Stay out of my way

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Rose Tyler offers Torchwood's help when a young girl has been killed in Sandbrook. Alec Hardy agrees as long as she stays out of his way when they're not working - as if that's going to happen.  The case is solved and after getting together for a short time, Alec breaks it off saying she's too young.  Then Rose goes to tell him he has a baby daughter when he gets to Broadchurch.

Chapter 1
The story won't concentrate on the investigation but rather on the working relationship of Rose and Alec, the breakdown of Alec's marriage and Tess accusing him of sleeping with Rose when it wasn't even true, amongst other things.

Alec Hardy's Sunday was about to get a lot worse – as if fighting his wife about going out for Sunday lunch and his almost teenage daughter crossing her arms and saying he never spends any time with her and why do they have to go out.  Then, while shushing his wife and glaring at his daughter, he answers his work phone and his wife starts again.

"Go on, answer it then," Tess dared him as he squinted at the screen.  "Why do you never put your glasses on, really Alec," she continued.  "It's going to be the station but why call you, on a Sunday?  You really need to have words with them," she added as he pressed the answer button and said 'Hardy' to the person who had dared to interrupt his day off.

He thought at least if they went out for lunch, he may get a bit of peace and quiet as the caller spoke.

"Sir, sorry to interrupt your Sunday," the desk sergeant apologised, not that he really meant it, he knew what the DI was like, especially if his wife was giving him trouble.

"Tell him we're going out," Tess insisted as Alec tried to cover his mobile to tell her for the hundredth time to shush.

"They don't call for nothing Tess," he hissed at her to remind her.

"It's up to the junior officers to deal with anything Alec, that's the protocol," she reminded him back.

"Well is your work phone on?" he replied as he uncovered the phone.  "What is it then?  Where are all the junior officers?"

"They've turned their phones off Alec, what do you think?" Tess scoffed at him.  "You should try it once in a while, your bloody work mobile's always on, even in bed."

"Well nothing goes on there, does it Tess?" Alec scoffed back at her, not caring if the desk sergeant heard or not, even with the phone covered again.

Daisy looked round at him.

"Are you and mum getting divorced?" Daisy shouted out loud.  "All my friends' parents are getting divorced, I'll finally fit in with them.  Hang on a minute, are you going to fight over me or abandon me?"

"Daisy, no-one's going to abandon you, are they Alec?" Tess glared at him, daring him to say something.  "And we're not getting divorced, are we Alec?" she added.

"Will you two stop?" he told them.  "Daisy, you are not going to be abandoned but as for the divorce?  I swear Tess, you tempt me sometimes."

"Fine, have that attitude," Tess replied.  "Don't think I've not thought about it either."

"Been getting advice from your friend Dave?" Alec raised his eyebrows, forgetting he was supposed to be talking on the phone until he heard another voice calling his name.

"Sir, if it's all the same to you, you need to know why I'm interrupting your Sunday morning," the desk sergeant told him.  "Sir, we have a missing child in the town."

"What?" Alec asked.  "Why didn't you say so?"

The desk sergeant felt like telling him he'd be better off sorting out his own problems first.

"Sir, you're on the duty roster for emergency call-outs, along with DS Hardy.  The missing girl is twelve year old Pippa Gillespie, she and her nineteen year old cousin couldn't be found when the younger girl's parents got back from an overnight stay.  Officers have been out to the estate and a search is underway but they need a senior officer to take charge," the desk sergeant told him.

Alec was reaching for a pen and pad on the unit.

"Give me the address," he replied, daring Tess to object.  "Tell them to carry on searching, get a map of the area and set up a command post.  Are officers knocking on doors?" he asked.

"Yes Sir but some people are out or only just got up," the sergeant replied, wishing someone else had drawn the short straw of calling the grumpy detective but the whole station knew why he was so grumpy.

Rumours were rife that Alec Hardy's wife was paying more attention to another certain DS than she was her husband but he'd either chosen to ignore it or he'd already started divorce proceedings.  Everyone knew Tess didn't care Alec was now aware and were surprised he'd not retaliated.

"We'll be there in an hour or so," Alec replied, Tess throwing down the morning paper where she'd been looking at various venues to go visit for lunch.

"Great, that means I get bundled off to nan's again," Daisy complained, without finding out why.

"Daisy, you're not old enough to be left on your own," Tess told her.  "Blame your father for taking the call."

"I didn't want to go out," Daisy further complained.

"Well you will have to go out, your mother and I have to go to work," Alec told her firmly.  "A young girl has gone missing."

"Do I have to go missing to get some attention?" Daisy asked as she got up.

"Daisy, just get your things," her mother told her.

"Am I staying there overnight?" Daisy wanted to know.

"Best take everything, just in case," Alec advised her.

He really didn't know what to expect when he and Tess got there but it was Sunday and people had things to do and places to go so half the estate would be unavailable.  He always concentrated on immediate neighbours though, since they didn't usually miss much, though they tended to take some persuading to talk.

Daisy moaned all the way to Tess's mother's house, about how they didn't care about her and any excuse to get rid of her, until Alec pulled up outside the house.

"We'll spend some time together, yes?" Alec promised her as she got out.

"Don't say that if you don't mean it Dad," Daisy warned him as Tess got out.

Alec elected to stay where he was, he knew how his mother-in-law hated the way he worked too much and he'd heard Tess blame it on him when she'd called to say they were bringing Daisy over.

"Aren't you coming in Alec?" Tess wanted to know.

"You don't need for me to go in," he replied, checking his phone.

He counted how long it took Tess to come back out, it was the usual length, which was why he'd said an hour to get to the scene when it was only a ten minute drive away.  When they arrived, they were let through to where the girls had disappeared from and Alec saw all the officers stare as if to say why had those two been called out?

"No saying we'll find them safe and well," Alec warned Tess.

"I know how you feel about these cases Alec, I don't need reminding."

"Well all the better if we do find them safe and well but they have to be prepared for the worst.  I hope the other girl's parents are here.  We need backgrounds on both families so we know what we’re dealing with, a list of friends and visit the next door neighbours."

"In what order?" Tess wanted to know.  "I wish you'd stop firing orders out Alec."

"Tess, we're working now," he reminded her.  "Look for anything out of place, anything suspicious, remember that case in Yorkshire?"

"This isn't Yorkshire Alec, that was on a council estate," Tess replied.

"That makes no difference Tess.  Right, let's get started."

They got out of the car, a uniformed officer knocking on the door and wishing them luck, since the parents hadn't said much in their initial interview.

Half an hour later, Alec was back in the car, leaning over the steering wheel while Tess was still talking in the doorway to the girl's mother.

"You'll find my Pippa?" the mother was asking Tess.

"We have a lot going on Cate, we have a lot of people working.  Are you sure you've told us all the places the girls liked to go?" Tess wanted to be sure.

"What's wrong with him?" Cate pointed to Alec, who was now leaning back in his seat.

"We have a daughter, the same age as Pippa.  It's just getting to him," Tess replied, hoping that was the reason.

It was and it wasn't, Alec had thought it could have easily been Daisy but it was the way the girl's father was acting, like he knew something and Alec didn't like the feeling he was getting.  They'd found out the older girl's parents were separated and now had to go see them and he wished Tess would stop talking, seeing her watching and then pointing to his watch.

Tess got in beside him, asking what his problem was.

"We've a lot to get through Tess and you're spending too much time talking to the mother," he complained.

"I'm trying to get her to talk to me," Tess replied.  "You could have shown more interest Alec.  What about the girl's father?"

"What about him?" Alec wanted to know.  "He knows more than he's saying and where are the other parents eh?  They're family, why aren't they with each other?  Right, we call next door now, find out what the neighbours know and I want a full check of both houses."

"You really think one of them's hiding the girls?" Tess asked, being a bit puzzled.

"Do I have to remind you where they found that other girl?  How do we know they're not playing some kind of game?" he wanted to know.  "Find out how well the girls knew the neighbours and find out if the Gillespies really were at that wedding all night."

"Why would one of them leave?" Tess wondered.

"You tell me?" he quipped.

Up in London, Pete Tyler was reading the morning papers, one eye half on his young son, whom he thought he'd never in a million years ever have a son and who was playing with his plane and zeppelin collection with his big sister.  

"I don't know why your mother has to still supervise Sunday lunch," he complained as Jackie was missing again.

"Old habits die hard Dad," Rose laughed, going to tickle Tony as he reached over with a plane over her head.  "She spends most of the day in the kitchen.  I wish something exciting would happen though, it's been boring at work."

"Mum always says be careful what you wish for," Tony laughed.

"Listen to your brother," Pete also laughed.  "Maybe you and Mickey should think up some new project eh?" he suggested.

The next day, Rose was going to wish she'd not said anything when Pete read out the news headlines over breakfast, Jackie trying to keep Tony interested in something else and listen at the same time.

"So where's Sandbrook?" Jackie wanted to know.

"Near Portsmouth," Pete told her.

"Where all the boats are," Tony grinned.  "Uncle Mickey told me."

"Well done Tony," Rose patted him on his head.  "It's awful, imagine two of 'em going missing?"

"You wanted something to do," Pete replied.  "You could go offer Torchwood's services, go see the detective in charge."

Then he turned the page to read more and changed his mind but Rose was already watching.

"What's wrong Dad?" she asked him, getting up.

He cautiously moved his hand away from the photo Alec had not wanted taking at the press conference he'd had to go last night.

"You're kiddin' me," Rose stood back on seeing the photo.

"What's wrong?" Jackie turned away from Tony, who complained.  "Blimey, when did he get here?"

"When did who get here?" Tony wanted to know.

"Never you mind young man," his mother replied.  "Hurry up or you'll be late for school."

"I want dad to take me," the boy insisted.

"Nanny will take you, as always," Jackie told him, to which he pulled a face.

"I'm too old for a nanny," he complained.

"Mum, it can't be him, we'd know if it was," Rose turned to her mother.

"Pete, could it be him?" Jackie asked.

"I don't know Jaks, there's been no signs of any activity and we have been watching," Pete replied.  "There's someone monitoring 24 hrs a day, ask Rose, she wanted a job there and no-one will give notice," he smiled.

"I'd swap with one of them," Rose replied.  "Anyway, how can it be him, unless he's disguised himself?"

"Don't get your hopes up Rose," Jackie sympathised.

"I'm not Mum, if he'd found a way, he'd have come to find me."

"Why don't you and Mickey drive down and check him out?" Pete wondered.

"I'm not taking Mickey," Rose insisted.  "I'll go take a look, see if we can help."

"Good, offer them lab and other facilities if they need them, you know what to do," Pete told her.

"Yeah, though whoever he is, he'll think we're trying to take over," Rose smiled, remembering the last time they'd offered to help a police force.

"Just don't go barging in, like they do in Cardiff," Pete laughed.

So after getting to work and making all the arrangements, having passed her driving test, much to the relief of Mickey and Jake, who had taught her, she set off the next morning and booked into a hotel and found the police station.

She was taking her mother's advice and not getting her hopes up that The Doctor had found his way here and was masquerading as a police detective as she made her way to the police station.  The desk sergeant thought he was seeing things when Rose walked up to the desk.

"Miss Tyler?  What can the Sandbrook police do for you?  Has your car broken down or maybe you're lost?" he asked her.

"Neither, thankfully," Rose smiled.  "Can I see the detective who's in charge of finding those two missing girls?"

"Of course, take a seat," he indicated to a row of chairs attached to the wall opposite, Rose thinking they were taking no chances that no-one smashed them up or stole them.

She walked across and pulled one down and sat on it, wondering what had possessed her to come here.

The desk sergeant was waiting for Alec to answer his phone and was just about to hang up and try Tess's.

"What?" Alec snapped as he'd been arguing with Tess again and he was getting tired of it and was thinking of doing something about it.  "I'm busy man, get on with it."

"Sir, there's someone in reception to see you," he was told.

"Well who is it?  It's not my daughter is it?  If she's skipped school, she'll be in trouble," Alec replied.

"No Sir, it's not your daughter," the sergeant replied.

"Well I've not got all day to guess, how am I supposed to know who it is?" Alec snapped again.  "If it's anyone short of Rose Tyler herself, tell whoever it is to see DS Hardy."

"Sir, it is Rose Tyler," the sergeant tried to sound serious.

"I'm coming down there and if it's not her, you're on school crossing patrols," Alec warned him.

He wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen for himself.

"Miss Tyler?  Come this way," he spoke more gently than he had done with the desk sergeant.

He led her to a more pleasant interview room and opened the door.

"May I ask what you're doing here?" he wanted to know.

"Well, I came to offer the services of Torchwood," Rose replied.  "We're trying to help any police force who need it."

When he didn't seem all that keen of Torchwood barging in and taking over, she began to tell him all the benefits.

"We won't take over, not unless we're invited," Rose insisted.

"I will have to clear it with my chief," Alec half relented.  "However, any signs you are taking over, you'll be asked to leave."

"Fine," Rose agreed.  "So, we'll work together?  I mean as a team?" she added as he raised his eyebrows like The Doctor used to do, which didn't help convince her he wasn't the real deal.

"Agreed but there is one thing.  Stay out of my way when we are not working, understand?"

Chapter 2
Rose thought he was assuming rather a lot, that she'd want to keep getting in his way.

"Fine, suits me," she replied, trying not to sound like she was bothered.

"Good, just remember that and the fact Torchwood is not taking over.  Bring down however many specialists you think appropriate for the investigation, they can work alongside our teams," he replied.

"We have worked with the police before," Rose objected.

"You may have done but not with the Sandbrook police, I don't stand for anyone trying to take over," Alec reminded her.  "What do you normally do?"

"Me?" Rose questioned the fact he thought she didn't actually do anything.  "I co-ordinate to start off with.  You tell me what you need, I get it," she began to grin.

Then she saw the serious look on his face, thinking he was so different from The Doctor and she'd hardly have any fun with him anyway, even if he'd not warned her to stay out of his way.  She'd maybe have fun winding him up though.

"So you say?" Alec grumbled.  "Do you have any lie detectors or something that will point out who took them?"

Rose thought he'd had no sense of humour until now.

"I'll see what I can do, shall I?" she challenged him, making him shift in his seat.

Rose went back to her hotel to do a video conference with Pete and Jake, who had agreed to co-ordinate from Torchwood's end.

"You don't want much Rose," Jake was laughing as Rose reeled off the list Alec had come out with.  "You want extra divers?  What for?"

"So they can search the river, Jake," Rose replied.  "They're already starting to search the nearby woods, one of the officers is in close contact with the younger girl's mother and she thinks Pippa liked to go there with her cousin and her dad."

Just then, her phone rang.

"Hold on, Alec Hardy's calling," Rose told them.  "Wonder what he wants, since he told me to stay out of his way."

She heard Jake laughing as she pressed the talk button.

"Yes?" she answered cautiously, in case he had more rules he wanted to remind her of.

"I have some more information for you," Alec told her as he squinted at the sheet of paper that had just landed on his desk.  "The next door neighbours were friendly with both girls, the girls used to spend some time with them.  Want to visit them with me tomorrow?"

Rose thought it rather sounded like he was asking her out on a date.

"Yeah, okay then?  Send me their details and I'll look them up for ya," she replied.

"You have files on everyone?" Alec wondered.

"You'd be surprised," Rose laughed.  "I was just organising a few things, I thought some extra divers would come in useful."

"What for?  If the girls had been in the woods, they would have been found by now," Alec reminded her.

"Maybe?" Rose wondered.  "If they'd been anywhere local they'd have turned up by now as well.  We can't rule out that maybe Lisa left her younger cousin somewhere."

Alec didn't want to think about the fact Lisa had abandoned her cousin in favour of going off with the estate stalker he'd just found out about.

"While you're looking up the neighbours, you can find out about a young man who'd been seen watching the Gillespie house when Lisa was there," he told her.

"She had an admirer?" Rose asked.

"More like a stalker," Alec corrected her.  "Neighbours reported him several times but he was always gone by the time a patrol got there.  Seems he might be someone we want to talk to."

"Got a name?" Rose asked, wondering why he'd not mentioned it before.

"Someone recognised him but we only got a first name, Gary.  The Gillespies might know him, if Lisa mentioned him.  I'll get someone onto it.  Oh, by the way, you can liaise with DS Hardy, you can meet with her tomorrow."

"Is that your wife?" Rose dared ask.

"Yes and it makes no difference, she will keep you up to date.  You can meet the young girl's parents with her but if we don't find the girls by tomorrow, we will have to search the house again."

"I bet that'll go down well?" Rose remarked.

"It will have to be done.  We all want both girls to be found alive and well," Alec replied.

"Well, I'll come to the station in the morning and your wife can take me to meet them.  What's her first name?" Rose wanted to know.

"It's Tess," he admitted, thinking his wife wouldn't want to make friends with Rose Tyler but his daughter would, Daisy followed everything the Vitex heiress did.

The next morning, Rose set off to meet Tess but Tess had already objected to Torchwood operatives being present, let alone Rose herself.

"She's going to be a nuisance Alec," Tess was telling him.

"No, she can provide the extra help we are going to need Tess," he defended his decision, after seeing the chief.

"That's typical of you," Tess huffed. 

"What's that supposed to mean?" Alec wanted to know.

"You know full well Alec.  You want me to babysit Rose Tyler just so I don't accuse you of anything."

"I've already told her to keep her distance," he defended himself.

"Well, we'll see how long that lasts," Tess replied.  "When is she coming in?"

Alec looked at his watch.

"Soon.  I want you to take her to meet the Gillespies and I want you to stay there, I'm going to get a search warrant to include their back yard."

"You are joking Alec?  Do you know what that will do to them, especially Cate?" she asked him.

