Alec led her to the takeaway around the corner from the station, bought two lots of fish and chips (in the paper bags that her Alec always hated eating out of) then over the river, it seeming strange there was an empty space where her and the other Alec’s home had been for six months. Rose wondered how many other differences there were, well there was the newspaper office for one that she knew about. He led her left at the side of the wall, past some catering stalls, where the gap was when she’d crossed the footbridge, seeing a white wooden building that had been a fish restaurant in her adopted world but this was boarded up with a ‘coming soon’ hoarding, then they walked around the corner and up the path of a row of white painted cottages, where her Alec had originally wanted to move before she’d talked or bribed him into taking the chalet.
He stopped at the second one in and asked her to hold the packages while he got his key out, grinning as he did.
“Here we are then, home sweet home, I’ll put the kettle on shall I?”
Rose looked around, it was nice, just like she’d seen on the website when they’d been looking for somewhere to rent.
“Since it’s the weekend, I can’t meet with my boss until Monday so you can stay until then, if you want? Like I said, you can repay me by making breakfast and the odd meal, if you feel like it, I don’t live on take-outs all the time. First though, eat something and you can tell me more about how you found yourself standing in a pile of rubble in Canary Wharf, I’d really like to know how that was possible. Where did you come from? Did you time travel then?”
“Not exactly but how do I know I can trust you?”
“Who else can you trust? Look, I really believe you’re not her, the other Rose Tyler, she wouldn’t come out of hiding to travel here for one thing and another, you are tired and upset, you need a good meal and some rest. We can talk another time but I’m just curious. I’m not going to turn you in Rose, that’s not my intention and Monday, we’ll put it to my chief and she’ll agree with me and we can get that out of the way. You can’t use that card of yours though, if you do, you’ll just draw more attention to yourself.”
“Do you think I don’t already know that? So what am I supposed to do?”
“Well, not go back to London to start with but just how did you suddenly find yourself there?”
Rose reached into the pocket of the leather jacket she’d put on the back of the chair. It was nice and cosy in the cottage, she assumed unlike her Alec, this one knew how to program the heating to come on, something she’d tried repeatedly with her version. Her Alec just left it on low all the time, saying it was more economic than heating the whole place then letting it go cold again. Rose had despaired at him sometimes but she loved him.
“I used this but it’s dead, it must have shorted out when I landed. Something threw me off course, so to speak, pulled me here instead of my own world. If I could get it working again, I’ll be out of your way.”
Alec was enjoying her company already, maybe in the past, he had been in too much in a hurry but this one was going nowhere fast, well until at least Monday. Then if his chief couldn’t be convinced this was not the Rose Tyler who was wanted for unspeakable crimes, she’d been handed over to his superiors who would then hold her until they gathered all the evidence and charged her but he didn’t think this Rose was capable of being behind what had happened and neither probably was the other one.
“Here, let me take a look?”
“Why, you can’t take the back of it off like changing a watch battery, it needs a special tool and there was only one, back in the Torchwood I left standing in one piece this morning. My stepfather and my Alec will be going crazy now, I wouldn’t like to be Yvonne Hartman at this time, Alec was already mad with her for dragging us from our home first thing this morning.”
“So, what were you doing? Besides apparently dimension hopping? Is that what this is for?”
“Yeah, there’s a main device, back in my Torchwood, this sort of homes in on it, don’t ask me how, but since it’s probably shorted out or something, it’s lost the signal. I wish now they’d got those other things sorted, I could have called them.”
Alec smiled, something Rose thought was infectious about this Alec Hardy, it reminded her of someone else, well two someones and by the minute, Rose was being convinced this was the actor pretending to be a DI.
“In other words, inter-dimensional calling? Oh, this just keeps getting better by the minute. You have some more explaining to do, I want to know everything, do you know how I dreamt of this when I was four years old? It’s like Star Trek.”
“You have Star Trek here? My Alec had never seen Star Wars, I made him watch it with me. I take it you’ve gathered by now, he was my boyfriend? Well he was more than my boyfriend, he was gonna ask me to marry him, when I got back. He had a bad heart, that’s when I fell in love with him because he was too scared to go get anything done about it and I finally got him to give in.”
Alec could see it all over her face, she’d been in love with his counterpart where she had come from – lucky him. He’d had no such ailments, thankfully. As Rose told him about the other Alec battling his illness and solving a major murder enquiry, he had to give the other man his dues, to come though all that but when she said he had a failed case, one almost identical to the last major one he himself had successfully solved and that the other Alec also had a failed marriage and a teenage daughter, he thought the man deserved a medal.
