Rose Tyler re-adjusted the settings on the wristband of her personal transporter as she stood on a busy street. Another failed mission, another parallel world that wasn't hers and another failed attempted of getting home and finding her Doctor. Two jumps a week, that's all she was allowed by Pete and the Torchwood team, it had been a long seven years. It had taken them four years to even get the dimension cannon to work safely and several team members had gone to test it. Only then had she been allowed to use it and then a measly twice a week.
What was she meant to do the rest of the time she had wondered after getting the go-head from the project leader. She had soon found out as it meant a day of physical check-ups from that creep Owen Harper, who seemed to take a bit longer than was absolutely necessary she thought and another day of painstaking reports to several department heads. That took a whole week plus the actual getting ready to go.
She had said goodbye that morning to her mother and stepbrother Tony and gone off with Pete as usual. Then she had stepped in front of the device to try yet another time to get back home, each of them knowing that if she found it, she wasn't coming back unless the Doctor brought her back so each time she went, Pete and Jackie's hearts almost stopped until she actually came back.
Torchwood's policy of carrying no ID was worrying though but Pete had made her see the importance, in case there was another Rose Tyler on the world and she wouldn't get kidnapped or held by the authorities as an impostor though she never stayed that long to actually get in that situation and would never reveal who she was. She was always out in 45 minutes anyway and her device looked like an ordinary wrist watch to the untrained eye. The only problem was if she ended up getting tangled up with another alternate version of Torchwood that were not so friendly.
So the minutes ticked by as Rose found a nearby bench and waited out her time, carrying only a simple card that was a bit like psychic paper that allowed it to be scanned and could get her basic items like food and water if she needed it, up to a limit of the local currency of roughly ten British pounds. So she sat with an egg mayonnaise sandwich and a bottle of plain water, checking the read-out on her device for signs of a Timelord or anything that would indicate she had the right universe. She knew it wasn't, it was London but the cars and buses, which were blue, not red, were on the other side of the road. She threw her trash into a nearby bin and waited for the beep, it sounded just like any alarm going off so getting up, she stepped into a shop doorway and vanished.
She hadn't expected this as she opened her eyes. The place was trashed, cables scattered around the place, very dim emergency lighting lit the large room. There was no dimension cannon, just two levers that looked very familiar to her since she had let go of one and ended up on Pete's world. She smiled. She could have actually got back home, albeit by mistake but the signs were good. It was feasible that Torchwood would have been closed down after the army of ghosts and the Cybermen fought mankind and the Daleks.
She was a long way up though and hoped there were no alarms set to go off at unwanted visitors such as the Cybermen returning. She crossed to the window and looked out, the river and the buildings below looked familiar and there were no zeppelins in the sky that she could see but private ones had been on the decline after the Cyberman invasion and the demise of Lumic. It was all a good sign. She made her way to the stairwell, even if there was emergency power, there was no way on any earth she was going to get into a lift even though she remembered something about her mother saying how many floors it was down.
She took her time, landing after landing and making no attempt to look through any of the doors she passed on the way down, after what seemed like an age she got to a door marked 'G' and pushed it open. There was a deserted reception area, thankfully as she had thought on the way down that it was just the top floor that was deserted and the rest of the building had been occupied, what with, she dare not think. It could have been taken over by aliens, an unfriendly faction bent on taking over the world or simply the military.
If the building had been abandoned after the invasion, there were now plenty of signs of it. The main doors were chained and padlocked, from the outside, rubbish littered the whole floor, telephones were off their receivers and outside, Rose could see security vans parked. Whenever it had been abandoned, no-one was clearly getting back in.
Luckily, Rose knew a little known exit through the underground car park, if this building was identical to the one she had used just over an hour ago and went back to the stairwell and went down two more flights of stairs and through another door. Luckily, the underground car park was deserted but through the mesh of the grill, another security van was parked on the ramp. Fortunately for Rose, it was facing away from the interior, they were not expecting anyone coming out and Rose went to the furthest corner and just prayed the fire door was not alarmed or chained from the outside but hopefully, it had been overlooked in the haste to secure the building.
Rose was a little surprised that the building had not been cleared out completely and been re-occupied, it was a prime piece of real estate. If she remembered rightly, the door from the outside did not actually look much like a door and the inside bar to the fire door was painted in camouflaged paint for it to blend in with the wall.
She reached it and held her hand out in the dim light filtering through the grill and found the metal bar. It was a bit on the stiff side as she tried again but it wasn't budging. She didn't want to make a noise though she could hear some music coming from the van radio and hoped it would cover any noise she was going to have to make in order to get out as she tried to get up the courage to put all her weight behind her and force the bar downwards. She felt a slight pain in her side as with one final shove, the bar slid home and the door opened, even though the hinges were also stiff and some grass had grown behind it, she pushed her way out, rubbing the side she had favoured to get out.
She was going to have a bruise there later and would also have to get some painkillers for it but she was out and at the back of the building and no security vans in sight. She quickly ran over to the next building after closing the door to so no-one would be alerted, she had no intentions of going back inside anyway and if she did, there was nothing she could do and made her way carefully to the front. There were a lot of people going in and out and some taxi cabs were just pulling in so as a woman got out, she got in the back seat and gave the address of what had been her home, hoping she was wrong about this not being her world and her mother would pay the taxi fare when she got back and for some unknown reason, Pete had ordered a complete shutdown of their operations and everyone had left in a hurry and that was why there was a security detail, since she had only seen the top and ground floors.