"What do you want Tess?  To handle them with kid-gloves?" he asked her.  "Two girls are missing and you pointed out the similarities between this case and that one up north.  The judge may not even go for it at this stage, not while we're searching the woods and the river."

"I expect Torchwood's helping with that as well?" Tess asked.

"We may as well take advantage of the Torchwood's director's generosity," Alec replied.

"Including his daughter?" Tess raised her eyebrows.

"Tess, you are the one who went to someone else.  Why could you not talk to me, about what was happening at home?" he wanted to know.

"Really Alec?  Would you have listened?  At least Dave doesn't say he's too busy to talk and doesn't work all hours."

"You could have still said something, instead of all the arguments," he reminded her.

They were interrupted by Alec's desk phone ringing.  Rose had arrived and was wondering what Alec's wife would be like.  Probably catty, from what she'd read about Mrs Hardy.  She wasn't really looking forward to working with the woman but since the DI had told her to keep out of his way, she didn't suppose he'd want her tagging along with him.

She was led to Alec's office, suspecting she'd interrupted something, judging by you could cut the air with a knife.  Tess was sat with her arms folded and Alec sat back sideways in his chair and tapping a pen on the desk.

"Am I disturbing ya?" Rose wanted to know.

"No, come in," Tess replied, Rose thinking she was already being sarcastic.

Was Tess Hardy already jealous of her arrival and thinking she was going to make a play for her husband?  Rose thought it would serve the woman right if someone did.  After a quick briefing, Rose followed Tess out to the estate where Pippa had lived and they were talking outside.

"So, what's with the neighbours?" Rose asked, looking at the identical houses next to each other.

"I expect you want to meet them?" Tess replied.

"DI Hardy said I could go with him, he sent me a message earlier," Rose told Tess.

"Did he?  I could take you there now," Tess suggested.

"They might be out," Rose wondered.  "Besides, I think there may have been a reason he wanted me to go with him."

Tess wanted to say something like she just bet he did.  Rose could already see what she was up against – a jealous wife

"Tess, have you got something against me being here?" Rose asked as she knocked on the door.

"What makes you think that?" Tess replied.

"I'm just here to help," Rose tried to tell her.

"Of course you are," Tess told her as a WPC answered the door.

"Why haven't ya got someone plain clothed?" Rose wondered as they were let in.

"Because we have no-one trained in family liaison at present," Tess admitted.

"I can have someone here tomorrow," Rose offered.  "We have specially trained operatives for this kind of situation."

"I bet you do," Tess hissed as they went into the living room.  "Cate, how are you today?" Tess asked the woman sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine in her hand.

"How do you think I feel Tess?  I want my little girl back.  If I get my hands on who took the girls, you won't need a trial.  Who's this?"

Rose was surprised she hadn't been recognised but the woman seemed well out of it, despite the drink.

"Hi.  I'm Rose, Rose Tyler.  I'm from an independent agency, helping the police and I'm here to do anything I can to bring the girls home."

"Rose Tyler?" Cate laughed.  "You are having me on.  What would she be doing here?  Tess, get her out of here."

"Cate, she is who she says she is," Tess promised.  "She's here from another government agency to help us find Pippa and Lisa.  Her agency are providing extra facilities to analyze all the information we're getting and backing up our officers on enquiries."

Tess had been told earlier by several departments that unknown staff had turned up that morning, which was why she'd gone to Alec's office in the first place.

"What sort of organisation?" Cate wanted to know.  "You mean secret government agency?"

"No, we're not a secret, as such," Rose defended herself.  "We're called Torchwood."

"Get her out of here Tess.  I heard what they did, letting all those metal monsters loose," Cate replied angrily.

"No, that was the old Torchwood, the new one is good, we only help people," Rose further defended herself and Torchwood.

"I don't care, I don't want you here," Cate insisted.

"Sorry Cate," Tess apologised.  "I thought she could help.  She wanted to meet you."

"It's okay Tess, I'll leave," Rose offered.  "I'll go back to the station and set up there."

Rose found her way back to the station and was given a visitor's badge that Alec had told the desk sergeant to issue her with.

"Is DI Hardy busy?" Rose asked as she put the badge on her belt loop with the clasp.

"He said for you to go straight to his office when you arrived back Miss Tyler," she was told.

Alec was going through some files when she knocked on his door.

"You're back soon," he remarked.

"Cate Gillespie didn't want me there," Rose admitted, taking a seat.  "I don't think Tess wanted me with her anyway."

"She is like that with anyone, especially females," he admitted.

"Any chance I can get an office or something?  My hotel room's not ideal for video conferences, the walls might be a bit thin," Rose smiled.

"I will have something made available for you, it may be an interview room though," he agreed.  "There is nothing so far from the teams in the woods, I may have to go with searching the younger girl's home and garden."

"Geez, Cate was already upset with me being there," Rose laughed.  "I can't see that going down well.  What about seeing the neighbours?"

"That will have to wait, they have already been interviewed but I wanted your input, they seem to be hiding something," he replied.

"Well I'd best stay away from Cate.  It's gonna be bad enough if ya search the house.  I can have someone stay with her, if ya want?"

"We will leave the uniformed officer there for now, there is only someone there for her safety and in case the girls go back," he replied.  "Also, in case the press have the nerve to break through barrier."

"Well, I'll go get my laptop and come back, let me know what happens," Rose told him as she got up.

It didn't go down well as Alec was granted a search warrant to dig up the Gillespie's back garden and Ricky had been informed.

"Why don't you go dig up next door's instead?" Ricky told Alec, his arm around his wife.

"We have to start where the missing person lived," Tess tried to explain.  "Officers from the station closest to where Lisa lived are doing the same."

"We don't talk to Lisa's mother much," Ricky told them.  "Not since they got divorced.  Lisa didn't get on with her dad so when she turned eighteen, she changed her name."

"Ah, so she was a Gillespie?" Alec was surprised.  "Why did you not mention it before?"

"It didn't seem relevant," Ricky replied.

"This isn't helping find them," Cate reminded them tearfully.

"I know Cate," Tess tried to sympathise.

"What was that about someone from that Torchwood being here earlier?" Ricky wanted to know as forensics started digging up the garden.

"They are providing vital resources," Alec replied.  "They are also providing manpower searching the local woods and other areas the girls might have been taken."

"Keep whoever came here away from Cate, understand?" Ricky asked them both.

Alec nodded and went to talk to the forensic team leader.

"Whose idea was it to bring Torchwood in?" Ricky wanted to know as he watched his garden being ruined.

After finding nothing, Alec told the forensic team to have someone come in and restore the garden and he went to tell Tess to step up the search in the woods.

"Torchwood offered more divers to search the river," he told Tess.  "They can start tomorrow."

After going back outside, he saw a car parked next door so he called Rose.

"I'm still out at the estate, still want to interview the neighbours?" he asked Rose when she answered.

He waited in his car for Rose to join him, looking up at the two identical houses that stood out from the rest.  He wondered what else Ricky Gillespie was holding back about his niece.  There were plenty more questions he'd not got answers to so he was going to have to get the man in for a formal interview.  So if he could get the neighbour in as well, it would give him an excuse.  Rose pulled up in front of his car so he got out.

"Sure ya want me to be here?" Rose wanted to check.

"Why not?  Don't let what happened with Tess put you off," Alec replied.  "Have you got any ID on you?"

"Only my psychic paper," Rose laughed.

"Be serious," Alec chastised her.

"Okay, I have my Torchwood ID right here," she laughed again, getting her ID card out of the leather wallet.

Alec shook his head and rang the doorbell.  Rose Tyler was far too young to be second in command of a very powerful organisation.  He'd read up about them and Pete Tyler had taken over after the disaster of the Cybermen affair and the original Torchwood being destroyed but what fascinated him the most was how Tyler had met a woman who had looked like his first wife and married Rose's mother.

He thought there was something more to it and not a coincidence as he waited for the door to be opened.  Claire Ashworth had been in the kitchen and suddenly noticed two cars parked outside.

"Lee, come in here," she shouted as he was in the living room, wondering if anyone would notice the floorboards had changed colour when he'd had to replace them on Sunday.

"What now Claire?" he asked as he joined her.

Then he heard Alec knocking on the door.

"I bet it's the police again," Claire told him, wiping her hands after cutting some vegetables.

"Not a word Claire, or you know what will happen," she was warned.

"Why do ya wanna talk to them again?" Rose was wondering as they waited.

"Neighbours always know more than they let on," Alec reminded her.

As Rose observed Claire looking slightly out of it, Alec was studying her husband.

"Just how friendly were you with the two girls?" Alec wanted to know.

"What makes you think we were?" Claire asked, taking Lee's arm and stroking it.

"Pippa's mother said they spent a lot of time here," Alec replied.

"Well she would, wouldn't she?" Lee remarked.  "She's always got a wine glass in her hand."

"How would you know?" Claire suddenly let go of his arm.

"Come on Claire, you've seen her when we were round there," Lee defended himself.  "I bet she was well out of things at the wedding they went to."

"Enough to not notice if Ricky was missing or not?" Alec wondered, glancing at Rose for her to get more out of Claire.

"Claire, can ya show me where your bathroom is?" Rose smiled.

Rose had learned her lesson on snooping around upstairs after having a run-in with a pencil monster in a cupboard.

"Yeah, sure," Claire replied, looking at Lee.

Once upstairs, Claire indicated the bathroom, closing the door to the spare room.

"These houses are quite big," Rose remarked as she opened the bathroom door.

"Yeah, a bit too big," Claire grinned.  "I do know who you are.  What are you doing here, with the police?"

"Well you might think I'm just the Vitex heiress," Rose smiled.  "I'm so much more.  I work for an organisation called Torchwood.  We're helping the police, to find Pippa and Lisa.  Look, I've got a young brother, I hate the thought of them being taken, I want to help catch whoever it is."

"You think we had something to do with it?" Claire accused her.

"I'm not saying that Claire.  Only if you know something, you must tell the police.  Have you been round to see Cate?" Rose wanted to know.

"No, Lee said to give her time," Claire replied.  "You think I should go?"

"Well yeah, a friendly face," Rose smiled.  "Leave it until tomorrow, yeah?  Best pop in the bathroom then?"

Rose hoped she'd got through to the other woman.  The Doctor had always trusted her to talk to the women they got involved with so she hoped she hadn't lost her touch.  She was sure Claire was hiding something, apart from the fact she was Welsh and looked suspiciously like a young serving girl she'd met in 1800's Cardiff.

Alec was hoping Rose would come in useful and get something out of Claire Ashworth, since he was getting nowhere with the woman's husband.

"What do you expect us to do?" Lee was asking him, blowing cigarette smoke in Alec's face and Alec thinking surely there was a smoking ban in the rental house.

"Give your condolences to your neighbours," Alec suggested.

"What makes you think we haven't already done that?" Lee replied.

Alec bet that hadn't been the case so far.  He hoped Rose was having more luck with Claire, that was why he'd brought her along – well that and it was better her than Tess at the moment.  He'd tried to justify his decision to tell the Torchwood agent to stay out of his way as one of making sure the agency didn't take over his investigation but it was also so he wouldn't be tempted to get his revenge on his cheating wife.

He knew he should have seen it coming, that of he and Tess drifting apart but he'd done nothing about it.  Had Tess expected him to?  It was too late now, she wasn't denying she was cheating on him and he didn't want her back but neither did he want to do the same, especially with the famous Rose Tyler.  Her stepfather would literally kill him if he got her in the middle of what was about to become a messy divorce.

If the press got hold of it, it would be the end of his career, amongst other things.  No, warning her to stay away when they weren't working was the best thing he could have done but would he be able to resist her tagging along after working hours to interview people?

That was going to remain to be seen as he waited for her coming back downstairs but judging by the way Ashworth was acting, he knew he dare not send Rose to interview the man on her own – his wife present or not.  Something about the pair of them disturbed him and he didn't like it.

Rose came back downstairs, indicating she was ready to leave so he left Ashworth a card with his phone number on and they went outside, standing by their cars.

"Did you get anything out of her?" he wanted to know.

"Plenty," Rose grinned.  "Meet you in your office tomorrow?"

"Of course," he replied, wanting to invite her out for a drink but he was the one who was wanting her to keep her distance and he would be constantly having to keep reminding himself.

Chapter 3
After watching Rose drive away, he decided he was going home, move some of his things out of the bedroom and go sleep in the spare room, just for tonight.  Then he thought he would get the personnel office to find him a hotel for a few nights while he located something more permanent.

Tess would make a fuss, as usual and Daisy would accuse him of not caring about her, to which Tess would take her side.  All he could do was try to persuade his daughter he wasn't the bad guy in all this, she'd said most of her friends' parents were divorced.

He had just about finished as Tess stood in the doorway.

"Are you leaving?" she asked.

"Of course I am Tess, first thing tomorrow, I'll find a hotel for a few nights.  I can't stay here, not now.  You knew it would come to this Tess."

"Maybe you can get some sympathy out of our visitor?" Tess asked him.

"Stop it Tess, I am not after sympathy from anyone.  If you have made your mind up you are staying with Dave, I'm not going to stop you."

"You drove me to it Alec," Tess replied.  "All that working late and paying no attention to me."

"You're blaming me?" he asked, pointing back at himself.  "I'm not arguing with you Tess."

"Seems like it Alec.  Maybe you should take up with our visitor?" Tess accused him.

"Who's your visitor?" Daisy wanted to know as she passed their bedroom door.

"No-one for you to be concerned about," Alec tried to assure her.

"Hey, one of my friends said she'd heard that Rose Tyler was in town.  I wonder what she's doing here?" Daisy changed the subject.

"Ask your father," Tess told her.

"So it's true?  Cool.  I'd love to meet her some day."

"Maybe your father can arrange it for you?" Tess suggested.  "She's in town working with us."

Alec wished she wouldn't do things like that, especially involving a case.

"Really?" Daisy was interested.  "Can you Dad?"

"I'm sure Miss Tyler is busy working," Alec tried to get out of it.

"I might have known you wouldn't Dad," Daisy sounded disappointed.

"I will do what I can," Alec offered.

Then Daisy saw he was packing.

"Even if you're leaving?" Daisy changed her attitude.

"Daisy, it's nothing you have done," he tried to assure her.  "I will still see you, I will call in and see you most evenings and I will call you."

"You had better promise her," Tess insisted.

"I will," Alec looked at his daughter.

He knew he had to try his best but Tess would keep on at him if he didn't.

"So, have you asked her out yet?" Tess asked after Daisy went off.

"Tess, I do not know what you are talking about," he replied as he fastened his case.

"Well you were insisting she went with you to see the Gillespie's neighbours when we were already there and I offered to go," Tess protested.

"Tess, she's a civilian," he reminded her.  "Besides, have you met them?  You should also stay away from Lee Ashworth."

"You're concerned about me now?" Tess scoffed.

"I think he is hiding something, which could be dangerous.  You may not get any help from his wife," he warned her.  "Even she looked afraid of him.  If you go there, take someone with you, I mean it.  Tomorrow, we step up the search in the woods and use the people Torchwood has sent us."

"With Rose Tyler in charge?" Tess asked sarcastically.

Alec ignored her and waited for her to move aside to let him pass.

"She may have got something out of Claire Ashworth, we'll see tomorrow."

"What would the woman tell her that she wouldn't tell us?" Tess wanted to know.

"Plenty, I hope," he replied.  "Don't forget Tess, Torchwood agents are trained to pick up all kinds of things that we would miss."

"That's because they have more money for training than we do," Tess replied.

"Which is why we should use them to our advantage," Alec reminded her.  "You go straight to the woods tomorrow, I'll see what Claire Ashworth had to say."

He knew he shouldn't get into an argument with Tess about Rose Tyler.  Yes, he could easily go to the blonde and tell her he hadn't really wanted her to stay away, maybe there was still time?  The next morning, he arrived in his office and waited for Rose to give him her report.  He'd sent her a message asking her to get there as soon as she could and to send the extra help to join the team already in the woods.

Rose was already on her way, stopping to get coffee from a nearby stall and pinning her pass on her belt, tried to remember her way to his office.  Tess had stopped in for a few minutes and saw Rose on her way.

"Joining us in the woods later?" she asked Rose.

"Yeah, why not?  I want to help in any way I can," Rose reminded her.  "I was already asked," she added, Tess noticing Rose was wearing boots.

"I see you've come prepared," Tess looked down at Rose's feet.

"I'd best get to my meeting," Rose felt uncomfortable facing the DI's wife.

"Yes, maybe you should?" Tess agreed.  "You know he stays out late a lot?"

"What are you gettin' at?" Rose was puzzled.

"Just a warning," Tess smiled to herself as she walked away.

Rose shook her head and found Alec's office just inside another large one with a lot of people flitting around with files in their hands and phones ringing everywhere.  She tapped on Alec's door and he looked up, motioning her to enter.

"You should have got someone to show you the way," he told her, looking at his watch.

"Well I wasn't expecting to be called in so early," Rose grinned as she put the paper cup on the corner of his desk.  "Well, Claire Ashworth is definitely scared of her husband, she was very nervous.  Want me to make friends with her?"

"Not just yet.  The search of the Gillespie's house found nothing unusual so, we'll wait and see what we find in the woods today then I may go for searching the Ashworth's house," he replied.  "If we do, I would like you to be there, gain the woman's confidence."

"Okay then," Rose agreed.  "Do you think she was friendly with the two girls?"

"Maybe?  What did else you find out from her?" Alec wanted to know.

"Just the way she was acting," Rose replied, finishing her coffee.  "Can I leave my car and get a ride to the woods?"

