After their day out, Alec decided she needed cheering up and took her to the nearby pub, ignoring the likes of Nigel Carter and his cronies, none of them were to be trusted in his books and he suspected Carter was the ringleader of the local poachers club as he called it. He’d tried several times to cut off their buyer with warnings he’d close down the butcher just off the High Street and now the shaven-headed man was leering at Rose, he just might do it.
As Alec reluctantly got up to get some more drinks, he went off and knew instinctively the other man would get up and cross to where he’d just been sitting. Rose was fingering the beer mat and never noticed the surly man approaching her.
“Hello darling, you all alone now then?”
Rose thought it was a bit obvious, was he thick or something?
“No, my boyfriend will be back in a minute, I wouldn’t let him catch you there if I were you.”
“Him? Wot you doing with him? Why don’t you come outside with me for a while?”
“Why would I want to do a stupid thing like that? Get lost you creep.”
Nigel didn’t take too kindly to women turning him down and more often than not either dragged them around the back of the pub or followed them home. He didn’t know however that Rose was staying at Alec’s place.
“We can do this the easy way or the hard way love, your choice.”
“Then I choose the hard way, I just love a challenge but I don’t know about him.”
Alec had come back in, put the glasses on the next table and was stood behind Nigel. Before Nigel could turn around, Alec had grabbed him by his collar.
“Are you having trouble Rose?”
“Nah, he was just leaving.”
“Get out of here Carter before I throw you out and if I see you bothering her again, I’ll lock you up and forget where I put the key. Got it?”
“Get off me Hardy, she’s fair game, knowing your track record. Everyone knows what a loser you are.”
That might have been true in the past but things were looking up as he saw Rose would be impressed if he roughed the idiot up a bit. Hauling him by he collar, he pushed Nigel in front of him and to the side exit.
“Get out of here Carter and leave my girlfriend alone and if I see you as much go near her again, I’ll drag you out and throw you in the river, now get lost.”
Nigel was a bit of a coward when his friends were out of sight, they thought he was tough but he was scared of the detective’s reputation.
“I’ll finish my drink first Hardy. Since when have you had a girlfriend? Was it you that got Ellie Miller pregnant then?”
Nigel felt the blow before he’d seen Alec’s hand even move as his face impacted with Alec’s fist.
“I was not even in town then Carter so keep your mind out of the gutter. Stay away from my girlfriend or next time you won’t get away so lightly.”
Rose had heard a noise and thought this Alec must be getting violent but the bloke had suggested she joined him outside and there was no way she’d go outside with him so she figured if Alec was warning him off, he deserved what he got but she’d only just met this Alec, what if he was taking this a bit too seriously? Did he think just because she’d agreed to stay with him, albeit she’d had very little choice over it, that he somehow thought she now belonged to him?
She’d have to have a serious talk with him and get a few things straight. Alec retrieved the drinks and sat beside her.
“Are you ok?”
“Me? Yeah, I’m fine, what did you do to him?”
“Nothing. I suggested he stayed away from you, that’s all. I think he got the message though I’ve had trouble with him before, just not over a beautiful woman.”
“Well, thanks anyway, though did he seriously think I’d get up and leave with him, conscious? He’s got a bit of an ego problem. He won’t wait outside for us, will he?”
“No, he’s not got the brains for that, trust me. Some evening out this turned out to be, I can’t take you anywhere, can I?” he smiled, taking her hand.
When she didn’t pull it away he assumed he’d got away with her thinking it was just a friendly gesture. Maybe he’d get away with a few more ‘friendly gestures’ but he was going to have to change his tactics somewhat and not seem so obvious he was desperate for a woman’s company and definitely not come on to her when she never stopped talking about the other Alec Hardy where she’d come from. No, he’d have to try and win her over, slowly if he had to and be patient with her.
She was all alone here and depending what happened on Monday, she was here for a good while so he could bide his time, it might just be worth it but how long would it take for her to discover he was nothing like the man she’d left behind? The other man had been ill, seriously ill and she’d loved him non the less and it would be difficult for her just to forget him but did he want to be her second choice, a substitute for her lover in another world?
The stories she had told him so far, about metal men taking over her world and then just vanishing, maybe to yet another parallel world were incredible. He’d sat and listened to her on the beach earlier and despite it being chilly, he’d not let her leave until she’d told him how she’d tried to rescue the Pete Tyler on her world’s first wife but she’d not revealed how her own mother had come to meet him and marry him. She must have led a very different life to the one the Rose Tyler on this world had done.
