Alone in the world with just a friend

Chapter 10

Rose walked up to the town and found a market with some dress stalls, a far cry from when her and her mother had gone to the fancy West End department stores when attending a charity dinner or enjoying a night out at either a Torchwood or Vitex event. She found a nice red floral dress she liked and having some money left over, bought some accessories and some more underwear, not that she had a man to impress, this Alec only saw her in pyjamas or fully dressed. She intended to keep that way for now, maybe for however long she was here, she didn’t exactly know how long that was going to be now the only hope she’d had was maybe gone to the world she now belonged in.

How could that have happened? It was some kind of fluke that the Rose Tyler from here had activated her device after four years and disappeared the exact second she’d found herself here but had the other Rose waited four years? She had to talk to Alec about this as ideas came into her head. She went down just before two and waited across from the station for him coming out, seeing him standing on the balcony and waving to her. This was so strange to her, a healthy smiling Alec Hardy when she’d only just managed to get the other one to stop being such a grump but that was what she’d loved about him and this one, although a bit tough on the outside was exactly the opposite when on his own.

She’d still called him a grump that morning when he’d wanted his morning coffee which had got an extra kiss out of him afterwards and a ‘sorry babe’, something she’d barely registered until later. She just hoped he wouldn’t start calling her that in front of everyone but had a feeling he would, to add credibility to their supposed relationship. She was determined to get him back for that, maybe in front of his friend Ellie, see how much of a sense of humour he really had.

Alec had to be very careful his boss or his nosy DS didn’t catch on what he was doing then it occurred to him he could actually get away with it saying he was trying to prove this Rose was innocent and kill two birds with one stone, brilliant! It would save him having to explain the calls he was going to make and give him an excuse to contact them without giving away the fact he was after information on the real one. That wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d thought as he contacted the first name on his very long list and he knew this was going to take forever. There was only one thing he could do, use the email addresses provided four years ago and see if anyone replied.

His first call though was to Gwen Cooper, listed as part of the research and development team.

“Am I speaking with Gwen cooper?” Alec dared to ask when a Welsh voice answered with a suspicious “hello” as he’d gone through the switchboard and the number was blocked.

“I’m no longer called that, I got married, who is this?”

“Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, Wessex police, I’m making enquiries about a Rose Tyler. Someone who is claiming to be her has been reported and we are deciding if it is a hoax or it could be her.”

Gwen laughed. “Are you kidding? That rich bitch blew up her family, do you think she’d still be walking around? She went underground after it happened and if she has any sense, she’ll stay there as long as she can, I know of people who would just love for her to show up again, trust me.”

“So we can safely assume it’s an impostor that is going around?” he hoped.

“If you ask me, whoever is pretending to be her had best watch herself, I hope she’s got police protection but that might not be enough.”

“Can you tell me more?”

“No, I’ve said enough already. She was no friend of mine but if she didn’t do it, she knew about it and got someone else to do it, that and blow up Torchwood. Anyway if you’re in the police, surely you know all that?”

“There are things that were not reported at the time, you should know Torchwood had its secrets, if you worked there,” Alec hit back at her, hoping to trip her up.

“Listen, if you find whoever is pretending to be her, warn her. Torchwood may not have set up again officially with the president’s knowledge but some of them stay in touch and they will find out, be careful who you contact about her.”

“Then if I can prove she’s not her, no-one will go after her?”

“Maybe not but it won’t deter them from finding out, maybe the hard way. I can’t help you inspector, there was no love lost between me and Rose Tyler but if it is her double, she’ll need all the help she can get.”

Alec was about to question her further but the line went dead. He scrubbed his idea of emailing those on the list and sat back, wondering whether or not to risk calling anyone else and hoping Gwen Cooper or whoever she was now wasn’t planning on alerting those who were against Rose. Now it was another problem to add to the growing list of concerns. Maybe he could still contact some of them though, he’d just have to change his line of questioning.

Rose was waiting for him when he got out and he told her of the conversation he’d had earlier. Rose wasn’t too happy at the news half of Torchwood could be after her.

“It’s ok Rose, I never said where you were, Wessex police cover the entire south-west area. I made a few more calls, I was careful but I never got very far. I’m sorry Rose, this is going to take some time and that’s even if nothing needs my attention, not that anything ever happens here.”

“Be careful, that’s what the other Alec thought, I told you what happened,” Rose smiled, taking his hand.

“You don’t have to tell me twice. I don’t know what else to do, I’ll see if I can get someone to help but I’ll have to make it seem like it’s in our interests to discover the truth, maybe I won’t get in any trouble for trying to prove your innocence after all?”