If he offered to take her, Tess would have something to say.  If he got a patrol car to take her, she'd think he was being rude and wanted rid of her.  Either way, he couldn't win.  What did he have to lose though if he offered to take her?  Tess was already making the insinuations.  Maybe he should compromise?

"I will be getting a ride there myself, you can come with me," he offered, thinking that was the safest option, especially if Tess saw them getting out of the same car.

What was it with her anyway?  If Tess was seeking comfort elsewhere, what was it to do with her what he did?  He had a feeling if he actually tried to find out, Tess would play innocent and try to infer whoever he took up with was stealing her husband.  Did he actually want to risk it?

Once out at the entrance to the woods, he found Tess had taken charge and was arguing with the Torchwood divers' leader.

"I am trying to co-operate," the leader, who Rose knew was trying to tell Tess.  "I'm saying it's best we go further downstream than the police divers.  The amount of water coming down the river means anything could have been swept down before anyone got here."

Then he saw Rose approaching but Tess saw her just in front of Alec, Rose knowing there was going to be trouble.

"How are you getting on?" Alec asked as he approached, letting Rose go first into the clearing.

"Fine, if these Torchwood divers would work with ours," Tess complained.

"Agent Tyler," the leader spoke to Rose.  "I'm trying to co-ordinate and I think we'd be best further down."

"Don't we have enough divers here?" Alec asked Tess.  "Fine, you go ahead and search further down," he turned to Rose.

Rose nodded to the team leader then saw the look on Tess's face.  She decided to keep out of it and let her and Alec get on with it.

"It's typical of you to take their side Alec," Tess chastised him.

"It makes sense to cover more ground," he tried to ignore her remark.

If he was trying to make an impression on Rose Tyler, Tess was seeing to it that he would fail.

"Is there anything I can do to help or do I sit in the police car all day?" Rose interrupted their staring contest.

"Why don't you go to the other side of the river with him?" Tess asked sarcastically.

Alec wondered if she was trying to see if Rose would play along or if she genuinely wanted to conduct the search with him.  He also wondered if Rose was aware what Tess was up to.  Rose did know what was going on and thought if that's what the woman wanted, she was going to have some fun in the process.

"Fine, how do we get across?" Rose asked as she fastened her coat, since it had started raining again.

"There's a bridge about a quarter of a mile further up," Tess replied, having looked at the map.  "Get a hi-visibility vest from the van over there," she pointed to where several vehicles were parked.

Tess watched as Rose went off, Alec raising his eyebrows then following her.

"Alec," Tess called after him.  "Make sure she doesn't fall in the river.  I'm taking charge here, she's my responsibility."

"If she's searching with me, she becomes mine," Alec disagreed.

They'd been searching around an hour then Alec strayed towards the riverbank, well he thought it was but it was hard to tell.  They'd spread out with other officers, Rose had been given a long stick to probe in the wet, muddy ground and Alec was watching her and the ground in turn.

She followed him as his attention turned to the water, others passing them.

"Something wrong?" she asked as he motioned for her stick, Rose clinging to a tree branch that was hanging low.

"Something large has lodged in between those rocks," he nodded in the middle of the river.

"Hey, it's stopped raining," Rose told him cheerfully.

"It will still not stop the river flowing fast," Alec called back.  "What do you see over there?"

Rose let go of the safety of the tree and Alec held his arm out to steady her, Rose grabbing his hand and praying his wife wasn't watching from the other side.  She could tell all the signs of a jealous wife a mile off and Tess was one jealous wife if ever she saw one.  Now Rose was more determined to wind the woman up.

"Hey, it's slippy here," Rose wasn't sure about letting go so near the water and eyeing another tree a few feet away.

As suddenly as he'd spotted whatever it was, it was dislodged and caught against a tree trunk that had been floating.

"What the hell is that?" Rose called loudly as she was still attached to Alec's hand and he was following it.

She grabbed hold of another branch, trying to let go of him.

"Take this," he offered her the stick.

"Why don't ya get the divers?" she asked as he dared grab hold of the same branch she was clinging to and he was concentrating to see what he'd found.

"They're back the other way," Alec replied as the last of their group had passed.  "Call the others back."

Then, with no further warning he stepped into the murky water.

"What the hell are ya doin'?" Rose shouted after him.  "Hey, officers, come back here," she shouted even louder, just catching the last one who had also stopped to look at something. 

Tess was over the other side and heard shouting.

"See what's going on over there," she ordered the officer with her.  "It just has to be him," she added to herself as she saw a figure enter the water.

Alec was hoping the river wasn't going to be any deeper as what he had his eye on wasn't quite in the middle.

"Please no, don't let it be her," Alec was saying to himself but Rose just about heard him.

"Hey, how about helping him?" Rose asked several who had gathered.

"You heard," one of the other senior officers recognised Rose, even with her hair all plastered to her face.

As others entered the river, Alec had made the discovery and was already wading towards the other side, where other officers had been watching.

"Well go help him," Tess was ordering them.

Rose suddenly decided she needed to be on the other side.

"Help me across," she gave one of the officers her stick.

"This way," he offered, indicating some rocks that would make it easier a few yards further up.

They were soon across and Rose hurried back to where Alec had been relieved of his find and pulled out of the water, after going under and Rose missing that part.

"What the hell happened to you?" she greeted him as he sat on a rock and being offered a thermal blanket from a paramedic who had been following.  "Did ya go under?"

"Only when I was being helped out," he replied as two more paramedics flanked him.

"Come with us Sir," one of them suggested.  "If you swallowed water, we need to check you out."

"Yeah, ya'd best go with them," Rose agreed, looking around for Tess.  "Where's your wife?"

"She went off with the girl I found," Alec replied sadly.  "It was her, it was Pippa."

"Yeah, I guessed as much when ya waded in," Rose smiled as he got up.  "I'm coming with ya, if your wife's busy."

"I don't need anyone," Alec insisted as the paramedics nudged him along.

"Geez, ya need to get checked over," Rose urged him.  "You're as bad as someone else I used to know.  The sooner ya go, the sooner ya can get back.  Ya need some dry clothes, I'll call Tess from the hospital."

Alec was made to sit down in the ambulance, Rose sitting opposite as his vital signs were checked.

"This someone you used to know?" Alec began to ask her as his pulse was checked.  "They were stubborn?"

"Ya could say that," Rose smiled.  "What happened?"

"My foot slipped," Alec insisted.  "How could everyone else have missed her?"

The paramedic went to join the driver and Rose moved over.

"Maybe they weren't as determined as you were?" she suggested.  "No-one wanted to find her like that."

"She was abducted from her bedroom, probably.  She was in her nightwear.  How could anyone leave a young girl in the river?" he asked her.

Rose took a towel and handed it to him, touching his hand.

"She may have just been left by the side of the river?" she suggested.  "If she was taken from her bedroom, it may have been someone she knew.  Well ya think the neighbours are hiding something?  Maybe her cousin left her and someone broke in and took her?"

While they were on their way to the hospital, Tess was sorting everything out.

"Has anyone seen DI Hardy?" she was asking those nearby.

"Ma'am, he went off in an ambulance," an officer told her.  "Someone went with him."

"The nerve," Tess said to herself, everyone looking.

"DS Hardy, I heard the woman saying she was going to phone you from the hospital."

"Well I've not got time, get his locker key from his desk and send someone with some clean clothes," she replied.  "I'm going to check in at the command post then go to the mortuary."

"What do you make of that?" a WPC smiled at her colleague.

"A jealous wife?" the male officer suggested, also with a smile.

"Maybe those rumours about her are wrong?" the WPC wondered.

"I doubt it Lawson, there's nothing like a cheating wife's husband getting his revenge on her.  Do you know who went with DI Hardy?" he asked.

"No, I missed that," the female officer grinned.

"None other than Rose Tyler herself.  She's here as some liaison between her organisation and us," he replied.

"So that's where the extra help came from?" another officer asked.  "So, Rose Tyler went with him?"

"Who did you say?" another WPC asked the other one.

The first one just laughed.  Now they had something else to talk about other than Tess Hardy sneaking around with that other DS.

Chapter 4
Once at the hospital, Rose asked if she could call the police station to speak to Tess but was told Tess wasn't there.

"Can ya get a message to her?" Rose asked the male officer who answered.  "What was ya name?"

"Dave Harris, Miss Tyler.  DS Hardy's sending someone with a change of clothes for him, she's gone to check on the girl he found."

"Yeah.  Can the person who brings his stuff bring my car to the hospital?  I left my keys in his desk drawer," she asked hopefully.

She also thought it would give Tess something to complain about but when all said and done, she was representing Torchwood and they had to work together.  If the woman thought Alec was also cheating, that was her problem.  Maybe Tess was just on the verge and now was about to really have an affair.  She herself couldn't get caught up in it so she had to take Alec's advice and stay away, when they weren't working.

This though counted as working.  Dave just caught one of the WPC's who had seen Alec go off with Rose in the ambulance and told her to take Rose's car and get a patrol car to follow her, now they were getting freed up from the search.

"Sir, I hope she doesn't accuse me of anything, for driving her car," the officer asked.

"Don't be daft Sandra," Dave laughed.  "You can brag to all your friends.  You can also tell them bets are on that she and Hardy are up to something," he winked.

Now, he thought the pressure would be off he and Tess, if the rest of the station had something else to talk about.  Fancy Hardy attracting the attention of Rose Tyler though, he also thought she was a bit young for the DI, she'd want to be out on the town every night and Hardy would find it difficult to keep up with her.  It would never last, he laughed to himself.

At the hospital, Rose was sat outside a cubicle where Alec was being accessed.  She had used her authority to get that far, only close relatives were normally allowed that far.  A doctor came out, followed by the nurse with a large bag containing Alec's wet clothes.

"Are you with Alec Hardy?" she asked as Rose looked up from staring at the floor, cursing herself for leaving her phone in Alec's office.

"Yeah, is he okay?" Rose wanted to know.

"He'll be fine, he swallowed a lot of water and got soaked, obviously," the nurse smiled, holding the bag out.

"Someone's bringing him clean clothes, I left a message," Rose smiled back and offered to take it.

"Well he was lucky he didn't catch pneumonia," the nurse replied.  "What exactly did he do?  We were just told it had been a police incident and he needed immediate attention."

"Yeah, I saw all the looks when he got escorted in," Rose grinned.

"That's because I walked in," Alec told them as he peered through the cubicle curtain.

"Are ya okay?" Rose turned to him.

"I am fine, no need to fuss," he insisted.

"Huh, how many times did ya go under?" she challenged him.

"You sound like my wife," he replied, closing the curtain.

"From what I've seen of her, we're nothing alike," Rose objected as someone passed by.

"Are you with DI Hardy?" the nurse asked, seeing the bag Rose was holding.  Rose nodded.  "There's another carrier bag at the desk."

The nurse indicated for Rose to follow her so she shoved the plastic bag under the curtain.  She hoped her car was waiting for her as well.

"There are some car keys," the nurse told her as they approached the desk.

Rose thanked the nurse and took the clothes back to Alec.  He was soon dressed, he, like everyone else always kept spare clothing in his locker as did all Torchwood agents.

"I had my car brought here, I'll take ya back to the station," Rose suggested.

Alec was stopped on his way out.

"DI Hardy?  The doctor wants to send you for further tests," the head nurse told him.  "You'll be getting an appointment in the post."

"Okay, thank you, I have to get back to work now," he replied, waving her away.

As Rose was looking around for her car when they got outside, she nudged him.

"That was rude," she told him, spotting her car in the staff car park.

Alec just raised his eyebrows and followed her.

"I don't have time for hospital appointments now.  I have a killer to catch and another teenager to find.  Lisa could also be in danger."

"Yeah, I get that Alec," she told him as they got in her car.  "Your health is more important."

"Whatever it is can wait until the investigation is over," he replied as he put his seatbelt on.

Rose doubted he would keep any future appointments and she wasn't there to babysit him and make sure he did.  That was up to his wife but she doubted Tess Hardy would see he kept any either.  She herself would be gone when the investigation was over and he'd warned her to stay out of his way already.

"I have to report we found Pippa," Rose broke the silence as she followed her satnav back to the station.

"It will be all over the news by now," Alec replied.  "There will be no-one there to keep the press back."

"I take it that was your job?" Rose tried to lighten the mood, thinking that would take some doing.

"It was my job to find Pippa, alive," he replied, looking out of the car window and avoiding Rose glancing at him.

"Alec, you can't have known she was in the river," Rose tried to convince him.

"I should have known where it was all leading.  Still think the neighbours had something to do with it?" he asked as they neared the station.  "Want to come with me?"

"Yeah, let's drop your wet clothes off first or they'll start making a smell in my car," Rose tried again to cheer him up.

Alec was caught by the chief as he and Rose went to his office.

"Alec, I heard you went to hospital?" he was asked.

"I'm fine, they gave me the all-clear," Alec insisted, getting a questioning look from Rose.

She had not got the same impression as they'd left.

"I want an arrest Alec, the sooner the better.  Who are your suspects?" the chief wanted to know, looking at Rose.  "Miss Tyler, I'll be informing your director we no longer need Torchwood's assistance."

"Excuse me, Sir," Rose was annoyed they were suddenly being dumped.  "We have a lot more to offer.  You still need help going door to door and evidence being analyzed."

"We can manage and we thank you for the assistance you've already provided.  If DI Hardy thinks he can use your personal help, you can stay for a while longer.  Well, Alec?"

Alec wanted to tell her to go but she had been the only one to care enough to go to the hospital with him and make sure he got some dry clothes.  That should have been his wife's job but Tess had taken over at the scene.

"She can stay, for now," Alec had to agree, thinking Rose may be his only ally around here.

He really wanted her not to be a part of the investigation so he could ask her out to dinner.  What then though?  She would be gone a few days later but maybe he'd get further with her than he was with Tess at present.

"Fine," the chief approved.  "I will personally thank your director for all of Torchwood's help and yours, of course.  What's your next move Alec?"

"Seeing the neighbours," Alec muttered, wanting to get away.

"Alec, unless you have concrete evidence they were involved, stay away from them.  I had a complaint, from Claire Ashworth, saying you were harassing her husband."

"When was that?" Alec wanted to know, getting annoyed.

"Never mind that, just go carefully from now on.  She accused you of trying to get him to admit he'd seen both girls the night they disappeared.  Oh, by the way, we're stepping up our search for Lisa but nearer to where she lived so it's being passed to the closest station to her.  We'll be notified of any developments," the chief told him as he went off.

"Did you hear that?" Alec asked Rose as she picked up the large bag of clothes, since he was going to walk off without it.

"Yeah, seems Lisa's no longer your problem?  Want me to get the people we had searching for Lisa over to whoever's looking for her?"

She got no answer as Alec stormed off to his office so she had to make a decision.  Alec sat at his desk and banged his fist on it.

"Better?" Rose smiled as he rubbed his hand.

"No.  Go back to London, if you must," he replied.

"Not until we catch whoever left Pippa in the river and I bet you already know who it was, Alec," Rose told him.  "You might have been told to back off but I've not.  Leave it to me, trust me Alec."

"Do I have a choice?" he replied, getting his personal things from his desk drawer and handing Rose's over.

Rose shook her head and dialled Jake's number.

"Jake, I need a specialist team down here," she told her friend when he'd made a few jokes.  "We have a suspect and Alec Hardy's been told to back off."

"Has he now?" Jake grinned as he put the call on hands-free for Mickey to hear.  "Well I think it needs the attention of Torchwood's finest and since you're already there, me and Mickey will join you tomorrow.  What hotel are ya staying at?"

Rose gave him the details and sat back in the chair after confirming Jake would find out where the team already there were wanted.

"Pleased with yourself?" Alec wanted to know.

"Really?  No, I'm not.  I prefer it when someone confesses on their own but we don't have time for that.  Lee Ashworth will wish that when my friends have finished so if he wants to play games, those two invented them."

Alec thought he bet they did.  Just what sort of company did Rose Tyler keep?  This was a very different version of the young woman who had suddenly found fame as Pete Tyler's stepdaughter.  Meanwhile, Dave had caught up with Tess and they had got a preliminary report from the coroner.

"She'd been suffocated," they'd been told.  "There was no water in her lungs so she didn't drown, there were no other visible signs."

Dave thought it didn't take a genius to work that out.

"Want to go for a drink later Tess?" he asked as they left the examination room.  "I saw Alec looking at Rose Tyler, why do you stay with him?"

"He's moved out Dave," Tess told him.  "Why should I care how he looks at her?"

She did care though, enough to wish the younger woman would just go home but they needed her organisation's help finding a killer, whether she herself liked it or not. 

Rose was about to leave Alec's office.

"See ya tomorrow?" Rose asked him as he looked at a report that had been brought in.

"What?  Oh, yes.  Will you be joining your friends?"

"Yeah, we'll catch Lee Ashworth before he leaves for work.  You don't have to be there Alec, in fact it's best ya don't, then ya won't get into trouble," Rose smiled.

"I will be, for allowing your friends to visit him.  Don't make me regret this Rose."

When he got home, he regretted not having the time to find a hotel for the night.

"Why did you let Rose Tyler go with you to the hospital?" Tess wanted to know.

"She volunteered, since you had gone off," he replied, feeling tired.  "I will move my things out in the morning."

"There's no need to go Alec.  What if I stop seeing Dave?  Would you stay?" Tess wanted to know.

"No Tess, it's too late.  You would have never gone to him in the first place if you still wanted me," Alec objected.

"So that leaves the playing field open for you and Rose Tyler?" Tess wanted to know.

"Why are you so obsessed with accusations about her Tess?  What would you do were it to be true, which it's not," he replied.

