where the ship would just fit. Alec went to look.

"You know what made the marks, don't you?" he asked her. Rose just nodded. "Want to tell me?"

"I can't explain how they got there Alec but I know what made them and since the water hasn't erased them yet, they were made fairly recently. Alec, how do ya feel about time travel?"

She saw the smile creep across his face.

"Really? Then I want to know more. You mean the Doctor was a time traveller and you went with him? Rose, that's more believable than what you just told me. So all those comics I read as a boy were all true?"

"I should have told ya the truth but I thought you'd leave me."

"Rose, I already told you I would never do that. What parts were true?"

"Most of it except how we got here the first time. He had this ship, in the shape of a phone box, well a police phone box but you never had them here. It just appeared and disappeared but it landed here, recently and I never knew. He never tried to contact me again."

"How recently?" Alec asked, looking at the marks. "Rose, what if he landed and saw you were with me? Would he have known where you were?"

"He would have been able to locate me using the ship's sensors. I'd have stuck out, well so would my mum and Mickey 'cos we're not from this world plus when we crossed the void or travelled in time, we have this sort of background radiation."

"Then I think he saw us together, saw you were happy and left. He didn't want you to know he'd come back because he did love you and let you get on with your life. Would you have gone back with him?"

"No, I can't leave my family, not now and I've got you. I know he loved me Alec but he'd never be able to tell me. He can change his appearance Alec, when he's dying or badly injured. He changed in front of me once and I bet he changed again and didn't think I'd want to see him so he just found a way to check on me."

"Then you may be right love, he saw you with me and didn't want to make you choose. He did the right thing Rose, he knew you wouldn't go back with him, he was making sure you were okay."

"Torchwood were trying to get the old devices working again Alec, that's why I came here, so I wasn't tempted to use one. I bet something had happened and he took advantage of it. I bet it wasn't that long ago, maybe a day or so since he was here."

"Rose, it's okay. You chose to stay and he knew it and maybe he has changed but how did he look when he changed before?" He saw the look on her face. "He looked like me, didn't he Rose?"

She knew she couldn't deny it and in spite of him saying he loved her and would never leave her, this would be his limit after everything else he'd heard.

"I'm sorry Alec, I didn't know how to tell you."

"That was another reason you couldn't say you loved me, because you were trying to tell his double."

"What can I say Alec?"

"That you love me for who I am, a stranger you met on a train that you were only going to spend the one night with yet you couldn't let me leave. Tell me I'm not a substitute for him."

"Alec, you’re in no way a substitute for him. I went after you because I did want more than that one night with you. Now you won't believe that I do love you."

"You love me? Then say it again Rose because no matter what you have just told me, I still love you and you have a lot more to tell me."

He got closer and held his arms out. Rose closed the gap and put her arms around him.

"I love you Alec."

"Then let's get out of here and back to the warm hotel eh?"

They were about to walk off when they felt a sudden breeze even though it had been calm while they'd been standing there talking. Rose stopped.

"Alec, he was here, as we talked."

"What? How is that possible? I know I said it was recent. You mean he heard us?"

"He could put the ship out of sync so no-one could see it, like a perception filter though I should have known."

"Maybe he's perfected it and hid himself from even you, I mean if he saw you with me?" Alec suggested.

"Yeah, that means he has changed and didn't want me to see him and he didn't want to be reminded of how he used to look. He always said he liked that version of himself and something bad must have happened to make him change."

"Come on, let's talk about it back at the hotel eh?"

The next morning, having delayed the ferry since they'd spent more time on the beach than they had intended and Alec having the sense to tell the hotel they may be back, they caught the early ferry back to Aberdeen, Rose having called Pete and got his blessing to tell Alec all he needed to know. Once back, they headed towards Dundee, then made their way to Edinburgh, planning on spending a few days, Rose getting to see the castle and the night before they were leaving, Alec took her out.

"Rose, you know even after what you told me, I still love you?"

"Yeah, I know Alec. The fountain looks lovely, all lit up," she smiled as they'd stopped in front of it, the castle all lit up behind them.

"Then, Rose Tyler, will you wear this ring I bought you and when the time's right, will you marry me?"

He got a ring box out of his pocket and showed it to her, Rose holding her left hand out.

"You can wear it on the other hand Rose. I was going to give you it, back on the beach in Norway but maybe that would have been too soon for you?"

"I don't know Alec but it's not too soon now. I want to wear it on this hand."

A few days later, they were in Alec's hometown, him showing her around, then they headed towards Oban, to get the ferry to the island of Mull, Alec locating a local historian who dug into his past, Rose seeing how much it meant to him. It was when they got to the small town of Callendar, Alec had a surprise for her.

He told her to wear something nice and they were going for afternoon tea at a stately home but first, he wanted to take her around the gardens but Rose didn't know he'd contacted Pete, who had given Alec his blessing to marry Rose but told him to expect to do it again when they got back to London. He'd also contacted the local registrar, who had been happy to meet them by a fountain and of course, as they approached it, Rose realized what was going on as the man greeted them.

People began to gather around and after the short ceremony, a man offered to take some photos of them kissing in front of the fountain on Alec's phone. Having tea in the café garden, those that had seen them get married offered their congratulations to them, making Rose blush several times.

"Well sweetheart, we go back to Fort William in a few days. I guess you're not taking that job after all?"

"Well when you've met my mum and she makes us get married in front of her, where are we gonna live?"

"How about making Broadchurch our home? Your stepfather told me he can get me back in so what do you think?"

"That it'll be perfect, if you're sure ya wanna go back there?"

"I used to hate the place but with you there love, it'll seem more like a home than I've had for a long time."

"Well then, Broadchurch it is," Rose smiled as she raised the glass of champagne a waitress had brought them each, the manager having heard they'd just got married and sent it with the café's compliments.

Alec returned the car once they got back to Fort William and they had sorted their train tickets out to go back to London, Alec saying they should have travelled overnight again but Rose just laughed and said they were no longer two strangers on the night train.


As they'd been standing on the beach at Bad Wolf Bay, the Doctor in his present form, who had by accident discovered that the Torchwood in the universe Rose had gone to must have been experimenting with crossing the void, squeezed the ship through, although still under protest until he told the temperamental ship it was to go check on Rose.

He'd been there a while, easily picked up Rose, her mother and Mickey the idiot but was happy to find Rose was close by, over in Aberdeen, of all places and he remembered Sarah-Jane complaining he'd landed her there instead of Croydon and wondered if she'd pay a visit. He'd not had long to wait and had already put the ship out of sync, he didn't want her to see him in his present form but as she had got out of a car, he couldn't believe he was looking at his former self, two regenerations back.

Satisfied they'd told each other how they felt, he'd tried to sneak away, having perfected a way to silence the ship on departure if needed but he knew the way Rose had looked back that she'd known he was there – Rose Tyler had always been too clever for him. Now, she was where she belonged, with a man who could be his old self's double who had come though a lot and survived, to be destined to find Rose, who must have surely thought he'd abandoned her. Now she'd know that he hadn't, that he'd made the effort to see she was happy and he knew she was, that was good enough for him as he crossed the void back to their old universe.

The End!