He’d read how the one here had led a privileged life, never wanting for anything while this Rose had been brought up by a single mother on a London council estate with no luxuries, only surviving day to day then finding herself out of her depth with her new life and having no purpose, until she’d met the other Alec Hardy and he had given her that purpose. What reason did she have to settle here though? Maybe she would find one but would it be him?
The prospect of taking responsibility for her was a daunting one, what if she didn’t really want his help beyond Monday? If the chief agreed with him she wasn’t the Rose Tyler who was wanted, what then? She’d want to clear her name first of all so she wouldn’t be hounded but would she want his help or want to do it herself?
“Come on Rose, have you had enough yet?”
“No, I want to get totalled, what have I got to lose?”
“Don’t be like that. I said I would help you and I will but you have to let me. Drowning out your sorrows doesn’t help, trust me, I’ve had previous experience but I sobered myself up and realised an empty whiskey bottle wasn’t the answer after Tess dumped me.”
“I’ve not been dumped though, have I? It’s not the same, he didn’t leave me, I left him.”
“Only because you had to. Let’s get you home.”
Rose refused to get up. Here she was again, ripped from her world and leaving the man she loved behind, was this always going to happen? She thought once she’d finally settled with Alec, it was all over but that stupid Yvonne had done it to her again and to make things worse, here was her lover’s double wanting to take her home.
“I want another drink Alec, it will help me sleep.”
“Warm milk will help you do that, I’ll make some for you when we get back, alcohol won’t help you, trust me.”
He held out his hand and she took it, reluctantly. “I’m only going with you because I’ve nowhere else to go and it’s late.”
“Yes, you’ve made that perfectly clear and I wish I could really send you home, really I do. The best I can offer you is my spare room until you find what you want.”
“Sorry, I shouldn’t take it out on you, it’s not your fault I’m here.”
“No and it’s not my fault I just happen to remind you of your boyfriend either but it should bother me and it doesn’t. You need to remember Rose, I’m not your enemy and I’d like to be your friend, if you’ll let me?”
He led the way out of the pub, checking Nigel Carter wasn’t around and back to his cottage. He was suddenly aware someone was following them though and pushing Rose in front and handing her the key, he turned around to see the other man.
“Don’t you ever give up Carter? Go home. Rose, go in the house and dial the police and tell them to send an ambulance as well.”
“Alec, please don’t fight, he’s not worth it. Look, whoever you are, just go home, there’s no way I’d ever go off with you, have you looked in the mirror lately? I’ve got a boyfriend already, just leave me alone.”
“You heard her Carter now go before I really get angry with you and think yourself lucky she stopped me.”
“You think you’re so tough Hardy, getting your little girlfriend to stick up for you.”
“Trust me Carter, even she couldn’t stop me if I really wanted to get rough with you. Now are you going to leave or do I have to call for backup? Trust me, on a Saturday night, the boys at the station will be dying to have something to do.”
“I’ll leave for now but this isn’t over Hardy.’”
Alec checked to see if Rose had gone inside. Then suddenly, he grabbed Nigel again.
“Listen Carter, get this in your thick head, come near her again and you’ll see just how tough I am. I patrolled the toughest areas in Glasgow, I eat punks like you for breakfast.” He pushed Nigel away just as suddenly that he fell against the low wall.
Alec just turned and knocked on the door, Rose checking it was him.
“I’m not used to men fighting over me but thanks Alec.” She reached up to kiss his cheek. “I’ll skip the hot milk, thanks, goodnight.”
“Rose, you can talk to me, if you want to? I know you must miss him. It’s ok, you can talk about him, I don’t mind.”
“I can’t, sorry. I have to believe I can still get back. I’m sorry I’ve been so ungrateful Alec, you’ve been really good to me.”
“It’s ok Rose, I understand how this is upsetting for you. Are you tired? You could tell me more about where you come from, if you want?”
He went to make some tea and joined Rose, who was curled up on the sofa, moving her feet so he could sit down. After telling him more about how the Cybermen had been created, he asked her what she was calling out for earlier. She couldn’t tell him she had dreamt she was falling into the void because Pete hadn’t been there to catch her.
Suddenly, she didn’t want to fight him any more as she leaned over and landed her head on his shoulder. He instinctively put his arm around her.
“Come here Rose, you need a shoulder to cry on. What don’t you want to tell me?”
When Rose woke up the next morning, she was aware someone was next to her. She’d bought a pair of pink pyjamas on her visit to the ladies department of the superstore but Alec was just in his shorts and t-shirt, wishing he’d bought some pyjama bottoms. She was also aware his arm was around her. Alec had been awake for a while, having been undisturbed unlike the morning before.
“Hi, you slept better than last night. I guess you can’t sleep on your own?”
