Alone in the world with just a friend

Chapter 3

While this Alec Hardy had been waiting for who was believed to be Rose Tyler, he had not been idle, well he’d not had DS Pete Lawson be idle, he’d had him printing everything out he’d sent him links to and putting the papers in a folder and it was now in front of him after he’d finally got out for his lunch, albeit just across the road to the catering stall where that wimp of a junior reporter had tried to ask him again for the exclusive as to what had brought him to the town after his last case was over.

Olly Stevens (who repeatedly insisted he was no relation to WPC Stevens) had seen the detective inspector come down the steps, hold his hand up to a car driver who was coming up the road, getting him verbal abuse about looking where he was going and keeping out of his way while Alec ordered his food, waited until Alec was sat on the bench, playing with his phone and debating whether to warn Becca Fisher he was going to give her yet another chance to change her mind about him.

His last attempt had resulted in her telling him never in a trillion years would she go out with him even if the vicar turned out to be a loser, which Alec had already judged he was and she wouldn’t even have a one-night stand with him. He decided not to bother and instead, found himself watching Olly Stevens creep steadily towards where he was sitting and pretending not to have noticed.

When he got too close for Alec’s comfort, he decided now was the time to warn him off.

“Go away Stevens, I don’t talk to the press.”

“Did I say anything? You talked to Karen White but was that because she was just your type?”

Any woman who would give him the time of day was currently his ‘type’ but he’d even failed with the London reporter, well he’d got slightly further than he’d done with Becca, Karen White had let him take her out for dinner, taken him back to her hotel room where they’d snogged and groped each other for half an hour, then Alec had taken it she wanted him to have sex with her and she’d slapped his face and told him to go get lost. That was a slight improvement he’d thought but it could have been the reason Tess had finally decided to leave him, she must have guessed. That or him chatting up Sandra from the typing pool, she’d screwed a face at him and told him she’d rather date a toad.

He really didn’t know why women kept turning him down so much, those who’d met him for the first time said he was charming, polite, very chatty and good-looking but after an hour, they’d just say goodnight and he’d never see them again and the women at the station just plain didn’t like him. Maybe Tess had rung them all up and told them he’d cheated on her, well he’d only done it because he’d suspected she was seeing Dave when he’d had to work and she was with him that night Ashworth was arrested.

He was just glad he’d not trusted her to take the evidence back to the station, she’d reportedly been meeting Dave and the stupid cow would have probably left the evidence in the car and knowing her, it would have been broken into – she was always leaving valuables on display and her being a DS, she should have known better, he’d repeated told her about it.

Still, if this Rose Tyler was a fraud, she might be worth asking out to dinner. If she was on her way here at this time, the chances were she’d not leave until morning, she might stay the night with him, if it meant she didn’t have to pay for a hotel but why was she coming to Broadchurch of all places?

There were plenty of other seaside towns along the coast, why had she picked this one? Did she know someone here? Little did he know his life was going to be turned upside down by her arrival. As Rose was being ‘escorted’ in the lift to the second floor of the peculiar shaped building that was round at the front and looked like there was nothing to it, she looked at the two officers. She should have known them but she didn’t and she knew the regular desk sergeant as she often waited for Alec coming down if he’d said to meet her there.

“So, are either of you going to tell me anything then? Are you taking me to DI Hardy’s office? If you are, I do know the way.”

Stevens wouldn’t have thought any woman would actually admit to knowing him, let alone where his office was.

“You’ll find out Miss. We’re just under orders to escort you there, that’s all, he’ll be the one to judge what to tell you, or not.”

“Great,” Rose muttered to herself, what the hell was going on? Was Alec playing games with her? It was totally out of character for him unless he himself was under orders for some reason and maybe that reason was both Torchwood and her old home being in ruins and why had no-one even tried to contact her? Not that her phone would last any length of conversation, she should get it charged.