“You must love him very much. I want to help you Rose, really I do, if you’ll let me? What can I do, besides fix this device for you, which if I could, believe me, I would but I can’t. You said the main device, back in your Torchwood, I don’t know much about what went on in this one, I was never bothered about all that but maybe, they had one here? Maybe somewhere, it’s still operating and it drew you here, interfered with yours.”
“Yeah, maybe the other Rose Tyler is the only one who can help me, or Jake, he’s probably more knowledge than she has. Can you tell me more, about what happened? I can’t understand how she would turn on her family, just because of a fall-out in the way the organisation was run. Me and my stepfather fall out all the time but I wouldn’t blow up his house with him in it. Who is the president here?”
“Harriet Jones, she’s on her third term, everyone loves her but they’re all blinded, like she’s got some sort of hold over the entire country but thankfully, I don’t get to vote, being from Scotland but I have to abide by the rules until such times I can get another job there. Maybe the other Rose Tyler is hiding there, or in Wales. What about where you come from? Did you have a president?”
“Yeah, after one got assassinated by some metal monsters that got loose, we got another good one, she just lets Pete get on with running Torchwood but the only thing he didn’t have control over was the dimension cannon project, that was Yvonne’s and we all signed contracts, for so many missions and I had one left. When I came to live in Broadchurch, I thought I’d got away with it, I resigned from Torchwood, to look after my Alec but apparently, I didn’t read the small-print regarding my contract with the project, saying it was not terminated even if I left Torchwood.”
“So, you were called back, for no other reason that she was just being bloody-minded?”
“Yeah, since you put it like that, my Alec was furious, it was all Pete could do to get her to agree to let him go with me. He really tried to get me out of it, I know he did. My mum will be frantic by now, though sometimes, we could get delayed in getting back, they may not be panicking yet, well Alec will, he’ll sit in her office and refuse to leave, they’ll have him camping there until I do get back. Pete and Jake will have to drag him out and my mother will make a big fuss over him, like she always does. She thinks he’s gonna break.”
Alec smiled again. It sounded like this Rose Tyler had a happy home to go back to but she was well and truly stuck here by all accounts. He knew from then on, he had some sort of duty to take care of her and for the first time, in a long time, he wasn’t going to take advantage of her. She was lost and a very long, long way from home.
As the evening went on, she told him more about where she came from, avoiding the whole bit where she’d come from another universe before she’d arrived at the last one, otherwise he may well have locked her up. She told him of the rise of the Cybermen, how she’d helped stop them and they were all locked up in factories, until they’d escaped. At that point, Rose decided to quit, she was tired and just wanted to curl up in bed with her Alec.
“I’ll lend you one of my t-shirts to sleep in, you can wash your underwear, it should dry overnight and don’t worry, I’ve had girlfriends, it’s not the first time I’ll have seen someone’s silky knickers drying in my bathroom, well not this one, I’ve not had a girlfriend since I’ve been here. To tell you the truth Rose, I’ve had no-one since my last one broke up with me, she thought I was cheating on her so she did the same to me. I wasn’t though but I almost did, when I found out. She thought I was cheating on her with the wife of the main suspect.”
Rose thought that sounded vaguely familiar but Alec had never admitted he fancied Claire Ripley. Rose decided she’d been sad enough for one day and to lighten the mood.
“So you weren’t? Go on then, what was her name?”
“The suspect’s wife or my ex girlfriend?” he grinned, taking the empty plates as Rose had learned he may accept fish and chips in paper bags but he didn’t appear to like eating out of them, some things never really changed.
Rose smiled, Alec thought she was never going to. “No, your ex. If you say Tess, I’m gonna scream.”
“Ok, I won’t say Tess, that was the name of his ex? Poor bloke, I feel sorry for him. Did you ever meet her?”
“You could say that, she decided since his daughter was now almost sixteen she could choose if she wanted to visit him, she was coming to stay over the next holiday weekend. I suppose he’ll put it off now, it was only really for her to meet me, since I was going to be her stepmother.”