"Maybe not yet," Tess answered as she walked off, leaving Alec puzzled as to why she kept going on about Rose.

Rose would be gone in a few days, then what?  She'd be back to her fancy life of parties and rounding up aliens but he was sure she had secrets of her own.  Why was finding Lisa so important to her and why bring in the heavy mob to find out who killed Pippa?  He just hoped she wouldn't use underhand tactics to bring in the killer.

The next morning, after an hour with Lee Ashworth, he was being escorted to the police station.

"Can I help you gentlemen?" the over-worked desk sergeant asked Lee, Jake and Mickey, the latter two flanking Lee.  Then he saw Rose behind them.  "Miss Tyler, is DI Hardy expecting you?"

“Actually, well yeah, I think he's expecting me,” Rose tried to make it sound not too likely Alec would expect Lee Ashworth to turn himself in.

Well actually, Ashworth wasn't quite turning himself in, he'd been persuaded by the Torchwood agents it would be better all round were he to turn himself in, after being told what the alternatives were, one being instructed on what Torchwood actually did and that they had many varieties of making someone forget who they were.  Lee had objected that they couldn't do that but Jake had finally persuaded him by whispering something in his ear that Rose couldn't quite make out.

Lee had still objected though as they had got out of Jake's car.

"This is still illegal," Lee had told no-one in particular.

"Think yourself lucky you're walking in there on your own two feet," Mickey had laughed. 

That remark had kept Lee Ashworth quiet as they marched him up to the front desk.  Then as the desk sergeant picked up the phone to let Alec know they had arrived, Ashworth turned to Mickey then Jake.

"What's she doing here?" he looked over his shoulder.  "That's Rose Tyler."

"She's just another agent," Mickey insisted.

"Well the police already know her," Lee replied, getting some of his cockiness back as the tactics the team had used on him were wearing off.

As they waited to be escorted to an interview room, Mickey nudged Jake.

"Just how well does Rose know this Alec Hardy?"

Jake just laughed.  "You don't even want to know mate."

By the end of the interview, Alec had enough to take Lee into custody and he stopped to thank Jake and Mickey.

"Your teams can leave now," Alec said confidently.

"Yeah, I'll give the word," Jake grinned, feeling pleased with himself.  "Coming back with us Rose?"

"I've a few things to clear up first," Rose replied, one being why Alec had been staring at her as she'd stood observing him interviewing their suspect.

All through the investigation, she had given him no cause to repeat his request she stayed out of his way, had she?  Maybe her just being there and him having to accept help had been enough?

Chapter 5
Rose was in for a surprise as Jake said they'd see her back at the office as they waited for Alec coming back from booking Lee Ashworth.

"So, what is it with you and the detective inspector?" Jake grinned as Mickey played with his phone.

"What is it with you and your phone, Mickey?" Rose changed the subject.

"New doctor in medical," Jake laughed.

"Is not," Mickey denied.

"Oh, ya mean that Martha Jones?" Rose also laughed at Mickey.

"Leave her alone," Mickey got all defensive.  "She's brilliant and I bet back home, she's the sort of companion The Doctor would have, after you had to leave."

"That's not fair Mickey, I never would have left him if I'd had a choice," Rose turned on him.

"Stop it you two," Jake interrupted them as he heard sounds outside.  "We know that Rose but ya have to face the facts and pretty boy who just left looks just like him."

"That's not fair either, Jake, I'm trying to ignore the fact and it ain't been easy, trust me," Rose replied, folding her arms and leaning back on the wall.

They were all silent as Alec entered the room and he sensed something was wrong.

"Am I interrupting something?" he asked no-one in particular.

"No, these two were leaving," Rose replied, not moving even though there was now an empty seat.

Alec had wondered why Rose had chosen not to sit down and the other two men hadn't offered to let her but he supposed they always did that.

"Right.  Thanks for your co-operation," Alec went to shake Jake and Mickey's hands, stopping at Rose, who held her hand out and he took it but didn't shake it.  "Thank your director as well," he added, hoping that would give him the excuse to hold onto it.

"We'll be off then?" Jake tried not to notice.

Mickey did though and despite him taking notice of the new medical intern, was still jealous of any man who noticed his old girlfriend, which had started with the man who had big ears, had a deplorable northern accent and wore a leather jacket.

"Yeah, we'll be off," Mickey had to agree and Jake glared at him to leave.  "See ya later Rose."

Alec let go of Rose's hand, thankful the other two hadn't seemed to notice, or maybe they had and had chosen to ignore it.  Her hand had felt soft and seemed like it fitted just right into his, like his was a glove.  Where had that train of thought just come from, he wondered.

He'd been thinking about her since she'd arrived but yesterday, she had cared enough to stay at the hospital with him when Tess had gone off to do her job, which had been procedure.  All he had done was let her walk off last night but what else could he have done? 

He'd not expected a result this morning and Lee Ashworth had been handed to him on a plate, all he had to do was search the car after getting a warrant after Ashworth had admitted Pippa had been in his car.  They still needed concrete evidence of the physical kind so only he and Tess would conduct the search.

"So, what happens now?" Rose wanted to know, her hand feeling cold after Alec had let go of it and she'd come out of her trance.

Just why had it felt so good the detective had held her hand for a few moments and why had it felt exactly like the times The Doctor had held it?  It had been such a long time since that had happened, too long and now, this was giving her the exact same feelings as those times, like she could melt like a block of ice and form a puddle on the floor.

She just hoped Alec, who was staring at her again hadn't noticed.  He had but shook it off.

"I've asked for a warrant to search his car, I'm just waiting for it," he replied as he flicked his tie and leaned on the back of a chair.  "You can be present, if you wish?"

Was he looking for an excuse to keep her around, Rose wondered.

"Might as well see it through," Rose readily agreed, hoping she didn't sound desperate to keep his company.  "I'll go grab a coffee and wait in what I was using for an office then?  I have some reports to make, I'll be finished up by tomorrow, then I'll be out of your way."

"You are not in the way," he tried to assure her, without sounding too personal.  "We are always happy to work alongside fellow agencies," he added for good measure but knowing it was already too late.

Should he ask her out now or tomorrow as she was leaving?  Tess would go ballistic at the very thought and she'd already be in a bad mood over yesterday, not to mention him locking Lee Ashworth up on his own, well with another detective he'd grabbed hold of when he'd got the call that three Torchwood agents and another man were waiting at the desk for him and one of them was Rose.

Why had he felt like a teenager on his first date when he knew she'd not left without saying goodbye?  She could have left it to the other two agents, if she'd wanted to.  Rose though didn't seem like the kind of person who did that.

"Well I hope I didn't make things awkward Alec," Rose replied.  "I mean with you and Tess?  She didn't exactly make me feel welcome."

"That's just her," Alec tried to assure her.  "She would have been like that with anyone.  She and I are splitting up, things are difficult at the moment."

Had he told her that before, he thought to himself as Rose smiled back.

"Sorry.  I mean she didn't think I was after ya, did she?" Rose laughed.

"What?  No, I mean well maybe but if it had not been you, she would have focused on any other female."  He saw the way Rose looked at him.  "What I meant to say was you going to the hospital with me did not help."

What had he just said, he thought.  Then he saw Rose was about to laugh.

"Yeah, I suppose she thought the worse?  Ya could have warned me she got jealous, Alec."

"I thought I had warned you?" he replied as he went to sit down and shuffled the folders still on the desk for something to do, anything but face the fact he wanted to ask her out.

Rose went to sit on the corner of the desk.

"You mean for me to stay away from you when we weren't working?" she asked him.

"Well yes.  Look Rose, under any other circumstances, were I in the midst of leaving my wife, I would have asked you out, hell, I wouldn't have hesitated for a second but I have our daughter to think about."

"Alec, I understand, really I do.  How old is she?" Rose wanted to know.

"Around the same age as Pippa was," he replied, Rose seeing him look sad at the mention of the other girl's name and the thought maybe he had a younger daughter.

"You must have been worried?" Rose asked him.

"We were.  Well, thank you, for all your help," he held his hand out again as he got up.  "Especially yesterday and the extra divers."

"I saw Tess just standing there, watching you when you waded into the river," Rose told him as she grabbed his hand to ease herself off the desk.

He held on to it again.

"She had a job to do Rose," he made the excuse.

"She could have handed it to someone else," Rose replied as she noticed he wasn't letting go and taking his other hand.

"She had no reason, Rose.  She is seeing someone else," he replied sadly.

"Sorry.  I didn't want to make things worse," Rose apologised.  "I suppose I'm adding fuel to the fire?  She thinks you're doing the same, with me?  That's why you told me to stay way.  Well I hate to tell ya Alec but it didn't work, she's been saying all kinds of things and now, it all makes sense."

"I am sorry she's made things difficult for you Rose, I have told her to back off," Alec told her.

"Well, she took no notice, trust me," Rose smiled.  "It's not your fault Alec, if she's made her mind up."

"I am tired of arguing with her, let her think what she likes.  There is another reason why I told you to stay away," he replied.

Rose looked down as they still held onto each other.

"I can see," she grinned.

Alec tried to let go but she grabbed his hands back.

"Let's get things wound up Alec?" she suggested.  "I should start makin' my report."

"Yes, of course," Alec tried not to sound embarrassed.  "Rose, would you maybe like to go out for a meal tonight?  You can bring your friends along, if you wish?" he offered, hoping she would say yes but be on her own.

"They'll be going off but yeah, if you're sure?" Rose replied, thinking it was mainly innocent, well so far it was.

"Tell me where you are staying and I will pick you up," he suggested.  "I have moved out and staying in a guest house," he then admitted, having sorted it out finally, which was why he was delayed interviewing Ashworth.  "You could join me for lunch, if you prefer?"

"Why not both?" Rose smiled, letting his hands go as his phone rang.

It was Tess.

"I hear Lee Ashworth has been arrested?" she asked him.  "Why wasn't I there?"

"I took someone with me Tess, two Torchwood agents were with him as well," he defended his decision not to call her about it.

"What were Torchwood agents doing at an interview?" she wanted to know and looking at Dave sat opposite.  "I bet one of them was Rose Tyler?"

"No, they were two male agents, agent Tyler was only observing," Alec replied.

"She would be," Tess sounded sarcastic to him.  "What's this about a search warrant for his car?"

Alec wondered where she was getting her information from.  Maybe he shouldn't have given Dave Harris the job of getting the warrant?

"When it comes, you are going with me to search the car, I am not trusting the junior officers," he warned her.

"Does that include Torchwood?" Tess wanted to know.

"They have already left, or leaving," Alec informed her.  "Miss Tyler will be leaving shortly."

Rose wondered why he'd included her but she supposed it was for his wife's benefit.

"Are you sure about that?" Tess sounded sarcastic.

"Just be ready when the warrant arrives," he warned her.  "Bring your new boyfriend with you, I want no mistakes making, uniformed officers can serve it to the car dealers."

He hoped Harris had done his job and told the car lot owner to put the car Ashworth had sold on one side and no-one else had touched it.

"Want me to go with ya?" Rose asked, seeing he looked tired.  "Are ya sure you're okay after yesterday?"

"I'm fine, really.  If we find any evidence in that car, we have him," he replied.

"Ya have his confession," Rose reminded him.

"Yes but he was still being vague.  He says he remembers picking Pippa up and placing her in his car but not leaving her in the river."

"The water must have risen and carried her there," Rose suggested.  "I just don't get it though, it's like he was in some sort of trance, as he smothered her."

Then they both said "Claire" at once.

"No," Rose gasped.  "She covered it all up?"

"Yes, she must have done," Alec realised.  He pressed a number on his phone.  "Get a unit to the Ashworth's address and bring the woman in."

"She might be at work?" Rose wondered.

"Check her work address," Alec spoke to the sergeant.

"Ya can get her locked up?" Rose asked.  "Want me to get Jake and Mickey back?"

"No, when she sees we have her husband, she will talk," Alec replied confidently.

Rose just hoped he was right but they'd have to hold her while they searched the car.  Rose decided to tag along to the car sales, just to annoy Tess.  If the woman was going to accuse her of something, she was going to have some fun over it.  Would it backfire on Alec though?  Maybe she should give him some warning?

"Hey, I don't know my way around, can I go with you or Tess?" Rose asked him.

"You can come with me, maybe you should avoid Tess?" he raised his eyebrows at her.

"Ya think?" Rose grinned back.  "What's her problem anyway, if she's seeing someone else?"

"I have no idea and her accusations are completely untrue," he replied.

"Well, we could have some fun with her?" Rose suggested.  "Just follow my lead, yeah?"

"Rose, we are doing a serious job, leading to two arrests," he reminded her.

"Aw, come on Alec, lighten up a little," she laughed.  "I promise not to do anything once ya start searching the car.  Deal?"

"Deal but don't go too far, understand?" he asked, moving forward and very close to her face.

Rose just wanted to grab hold of him, ruffle his hair and plant a sloppy kiss on his lips.  She had tried to imagine what it must have felt like when she'd been possessed by Casandra on New Earth and The Doctor had constantly teased her about it.  She still regretted she'd had no chance of re-creating it since, he'd always backed away if they had got close.

Chapter 6
Alec had a feeling he was going to regret this.  Rose seemed in a mischievous mood and searching a car for vital evidence did not seem a likely place for the Vitex heiress to have some 'fun' as she put it.  He could see why she thought Tess was acting strangely by being bothered he might be romantically involved with her but so far, Rose had heeded his words to stay out of his way.

Now though, he was beginning to regret saying that to the young blonde who was smiling at him.  He knew he couldn't hold out much longer to tell her he hadn't really meant it.  He was only taking precautions that he wouldn't get distracted from finding young Pippa's killer.

"Leave your car here then and I will get a patrol car to take us," he then suggested, thinking at least then, Tess couldn't really object Rose arrived at the scene with him.

He thought knowing Tess though, she'd find something and Rose would pick up on it.  What had he just agreed to?  He arranged for a car to pick them up outside and gestured for Rose to go first, just as Tess happened to be passing.

"Are you coming Alec?" Tess asked him, insinuating had he finished his 'meeting' with Rose.

"Yes, you go ahead, Miss Tyler and I will follow in a patrol car," he replied.

"You could come with me," Tess suggested as Alec's mobile rang.

He answered it and told the desk sergeant they would be outside shortly.

"I would have thought you were taking Dave with you?" Alec turned to Tess as he put his mobile in his pocket.

Rose was trying to resist a smile that Alec was already one up on his wife.  She loved nothing more than mischief making and especially with already warring couples.  She thought back to a few minutes earlier, when Alec had taken her hand.  It had felt like when The Doctor had held it.  Now though, they had a job to do, they could maybe talk about that later.

"Don't make it sound like that Alec," Tess told him.

"Hey, you two," Rose reminded them she was there.  "Can ya have ya domestic arguments later?"

"Just why are you coming with us?" Tess asked her.

"She's coming Tess, that's the end of it," Alec warned her.

"That told her," Rose smiled to herself, thinking it was something The Doctor would have come out with.

"Don't look so pleased with yourself, Alec," Tess warned him back as she walked off.

"Sheesh, how do ya put up with her?" Rose wanted to know.

"I'm not, not for much longer," Alec replied, allowing Rose to go first, again.

"Well she's got one hell of a chip on her shoulder," Rose remarked as he opened the door for her.

A male officer was waiting in a car for them outside as Alec opened the car door for Rose and helped her into the back seat, then he got in the front, Rose assuming he didn't want to add more fuel to his wife's fire.  She was going to make sure she made a fuss of it when she got out though, she decided as they set off.

Alec's phone rang again.

"What?" Alec asked as he learned Claire Ashworth was not at work or at home when officers had gone to look for her.  "Well, start looking for her and bring her in, under arrest if need be," he ordered.

"Was that about Claire?" Rose asked him.

"Yes, she is missing," Alec admitted.

"Our agents may still be in town?" Rose offered.  "I can get them to search for her?"

"We have enough officers freed up from the search but thank you," Alec replied as he found the number for the station.

Once they arrived at the car sales, Alec got out but Rose remained seated.

"Are you not joining us?" Alec wanted to know.

"Well yeah but I should stay back," Rose replied, hoping he'd get the hint and help her out.

Then he did remember Rose had said she wanted some fun at Tess's expense and Tess was wandering around waiting for his arrival.

"Then allow me to help you," he then smiled, opening the back door.

As he held onto her hand and Rose got out, awkwardly, she pretended to slip and whispered to him.

"Now ya gettin' it."

Alec wondered what exactly he was supposed to be getting and she had already started her mischief making.

"Just look at those two," Tess huffed to Dave, who was enjoying a quick cigarette break while they'd waited for Alec to arrive.

"They're already shagging each other brainless, trust me," Dave laughed at Tess's discomfort of her husband with another woman.  "She's far too young for him Tess, he'll never keep up with her or should I say keep it up with her," he laughed.

"Stop it Dave, I don't need reminding," Tess replied angrily.

"Better face it Tess, she's much younger than you are, lucky him," Dave shrugged his shoulders.

"You're supposed to be on my side," Tess reminded him, watching Rose right herself after Alec propped her up.  "Look at him, has he forgotten we're in public?" she added.

"Come off it Tess, why do you think they're behaving like that?" Dave wanted to know.  "He's trying to get a reaction out of you," he then went to whisper in her ear and making sure Alec saw him.

"Do ya think they're doin' that on purpose?" Rose asked Alec as she held onto his arm.

"No doubt," Alec replied, trying to feel jealous but failing.  "Come on, we have a job to do then maybe we can get back in time to go to lunch together, if you still want to?"

"Yeah, why not?  We could be here for a while though," Rose smiled as they walked towards Tess.