Stepping out of the lift and walking down the corridor, they entered the squad room, Rose expecting to see Ellie sitting there with a big smirk on her face and shouting “Surprise” for some strange reason but the only ones she recognised were Frank, whom she had never learned his surname and a shy Pete Lawson, who to say he was shy, had apparently been the Latimers family liaison officer throughout the murder enquiry. Now he was sitting facing who she thought was Alec, the door slightly open and he sat there, a file open on his desk and no glasses, which seemed a bit odd to her.

The WPC tapped on the door and he looked up, he really wanted to go home, it was after five and he’d been bored all day, well apart from when he’d learned who was supposedly on her way here, the infamous Rose Tyler – wanted on numerous counts of manslaughter, including her family and close associate, whom Alec had assumed must have been a former boyfriend, the destruction of property, namely the Tyler mansion and Torchwood Tower and treason.

“Sir, we’ve got her, she’s all yours now.”

“Thanks, whatever your name is, Stevens is it? I know, you’re not related to that clown of a junior reporter. Leave her with me, you can go now.”

WPC Stevens had every intention of leaving, she should have been off duty half an hour ago if Hardy hadn’t sent her to get the blonde, who she thought looked nothing like Rose Tyler from the photo and she swore he’d picked on her because she’d refused his advances – twice.

“Miss Tyler, have a seat, Stevens, before you go, get Miss Tyler some tea or coffee.”

If Alec was playing some kind of game with her, he was doing it very well and he’d shaved most of his beard off, there was only about a day’s growth while her Alec’s was about two.

“So, what am I doing here then? How did you know to send someone to get me off the coach?”

“We were alerted when you bought the ticket and since then, the cash withdrawal you took from a machine at Canary Wharf, returning to the scene of the crime was not one of your best ideas Miss Tyler but why now, after all this time?”

“All this time? What’s everyone talking about? Ok, I was there, the tower I left a few hours ago was gone, like it never existed, then I get in a cab, the driver tells me I don’t want to go to where I used to live and when I do get there, it’s a pile of rubble. So, explain to me why and how that’s happened in just four days.”

“Hang on, you said you left the tower a few hours ago, so what’s with the four days?”

Rose’s drink was brought in so she remained silent, the only person she may possibly trust was sitting looking amused at her. Did she trust him though? She had very little choice, this was not the Alec Hardy who was her lover.

“Can anyone hear me out there?”

Alec got up, closed the door and pulled down the blinds. “Right, why don’t you start by answering a few of my questions? You are Rose Tyler are you not?”

“Well yeah but hang on, you answer my question first, since I’m not under arrest, what happened to Torchwood and my family and you’re not the Alec Hardy I know.”

“You think you know me? Oh, did my old station put you up to all this? I knew that cow would get me back, she did, didn’t she?”

“Who are you talking about? No-one put me up to anything, apart from that stupid woman at Torchwood who sent me on my last mission. Oh, didn’t I mention? I was an agent, one who went on special assignments, I left just before midday and the next thing I know, I’m standing in a pile of rubble where less than an hour before, I’d been on the top floor and it’s four days later and if that wasn’t enough, my family home’s gone. If you’re really Alec Hardy, something’s changed while I’ve been away.”

“I’d say that was a bit of an understatement, wouldn’t you? I am Alec Hardy, trust me, sometimes I wish I was someone else but I’m still here. Ok, let’s say I believe you, how do you explain this?”

He passed the folder he’d got Pete Lawson to compile of all the things he’d thought relevant, maybe he’d missed something. If she really was Rose Tyler, why had she come out of hiding after four years, risk getting arrested for what was claimed she’d done and then ask where Torchwood and her family were? Things were not adding up in his mind and then it hit him. She could have lost her memory or just got it back, having no real knowledge of what had gone on four years ago. If that was the case, could she be held responsible for it? More than that though, she claimed she knew him but he’d remember someone like her.

Rose stared at the contents of the folder as page after page revealed newspaper reports, claims of Torchwood being split into two factions, her and Jake against Pete and Mickey, claims that her mother had disowned her, employees had taken sides and what devastated her was the next set of reports.