Alec was feeling sorrier for her by the minute, there was no way she was making all this up. Putting the plates to soak, he checked his phone for any missed messages, not that he’d even have any unless Tess was having a change of heart, which he sincerely doubted, he went upstairs to air the bed in the small bedroom, chose a spare white t-shirt, since most of them were of his favourite bands and some cartoon ones, got a new pair of boxers he’d never worn and put them on the spare bed.
Any thoughts he’d had of getting her into his bed were now gone as he realised she was vulnerable and needed his help. He was perhaps the only one who would be prepared to help her since her stories were far-fetched but she was the only person he’d ever met who believed time-travel and hopping to and from other dimensions were even possible and she apparently had done both. She’d travelled four days into the future and came from a parallel world, just how much better was it going to get?
“Rose,” he called from the top of the stairs. “I’m running a bath for you, why don’t you have a nice relaxing soak in some bath salts I bought, then it will help you to sleep.”
Why he’d bought them, he didn’t know but now they were going to come in useful. Shame he’d never get to see her in the bathtub.
Rose couldn’t believe how good he was being to her but did he have an ulterior motive? She hoped not, she might be missing her own Alec but she was nowhere near being ready to accept another one in his place but she’d done that with her Alec, accepted him when the two universes took the Doctor away from her but it had taken her years of being so angry at being torn away from her own planet to find him. If this universe thought it was going to just dump her here and she was going to accept this Alec in the other one’s place, it had another thing coming.
After Rose relaxed in the bath, she put the t-shirt and shorts on then washed her underwear and smiled to herself, this Alec was around the same size though since hers was ill, he was a lot thinner than he should have been but he’d gained some weight recently, now the stupid trial that should never even have taken place was over.
He had been so worked up the last week of the trial, he’d taken to eating snacks, much to hers and Ellie’s amusement. That was a thought, was there even an Ellie Miller here? Maybe she hadn’t chosen a police career in this world. She towel dried her hair and went downstairs, hearing the kettle boiling.
“You’re just in time, I was making some tea. Feeling better?”
“Yeah, a bit. What’s gonna happen to me? I can’t stay here forever.”
“Why not? I get most of the rent paid, there’s just me and nothing to say I can’t have a house guest. Stay over the weekend, see what happens, you might be begging to leave by Monday morning, I’m not the easiest person to live with, so my ex kept telling me.”
“Aw, I’m sure you’re not that much different to my Alec, he was a bit of a recluse until he met me. How come you’ve no girlfriend?”
“I told you, I don’t have the best record for keeping girlfriends, Tess was the longest, almost two years then that last case, we worked it together and it got to me, pulling that young girl out of the river. I hounded the suspect, I almost got suspended but I got him in the end. I expect if your Alec’s suspect got away, that was what made him ill?”
“Yeah, it didn’t help his marriage either, she lost the evidence and the killer walked. We were going to try and get the case re-opened, after his surgery. I was gonna help him go through it again, see if he missed anything. Now you know why I have to get back. This world’s Tyler family might all be mostly gone but mine are still out there, the man I love is out there, waiting for me.”
“Rose, if you’ve travelled four days into the future, they may not even know you’re gone yet.”
“That’s supposed to make me feel better? Thanks, that’s a great help.”
He would have normally given some quip back but this woman sat on his sofa was broken and certainly didn’t need his usual brand of sarcasm that Miller had hated so much about him. In the end though, before his DS had left and she’d been replaced by that moron Lawson, they had learned to tolerate each other. She’d even called him the other day to invite him for dinner, now he might have to explain why he may be taking Rose with him. Geez, he must be going soft in the head.
“I know it’s been a bad day for you but you have to think positively, if they don’t know you’re missing yet, they still have some hope you’ve just got delayed, you said it wasn’t exactly guaranteed you’d be back within the hour.”
“Yeah, if it gets late, they’ll check all the readings and if it still looks like I’m out there, they’ll give me more time but Alec still won’t leave without a fight, trust me. Pete will threaten he’s gonna send for my mum to drag him out. I wish I’d taken more notice of how it all worked.”
“You say the device is dead? Does it send out a signal even if it is? As an emergency?”
“I don’t know, they never said. It might give out something but it might be weak. Like if we don’t land at Torchwood, they can locate us but if it gives out, a backup could have been put in without us knowing. We can also use them to jump short distances, if we land somewhere unfriendly, it’s complicated.”
“I can imagine. Go get some sleep Rose, you’re safe here for now and we’ll get all this cleared up on Monday.”
“That’s easy for you to say, you haven’t got a double who’s wanted for goodness knows what. How did it all happen?”