"Best hope not," Alec leaned down to reply quietly and making sure Tess saw him.  "Do we have the warrant?" he greeted Tess.

"It's on the way," Tess replied, looking at Rose.  "Really Alec, was it necessary to let everyone see you helping her out of the car," she indicated to Rose.

"Oi, I'm here," Rose objected.

"Well behave like a Torchwood agent," Tess suggested.  "How did you get to be put in charge?  Was it because of who you're related to?"

"Meow," Rose huffed and walked away.

"See what I mean?" Tess turned to Alec.  "She's far too young to be in charge and for you."

"Keep out of it Tess, I'm warning you," Alec wagged his finger at her.  "You too Harris and while we are at it Tess, stop showing him off to everyone eh?"

He went off to catch up with Rose, who was about to go sit in the car to wait for the search warrant to arrive.  He put his hand on her shoulder, Rose trying to shrug him off.

"Rose, take no notice of her.  You said you wanted some fun," he reminded her.

"I have my limits Alec and maybe she's right, about my age?" Rose replied.  "You don't have to take me out tonight."

"I still want to," he assured her, wanting to comfort her but rubbing her shoulder with his thumb instead.

"So ya can tell everyone you had a date with me?" Rose asked him.

"What?  Of course not, what do you take me for eh?  Someone who makes a habit of bragging I went out with Rose Tyler?  I've seen the gossip column headlines Rose, I am not one of those attention seeking want to be's."

"Sorry.  Geez, she'd better watch out, she can even get to me," Rose tried to laugh.  "That's sayin' something."

"Well just be careful and don't take any notice of her.  I am just learning what she is capable of," he warned her.

"Yeah, well you be careful as well Alec, she could get nasty and compromise this case."

"I already gathered that is what she is aiming for," Alec told her, turning back to where Dave was standing close to Tess.  "I should feel jealous."

"Then why aren't ya?" Rose wanted to know.

He never answered as another police car arrived and he went to greet it and took the search warrant.

"Keep a watch for anything suspicious," Alec whispered to Rose as he passed her.

The search was conducted by Tess, Alec and Dave and after five minutes and Alec having shone a light in the glove compartment, he found the chain of the delicate pendant all scrunched up in the corner.  He called for an evidence bag and carefully placed the item in it.

"Carry on searching while I call the chief," Alec told the other two.  "See what else of interest you can find."

"Are you leaving?" Tess indicated to where Rose was resting her arms on top of the police car and observing the growing crowd of onlookers for any sign of Claire.

Rose had thought Claire may not be stupid enough to be at the scene of the search, if Ashworth had warned her there may be some incriminating evidence left in the car he had sold recently.  Instead though, Claire may concentrate on either trying to clear his name or be observing from a distance and maybe follow whoever was taking anything back for examination.

Alec chose to ignore Tess's remark and went to join Rose, holding up the evidence bag.

"Hey, well done," Rose smiled.  "I can go home now."

"I was hoping you would stay, at least for a little while?" Alec tried to hide his disappointment.

"Ya don't need me here any longer.  Oh, you might want to get your officers to take a look in the pub over there, Claire may be watching."

"You've seen her?" Alec was suddenly interested.

"Not exactly but it's what I would do," Rose replied.  "I'll get a ride back to the station and pick up my stuff."

"Don't leave just yet Rose, please?  At least keep our date tonight?" he pleaded.

Rose saw the look on his face.  Could she leave just like that?

"Well okay, pick me up tonight then?  Best leave lunch, ya might be here a bit longer?"

"We will be finishing up shortly," he corrected her.  "We could get dropped off in town and have an early lunch.  I did not realise what the time was."

"Well, if I were you, I wouldn't trust Tess to take the pendant back," Rose nodded in the direction of Tess, who was pretending not to notice they were talking about her.

"They can both take it back, Harris has no interest in us," Alec replied confidently.  "I will be right back."

"What do you bet he'll go off with her and expect us to take that pendant back?" Tess sounded indignant

"Chill Tess, we can take it back, after we stop off somewhere and sit in the back of your car before we have a drink to celebrate," Dave laughed.

"I suppose so?" Tess was tempted.

"Well Alec will be doing the same with her," Dave nodded towards where Alec was helping Rose back in the police car.

"Just look at them," Tess tutted to herself more than Dave.

"Still jealous?" Dave laughed as Alec went towards them.

After giving the two of them strict instructions not to delay taking the evidence back and agreeing they would confront Lee Ashworth early in the afternoon as the pendant was being examined, Alec also told them to have any local businesses questioned as to if Claire Ashworth had been in and if she was hiding in the local pub.

"I bet I know who gave you that idea Alec," Tess laughed.

"Maybe Tess but she's right, Claire would not openly watch her husband's car being searched so have officers watching for her leaving," Alec replied.

"Where are you going?" Tess then wanted to know.

"To apologise to Rose, for your treatment of her," he just replied.

"I bet you are," Tess hissed after him as she held the evidence bag.

"Forget it Tess," Dave insisted.  "Let's get this over with."

Alec had the police driver drop them off at the edge of the town centre, just outside a pub that was serving lunch and they went inside.  Once they'd ordered, Alec sat beside her.

"Please don't just leave Rose?" he asked her again.

"I have to get back to my other work Alec," Rose insisted.

"We could still use your help in making sure Ashworth and maybe his wife get put away," he replied, putting his arm on the back of the seating.

He began to touch her shoulder, gently at first to see if she would resist.  Instead, she relaxed more and leaned back into it.

"I can't Alec, not if ya keep tellin' me to stay out of your way, when we're not working.  I can't keep away."

"I only did it because I never wanted to be distracted but it's almost over now, we will have Ashworth by this afternoon," Alec replied, feeling even more confidant.

Rose relaxed more into his arm and put her head on his shoulder.

"I hope so.  I don't want to stay out of your way Alec," she admitted.

They finished their lunch, Rose wanting some ice-cream afterwards.

"What time are ya interviewing Lee Ashworth?" she wanted to know.

"We should be getting going, I will call a cab to take us back, you can watch the interview via a video link."

"With any luck, Claire may have been caught," Rose smiled back.

As they waited in the entrance, Alec using a free taxi phone, he suddenly leaned down to see if Rose would respond if he kissed her.  He was pleased when she did so and with his arm around her, escorted her out to the cab that was just pulling up outside.  Instead of getting in the front seat again, he got in beside her and took her hand.

They were almost back at the station when Alec's phone rang, the display showing 'Tess'.

"I'm on my way," he said without listening.  Then he let out a 'What?'

"What's wrong?" Rose asked him as he covered his phone.

"Tess has messed up," was all he'd say while they were still in the taxi.  "In a big way."

Chapter 7
As they got out of the cab and Alec paid the driver, Rose made him stop before he bounded into the building.

"Tell me what happened Alec," Rose begged him.

"I knew I could not trust them Rose.  I told them not to stop off anywhere but they disobeyed me," he replied angrily.

"Alec, it was hardly an order, if was lunchtime," Rose reminded him.

"Rose, they had vital evidence, remember?  They should have returned with it, not stop off on the way."

"So they're not back yet?" she asked innocently.

Alec let out a nervous laugh.

"Rose, they won't be back for a while yet.  Someone smashed Tess's car window and guess what was taken along with her personal belongings?"

"You're kidding?  See, I told ya Claire would have been watching," Rose told him.

"Rose, there was no sign of her," he replied.

"Are ya sure Alec?  She could have been down the road and watching then followed Tess's car?" Rose suggested.

"How would she know they were going to stop off then?" she was asked.

"Easy.  Lee Ashworth sussed there was something going on between us so he figured Tess was doing the same," Rose grinned.

"Do you always have an answer Rose?" he wanted to know.

"I'll tell ya later Alec.  Are you off to where she is?"

"I have to attend, sorry.  Why don't you catch up on your work?" he suggested.

"I've got a better idea.  Why don't I go gloat that Tess stuffed up?" she laughed.

"Rose, now's not the time eh?  I will be back soon, then we should talk."

"About that kiss?" Rose teased him.

"Be careful what you say Rose.  Yes, about what just happened but also about you leaving.  I don't want you to leave."

He escorted her inside then went to get his car keys from his desk, Rose standing in the doorway.

"I'll wait for you coming back then?" Rose asked him.

"Yes, you do that?  Rose, I was wrong to tell you to stay away.  I am going to tell Tess it's finished and get a separation order as soon as possible.  I do not want you getting in the middle of it and us being accused of having an affair.  I'm sure your stepfather would not approve?"

"Sheesh, just worry about my mother," Rose laughed.  "Sorry.  Yeah, if you and Tess are legally separated, no-one can accuse us of having an affair but I'll get the press office to issue a statement for me, it can also cover you."

"Whatever you think is best?" Alec had to agree as he passed her.  "About your mother though?  Should I be worried?"

"Only when she meets ya?" Rose further teased him.

He went off, knowing he was biting off more than he could chew with a younger, famous woman.  He got to where Tess and Dave had stopped off and wondered how long, if it had been Claire Ashworth, she had been waiting.  Tess had parked around the corner, out of sight and had encouraged Dave to have a bit more than a kissing session on the back seat, having covered them with a blanket.

Then, they had gone inside the pub, not knowing Claire had been standing pretending to be waiting for someone and she had broken the car window and grabbed the evidence bag.

"What the hell were you two doing here?" Alec wanted to know as Tess sat on the back seat of a police car.

"As if you and Rose didn't stop off on the way back?" Tess turned the tables on him.

"You were carrying vital evidence Tess," he reminded her.  "There was no reason you could not have waited until you had handed it over.  Whose idea was it to stop eh?"

"Dave's," Tess tried to put all the blame on the man she'd taken up with.

"Finish up here, get your car window repaired then go see the chief.  No doubt he will have some questions for you," Alec warned her. 

"Thanks Tess," Dave complained as Alec went off to see what damage had been done to Tess's car.

"Well it was your idea," Tess replied, closing the car door on him.

She was still fuming at the thought Alec had stopped off somewhere with Rose Tyler.  After she got back and faced the chief, Alec saying she could explain things to Daisy, the chief called Rose into his office.

"You were there when they were searching the car?  Torchwood's part in this investigation was meant to be over," the chief told her.

"I asked her to come with us," Alec replied for her.  "You said it was up to me."

"I stayed out of everyone's way," Rose objected.  "Anyway, I was looking for Claire Ashworth, ask him," she nodded at Alec.  

"That's right, Miss Tyler believed Claire would be watching and we're certain she broke into Tess's car.  I have officers stepping up the search for her, right now.  She will make a mistake."

"Well you had better hope she does Alec, otherwise Ashworth is going to walk free.  He'll have to appear in court but the charges won't stand, not now," the chief stated.

"I can get my team back," Rose offered.

"I expect everyone, including yourself to be gone by tomorrow, understand?" the chief asked her.

"You can't run Miss Tyler out of town, if she does not work on the case," Alec reminded him.

"She had better not interfere Alec, I'm holding you responsible for her," the chief replied.  "I had better not have to call your director, Miss Tyler."

As they left the chief's office, Tess confronted them.

"I got a reprimand Alec," she told him.

"Well, next time, ya might be more careful," Rose replied before he did.

"Stay out of this Rose," Alec warned her.  "This is all about her getting back at me, at the cost of letting a child killer go free."

"You would say that Alec," Tess scoffed back at him.

"Leave it Tess," Dave tried to pull her away.

"I thought you were leaving?" Tess hinted to Rose.

"You'd like that," Alec replied.  "Well, you are not the only one who can find someone else.  You have been right, in your insinuations Tess, we just did not make it public like you.  Rose is staying but she will not be included in any more of the case."

Rose was dying to say something but this was Alec's moment of glory – the time he got his own back on his cheating wife and she wasn't going to be the one to spoil it.

Tess just huffed and walked off so Rose nudged him.

"Sorry Alec, I've caused trouble for ya this time."

"No, it was a long time coming and I apologise to you, for dragging you into this.  I will make sure she does not mention your name if she gets a separation order before I do."

"So ya think she'll beat ya to it?" Rose wondered.

"Maybe?  She won't want to admit she needs it though so I will probably beat her to it.  I will call and see about one first thing tomorrow.  I suggest you gather your things and work from your hotel room, unless you want to wait until tomorrow?"

"I'll do it now, it might be best?" Rose replied as she saw Alec's chief leave his office.

"She was just leaving, Tess delayed us," Alec told the chief as he approached.

"I hope so Alec.  I don't want to be the bad guy but Miss Tyler may compromise the rest of the investigation, if you both don't use some discretion."

"Excuse me?" Rose interrupted him, getting a frown from Alec.  "I'm the one not using discretion when Tess and her boyfriend were probably shagging in the back seat of her car when it got broken into?"

"There is no proof they were being inappropriate," the chief objected.  "We only know they stopped off rather than report back here with the evidence."

"Oh come on," Alec almost laughed.  "What do you think they were doing?  They disobeyed an order and put the conviction of Lee Ashworth at risk."

"Alec, Tess complained that it's you and Miss Tyler that are putting everything at risk so I'm ending this – now.  Tess is no longer permitted to have Dave Harris as her work partner and Miss Tyler is no longer working this case as a Torchwood agent.  That's my final decision," the chief warned him, walking off.

"Leave it Alec," Rose urged him as she took his arm.

"That will make her worse," Alec admitted.

"Will she take it out on you?" Rose sympathised.  "Sorry, it's maybe my fault."

"No," Alec laughed nervously.  "She would have found another way, trust me.  After I get a separation order, I will put in for a transfer, before Lee Ashworth gets off."

"Are ya so sure he will?" Rose wondered.

"The pendant tied him to having Pippa in his car and plus, he will use the fact three torchwood agents 'persuaded' him to tell the truth about that night," he replied sadly.

"I could come and speak up, at the trial?" Rose offered.

"It would do no good Rose but thank you.  I have to take the blame for allowing you," he replied.

"I could say I took the decision, that I went against your wishes," Rose further offered.

"You would get into trouble Rose, from your stepfather.  I can't allow that.  We will just have to see what happens."

"So, we forget tonight as well?" Rose wondered.

"Absolutely not," Alec finally smiled.

Alec picked her up from where she was staying and took her to a well established restaurant just outside town that he'd managed to get a reservation at without using Rose's name and after their meal, they moved to a quiet corner table.

"So, what does the famous Rose Tyler like to do to relax?" Alec teased her as he moved her hair away from her cheek and touched it gently, sending a shiver down poor Rose's back.

"Ah, I have my ways," Rose teased him back, going for her glass of white wine and lemonade.

Alec had done the sensible thing and arrived at her hotel in a taxi cab so he was drinking white wine on its own.

"Maybe I could guess some of them?" he replied.  "Ah, maybe you would care to demonstrate some of them, with me?"

"You want me to relax with you?" Rose just came out and asked him bluntly.

"Well, ultimately?  That was the plan," he laughed, reminding Rose it would be something The Doctor would have said.

She had to get all those thoughts out of her mind or she was going to lose Alec's interest, he was the only man who had been genuinely interested in her since her arrival here all those years ago.  All the rest had been hopefuls or failures from reality and talent shows, well the least talented Rose had thought and never made it past the main gate of the mansion she now lived in.  They certainly would never have met with her mother's approval.

The only reason she had accepted a date was to stop her mother going on about her new social status and Jackie Tyler had never been a snob before marrying Pete.  Then Jackie had claimed it was what was expected from her as she'd accepted the chairs of multiple charitable organisations, of which Rose was expected to attend their benefit 'do's' and dinners.

"Rose?" he questioned the far-away look in her eyes.

"Sorry.  I was just thinking how I was going to explain staying here," she made the excuse.

"You are still going to stay?  When you are up against Tess?" he wondered.

"Yeah, I made trouble between the two of ya, how can I leave ya to face her on ya own?" Rose replied.

"Well, I too am in a hotel for now but I will get onto the HR department to find somewhere more suitable.  So, your hotel or mine?" he smiled.

They got a taxi to his hotel, since he had to work the next day and Rose made short work of his shirt buttons as he did the same with the zip of her dress, which was short and sparkly though he'd been more interested all evening in getting it off her rather than admire how she looked in it.

They fell into bed kissing and Rose enjoyed the best time of her life, realising afterwards she felt different.

"Is there something wrong?" Alec wondered as she dashed to the bathroom.

He hoped she wasn't going to come back out, get dressed and demand he called a cab for her.

"Hey, sorry," she mumbled as she got back in beside him, now wearing her panties.

"I was getting worried," he had to admit, touching her breasts and going to kiss one.  Then he realised what the problem might be.  "Oh, something gave, did it not?" he guessed, since she'd put her underwear on.  "It's okay, don't be embarrassed Rose.  I should have asked you if you wanted to go that far."

"It's okay, I just wasn't expecting, well ya know?" she replied as she relaxed again.

"No, I assumed you had already had your first time, the way you responded to me.  I know what you experienced Rose, you just did not know that your body was reacting."

"Well, you must be more experienced in that department than me," she teased him as he turned the bedside lamp off and she settled into his shoulder.

"I am not going to give you a lecture about the birds and the bees Rose," he laughed.  "Well mainly about how the bees.."

Rose nudged him to stop, to which he gave her an 'Hmm' and made her giggle.

"I get the picture Alec.  Well, you're older than me, you know about those things.  It was good though," she had to admit.

"I noticed how much you enjoyed it, I thought you were never going to stop," he teased her yet again.

"Sorry, that's how it felt, like I didn't want ya to stop, it was really good.  No bragging about it though."

"No bragging, got it," he joked.  "I think I need my sleep after that."

"What?" Rose burst out laughing.  "Alec can't keep up with a younger lover?"