Alec sat and watched her, there was no way she was the same Rose Tyler who all the claims were about as he saw tears in her eyes as she read first, how she and Jake had supposedly planted chemical explosives under Torchwood Tower and waited until the minimum of staff had been inside and remotely set off the explosives when at the same time blowing up the Tyler mansion with her mother, father and young brother along with her old friend, Mickey Smith.

Then the reports read that a massive hunt had taken place for her and Jake and anyone who’d been on their side and she’d gone into hiding and four years later, she was still on the Interpol ‘Most Wanted’ list but police resources in big cities such as London were stretched to the limits with false reports and sightings someone had seen her, it had been decided wherever she turned up, they were responsible for handing her over as a terrorist.

Rose flung the folder on the desk, they thought she was responsible for all this. Maybe Rose Tyler was but it wasn’t her. There had never been another Rose Tyler on Pete’s world but here, there apparently was but surely she hadn’t been responsible either? Just because she’d disagreed with how Torchwood was run didn’t mean you blew up the place and killed your family, including a four year old boy?

Then it struck her. The reports said it was four years ago, Tony was only just going on towards five and it said father, not stepfather. She’d been flung onto yet another world. She was devastated, not only at what had happened but she wasn’t in Kansas any more and this most definitely was not her Alec.

“I can see by your reaction you’re not her so why did you have her credit card? Where is she?”

“I’ve no idea, I told you, I just got here, weren’t you listening to me? Look, I’m tired, I’m confused as hell and I’m hungry so lock me up, at least I’ll have a meal and a place to stay tonight because I’ve got no place else to go and right now, that’s looking good.”

Alec swallowed. He half believed her, he should hear her out and there was nothing to say he couldn’t try and spend the night with her, if she wasn’t who everyone thought she was. He had no idea what that was going to involve.

“Right, first explain to me how you claim you left at midday, then claim four days have gone by. Are you a time traveller or something?”

At least it sounded like he might actually believe her, the other Alec had.

“You might say that, of sorts, I’ve travelled in time more than you’ve had hot dinners though you’re not quite as skinny as my Alec.” There again, her Alec was ill.

“Your Alec? Oh, I get it, you’re going to tell me you’ve travelled from my future and we’re together?” That would be a change he thought, a woman actually being in his future who’d still want him. Maybe he just tried too hard to get one.

“No, not exactly, you’re not my Alec because….. How do I put this? You believe me about the time travelling bit then?”

“If I have to. Look. I believe you’re not her, so who are you? Just another woman who happens to have the same name or did you steal her identity and thought it would be fun to come down here and wind me up? As if I didn’t have enough with all the incompetent idiots I have to work with. If you’ve stolen someone’s ID, why hers when it could get you arrested?”

Rose was tired, hungry and longed to fall asleep with the man she loved but that wasn’t going to happen in a hurry, she might get something to eat, if he locked her up.

“I didn’t steal her ID, I am Rose Tyler, from another world, a parallel one but hey, if I’d known there was another one here who was on the most wanted list, I’d have gone somewhere else. I was the only one where I came from. The reports say Pete Tyler was my father, well mine was my stepfather, he adopted me when my mum married him and Tony Tyler was my half brother and he’s not even five yet, I’m gonna miss his birthday next week and my Alec wouldn’t be questioning me, he’d try and make some sense of it all and you’re not him.”

“Yes, I’m getting that bit, so you keep telling me. He must have been something.”

“Yeah, he was gonna ask me to marry him. We lived here, in Broadchurch and when I landed in London, I thought he’d come home but this isn’t home. If you’re not gonna lock me up, I’ll get out of your way, since you say you have enough going on right now.”

Alec got up and sat on the corner of the desk, how the hell had he got lumbered with her?

“Ok, so where are you going to go at almost six in the evening with I guess, no money? The credit card you used will probably have a trace on it now, since you got caught using it to buy a ticket here. The authorities left it to the police force wherever you went to and right now, that’s me. I have to decide if you’re really her or not and right now, let’s just say it’s going in favour of I don’t think you are her but you’ve got to help me out. I’m going to let you go on the provision you don’t leave town and since you’ve no money, that won’t be difficult. When did you last eat?”