“I hope not, I’d hate to see you lose your job but now we’ve got something else to worry about, great.”

“We half suspected that before. Let’s concentrate on clearing you with the police first, then we’ll get them to issue a statement you’re not her and that will satisfy anyone else who wants to find you, like I said, Wessex is a large place.”

“I just hope you’re right.”

He squeezed her hand in reassurance. “Did you get all you wanted while you were out then?”

“Yeah, I hung my new dress up before I came to meet you.”

“Just be careful love, don’t go anywhere that’s quiet and don’t take that shortcut back down to the seafront any more, ok?”

“Yeah, ok, I’ll try to remember that. Do you want to walk on the beach?”

“Ok, just for you but I’m not walking in the water, it’s too cold to start with.”

Rose smiled and dragged him up and they made their way around the corner, finding the way on to the pebble beach, taking off her shoes and handing them to Alec who just smiled. He was getting quite used to this, Rose was very spontaneous and spur of the moment and he like that about her and he’d only just noticed he’d started calling her ‘babe’ and ‘love’ and she’d not hit him or told him to get lost. That was surprising, his luck with women had finally changed when he’d met her.

Later on, Alec was watching the early evening news and Rose had gone to get ready to go out just before seven and they were calling in the mini-market to get something to take to the Miller house. He thought he would send Rose off to pick some chocolates and he’d pick the wine, any wine and then sneak a packet of something and see if he could entice her over the coming nights. While he was paying and Rose was putting the items in a carrier bag as she’d bought a few things herself, he picked up what he wanted and hoped she hadn’t noticed as she was fussing over something.

Rose had seen him out of the corner of her eyes but said nothing, if he thought he was going to get her drunk tonight and try his luck he’d better think again, he’d no chance just yet if at all, she’d not made any decisions regarding that subject. She still had not given up on the other Alec just yet, it may not have even been a day for him though however long it had been, he would be concerned after five minutes let alone how long it had been for her but here she was, five days on this world and going out to dinner with another Alec and he was making a lot of presumptions about their new relationship, such as calling her ‘babe’ this morning and ‘love’ while they’d been out earlier.

Arriving outside the Miller home, Alec had a few things to say.

“Don’t forget, I’ll do most of the talking in front of her husband then you can talk to her afterwards, I’ll keep him talking. Just act naturally, she’ll probably seat us together so if I take your hand or something, just go along with what I say, I’ll try and keep it simple, ok?”

“Ok, I’ll try and keep up with you, don’t get any funny ideas.”

“Such as?” he asked, ringing the doorbell.

“I saw what you sneaked into your jacket pocket Alec, you’re not the only detective around here.”

Alec grinned as he heard someone opening the door.

“Hi, come in. So this is your new girlfriend, you poor thing, putting up with him. Did he drag you here tonight?”

“No, he told me I needed to make some new friends so here I am. Hello, I’m Rose. How long do you have to go now?”

“Two weeks, I’m going crazy. Well don’t just stand there, what is it with you Hardy?”

Alec allowed Rose in first, she handed the chocolates and wine to her and thought back to what her Alec had said when he’d made the mistake of taking flowers as well. Ellie took them and led them to the dining room.

“You can come again, make yourself at home, you don’t have to sit next to him if you don’t want to, it’s not compulsory.”

Alec put his arm around her as Ellie’s husband Joe came out of the kitchen with some plates of food. They all chatted over dinner, Alec going easy on the drink as he had to drive home but he noticed Rose wasn’t refusing her glass being refilled.

“So, how long have you two been together?” Joe asked, trying to refill Alec’s glass and Rose looking at him as they’d chosen to sit opposite each other, well Rose had so she could kick him under the table if need be and Alec was hoping she wouldn’t.

“Well, that’s quite amusing, isn’t it love? She came down here last Friday and thought I was someone she used to know and, well you know me, I asked her out and she actually said yes, since she was here on her own.”

“Well I bet all the women in the station are happy about that? She does know your reputation?”

“Yeah, he told me, I said he was trying too hard.”

“Didn’t take much with you though, did it?” he winked.

Ellie laughed. “Well if she’s new in town, that explains it, doesn’t it? Are you staying though?”

“Yeah, got nowhere else to go, I was sort of running away from things.”

“Such as?”

Alec gave her a warning look. “She doesn’t like to talk about it do you love?”

Rose shook her head, she wanted to talk to this Ellie on her own. “No, I’d rather not, it’s a woman thing, maybe we can talk later Ellie? Alec said I need someone to talk to other than him.”