"Oh, so, you are my young lover, are you?" he went to tickle her ribs.

"Stop it," she giggled.  "Well, yeah, if ya want?  Ya asked me to stay Alec."

"Yes, I did and I meant it Rose.  Just don't go around saying you're my young lover though, eh?"

"I have a reputation to keep up ya know?" Rose replied indignantly.

"What reputation is that then?" Alec wanted to know.  "That of being out on the town every night?"

"I wish," Rose tried to be serious.  "The papers never report I'm a Torchwood agent and I earn my keep and I'd be too tired to work if I was out every night."

"Well, that's good to know.  At least I won't be expected to keep you out every night," Alec also tried to sound serious.

Then Rose began to giggle again and he knew he was going to be in trouble for taking her on.  After fooling around a little while longer, they fell asleep, Alec feeling happier than he'd done in a long time.  The next morning, Alec tried to get her to be serious after she wanted to have a repeat of the night before, Rose asking him if now he had broken her barrier, that having sex would be more enjoyable.

"Rose, I've not got time to give you a sex education lesson love," he told her as he tried to get dressed and she'd been staring at his ass as he'd changed his shorts, him having put some on before they'd gone to sleep.

"That's a shame, though I'd only want to get the practical part," she laughed.

"You, Miss Tyler, are going to be trouble, aren't you?" he replied.  "So, are you moving in here?"

"Well, for now?  I won't get my hotel paid for after today so I'd better move my things out.  Then I'll have to tell dad I'm staying here.  He'll make me tell my mum though, he's too much of a coward to come between us."

"I bet he is," Alec replied quietly.  "You take the room key then?"

After moving her things into Alec's room, Rose went to collect her laptop and files from the police station, knocking on Alec's office door before she left.

"I'm off then," she told him, one hand in her jeans pocket and one holding her designer laptop bag.

"Right.  Well, thanks for trying to help," he said as he got up and for the benefit of anyone listening.

"Did ya have to let him go?" she asked about Lee Ashworth.

"Not as yet, we're keeping it quiet for now, see if we can get him on his confession alone.  We've asked for his trial to be brought forward so we'll get a hearing date and if his plea is not changed, it should be straight forward in front of a judge."

"Are ya keeping Torchwood's involvement out of it?" Rose wondered.

"It may come up we were given some assistance in finding Pippa," he had to admit.

Then Rose closed his office door.

"See ya tonight then?  Did ya get anywhere else to live sorted out?"

"No, not yet.  Do you want to find somewhere?" he asked hopefully.

"You look tired Alec," she smiled.  "Are ya okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine.  Maybe you kept me awake too late last night eh?"

When she got back to the hotel, she had to face Pete in a video call.

"I'm staying Dad," she told him after making her report.

"Well you can tell your mother," Pete joked.  "So, you got involved with detective inspector Alec Hardy then?"

"When are we gonna meet him?" Jackie wanted to know after hearing the news.

"Soon Mum, after the hearing maybe?" Rose tried to appease her mother. "I'll bring him back so I can get some more of my things."

"So, ya gonna live down there then?" Jackie stated the obvious.

"Until he can get a transfer Mum.  We can't stay here, his ex will make it difficult enough," Rose admitted.

"Well she'd better not drag you into their divorce or you'll have to get your stepfather to get you of it," Jackie warned her.

"I know Mum but that's down to her, she already tried to make trouble," Rose admitted. "I'll try to be careful Mum."

Alec already knew Tess would try to drag Rose into any further action he would take to end their marriage.  He thought that she would react better if he told her right away he would bring Dave into it if she mentioned Rose.  As he was about to leave for the day, she entered his office after being served with a separation order.

"That didn't take you long," Tess remarked.

"What did you expect Tess?  You screwed up our marriage, not me.  I held back," he reminded her.

"Not by much," Tess retaliated.  "Are we sticking to a separation?"

"I don't think so Tess, it's over.  We both have someone else so we do this in a civilised manner, agree?"

He was soon going to find out how 'civilised' his wife could be.

Chapter 8
A few days later, Rose was moving hers and Alec's belongings into a studio flat her secretary at Torchwood had found for her and she'd had it put in both their names so Alec couldn't complain she was paying for it.  Then, the fun was about to begin as the prosecution wanted to rush through Lee Ashworth's guilty plea before it was discovered there was no physical evidence.

Alec had to go face questioning by the lead barrister – Jocelyn Knight, who was a big London lawyer with her own unique reputation of almost never losing a case.

"Alec Hardy," a voice shouted from beyond a door at the crown court where she was working.

His chief nudged him to get it over with, since this was when it was decided if the trial could go ahead.

"Sit," Jocelyn indicated to a vacant chair.  "I'm going to ask you the same questions the defence is going to ask and you had better be ready with some answers.  How did you get Lee Ashworth to confess?  Well?" she waited a few moments for him to speak.  "The judge won't wait for your answer.  Is it true that three Torchwood agents spoke with him and 'suggested' he went to the police and told the truth?"

Alec wondered how she'd got hold of that but he supposed Torchwood had co-operated.

"Yes, three agents visited Lee Ashworth and he came to the police station of his own accord," Alec replied.  

Well he hoped the man had gone freely anyway but Rose's two friends looked like they'd meant business.

"The defence had claimed they used underhand tactics on their client," Jocelyn read from a file she picked up off the desk, Alec noting she held her glasses in front of the page.

"I was not present when Lee Ashworth was spoken to by the Torchwood agents," Alec denied.

"What about in the interview room?" Jocelyn wanted to know.

"They were not present during our questioning the accused," Alec replied truthfully.

"That was very clever of both parties," Jocelyn almost smiled.  "Did you give the go ahead for the Torchwood agents to confront Lee Ashworth in his home?" she tried again.

Alec didn't hesitate to deny all knowledge of what Rose and her team had been up to the day they brought the suspect in.

"No, we had no idea until I was told by the desk sergeant they were all waiting for me."

Jocelyn wasn't about to give up, she knew the defence wouldn't.

"Do you have any physical evidence tying the accused to the unlawful killing of Pippa Gillespie?  A search warrant was asked for, to search the accused's car.  Did you find anything?"

Alec could see she thought she had him on that point, she was playing games with him.  Maybe he'd suggest she joined Torchwood if she failed.

"Upon a search of his car, a pendant belonging to Pippa was found in the glove compartment, proving she had been in the car as her mother claimed the girl was wearing it that day," he replied, hoping she'd give up now.

"Can you produce that evidence?"

He knew she had him on that point.

"At present, the answer is no but myself and two senior officers have written sworn statements it was placed in an evidence bag at the scene where the accused's car was searched.  A description of the pendant had been issued to all officers."

"So you cannot produce the evidence?" Jocelyn wanted to make sure he knew she had him.  

Alec was wondering if she was on the wrong side.

"At present, the pendant is being located.  It was stolen from a police vehicle near to the scene of the search.  We have a suspect and have issued a warrant for their arrest."

There, he thought to himself, she was surely going to give up.  Jocelyn knew he was gloating though.

"Do you know who will be defending Lee Ashworth?" she asked him, getting up to offer him some tea that was on a tray in the corner.  Alec shook his head.  "I've just been informed and trust me, she will not be as pleasant in asking the questions as I was."

"We've not been informed who the defence is," Alec replied, wondering if they should have been.

"She used to be my junior, until she went out on her own.  I taught her a little too well, she is now relentless," Alec was warned.  "You had better be able to produce that evidence in front of the judge.  There will be a trial but not by jury, unless he changes his plea, which will be entered the day after tomorrow.  I've just been told."

Alec thought that was a bit short notice but he supposed that was so Ashworth had no time to cook something else up with his defence barrister.

"Torchwood has been informed," Jocelyn informed him as she placed a tray on the desk.  "I was told an agent is still in town?"

"Yes, there is," Alec admitted.

"Rose Tyler herself?" Jocelyn raised her eyebrows.  "She may be called on by the judge to give evidence as to the part she played in all this.  I hope she and yourself are not involved in any way?"

Alec declined to answer, making the barrister suspicious.

"Then you had better hope the defence don't pick up on it then and the judge doesn't put you under oath to admit it.  As for finding the evidence, you know who may have taken it?" Jocelyn wanted to know.

"Lee Ashworth's wife.  She is the only one who had a motive to take it, so as not to incriminate her husband."

"Makes sense?" Jocelyn had to agree.  "You had better let Torchwood join the search looking for her then?"

Alec finished his tea, having forgotten his chief was waiting outside.

"Do you want to see the chief inspector?" Alec wondered.

"Ah, yes.  On a few points I should think," Jocelyn replied.

Alec knew she was going to chew the man out on the evidence being lost to start with.  The prosecution lawyer wouldn't be fobbed off with the excuse he'd just come out with.  He had to warn Rose when he got home that she would more than likely be called in the courtroom.

"I was hoping to avoid that," Rose had to admit.

"Then get one of your friends to cover for you?" he suggested as they went to bed.  "The prosecution know about us, so will the defence."

On the day of the hearing, Rose went with Alec to the court, hoping to hear Lee Ashworth pleading guilty but it wasn't to be.

"Not guilty," Ashworth stared at the judge.

Then he turned sideways to glance at Rose and Alec, who had thought it was safe enough for now to sit together, though it didn't please Tess.

The young lawyer who had been assigned to him asked for him to clarify.  Then Cate Gillespie broke her silence.

"Own up Lee, you killed my Pippa," she cried out, Ricky trying to hold her back.

"Man up Ashworth," Ricky then added, getting his wife to sit down.

Rose felt sorry for them.  The man standing in front of them had taken their twelve year old daughter away.  She had tried her best to help them but Tess had screwed it all up for what?  A 'Quickie' in the back of her car?  Had Tess been getting back at Alec and expected him to take the blame?

He'd told her Tess had got a reprimand for it and things had got very tense in the space of a few days.  He'd come back at the end of the day and all he'd wanted to do was forget everything.

"Order!" the judge shouted over the top of others who had joined in.  "Mr Ashworth, you need to repeat your plea, for the benefit of your own council, it seems?" he looked over the top of his glasses.

"Not guilty, your Honour," Ashworth replied, a bit too cheerfully for Alec's liking as he shifted in his seat.

Rose nudged him so he took her hand and squeezed it.

"So noted," the judge replied.

"Your honour, the defence request Mr Ashworth should be released on bail, pending trial," the young woman stood up again.

Jocelyn Knight had something to say about that.

"Your honour, the prosecution objects on the grounds that the defendant may leave the area."

"What leads you to believe that, Ms Knight?" the judge wanted to know.

Alec was praying she wasn't going to come out and say the only physical evidence tying Ashworth to killing the young girl had been lost, by the police.

"Your honour, I have been informed that the defendant's wife has disappeared and Mr Ashworth may leave the area," Jocelyn replied.

"I see then?  Bail is denied," he told the defence.

"I don't know where she is," Ashworth objected.

"Non the less Mr Ashworth, you may be tempted to find her," the judge told him.

Tess was waiting for them outside the courtroom.

"He could have lead us to Claire if he'd been given bail," she confronted him.

"Whose fault is it we have to rely on following him Tess?" Alec turned on her.

"You'd better hope they don't start asking questions Alec, especially about the two of you," Tess replied.  "When are you coming to see Daisy?"

"We're not stopping her coming round," Rose then objected.

"It's not good for a teenage girl to visit her father when he lives with his girlfriend," Tess reminded them.

They were interrupted by the prosecution.

"I suppose we were expecting his plea?" Ms Knight asked them.  "I've just been told it will be another two weeks before the trial and the judge wants no interaction from Torchwood, understand, Miss Tyler?"

"Fine with me," Rose huffed.  "We do all the work then we're not allowed to play our part in court.  I hope ya have plenty else to go on then?"

She turned to walk off, leaving Alec wanting to go after her.

"I told you she was too young Alec," Tess reminded him as Ms Knight cracked half a smile.

"I hope you mean to be in charge of a Torchwood team DS Henchard?" she asked Tess.

"See what I mean Alec?" Tess hit his arm as Ms Knight went off.  "Rose is too young for either and even the prosecution can see it."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you Tess?  For Rose to leave?" he moved her arm away.

"Have some sense Alec, if she turns up in court, even if she's not called, people will see and draw their own conclusions.  At least Dave is older and not just a few years older than your daughter."

"Rose is considerably older than Daisy," Alec corrected her.

"By ten years Alec?" Tess gloated.  "I would think again if I were you."

He caught up with Rose outside as she waited by his car.

"Sorry," Rose apologised as he went to the driver's side.

"It's this court case, it's already getting to everyone," he tried to assure her.  "No-one expected it so soon but the prosecution are eager to get it over and done with."

Rose tried not to show her anger when they got home, trying not to throw things around the kitchen to start with.

"Rose, why don't we go visit your family this weekend?" Alec suggested, thinking it would cheer her up.  "You must be missing them?"

"I miss Tony," she had to admit.  "Can you get Friday off?"

"I expect so, there is very little going on.  You should check in with your friend Jake to see how much progress they are making locating Claire Ashworth."

Rose brought up Jake's number on her phone for a progress report.

"Rose.  How did court go?" Jake wanted to know.  "Let me put this on conference with Mickey, he found out something interesting."

"Hi Mickey, what did ya find?" Rose asked, seeing Alec was keeping out of the way.

"On your own?" Mickey asked.

"No, Alec's here, he's not up on tech stuff, are ya Alec?" she teased him.

"I use it when I have to," Alec answered from beside her.  "What did you find?"

"Claire Ashworth's maiden name," Mickey sounded pleased with himself.  "She was known as Claire Ripley before she got married so I've got agents onto looking for her under that name."

"Great, that's all we need," Alec wasn't pleased they'd only just found out.  "We need her and the pendant before the trial."

"We're doing our best," Mickey objected.  "When are you coming home Rose?"

"We'll be coming up at the weekend, for Alec to meet everyone," Rose tried to smile, seeing Alec wasn't happy.

"Okay, see ya then," Mickey ended his side of the call.

"We'll keep looking," Jake suggested.  "Did ya get into trouble because we got Lee Ashworth to confess?"

"Only with the prosecution," Alec admitted.  "I will have to accept the responsibility now."

"No Alec, I'll tell her it was my idea and you knew nothing about it.  We'll go see her tomorrow," Rose insisted.

The next day, Jocelyn Knight was not pleased at being interrupted by being told a Torchwood agent and the detective in charge wanted to see her.

"Another interruption," Jocelyn complained as she offered them a drink, both of them shaking their heads.

"It was all my idea," Rose tried to tell her.  "I got two other agents to go with me to get Lee Ashworth to agree into going to the police."

"Did you use underhand tactics on him, Miss Tyler?" the barrister wanted to know.

"Not exactly.  We sort of pointed out the alternatives," Rose admitted.  "DI Hardy had nothing to do with it, I take all responsibility, he knew nothing of it until we asked to see him.  We used the power of suggestion on Lee Ashworth but no drugs, our director made us promise so we wouldn't compromise the case."

"That's all well and good Miss Tyler," Jocelyn told her but looking at Alec.  "You put DI Hardy in a difficult position by your actions.  Very well, I'll accept he knew nothing of it and I'll base my court case on that he knew nothing but it had better be the truth?"

"It is," Rose had to agree.  "I'll speak to my director and have him send his assurance to the court that we just talked to Lee Ashworth and helped him make his mind up to go tell the truth.  We can get people to do that and not use any drugs on them."

Once outside, Alec stood in front of Rose.

"You did not have to do that Rose."

"Yeah, I did Alec.  I didn't want you gettin' the blame and everything go sour.  Anyway, now we know about Claire, it should be easier to find her, Jake will have informed the station to look for her under her maiden name.  Right, I have to go get Tony a present, coming with me?"

"No, I have some work to catch up on, if I am going with you on Friday.  See you at home, sweetheart," he replied, bending to kiss her cheek.

Rose hoped now, things would be less tense between them.  The last few days seemed to her like they'd unsettled Alec and she wasn't sure how he felt.  She was about to find out when they drove up to see her family on Friday morning.  They arrived in time for a late lunch, Jackie greeting them as they were let in, one of the servants helping them with their luggage.

"Rose!  Have ya brought half your luggage back with ya?" her mother laughed as she hugged Rose.  "So, you're Alec then?" she turned her attention to Alec.

"It's nice to meet you Mrs Tyler," Alec replied as he went to shake her hand.

Jackie pulled him into a hug instead.

"I saved ya some lunch.  Tony didn't want to go to school this morning," she told Rose as she herded the both of them towards the kitchen.  "He was excited ya were coming home."

"We brought him a present," Rose told her mother as they followed behind her.

Tony was pleased with a boat for his bathtime and chatted away with Alec about police cars when he got home from school and they promised to take him out the next day.

"Ya don't mind, do ya?" Rose asked as they got ready for dinner, since Jackie had invited a few friends around.

"No sweetheart, you've missed him," Alec replied as he fastened his tie, not quite straight.  Rose went up to him to finish the job.

"Thanks.  We can take him to the zoo, then after lunch, we'll go on one of those tour buses but he likes to sit upstairs," she smiled.  "Otherwise, he'll wear us out."

"Your brother wears you out?" Alec raised an eyebrow in surprise.

"I need to start exercising again, I'll have to join a gym when we get back, I've had no field work recently," Rose laughed.

The truth was, she'd been feeling a little 'off' the last few days but had put it down to the pre-trial and Alec being edgy.  Well she hoped that was all anyway.  She'd also felt differently since her first night with Alec, when he'd finally admitted he didn't want her to stay out of his way.  That was only two weeks ago but they'd enjoyed each other every night since then.

"Well, Miss Tyler, I may have to see you get a little more exercise – in bed maybe?" Alec laughed.