“I got an over-priced sandwich at the coach station, why?”

“There’s a takeaway around the corner, my treat, I’m a sucker for hard-luck cases. We can get fish and chips and then we’ll decide what to do with you. I live down by the river, we can get them to take out and I’ll make you a cup of tea.”

“Yeah, then what, you’ll throw me out to fend for myself? No thanks.”

“What other choices do you have? If I pick up that phone and tell them I have Rose Tyler in my custody, how long do you think it will be before men in black come to haul you back to London? I’d say my offer comes out on top, wouldn’t you? Look Rose, I’m not trying to back you into a corner, despite my reputation around here, I’m not trying to pick you up, honestly, though the others would say I was but I genuinely want to help you. I don’t think you’re her and I don’t think she’s responsible for what happened. I read up about her, most people just assumed she was guilty but I think she just got caught up in it all and she got the blame, because it was easy to place it all on her and she never protested her innocence, she went into hiding.”

“Can’t really say I blame her, do you? Ok, you can buy me something to eat, then what? Lock me up in one of the cells? Believe me, I know what they’re like, I had to get my Alec to lock me in when my little brother wanted to know what it was like.”

Alec smiled, he could just imagine. “Well, I think I can do better than a cell for the night, you can use my spare bedroom, in return you can make me breakfast in the morning and when we leave this office, no more talking in public about your brother or your family, if you want to convince everyone you’re not the Rose Tyler who’s wanted for acts of terrorism.”

“They thought I was a terrorist? For blowing up Torchwood?”

“Well I don’t know about where you came from but the Torchwood here was very powerful here, under the direct leadership of Pete Tyler, the vice-president.”

“Pete Tyler was president of Vitex, not the vice-president and Director of Torchwood where I come from.”

Alec got up, offering her his hand.

“I don’t mean of Vitex, whatever that might be, I’ve never heard of it. No, I meant he was the vice-president of Great Britain and the home that got blown up was his London residence. That’s why I, personally don’t think Rose Tyler did it, what did she have to gain, destroying her home and family, to oust him? She wasn’t known for being political, all she cared about was chasing all the celebrities and getting her name in the paper with them, the last one was an actor, who by some strange co-incidence, looks a bit like me, they were even talking of getting married from what I read, not that I was interested. They say he was devastated when it happened.”

What Rose wouldn’t have given before she met Alec in her world to be associated with the handsome Scottish actor, whom this Alec looked like more than hers did. Maybe it was really him, what better way was there of hiding in plain sight? That got Rose worried, what if the other Rose Tyler were to use her to get the authorities off her back?

This Alec was opening the door, the folder he’d had created in his hand.

“Right, you lot, I’ve spoken to this young lady, she is not Rose Tyler, well she is, she just unfortunately happens to share the same name but that’s all it is. Lawson, get rid of these files, I don’t need them any more and no-one is to take further action – understood?”

“Yes Sir. So who is she then?”

“That’s not your concern, I’m satisfied she is not the Rose Tyler in those files, I’ll speak to the chief myself on Monday morning. Since it’s the weekend, don’t bother calling me unless the south coast is in danger of falling into the sea, got it?”

He got a chorus of ‘Yes Sir’s’ from those present, no-one dare leave before he did, if he decided to work late, they had to come up with a reasonable excuse as to why they shouldn’t and most of them never got away with the same one twice. He knew them all.

As they rode down in the lift, Rose wondered when he’d said he lived by the harbour if it was the same place she’d lived with her Alec. She didn’t think she could even set foot in there now, she would burst into tears.

“So, where do you live then? If you say that blue chalet by the river, I’m out of here, coach or not, I’d rather sleep on a bench.”

“What blue chalet? No, I live behind the pub, my back garden edges onto the riverbank. Is that where you lived?”

She hadn’t been able to see as they’d crossed the river, the male officer who’d escorted her was rather large and tall but if what he’d just said was right, there was no blue chalet, the home she’d shared with the man she’d loved for six months. As they walked down the steps and around the corner, she could see across the way, he was right, her home wasn’t there.

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