“Sure, of course you can talk to me Rose, you can’t talk to your boyfriend about other men, can you?”

Rose was grateful she’d got away with that for now. Alec did as promised and got Ellie’s husband talking and Ellie took Rose into the front room after introducing her to Tom, Ellie’s 12 yr old son.

“So Rose, what did you want to talk about? I know you didn’t want to say anything in front of Joe, Alec told me when he phoned me yesterday it was something of a problem you had though he wouldn’t go into any details about it.”

“Did you not wonder about my name, Rose?”

“Oh, I thought you looked familiar but I wasn’t sure but don’t worry about Joe, he doesn’t keep up with that sort of thing. You’re not her are you?”

“No and that’s where the problem is, Alec’s trying to help me prove I’m not the one who’s wanted but we need some help and I know you’re about to have a baby, I don’t want to put you to any trouble.”

“Let me worry about that, tell me how I can help.”

Rose explained she’d come to Broadchurch thinking Alec was someone she knew, not wanting to reveal where she’d come from but Ellie suspected there was more to it.

“Come on Rose, that’s not it, is it? You need help proving you’re not her but what aren’t you telling me? How have you got away with it for four years? Don’t try telling me you were in hiding as well? I don’t believe that.”

“I should call Alec in here, can you trust your husband?”

“Well, he’s married to a police detective but he’s got a lot of friends he may talk to so we’d best keep this between us, I’ll say it really is women’s problems for now. You talk to Alec about telling me the rest and we’ll meet up tomorrow lunchtime somewhere if he agrees. I’m on your side Rose, you can trust me. One thing puzzles me though, if you’ve not been hiding, where have you been?”

Rose wanted to tell her of her arrival a few days ago but she’d agreed with Alec she wouldn’t go that far without telling him.

“If Alec says it’s ok, I’ll tell you, he doesn’t trust anyone but he wants me to trust you. Everyone else just thinks I’m his new girlfriend, to cover the fact I’ve just arrived in town.”

“So you’re not? I knew it was too good to be true but you both put on quite an act, you had me fooled though the female officers at the station had best not learn it’s all an act. Or is it?”

“For now, just when we’re out but I am staying with him, I’ve got nowhere else to go, I arrived here with nothing, I went to him and he said he’d help me but I had to agree to pose as his girlfriend.”

“Rose, you should not have agreed that, have you heard about him? The women at the station were terrified he was going to corner than and try and persuade them to go out with him.”

“Yeah and I know where it all came from, his ex up in Sandbrook, she called some of them and warned them about him and do you know why? Because she accused him of seeing someone else so she went behind his back with another male DS and then had the nerve to make out he was in the wrong and when he didn’t want to make up and left, she spread those lies about him.”

“That’s what he told you? You believed him?”

“Yeah, someone called Marie told me she’d called them all and warned them, he was just angry and maybe a bit over-zealous in trying to get a date but they all took it the wrong way. I’m from out of town, he never had to ask me out, I went to him.”

“Good point I suppose but it’s still no way of getting someone to go out with him though but it may have all been taken the wrong way if every one of them were against him, the desk sergeant got fed-up of filing complaints against him.”

Rose smiled. “So I’ve been told and now the bloke’s out of a job and Alec said he’s almost apologised for his behaviour and for them to go back to normal. They’ve seen us together when I had to go see his chief yesterday. He didn’t press me into agreeing to pose as his girlfriend, I was willing to go along to get him to help me, we’re just friends, honestly, there’s nothing going on between us, I left a boyfriend behind where I come from.”

“Where you come from? You mean London?”

“Not exactly but I can’t tell you that, not yet. Best go rescue your husband from Alec, I used to know someone else who could talk as much as he does,” Rose smiled.

She followed Ellie into the dining room, Alec stood up and greeted her by putting his arm around her and kissing her cheek.

“Had a good chat did you? Then you say I can talk, do you feel better now?”

“Yeah, what have you two been talking about then? Football?”

She knew Alec never followed football but he liked to watch some of the highlights judging by the TV when she’d come back downstairs earlier, he’d said so he could join in conversations, not that anyone talked to him about it in the station or anything else for that matter. They eventually said goodnight, Rose getting Ellie’s number and arranging to meet tomorrow and Ellie saying she would introduce Rose to her other friend Beth then as they were leaving, Alec thanked them and said when Ellie had the baby, they should come round and Rose would make something.

“Right, thanks then, we’ll be off.”

“See you tomorrow Rose, I hope Alec bought you some chocolates as well?”

Alec wanted to say he’d bought more than chocolates but thought better of it, Rose may well be sleeping alone tonight since he’d been caught out by her.

