Alone in the world with just a friend

Chapter 9

“Rose, you can’t know that for certain.”

“It’s the only explanation Alec, the reason why my device was thrown off course, I activated mine on the last world I was on at the same time, I landed here, she went to my world.”

“I’m sorry Rose but I’m sure she was not aware of that, maybe she came back?”

“Would you, if you were wanted here?”

“I suppose you have a point but what about Jake, can those devices carry two people?”

“Yeah, if they have to. That’s it, there’s no-one more qualified than Jake would have been able to repair my device.”

“I’m not having you give up Rose, we find someone else or we have a tool made, to open the back, it could be something really simple.”

“Ever tried to repair a dimension hopping device?”

Alec grinned at her. “Not lately, no. Have you?”

“Not a clue but say we get someone to invent such a tool, where would we even look?”

“The list of former Torchwood employees to start with. I’ll get a laptop tomorrow and we’ll make a start. I’m hungry, coming for lunch?”

Rose got up, she was feeling hungry now he had to mention it. They walked to one of the catering stalls, Rose sitting by the low wall overlooking the river and the empty space where the blue chalet had been, her and the other Alec’s ‘love nest’ as Jake had called it jokingly. She turned away towards the road, not being able to look at where she had lived a few days ago.

“Did you have to sit here and torment yourself?”

“Yeah, I need to be reminded of what I left behind. Sorry, that wasn’t directed at you.”

“Don’t worry about it, it will continue to happen, I know you can’t forget everything just like that, I keep telling you. Let’s just eat then we’ll go for a walk, since I’ve been ordered to take some time off.”

“I’m keeping you from your job.”

“No, you’re keeping me from going slowly insane in this boring seaside town, I should be thanking you, trust me.”

“Then why say you want to still work a few hours a day?”

“I thought you’d need a bit of time to yourself, you don’t need me hanging around all day. Well not unless you insist.”

Rose smiled as Alec got up to collect the food.

“So, we go to the Miller’s for dinner tomorrow night and see what she thinks, yes?”

“Yeah, ok. I don’t have to tell her everything do I?”

“No, just what you want. Don’t tell her too much though, she’s been dying to know what I did before I came here and took her job.”

Rose smiled. “Maybe we should spin her a story then?”

“I knew there was a reason I kept you around.”

They walked around for a while then walked up the hill overlooking the bay and sat down, Alec taking her hand.

“Don’t give up Rose, we’ll start contacting people, someone has to know something, they would have had people working on the project.”

“What if those who are left were on Pete’s side?”

“Then I leave you out of it for now, until your name’s cleared. I’ll just make a few enquiries Rose, don’t worry, just to ask if they know you and judge their reactions and if they sound hostile, I won’t go any further.”

“Yeah but if you say where you’re from, they’ll know where to find me.”

He squeezed her hand. “Seriously? I’ll withhold the number, I’ve got a Scottish accent in case you’ve not noticed, how will they know?”

“And you say I’m devious. How did you even end up here Alec?”

“Just lucky I guess. What would you have done had I not been here?”

“I don’t know, I’d be all on my own.”

“Exactly so less of the questions, I’m here, just be grateful I was willing to help you eh?”

“I am grateful Alec.” She turned and kissed his cheek.

“See that house there?” he nodded at the house on the side of the footpath. “If you need a lawyer, she’s the best person to help you.”

“I’ll remember that, thanks.” She leaned her head on his shoulder, it would be so easy to pretend he was her Alec but he wasn’t. She couldn’t give up that easily and let a little thing like a non-working device get in the way. She was Rose Tyler, Tyler women didn’t give up. She had faced the impossible numerous times and been on many missions before she’d been allowed to join the dimension cannon project and even then, she never stayed idle when awaiting her turn, since Yvonne was very strict how many times each member used it.