“Hi, I should let you have your arm back, again. Don’t think I’m making a habit of this, will you?”
“I had no such thoughts. We’ll go out after breakfast, if you want?”
While Rose went to get dressed, Alec stayed in his own room. She was beginning to trust him and he didn’t want to do anything that might push her away. He just hoped tomorrow morning when he spoke to his chief, he wouldn’t be having to lock Rose up. It was then he decided that if his chief thought she was the person they wanted, he would help her get out of town and hide her somewhere.
“Rose, tomorrow, I want you to stay here while I talk to my chief.”
Rose came out onto the landing. “Why’s that? I thought you said she’d believe you that I’m not the one who’s wanted?”
“She may do. Does that phone of yours work?”
“It needs charging but it seems a bit out of date compared to yours.”
“Yes, it might stand out. We’ll pick up a pay and go one while we’re out. I’ll also take you to the best coffee shop in Weymouth.”
Rose smiled. Her Alec didn’t drink coffee, it was bad for him. “Is that one with the red logo by any chance?”
Alec popped his head around the door. Yesterday he had worn his other suit jacket, black jeans and a shirt but today was Sunday.
“Ah, some things are the same wherever you go. Yes, the one with the red logo, is there any other? See, that’s cheered you up. Things are not as bad as you thought, are they? The reason I wanted you to stay here is just in case my chief does not agree with me. I’m not going to give you up if she decides she wants to detain you.”
“You mean you’d hide me? I can’t go on the run Alec. I can prove I’m not the one they want but it means I’ll have to give up my secrets.”
“No, you can’t do that, what if they still lock you up? No, I’ll keep you safe, I promise, even if I have to hide you somewhere. I’ll say I had no reason to hold you and you were gone when I got back. I can get you out of here.”
“I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
“Neither do I, it’s great to have some company.”
He came out of the bedroom, wearing his tight jeans and his favourite t-shirt and Rose giggled. He looked down at it and assumed there was the same band on her world.
“Oh, I’ve got plenty more, you can borrow some if you want?”
“I may just take you up on that since I didn’t buy a lot yesterday. If I’m still free after tomorrow, I’ll have to get a job where they don’t ask too many questions, like my name.”
They drove down the Weymouth, which had been Rose’s favourite shopping area, he bought her a phone and set it up with his phone numbers while they were in the coffee shop then as he put the number into his, he took a photo of her.
“Cheat, now I’m gonna have to take one of you.”
“You know what I look like Rose, don’t break the camera.”
Rose smiled then made a face at him as he took two photos, him doing the same when he passed the phone back to her. He gave her some money and said he’d meet her in an hour as he refused to be seen going into the discount store with her, Rose telling him not to be a snob, having being used to her own Alec holding the chain store in the same regard but Rose liked the nail polish and other bits and pieces from there despite being able to afford the full price brands.
While she was in there, Alec went to get some sleepwear if she was going to continue to sleep in his room. It had been innocent enough, it was for her benefit he told himself, to make her feel she could trust him and that she wasn’t alone. He was waiting for her when she came out with a carrier bag, checking his phone.
“Miss me already?”
“No, I mean yes, well I was just checking I’d had no missed calls from the station.”
“Yeah, ’course you were. Were you worried about me?”
“I may have been but I was more worried you’d buy the store out.” He gestured towards the carrier bag.
“I really need to get shoulder bag, I just bought a purse, not that I’ve got much to put in it but I feel weird without one. Can we go somewhere I can get one?”
Alec shook his head. “Why not?”
Luckily for him, they found a store down a side street and Rose found one with owls on it, Alec shaking his head again but didn’t mind so much when she looped her arm in his. They continued down the narrow street which brought them out by the small park and the carousel. It had just stopped and Alec grabbed her hand and pulled her towards it. He took the carrier bag from her and put it beside one of the horses along with the bag he was carrying and helped her up, then got on behind her, first taking out his phone and telling her to smile.
Rose knew she shouldn’t be liking this so much. This Alec was so different than the one she had left behind, she almost felt like she had the Doctor back again, the crazy things he would say and do and dragging her on a carousel, complete with two bags of shopping, was just the sort of thing he would do. Then there he was, laughing as he leaned over to find out why she was hanging on so tightly as the ride began. Before she realised, he had looped one of his arms around her and was laughing again and she couldn’t help but smile.
Perhaps being flung onto yet another world may not be so bad after all but she couldn’t just forget everything, forget her Alec but she was finding it difficult to ignore this one. Maybe this is what her Alec would be like, if he’d not been ill or when he got well again. Either way, this Alec was already getting to her but she couldn’t give up hope her Alec would come and find her.