“I’ll tell you tomorrow, no more talking or I’ll carry you upstairs and tuck you in.”
“Ok, I’m going and thanks, for believing me, I thought you’d be horrible and lock me up or kick me out.”
“Well it’s not guaranteed my chief won’t do that. She may believe you’re not the other Rose Tyler but she might ban me from associating with you. Not that I’ll take any notice of her. Goodnight Rose and I’ll excuse you from making breakfast in the morning. I need to go to the supermarket anyway, we’ll get you a change of clothes, I doubt anyone will recognise you, it’s old news now. You were just unlucky your name came up when you used that credit card.”
Rose got up, quite aware she was now only wearing his t-shirt and his shorts and he’d probably been staring at her legs. She loved the other Alec Hardy, she wasn’t looking for a replacement for him. It was when she climbed into the inviting single bed, surprised for a single male how well kept the place was and wondered if he had a cleaner, it all hit her in the face, the gravity of it all and like being sent to Pete’s world all those years ago, she had to learn how to live all over again but without Pete’s powerful position and Jake’s ingenuity to help her.
Everything had been done for her, her past life invented, everything she needed to be integrated into society and all the money she would ever need and here she was, in borrowed clothes and a few pounds to her name, an unlimited useless credit card in her pocket and depending on her lover’s counterpart. She tossed and turned most of the night but around six, she screamed out and Alec came rushing in, forgoing the customary knock on the door.
“Rose, it’s ok, wake up,” he called, as he could see from the light on the landing she was tossing her head and raising her arms. He grabbed hold of them and almost got hit in the face, narrowly avoiding them.
“Rose, come here, it’s ok, you’re safe. What the hell happened to you?”
She grabbed hold of him like her life depended on it. Then she realised it wasn’t her Alec, this one looked different.
“Sorry,” she muttered, trying to get free of his grip as he held her to his chest, luckily he’d put a t-shirt on before going to sleep, since he had a guest and she was missing her boyfriend. He didn’t release her though and she didn’t try again.
Still snuggling in his arms, she relaxed into his chest and neck.
“It’s ok Rose, you’ve had a bad dream. Have you even had any sleep?”
She looked up slyly at him and he knew the answer.
“Move over, I don’t bite. Try to get some, I’ll stay and make sure you do, I don’t trust you.”
Rose was too tired to even argue with him and woke up two hours later, still wrapped in his arms.
“Hey, you’re awake, feeling better?”
He released her from one of his arms as she yawned.
“Yeah, thanks, sorry about that.”
“Don’t be, this is the best offer I’ve had in a long time, trust me. Your Alec is a very lucky man and I can see you’re loyal to him but you have to come to terms with the fact, you may never get back.”
After Alec made them tea and toast, he drove them down the main road to the superstore, sending Rose off to buy herself some clothes and another pair of shoes then in the afternoon, they ventured for a walk on the beach, it all seeming very surreal to Rose. She was home and yet she wasn’t and somewhere, there was her adopted world with her family and her Alec and it made her even more determined to get home but at least she had one friend in this one, who was impossible to hate.
She wondered what was wrong with other women as they’d chatted in the harbour café over lunch and he’d told her all the women in the station had turned him down flat, including Becca Fisher.
“Seriously Alec, they must be either very fussy or there’s something wrong with them.”
“Well you can tell them that then,” he smiled as they sat on a rock, Rose realising they’d walked a fair distance, past the clifftop hut where in her world, Danny had been killed before her arrival there.
He took her hand and squeezed it. “If you want to get home, you need to find the other Rose Tyler, maybe she’s got another device, just like yours and you got intercepted.”
“Yeah, well if she has, how’s that gonna help me?”
“Maybe the Jake Simmonds here can fix yours?”
“Maybe he can but if hers doesn’t work, I may just show them how to get it working, then what? It could do more harm than good.”
“Oh, I’d not thought of that. You mean she may have been responsible and she may go to your world and destroy your Torchwood and family?”
Rose turned to him, pulling her hand way but he held onto it.
“Yes, she could, then I’d really be responsible. So what do I do Alec?”
“You’ll just have to wait and see if your device sends out a signal, will someone come looking for you?”
“Yeah, knowing my Alec, it will be him, illness or no illness.”
That’s what Alec was afraid she’d say. Did he stand any kind of chance with her? All he could do was wait and see.