She’d been tired of waiting her turn again and seen Broadchurch on the news over the murder of a young boy, never bothering the lead detective looked like the very man she had been looking for and got in her car and driven down, booked into the hotel and found the police station. That had been a few days before Alec chased the suspect and got taken to hospital, the night after he’d asked her out for dinner and stayed in her room, albeit he said he couldn’t have proper sex with her but they came close enough for her to insist he moved into her room when she went to collect him from the hospital at two in the morning but persuaded him to rest and she’d get him back before his chief found out.

Ellie though had other ideas and had left when Rose had got there but had covered herself by telling the chief anyway, which had got her into more trouble with Rose than she would have from her boss but Rose had eventually seen her point of view and they’d become good friends, which Ellie had needed the next day. Rose had even paid for her to move her two boys into the caravan park down the coast for two weeks while she got herself sorted and hired a car for her.

Now this Alec was talking of bringing this version of Ellie into their secrets and she wasn’t so sure. Alec had dragged her up and they walked back down the cliff, Alec stopping to buy icecream before walking back home. Now Rose was faced with waiting a few days before her fate may be decided and she would either be free, questioned further or locked up and now, there was the added danger someone from the destroyed organisation would want revenge.

They passed the police station, Alec telling her to wait downstairs while he went to get his work laptop since they were passing and they could make a start rather than wait until tomorrow, him thinking it was just as well he’d opted for free internet when he’d taken the cottage but never got around to buying a home phone. Once back, he set it all up, something Rose mused she’d had to do on mobile internet for her Alec when he’d become interested in reopening Sandbrook and then he’d argued about it.

“Rose, you said you knew how to get into the old Torchwood files, here’s your chance to do it.”

“Yeah, well I hope they use the same protocols and they never put a trap on them. The Jake in my world was very crafty when it came to encrypting files. He would set them up and it was Mickey’s job to try to break them, it was a game to them. I used to watch over Mickey’s shoulder, I learned a few things. He was my boyfriend, in the other world when I was nineteen, we got over it in case you’re interested.”

Alec smiled as she sat at the table and he sat opposite, watching her concentrate. Ten minutes later, Alec could only stare as Rose showed him all the secrets of Torchwood, listed there in front of them. All they were interested in was downloading a list of personnel, up to the day Torchwood was blown up. Rose had to resist looking for anything to do with the power struggle, at least for now but Alec argued it could prove useful.

“Think about it Rose, find out who were opposed to the other Rose’s changes in policy, see who was for them, it has to be worth it, it will give me some idea who to contact.”

“Why are you doing this Alec?”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, I keep going on about getting back to my family and the Alec Hardy I left behind yet you share your house and you comfort me in bed and ask nothing in return.”

“You want to know? I’ll tell you. I was let down by someone once, ok? The wife of the main suspect in Sandbrook, she turned against her husband and I was supposed to protect her and I never knew she was knee-deep in it until the truth came out and it turned out she was the one who encouraged him to kill that young girl so she wouldn’t find out what the girl’s father had done to her cousin. They hid her body in the woods and left her there for three days.”

“I know the story Alec, it’s almost identical and the other Alec fell for her act as well, you’re not on your own but you found out, it didn’t make you ill.”

“I know, I’m sorry Rose, I never intended for it to remind you of that fact.”

Rose looked at him.

“Yes, well that’s enough of that but I’m helping you because I let her get the better of me and I lost Tess because she thought I was having an affair before I found out I was being used. You are innocent in all this Rose, you got here through no fault of your own, you never asked to come here. The least I can do is make it less painful for you and help you find your way home.”

Rose turned to him and kissed his cheek.

“I’m not asking you to forget your Alec but I’ve given up everything for you Rose, just remember that though you’ve spared the women at the station I suppose. I only did it because they’d already made their minds up about me, it made me angry. Now you confirmed it was Tess putting them off, she must have been really mad with me but she was the one who actually went off with another man.”

“I think I should have words with her,” Rose smiled.

Rose downloaded the files they needed to start contacting some of them and decided to leave it until the next day.