The day out with Tony was a success, though Alec got told off by Jackie for buying Tony a t-shirt with 'I love London' on it that in her opinion looked like a 'Tacky' tourist one with love replaced with a heart.  She then turned on Rose for letting Alec buy her little brother it in the first place and Alec knew Jackie Tyler was a formidable opponent he'd have to get used to if he was going to have a serious relationship with her daughter.

He hadn't wanted to say anything to Rose but meeting her parents had been daunting.  The mere fact they weren't that much older than him plus as Tess had pointed out, Rose only being a little over ten years older than Daisy, were all contributing factors to him wondering how this was going to play out – having such a young girlfriend.  Since when had he ever bothered what other people thought about him though?

It wouldn't have bothered him but he was in a relationship with the famous Rose Tyler and sooner or later, the papers would catch up with them, albeit approved by the Torchwood or Vitex press office and no newspaper dare print a word about her for fear of feeling the wrath of Pete Tyler, who was now more powerful than he'd ever been as just the chairman of Vitex.

After facing more of Jackie's friends and some work colleagues of Rose's that evening, Alec was sure he was not comfortable with socialising and had put on a brave face for Rose, including posing for photographs with her and her friends for Jackie's albums, a photographer being hired for the evening and it was all too reminiscent of that fateful night the Cybermen had invaded for Pete's liking.

"What's wrong Dad?" Rose smiled as she offered him a glass of champagne.

"Don't Rose," he turned the drink away so she put it on a passing tray held by one of the staff.

"Oh, sorry.  I hate these parties mum likes to hold but it's nothing like that one, you know when," she tried to tell Pete.

"I know she does love, sorry.  She can never know, understand?  It would destroy her if she did, to know what really happened that night and the other Jackie…" he trailed off.

"I know Dad, she'll never learn it from me.  So, what do ya think about Alec?" Rose smiled as she sat on the sofa next to him, in a corner of the large room her mother kept for such occasions.

"That he's too old for you?" Pete managed to smile back, taking her hand.  "Rose, if he makes you happy, then go live with him in Sandbrook or wherever.  You can work down there, set it up with Jake.  Just wait until you get back and maybe tell Alec what we really do?"

"He already knows Dad and he's okay with it, I think.  This trial's gettin' to him though, with the evidence being lost.  Geez Dad, I probably saw that woman, while I was there and never realised."

"You didn't know love," Pete tried to tell her.

"I could maybe have stopped her?" Rose wondered.  "She just blended in with the crowd though or was watching out of the pub window, I tried to tell him she would be.  Now, she's holed up somewhere, holding the evidence to put her husband away."

"Rose, we have agents all over it, I knew you felt guilty about it, Jake's keeping me informed.  She'll turn up sooner or later."

"I hope you're right Dad.  I'd better go and rescue Alec from Martha and Tosh, or at least Mickey will get jealous."

"He's done nothing about her so far, he needs a nudge," Pete told her.  "I'd worry more if your mother was talking to Alec."

Pete wasn't going to be wrong the following day, while waiting for lunch to be served, the one day Jackie didn't interfere with the kitchen staff, much to their relief.  Rose had no idea Jackie had caught Alec earlier and warned him she wanted a word with him before he left and fearing she'd turn Rose against him, he'd had to agree but doubt was already creeping into his mind that maybe Tess was right – he had no business having a twenty-something beautiful blonde for a girlfriend.

Chapter 9
Alec came away from the small living room Jackie had beckoned him to in a daze but shook his head to clear it.  What had he just agreed to?

"Listen 'ere you, Alec," Jackie had wagged her finger at him.  "Rose says you're gettin' a divorce?"

"Yes, I am, Mrs Tyler," he'd replied, not daring to call her Jackie, which he was sure she'd told him to a dozen times since his arrival.

"Well, don't you go gettin' Rose involved.  Her stepfather can control the press but not if it gets her name dragged through the court.  Can ya guarantee ya can keep her out of it?" she asked, looking at him with her arms crossed.  "Well?"

He'd known he couldn't absolutely guarantee Tess wouldn't keep Rose's name out of the divorce proceedings.  He'd threatened her with bringing Dave into it if she did but to be spiteful, knowing who Rose was, she just might risk it, in the hope Dave would divorce his moaning wife.

"Whatcha gonna do about it then?" Jackie had demanded to know.  "You'd better not leave it to Pete's lawyers to get her out of it ya know?"

"I would not do that Mrs Tyler.  I am not expecting any trouble," Alec replied in his defence.

Then he had stopped to think about it.  How would he keep Rose from any trouble without some help?  He couldn't go running to Pete Tyler, could he?

"Do the right thing and end it now, before she gets hurt," Jackie then advised him, remembering all the heartache Rose had suffered when The Doctor had changed and then when she'd been brought here.

Now, Alec was debating outside the kitchen, where Rose said she'd be.  Tony liked to have a baking lesson while the staff enjoyed a break after serving lunch.  Today he was making cornflake cakes and Rose was trying to get the chocolate at the right thickness.

Alec was watching from the doorway, seeing her pour the chocolate from the microwavable jug and mix it in the large bowl.

"Hi Alec, want to help?" Rose smiled when she noticed him.

"You seem to be managing," he replied, not wanting to butt in.

He sat watching them then Rose sent Tony off to let them cool.

"Is something wrong?" she wanted to know.

"We need to talk Rose, he replied, gesturing for her to step out of the kitchen.  "Is there somewhere?"

"Yeah, the conservatory, I go there at night sometimes," Rose admitted, not wanting to say so she could look up at the stars.

Pete had it built for her because she'd told him she missed travelling, even if it was in the wrong universe.  He'd had blue twinkling lights put up all around the roof windows and potted palms at the entrance.

"Rose, please, don't take this the wrong way," Alec began as he seated her in one of the cushioned wicker chairs.

"Alec?" Rose questioned him as he stood in front of her then pulled the other chair closer.

He took her hands in his.

"You should stay behind, when I go back to Sandbrook," he told her as he tried to find the right words.

He knew she'd never go for him saying it was to save her getting involved with his divorce.  She'd already told him she didn't care.

"What?  Why should I stay here?  I want to be with you Alec," she told him.

"It won't work Rose, I'm sorry."

"You're gonna let Tess win?" Rose was lost for words and suddenly feeling sick.

"No, it has nothing to do with Tess winning," he tried to explain, putting his hands together as Rose backed off.

"If you're tryin' to keep me out of your divorce Alec, I don't care about it," she replied as she tried to hold her tears back.

He got up, feeling uncomfortable.

"I thought you loved me Alec?" Rose leaned forward, putting her head in her hands.

He tried to put his hand on her shoulder but she shrugged it off.

"I'm sorry Rose, I should never have let us get involved," he replied, feeling as bad as she did.  "I was wrong to encourage you."

He knew she'd not needed any encouragement from him, the attraction had been mutual from the moment he'd told her to stay out of his way.

"I will go back and ask one of the staff for a taxi number," he continued, thinking it was best he just left.

"Ask one of them to get dad's driver to take ya back to Sandbrook," Rose replied through her sobs.

Just then, they both turned at a sound in the doorway.  It was Jake, who had called to see Pete about Rose going back to work in Sandbrook and he'd been looking for her.

"Sorry, I'll come back," Jake apologised.

"I was just leaving," Alec told him.

"I can take ya back, if ya want?" Jake offered.

"How much did ya hear Jake?" Rose asked him as she tried to dry her tears, Alec offering a tissue from the box on the table.

"Just about going back to Sandbrook, I was gonna talk to ya about it," Jake replied, knowing he'd walked into a break-up.  "Just you?" he asked Alec.

"I won't be long," Alec told him, if he could remember the way to Rose's bedroom.

Jake went to sit opposite Rose when Alec had left.

"Wanna talk about it?"

Rose shook her head.

"Come on Rosie, what happened?" he asked.  "You were all for goin' to work with him."

"Leave it Jake, Alec's going back on his own," Rose replied, wiping her eyes.

Alec was in the bedroom, throwing the last of his belongings into a holdall.  Pete had seen him go upstairs on his own and wondering what had happened, gave him time then went to knock on the door.

"Things didn't work out then?" Pete asked as he leaned on the doorframe.  "Rose thought the world of you, Alec."

"Yes, well.  Mr Tyler, your stepdaughter is a great Torchwood agent and maybe I lead her on," Alec replied.  "I warned her to stay away so neither of us would be tempted, then I gave in.  I should not have done so, I should have let her leave with the other agents."

"Rubbish.  From what I heard, it was mutual.  She was willing to leave her family and go live down there with you," Pete told him.  "You talked to her mother?" Pete guessed, since Jackie had been missing.

"It was nothing to do with my decision.  I will be honest with you, my almost ex wife did nothing but complain about Rose working with us and she insinuated a few half truths were actually happening.  I can't subject Rose to any more of it, while my divorce goes through.  Please don't tell her Mr Tyler."

"I won't, that's up to you Alec," Pete replied.  "What about when your divorce is finalised?"

"She will have forgotten about me by then," Alec replied sadly.

"Maybe so Alec but will you have forgotten her?" Pete wanted to know as Alec picked up his luggage.

Alec took one last look around Rose's bedroom, with the silky patterned floral blue bedspread and curtains that had given off blue hue early in the morning as the light filtered through.

"Her friend Jake offered me a ride to the nearest train station," Alec replied, not wanting to admit he would never forget Rose.

Jake was waiting in the entrance, trying to avoid Jackie, who had to finish Tony's baking lesson, well more like trying to stop the young boy eating all the cakes he'd made.  She was telling Rose off for leaving him unsupervised.

"What we're ya thinking Rose?" Jackie asked her as she tried to put the rest of the cakes in a tin and smacking Tony's hand away again.

"I had to talk to Alec," Rose replied.  "I sent Tony off."

"Yeah, ya might have done but he came back," Jackie chastised her as the kitchen staff stood in a corner, finding it amusing.

"And you lot," Jackie turned to the three women.  "Ya should have stopped him and called for someone when he came back in."

"Sorry Mrs Tyler," the cook tried to smooth things over.

"What was so important ya had to leave to go talk to Alec?" Jackie wanted to know from Rose.

"He wanted to talk to me," Rose admitted as Tony was stopped in his tracks from trying to get back into the tin.

"Go watch TV or find your father," Jackie told the boy.

"But Mum, I want more cakes," Tony objected.

"Go find Jake then," Jackie replied, as she'd passed Jake earlier.

"He's taking Alec to the station," Rose replied.

"I thought ya were both leaving later?" Jackie asked, not knowing what her talk with Alec had done.

"He's going back on his own, it's over," Rose admitted, trying not to cry again.

"Well maybe it's for the best," Jackie replied.

Alec was getting into Jake's SUV.

"Just take me to the train station where I can get one back to Sandbrook," Alec told him as he got in, getting his phone out to find out which one.

"You're an idiot Alec," Jake told him as he set off.  "She told me she didn't know how you'd been staying away from each other just over a week ago, when she asked me to set her up for working down there.  What the hell are ya thinking mate?"

Six weeks later, Rose hadn't been into work for over a week.  She'd been sick every morning for the last ten mornings in a row and had dragged herself into her office the backend of the week before, then Jake had sent her home when Mickey had told him she looked terrible and she'd thrown abuse at both her friends.

"That's is, I'm calling Doctor Mason in," Jackie told her on the Monday morning.

"Leave it Mum, I'll get one of the staff to call and get me a pregnancy test kit," Rose replied from her bathroom.

Jackie was now regretting she'd pulled Alec up over their age difference.

"If it's positive, are ya gonna tell him?" she asked Rose, who was still hanging over the sink.

"I haven't decided.  He just left me Mum, like The Doctor did," Rose groaned.

"Well, it's not the same is it?" Jackie wanted to know.

Rose managed to think maybe not, she'd not been sick every morning when she'd arrived here.

"Be sensible Rose and call him," Jackie urged her, now feeling guilty she'd sent Alec back on his own.  "How long are ya gonna wait?"

Alec had done his best to try to get on with his life when he'd gone back on his own.  Daisy had wanted to know what had happened to Rose so he'd tried to explain to her.

"It wasn't meant to be Daisy," he had told her.

"She was nice Dad," Daisy had gone to give him a hug.  "Why don't you make up with her?"

"Maybe, when the divorce comes through?" he debated.  "Your mother is delaying by not signing the papers."

"I know Dad, I don't know why she's hanging on," Daisy replied sadly.

Tess was hanging on.  She was convinced Rose was coming back and she didn't want Alec being free to marry the Vitex heiress when Dave wouldn't ask his controlling wife for a divorce.  The woman had money and Dave wanted his share.

As the months went on, Alec still missing the woman he'd fallen in love with when she'd tried to take over his investigation, he asked for a transfer – to anywhere away from Tess rubbing it in his face every day that she was still seeing Dave and wouldn't let him go.

After a miserable Christmas for both Rose and Alec, Rose now eight months pregnant and didn't enjoy her Christmas dinner, she was rushed to the local hospital in mid January and with Jackie holding her hand, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, naming her Katy.

Alec though, wasn't faring very well and had gone to see his physician and friend.

"I got the results from your tests Alec," Alistair told him when he'd made an excuse to have an hour off work.  "It's not good.  Ya have what's called heart arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, ya need a pacemaker fitting."

Alec knew it was bad but he'd not been expecting that.  He'd been feeling off for a while but he'd put it down to a mixture of still missing Rose, Tess still not giving way and signing the papers and the after effects of jumping in the river last April.

"What are my chances?" Alec had wanted to know, thinking maybe he'd brought this upon himself.

"Less than 50/50," his friend told him honestly.  "Do ya know what caused it?"

"Walking away from someone," Alec replied in a low voice.

"Ya mean Tess?" Alistair asked him, thinking maybe not and that Tess had always been a bit bitchy whenever he'd seen her.

Alec had chosen him because he'd tried to find a doctor from Glasgow so he knew he could trust them and it had been lucky for him Alistair had recently moved to the town.  Now, they were like old friends.  Alec let out a nervous laugh.

"Are you kidding?  No, someone I met last year, on the case of those two cousins.  I walked away because Tess would have brought her into the divorce," Alec confided in his friend.

"Are ya anywhere near getting it?" Alistair wanted to know as he wrote a prescription for some heart medication he knew Alec would probably discard.

"I'm still trying to get Tess to sign.  She won't, even though I've seen no-one else since the young woman I mentioned and Tess parades her boyfriend in front of me."

"What?  Alec, what are ya playing at man?  Don't let Tess walk all over you.  Ya must have something to make her sign?" Alistair replied in disbelief that Alec was being walked over like that.

Alec sat up straight as he took the prescription from his friend.

"You are right and do you know what?" Alec replied as he squinted at his friend's writing and saw how many pills he'd been given and how often to take them.

"I hope you're going to say you know how to fight back Alec?" his friend smiled at seeing the old Alec he remembered, not the one who was wallowing in self-pity.  "Make sure ya take them," he then nodded to the form Alec was putting in his pocket.  "If ya need any paperwork signing, let me know."

Alec went back to the station and stood in front of Tess's desk.

"My office – now," he growled at her, since he'd thought about it on his way back.

He was about to take the first step towards his freedom but he'd never get Rose back, not after all this time and he'd not even heard from her at Christmas.

"What now Alec?" Tess asked him, not getting up.

"Do you want to discuss why you won't sign the divorce papers in front of the entire squad room?" he growled again.  "Fine, we can do that."

Tess let out a laugh.

"You wouldn't dare Alec," Tess replied, still not moving.

Alec put both his hands on her desk and leaned forward.

"Try me," he challenged her.  "I'm sure everyone will be amused as to why you parade Dave around in front of me yet I'm not allowed to have someone?"

That got everyone's attention, though he knew most of them were already guessing what he wanted to talk to her about.

He stood straight again and walked off to his office.  Tess waited a moment, then saw he was on his desk phone.  He was being put through to the personnel office.

"This is DI Hardy.  I'm wanting the name of DS Dave Harris's wife for some paperwork I have to fill in," he told the person who replied as he got his copy of the unprocessed divorce document out of a drawer.

He then grabbed a pen and found the part where it said to enter the name of any other persons involved, not noticing the legal term for it but he'd been wondering what to put since he'd got the papers.  He knew Tess wouldn't hesitate to put Rose's name on hers.

"Hold on Sir," the personnel officer replied, amused she'd got such a request when it was all around the station he'd not got divorced from his cheating wife yet.  

She wondered if he was about to.  She'd get into trouble though if she didn't ask why he needed it.

"Excuse me, Sir, can I ask why you need it?  I'm not supposed to give out personal information about families of other officers," she replied, though everyone in the office was scared of him.

"I will pretend I never heard that," Alec replied, watching for Tess to show any signs of moving as she sat watching him back.

"Sorry Sir, I had to ask," she replied, getting Dave's record on her computer screen.  "I'll send it in an email," she added.  "Then I won't have told you, will I Sir?"

"No, you won't and I never asked you for it, did I?" he asked.

"Asked what Sir?" she smiled to herself as she opened her email program and started inserting his name.

When he'd received it, he opened his messenger window and typed Tess's name as who he wanted to start a secure chat with.

'I have Dave's wife's name' he wrote.

He saw Tess look down at her screen.

'Am I supposed to be impressed?' Tess wrote back, thinking he was bluffing.

'You should be – I'm about to put it Dave's name on the divorce paper where it indicates to name a third party or whatever the legal term is' he wrote back.  'Then I will tell her.'

"You wouldn't?' Tess replied when she'd read it.  'Two can do that and I could put Rose's name'

'I doubt Dave's wife has a stepfather who can get her out of this?  Why don't you ask him eh?' Alec wrote back.