“Oh, by the way Alec, I was talking to Mark, he said Nigel had a run-in with you the other night.”

“Yes, so? He made suggestions that Rose should go outside with him, what was I supposed to do, let him?”

“Mark said he had a bloodied nose, did you have to get so rough with him?”

“He should have backed off when he knew Rose was with me, I did warn him, didn’t I Rose?”

Rose nodded, she’d had no intentions of going outside with the obnoxious bloke from the other night but if Alec wanted to show off in front of her, who was she to spoil his fun? He was totally different to the other Alec she’d known and she shouldn’t be liking him so much and pretending to be his girlfriend but acting more like she actually was. At least Ellie knew now but who was this ‘Mark’, was he one of the bloke’s mates? She knew that Nigel had made a complaint about Alec but he had deserved what he got, Mickey would have done the same.

Once back home, Rose went to make some strong coffee since she’d had three glasses of wine to Alec’s half a glass and if she was still sharing, she was going to make sure he didn’t try and take advantage of her not knowing what she was doing.

Alec smiled and watched her drinking it, declining to join her.

“Come on Rose, do you really think I would try my luck? You are still a trained Torchwood agent, you can fend me off if the need arises but I’d never force myself onto you, I’m not like that, that’s not my style.”

Rose eyed him warily. “Not even when you’ve not had a girlfriend for a while? How much longer can you hold out Alec?”

“How much longer can you?” he asked back, doing that funny thing with his eyebrows she noticed he did, much like the Doctor used to do and that her Alec hadn’t.

“I’ve probably got more self-control than you’ll ever know Alec, I was never with anyone back where I came from until I met the other Alec and even then, well let’s just say certain things were holding us back.”

“Such as his heart condition? Then why are you feeling so guilty?”

“Just because we never actually went all the way doesn’t mean we never tried Alec,” she huffed, putting her mug down and folding her arms. “You have no idea about him and me so don’t you go saying I shouldn’t feel guilty because I do, he was still my boyfriend, I would never have cheated on him, never.”

She was about to get up when he stopped her. “Rose, I never meant you weren’t close, hell, what do I know? I’m sorry, come here? I know you miss him and want to get back to him but you’re here, with me, what’s so wrong about that?”

“Everything,” she said quietly as she sat back and he folded his arms around her. “I can’t Alec, I can’t do this, I’m sorry.”

She started to cry, she was fighting an inner battle and was either about to give in, partly or lose her only friend apart from maybe Ellie, who tomorrow may turn against her when she learned the truth about where she’d come from, they’d not yet talked about Rose even telling Ellie that part.

He kissed her forehead and let her cry. “It’s ok Rose and I was wrong, to buy those things earlier, I was pushing my luck somewhat, I’m sorry. Whatever is going on inside you Rose, you can battle it all you want but you can’t win, not unless you get off this world and right now, there’s zero chance of that. I’m here for you, remember that. Come on, you go get ready for bed and we’ll talk in the morning as to if you should tell Ellie where you came from.”

Rose went upstairs, she knew he was right, everything inside her was telling her to hold on, her Alec back home needed her or he wouldn’t go for his surgery but her being missing would goad him into it just so he could stand in front of the dimension cannon to go find her and no Yvonne Hartman would stop him, he’d arrest her for obstruction or worse, kidnapping or anything else he could think of but first, he’d go down to the medical bay and Pete would bring in a heart specialist and get his pacemaker fitted, then fit or not, he’d set out trying to find her.

She was certain that was what he would do so would it be fair if he found her that she’d given in and settled for his double? Maybe if it didn’t go too far she could justify it or hopefully, this Alec would be at work and she would lie and say she’d taken up with the actor, to save the pain he would feel when he discovered she’d deserted him but this Alec was right, she was never going to win this one no matter how hard she tried, not until her device was fixed and from what he’d told her earlier, others from the defeated Torchwood would be watching for her and they may not be friendly.

She needed this Alec to protect her, that was for sure, even if she made friends with Ellie, she was going to have her baby soon and wouldn’t want to get caught up with that and telling her was going to be a big risk, maybe not even worth it. She’d already decided that the odd kiss and hug wouldn’t go amiss but he was starting to want more, which was understandable since they did share a bed, something she’d agreed to but could she bring herself to offer him more? Tonight would be make or break in their new relationship and if it was break, she’d find herself out on the streets, what other choice was there?

Maybe she could stall him a bit longer, tell him she was willing to work up to it and hope this world’s Jake was still around and be able to get her home but how long would that take, if she could actually trust him?

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