“Rose, don’t forget we are going to the Millers tomorrow night, I told her I was bringing someone with me, said you were my new girlfriend.”

“Right, you can invent all the details then, I’ll just play along but I thought you were letting her in on some of it?”

“Not in front of her husband, I don’t trust him, he’s shifty-looking,” he smiled, kissing her cheek. “Get her on her own, I’ve already told her you’re new in town and need another friend besides me though she said you must be mad taking up with me but tell her about you being wanted as the other Rose Tyler and you’re waiting for confirmation you’re not her.”

“I’ll see how far I can trust her, I hope she’s like the Ellie Miller I know. I’ll start making diner then?”

“Ok, I’ll put the laptop away and come and help you.”

They decided not to go out, just in case Nigel Carter was around again though Alec said he could handle him and as they’d got into the habit of Rose getting ready for bed while Alec was in the bathroom, he was waiting in bed for her return, hoping she wasn’t in there crying again or gone back to her room. He’d enjoyed sharing with her the last few nights, she’d started off away from him but snuggled closer during the night that she’d offered no resistance when he’d put his arm around her and they’d kissed a bit more that morning.

“Rose, do you object if I take my t-shirt off, I get too warm in bed.”

“Alec, I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet, turn the heating down.”

“It’s not the heating, it’s me or maybe it’s you being here.”

“I can always go,” she teased, leaning on his shoulder.

“Never mind, I’ll manage but don’t blame me if the duvet is on your side in the morning and you can’t move.”

“I’ll just throw it back at you.”

“Just you try, I may have to resort to tickling you again.”

Rose swatted his arm away as he put it around her waist but he persisted. “Come on Rose, you can’t blame me, you have to give me something back, you said I never asked for anything and I don’t, just for you show me a little affection, maybe? Just a teeny bit?” he asked as he withdrew his arm, hoping she would pull it back.

She turned onto her back as he remained on his side, touching her arm. It was one thing she drifted over to him in her sleep and had found herself close to him with his arm around her shoulder and the times she’d cried he’d put his arm around her, pulling her close and she’d snuggled into his neck but this felt different, this wasn’t just him offering to comfort her and she didn’t know how she felt about it. He hadn’t wanted anything back so far but he was beginning to make advances though she thought they were probably tame compared to what he was capable of, they were both on shaky ground here.

This was apparently his first attempt to get close to a woman since his ex dumped him but she was desperately missing her Alec at night and the signs were beginning to show although with Alec’s health, they’d not yet cemented their relationship for fear of sending him to hospital again. Rose had always taken the lead and known when he was showing signs of struggling and not let him go too far but she couldn’t just forget everything they’d shared in the six months or so they’d been together, enough that he’d been about to ask her to marry him and she was going to accept.

He was stroking her arm, she had opted to just wear a t-shirt with her pyjama bottoms tonight, why she didn’t know, it was one of Alec’s plain ones he’d said she could borrow any time, he had enough of him. The other Alec only had two or three plain ones and a couple of striped button-down one’s she’d talked him into buying for a change of him always being in his work shirts.

She could look at this two ways, she could tell him firmly there was no chance whatsoever she would go beyond sharing his bed and a few kisses at bedtime or risk driving him away and him telling her to go back to her own room and not to blame him if he changed his attitude and seek another woman’s company and even bring some back with him to the bed they had for the most part innocently shared and she would have to listen to them and bump into one or more of them in the morning. How would it make her feel if he did that? Should it even bother her?

More importantly, how would her Alec feel, wondering where she was, who she was with? He wasn’t a very understanding man but they’d compromised on a lot of things since they’d met, Ellie saying he was like a different person since he’d met her. She had to play for time, at least for now and hope she could get back home before he wanted more. She made her mind up and turned back to face him.

“I’m sorry Alec but I just need some time to come to terms with this, I can’t just rush into it, it’s only six months in my world since I met the other Alec and I’d just got used to it. You’re so different than he was, that’s all because he was ill and knew his limits and I had to be careful with him. I think that’s what drew me to him, because he needed someone.”