He noted the delay in Tess's reply.  She was carefully considering her options.  She'd sworn to Dave she'd never let Alec put his name down so could she risk Alec wasn't bluffing?  Plus, he was right, no-one had a legal team like Pete Tyler, who wouldn't want his stepdaughter naming in a complicated divorce.

She had thought she had him, that just the thought of naming Rose would prevent him doing anything but despite the legal separation, she'd held him to ransom.  Now, it seemed like Alec was holding all the cards.

Chapter 10
That made Tess get up and walk into his office, where Alec had his glasses on and had written a name on his notepad.  Even Tess could read it upside down, it was Dave's wife's name.  She'd never even questioned Dave as to why he wouldn't divorce Sandra, who was the daughter of a wealthy financier in the town but no match for Pete Tyler.

Was Dave really that financially dependant on his wife?

"Well?" Alec asked her over the top of his glasses.

"You'd play dirty?" Tess asked him as she sat down and Alec put his pen down.

"Try me.  What are you holding out for Tess?  Oh, you thought Rose would pay you, to sign the papers?" he smiled, leaning forward.  "Well, I have news for you.  I left her, not the other way around.  I left her to prevent her getting caught up in your petty game Tess.  I know who Dave's wife is now, I remember something about it from when they got married, you dragged me to the wedding," he reminded her.

Tess knew she'd had him but she'd not been holding out for a big pay-off from Rose or her stepfather, she hadn't even been holding out for Sandra to give Dave half of her small fortune she'd come into when her mother had died.  No, she was holding out for the pleasure she got from preventing Alec being with Rose Tyler, who had apparently got tired of being in the spotlight and wouldn't get caught up in a tacky divorce where she'd be named.

Now, it was all about to go sour on her.

"You came back from a weekend in London on your own," Tess realised.  "Everyone thought she was the one who sent you back."

"No Tess, I told her it wouldn't work, so I could protect her from being in the papers and from you.  Well guess what Tess?  You might have succeeded in keeping Rose and I apart but I want that divorce.  Then, I get a transfer out of here and Daisy can split her time between us.  If you try to keep her from me in any settlement, Dave's wife's name gets added.  Understand?"

There, it was no more mister nice guy, that side of him was gone.  He'd never been soft, until the day he had to leave Rose.  He'd get his divorce but never have the woman he'd fallen in love with when Rose had come to town.  The short time they'd been together and not fighting each other, he'd loved Rose more than he'd ever loved Tess.

Would he have left her behind if her mother hadn't made him see he couldn't protect her from a messy divorce though?  Maybe he should try contacting her, to let her know Tess was finally about to sign?  No, he should wait until it was all done and since now, there would be no delays and it was more simplified, it shouldn't take that long.

He didn't know how wrong he was going to be when he handed in his copy of the divorce papers.

"What?" he asked loudly when told it would be three months before they would get to see a judge.

"I'm sorry Mr Hardy but we're inundated with divorce applications, the judges' calendars are all full up until then," the clerk apologised.  "We'll also have to wait for your wife to hand in hers before we can give you both a date," the man added.  "We'll have to have both copies before I can file them and get a date."

Alec got his phone out when he'd handed his copy over to await Tess's.

"Tess, whatever you are doing now, you had better leave it and get down to the civil court," he told her.

"Why, what's going on?" she wanted to know as she looked at Dave across the room.

"Get down here with your copy of the divorce paper.  Today.  There's a long wait already and there were plenty of people behind me," he replied, seeing what had been at least one couple squabbling as they waited for their turn and another pushing each other and having the security guards try to pull them apart.

"I've not finished it yet," Tess objected as she opened the desk drawer and pulled it out.

It was finished, she just had to date it and she'd been hoping Alec was bluffing.  If he was down at the court, then he wasn't bluffing.

"If there's a long queue, I won't be able to wait in my lunch hour," she added.

"Then you had better get started," Alec replied.  "I'll wait and we can say mine has been handed in.  I want to see you handing yours in Tess."

"You would," Tess scoffed.  "They'll be nowhere to park now."

"Then get Dave to drop you off or get a cab.  I don't care how you do it Tess," Alec told her, wishing he'd taken his new medication he'd called for the day before.  "I don't care what time you take getting back Tess."

He hung up and went to one of the security guards.

"Where can I get some water?" he asked, only seeing a fancy coffee machine.

"In the hallway, at the end," he was told.  "There's a water cooler.  I would offer Sir but there's been some trouble."

"So I noticed.  Thank you," Alec replied.

Since he was waiting for Tess, he was going to need to take one of his pills.  He'd only gone to get the prescription filled the day before, when he'd been passing a pharmacy.  He'd slept better the night before than he'd done since realising something was wrong with him.  He had previously put it down to sleeping without Rose.

He went back to wait for Tess arriving, he was taking no chances and found a seat had been vacated and got it before two young boys pounced on it, getting a look from them.  He thought they had to be with the couple who were fighting.

Rose had been home with the baby for almost two weeks now and loving every minute of it, though her mother had insisted the nanny helped some of the time.

"Are ya gonna tell Alec?" her mother had wanted to know, yet again.

Every part of Rose wanted to tell him but he had left her and she still hadn't got over it.  Maybe he did deserve to know but where was he?  She'd seen the trial collapse, since she'd not been called to tell of Torchwood's involvement and both Pete and Jake had told her it was best to keep out of it.

Rose had insisted the culprit would have been found guilty if they had been involved in the trial but poor Lisa still hadn't got any justice.  Alec had tried to convince a jury Lee Ashworth was guilty of killing Pippa on his own and as far as she knew, Claire was still missing.

Now, she didn't know if Alec had got his divorce and left or if he'd stayed and done nothing about it.  That was until almost six months later.  Alec's chief had finally got another station's chief to agree to take him but at the cost of turning down someone's promotion.

"She's risking uproar from the DS she's about to turn down Alec," his present chief reminded him again as he was about to call the chief in Broadchurch, who had been reminded she owed him a favour from years ago and he'd not wanted to call her to collect it.

"I know but now the divorce is going through, there is nothing to keep me here," Alec replied.  "I had to make sure Tess handed her papers in and she's done so, it will be a few months before it's heard in the court and I don't have to be present, I'll get a legal advisor to do it.  I doubt Tess will attend anyway."

"How did you get her to agree Alec?  Almost everyone wondered how you'd finally managed it," the chief smiled.

"I can't say," Alec almost smiled back.  "I did not use a certain person to convince her."

"I never said you did," the chief went serious.  "So, you don't mind being sent to a quiet seaside town then?  I just didn't want you being reminded of your encounter with the river last year."

"The only thing about that river last year was that a virtual stranger cared more about my ordeal than my then wife did," Alec reminded his chief.  "Is CS Jenkinson expecting my call?"

The chief dialled his counterpart's number and then handed the conversation over to Alec.

"I'm just curious why you're agreeing while stepping on someone's toes," Elaine Jenkinson sounded amused.

"I'm going through a divorce and I need to get away as quickly as possible," was all Alec would admit.

"I would have thought you'd want to see it through," his possible new chief disagreed.

"You've never met my hopefully ex wife then," he replied.  "I can handle whoever I am taking the promotion from."

"Don't be so sure Alec," Elaine laughed.  "Ellie Miller has a lot of friends here and she's going to be defended.  How soon can you be here?  It would need to be early next week, for you to be introduced to her colleagues."

"I can be there on Monday," Alec agreed.  "Why, are her friends going to call her while she's away?"

His new chief wasn't sure about his dry sense of humour.

"Just be thankful she's gone to Florida Alec.  If she'd gone somewhere in the UK, they wouldn't hesitate.  I'll make arrangements to put you up in hotel for up to six weeks, then you'll ether have to pay half or get a place of your own.  The HR department will send you the details.  We'll give it a six month trial, shall we?" he was asked.

Since he didn't have much choice, he had to agree.  He was sure he'd feel much better away from all the stares he was getting that he'd finally gone through with the divorce.  He often wondered if those on Tess's side had expected him to do nothing after getting on for a year since they'd suspected he was seeing Rose.

His new terms agreed, he decided he'd quit for the day and start getting ready to move.  He sent notice to the rental agency, telling them to sort it out with the police over him leaving early then after sorting a few more things, he left to go meet Daisy from school.

"Dad?  What's wrong, why are you here?" she asked as she got in his car.

"Don't panic Daisy, nothing is wrong," he tried to assure her as he drove off.  "I just wanted to talk to you."

"Mum said you forced her to sign the divorce papers Dad, is it true?" Daisy wanted to know.

"In a way.  I won't lie to you Daisy but she was taking her time, on purpose," he reminded her.

"In what way?" Daisy asked.

"Daisy, all you need to know is, you were never the cause of it," he tried to assure her yet again.  "We have some issues still to work out but I'm going to the court tomorrow and appointing a legal representative to deal with it and the first thing will be about you."

"Is it that serious Dad?" she asked as they headed to her grandmother's house.  "Mum will say you have an advantage."

"I know but I'm going to need one Daisy.  I've been accepted at another station, I start on Monday."

"Dad, stop the car please," Daisy panicked.

He pulled up just before they turned into Tess's mother's street.

"Daisy, there's no easy way to tell you about it," he defended himself.  "It's in a quiet seaside town, you'll be able to come down and spend the holidays there."

"That's not going to make up for you moving away Dad," she turned to face him.

"Daisy, you can come down for long weekends as well, when you have a teacher training day off,"  he tried to appease her.  "It will be about the same as now."

"Are you getting a promotion then?" she asked.

"No but I've been asking to be moved for a while now," he replied.  "I did not want to say anything until I was sure.  I think it's the right time, things are only going to get worse between your mother and I if I stay."

"I know Dad.  She's said a few things about you lately," Daisy admitted.  "I was going to ask you if she had said anything."

"Then you need to tell her if you're okay with my leaving.  I've not told her yet," he admitted.

"Then the sparks will fly Dad," Daisy smiled.

"I wanted to make sure everything was in place so she could not spoil it, " he further admitted.  "You can object, if you want?"

"I know things are a lot worse with mum than what you were both admitting.  You want to be free, to go after Rose."

"I doubt she will even remember me now," he replied sadly.

"You really loved her dad, didn't you?" Daisy tried to get him to admit it.  "I bet she will but I noticed something.  She dropped out of everything a few months after she left here.  Mum said it was because she was sulking and couldn't get her own way.  I didn't agree with her though."

"Then thank you.  Rose wasn't like that.  She may have been upset when I returned without her but I'm sure she will have moved on.  I will tell you something though, Rose was something else.  She could have got really angry when I left and had it all over the newspapers but she never did.  I left her to protect her from your mother making more out of it than she need have done."

"Do you think mum would have done that?" Daisy wondered.

"I was not willing to take the chance or give her the satisfaction," he replied.  "You had better go."

"Will I see you before you leave?" she asked him as she got her school bag.

"I will come around on Sunday, before I leave."

"Well, okay Dad and don't let mum stop you, will you?  Do yourself a favour and call Rose, yeah?"

As he drove around the corner, Daisy wanting to walk the rest of the way, he thought about what she'd said.  Rose must have been hurting when he'd just left and why had she dropped out of the public's eye?  Now though, he had to go face Tess but he didn't care what she thought, see how she'd like being on her own like he was.

He decided to go back to the station and face Tess in his office, since part of it was police business.

"You're what?" Tess dared mock him when he said he was leaving.  "Who's going to take you?"

"May I remind you that Ashworth got away because of you, not me?" he replied.  "Had it not been for Rose being observant and saying Claire could have been watching, we would have no idea who stole the pendant."

"Well, we've still not found it, have we?" she gloated.

"Well, you are responsible for that and getting it back Tess, not me," he reminded her.  "I was officially cleared, remember?"

Tess did remember.  She still had to live with it while Alec had been given an alibi by none other than Rose Tyler, when she'd tried to say it was Alec's fault for leaving her to take the evidence back.  She'd found out later that Rose had told the chief she'd warned her that Claire may be around and the chief had decided that despite the warning, she'd left herself open.

"Yes, well of course you were, having your little girlfriend agreeing I was wrong not listening to her," Tess hissed.  "I bet you're still in contact with her?"

"How can I be?  Face it Tess, I left her back in London to protect her from you and the way you were accusing her of things that were not true.  I'm leaving, that's the end of it.  Daisy knows about it and while it was a shock, she's agreed to visit me."

"Well I've never heard of the place.  Are you being sent there to keep things quiet then?"

He knew she was being sarcastic.  Well this was the end of it, in a few days, he wouldn't have to see or hear from her apart from arranging to see Daisy.  He realised that since he first discovered Tess was seeing someone else, she'd held it over him and when he'd retaliated and started seeing Rose, it hadn't gone down well and he'd let Rose get away to preserve the peace.

Well not for much longer.  Should he try to contact Rose and tell her he was finally going to be free?  Maybe he should get settled first and find out what was causing him to sometimes feel a little faint.  He had thought at first that it was because of Tess and losing Rose but maybe he should go see his friend again.  The condition he'd been diagnosed with could be more serious than he'd thought.

He made an appointment and because he said it was urgent, got an appointment the next morning.

"I'm glad you took my advice Alec," he was told by his friend as he fastened his shirt.  "Where did ya say ya were going?"

"Broadchurch.  It's down in Dorset," he reminded Alistair.  "Can you refer me to a doctor down there who I can trust not to tell my new boss how bad I am?"

His friend laughed as he sat down again.

"Well I don't know about not telling your new boss, Alec.  Ya should have taken my advice and got ya self sorted.  Why wait Alec?" Alistair asked him, revealing his broad Scottish accent.

"I can't just give in," Alec replied, not bothering to straighten his tie.

"No-one asked ya to.  Look, I can fill in all the paperwork for ya, put yourself on short hours and I'll say I've put ya forward for the surgery.  They can't turn ya down.  At least let me see what they say?" Alistair offered.

Alec thought about it.  If he took it easy, the worst that could happen is that his new boss would keep asking him when he was getting himself fixed and he could keep putting it off.  Unless he got in touch with Rose?

"Can you make enquiries then?  Without saying who I am?" Alec wanted to know.

Alistair just smiled and picked up his desk phone.

"Sarah is it?" he spoke when the other end answered.  "This is Doctor Murray, Sandbrook medical centre.  Can ya find out something for me?" he asked the overworked personnel officer at Alec's station.  "I need some information about putting an officer on reduced hours – on medical grounds."

"Do you have a name, Doctor Murray?" he was asked.

"Oh, I can't reveal any names at this stage," he replied.

"Well, it is possible," she admitted.  "It depends on the medical condition.  Is it serious?"

"Ah.  Well not at present it's not and the officer concerned would be closely monitored and be recommended to only do office work.  Well?"

"Well yes Doctor Murray, the personnel office would carefully consider it, I don't see any problems as long as the officer is being monitored.  You would have to clear it with the CMO, he would need to know if the condition is likely to worsen."

"Well if the condition were to worsen, I would get the patient to do something about it," he replied, looking directly at Alec.  "Thanks for your help."

Alec knew who he'd been speaking to and hoped Sarah wouldn't go gossiping and Tess got to know about it but he only had a few more days before he could put it all behind him.  He thanked his friend and promised to let him know if he got worse and that he was taking the pills he'd been prescribed.

"One more thing Alec," Alistair stopped Alec leaving.  "This woman you let get away?  Who exactly was she?  She must have been someone special."

"She was and you would never believe me if I said who she was," Alec replied.

Alistair let out another laugh as Alec turned from the door.

"Anyone would have thought it was Rose Tyler herself the way you act," he told Alec.  Then he realised he'd hit the nail on the head.  "No way man."

"She and a team from Torchwood helped on that case last year," Alec admitted.  "I tried to warn her to stay out of my way but we got to each other.  Tess accused us of all kinds of things so I did the right thing and broke it off."

"Did you tell me this before?" his friend asked him. 

"Ah, no.  I don't think I did?" Alec tried to recall.

"Well, why be so miserable eh?" Alistair asked him.  "Alec, ya have a heart condition, not an incurable illness.  Do ya self a favour and call her.  Ya would probably be surprised how she'll react."

"I'm not one of her charitable cases," Alec replied.

"Listen to ya self Alec," his friend laughed.  "I never said ya were.  If ya couldn't keep out of each other's ways when she was here before, why break it off?  Don't ya dare tell me ya listened to Tess?"

"It wasn't just Tess, trust me," Alec laughed.  "Her stepfather would have ruined me if I'd got his stepdaughter in the middle of a divorce, especially the way Tess was behaving.  I was not going to subject Rose to what Tess would have come out with."

"Well, what are ya doing about it man?" Alistair wanted to know.  "I hope I'm going to see you on the news headlines that the two of ya are now involved?"

"Not yet, I have to be sure the divorce is going through and I have Tess where I want her now.  I threatened to tell the judge about who her boyfriend's wife is?"

"That's more like the old Alec," Alistair laughed.  "So, who is she then?"

"Oh, I think you will have heard about her?  Someone almost as famous as Rose Tyler," Alec replied dryly.

"I hope it's who I think it is?" Alistair smiled.  He opened the door for Alec.  "I'd want a front row seat if ya did let the cat out of the bag.  As it is, get ya self sorted, then I want an invitation to yours and Rose Tyler's wedding."

Alec just nodded and hoped no-one had been passing by as his friend had not seemed to care.  Maybe Alistair was right?  He should consider all his options for getting himself fixed though before he tried contacting Rose.  He'd been a little concerned that Daisy had mentioned Rose had been out of the public eye recently but she was probably still hurting more than he was?

Chapter 11

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20


Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33