“I understand that Rose but I need someone as well and I really don’t want to resort to bringing other women back with me for the night, it would hurt you and I don’t want that. Can we compromise? Just give me a hug now and then and a few kisses and whatever you’re comfortable with when we’re alone and maybe go to sleep on me like you did when you were upset?”

Rose smiled at him and touched his arm.

“Ok but you keep your t-shirt on at least for now and don’t get any funny ideas, got it?”

She just hoped her Alec would forgive her for ensuring the only man she knew on this world wouldn’t leave her alone and she’d tried her best not to give in so easily but how long could she hold out? This Alec was fit and well and was showing all the classic signs of being so and he’d not had any contact with the opposite sex for a good while and she just hoped he could keep himself in check for a good while longer.

“Got it. Thanks Rose, I just want you to be comfortable with me and be yourself. You don’t have to be afraid of me, I’d never hurt you, it’s not like I’m the other Alec’s evil twin or anything or do you think I am?”

“No, I don’t think that. I never told the other Alec about him looking like the man I was searching for, I don’t know why. I mean I told him I was looking for someone but not who looked like him, he’d probably have left me if I had but I may have told him sooner or later, when he was well. I didn’t want him to think I was using him and now, I’ve told you that you look like two men I’ve lost, why do you put up with me?”

After a few brief kisses and Rose relaxing into his shoulder as he put his other arm under her, knowing if she slept on it again it would be dead in the morning and not caring, Rose fell asleep but as Alec was drifting off, kissing her forehead, he was trying his best to think of a way to help her but not wanting to let her go was not helping.

The next morning, sharing a few more kisses, Alec went off to work for a few hours, leaving Rose some cash to buy herself a new dress to wear to go out in and Rose asking if she should get some chocolates and wine to take with them, remembering the other Alec saying he’d taken flowers as well, just to be on the safe side.

“We’ll get some on the way, you know what chocolates women like, I’ve not got a clue.”

“You never bought chocolates for your ex? No wonder she hates you so much.”

“Rose, I think it was more than the fact I never bought anything for her, judging by the effort she went to ensuring I never got another girlfriend. Maybe I should give you her number, she can try talking you out of going out with me.”

“I know what I would like to talk to her about, she’s a proper cow.”

Alec smiled, someone was on his side at last. After arranging to meet at two opposite the station again, Rose said goodbye to him on the corner and he gave her directions to walk up into the town and told her to cut down by the side of the Traders Hotel and it would save her walking all the way back.

“Oh and Rose, if you happen to bump into a certain reporter, keep away from him until I’m with you, he may recognise you and follow you.”

“Don’t worry about me, I’m used to them, I eat reporters for breakfast.”

She kissed his cheek and he watched her walk off up the road. This Rose Tyler was something else. He turned back in the direction of the station and walked up the steps, waving to the startled desk sergeant as it was the first time he’d seen Alec come in at ten in the morning with a smile on his face and wondered if the detective had actually been screwing with this supposed version of the wanted Rose Tyler.

The office staff were equally started when he shouted a “Morning” to everyone, threw his jacket onto the coat stand and went to make himself a drink and cleaned the spoon instead of just throwing it in the sink, a first as long as anyone could remember. Even Marie Roberts stared disbelievingly at him and wondered what had come over him from yesterday and he’d been the topic of conversation in the women’s locker room that very morning as her colleagues had not believed her when she said Alec Hardy was now off the market and everyone could go back to walking safely around the station on their own.

He set up his laptop and opened the file containing the endless list of all Torchwood employees up until the last entry just hours before its destruction. He wondered if Rose could access security footage of what happened but would the files give her away if she tried to access them? It may be worth mentioning it to her but not tonight, they had a dinner date and hopefully, she would make a new friend to share her problems with. She was certainly growing on him and last night, she’d fallen asleep on him without crying, he must be doing something right.

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