She doubted it mind you, she had already reasoned this was not her world but didn't want to think negative at this point until she met with Pete Tyler. After all, it was just as feasible somehow, she had gone back in time to when she and the Doctor had been here the first time and Pete knew her but how would she get back to her own time?
She told herself just to concentrate on getting to Pete and had told the cab driver someone would pay when they got there but as they finally arrived and turned into the driveway, the driver told her as she was getting out he would put in on Mr Tyler's account. Good, at least there was a Pete Tyler here. She had glanced at the radio on the dashboard, it was just after 11am.
She was about to get her key out of her pocket but thought better of it if this was the wrong place. She caught sight of who she thought was one of the servants and tapped on the door.
"Can I help you Miss?"
"Yeah, is Mrs Tyler in?"
This was bad, the girl should have recognised her.
"Just a moment please."
The girl went off. The decorations were different, the sideboard looked a different shade of varnish and the paintings were different. Suddenly, a small Yorkshire terrier came bounding towards her, yapping, followed by a "Rose, come here darling, come to mummy."
Rose looked in horror as a woman who looked like her mother stepped from one of the rooms. The dog on Pete's world had that name, her name and the Doctor had laughed at the joke. She saw Rose standing in the doorway and the maid spoke to her.
This Jackie scooped up the dog. "What you want? Who are you? Well speak up then, lost your tongue?"
"Mrs Tyler? Is Mr Tyler at home?"
"What do you want with him? Who are you? Pete, get out here now, some blonde bimbo wants you. You been picking them up again?"
With that, she patted the dog on its head and turned away. Rose knew she was not in Kansas anymore.
Pete Tyler heard his wife yelling. He wouldn't mind if it was actually true but he had never strayed although he had been tempted a few times. He had actually moved out a while ago and only came by to use his old office now Torchwood was gone and he missed being in the spy business, concentrating instead on his own company.
He came out and saw the young blonde woman in the doorway who was looking hopefully at him.
"Yes, what is it? I'm rather busy."
"Mr Tyler, can I talk to you? It's about Torchwood."
He grabbed her arm and pulled her inside. "Shush, don't speak about that out here. Come into my study."
Rose followed him. "So who are you then?" he asked, closing the door to the room she had been in on numerous occasions.
Rose looked around, instead of the laptop and tablet, there was a thin screen built into the desk, which he hurriedly covered with a sheet of paper.
"I'm called Rose, my surname isn't important but do you know me by any chance?"
"No, should I? Funny, that's the name of my wife's dog."
Rose had heard that before, this could still be the same Pete Tyler, before he had met her. If it was, all she had to do was wait a few months and he would open Torchwood and she could get back to her own time.
"Then can I ask you, your wife, has she had her 40th birthday party yet?"
Pete laughed. "You mean her 39th don't you? She made it very clear everyone had it wrong, even gave me a real roasting for getting the banners and the balloons wrong but that was a long time ago, it was back in 2006, seven years ago so what's your point?"
Rose's heart slumped. This was not that Pete Tyler. "Then at your wife's 39th party, did you see me there, dressed as a waitress? I was with a tall man dressed as a waiter."
"Not that I remember but like I said, it was a long time ago but you seem to know me. Go on."
"Mr Tyler, did that party get interrupted, violently?"
He looked at her. "Everyone knows that was the night the Cybermen invaded, my wife and I barely got out. All those people were captured and if that band of misfits hadn't stopped them no-one would be alive now."
It stood to reason the Cybermen had visited here, on their way to her old world but this clearly wasn't it or her adopted one.
"Then let me ask you this. The group who stopped them, they were called The Preachers?"
"Come on, get to the point, everyone knew who they were, they became national heroes, even the President gave them amnesty and gave them an award."
"Yes but Torchwood was still active and the Cybermen used it, to leave this world."
"What? That was classified, how do you know that?"
"Because I was with Torchwood but not on this world. They crossed over, into mine."
She wasn't going to complicate things and say she had also come from one before that.
"Then how did you get here? Listen love, anyone who gets caught if they haven't surrendered any ties with that organisation, get's locked up. All the old regime had to swear in front of the President to relinquish all knowledge and ties with it and everyone did, except a few extremists who are now on the run. You're not one of them are you? 'Cos if you are, I have a duty to turn you in."
"And turn yourself in Mr Tyler? I saw your computer screen."
"You wouldn't dare, do you know who I am?"
"Yeah, on my world, you were my stepfather. I don't want to turn you in so now we have a trade-off. I got stranded here, we were experimenting with crossing parallel worlds and I ended up on this world, with no way back can you help me?"
Rose was fighting the urge to break down and cry as she worked it out but she had to be strong to get help.
"I can't help you Rose, whatever your name is. There are a handful of us, that's all. No-one gets back into Torchwood Tower, it's guarded. How did you get here?"
"I just landed, a short time ago at the top of the tower and walked down the stairs and I do know how many floors there are, I counted them. I got out through a secret door at the back, the same as in our Torchwood. There's no power in there."
"No, just emergency generators. I hope you're not asking me to get you back in?"
He suddenly realised that was exactly what she wanted.
"No, not ever, I am not going there to get arrested. I might not still be in love with my wife but I won't put her at risk, they take your families as well if they catch you. Take my advice Rose, don't ever mention that name outside these four walls, if anyone hears and turns you in, they get a very large reward. I'm lucky, I can hide it, I have the name and the power."
He went into his desk drawer and Rose thought he was going to pull a gun out but he brought out a cigar box and pulled out a false bottom.
"Here, take this money and leave London. I take it you have nothing of your own?"
"Just what I'm standing in and a card that will let me spend a bit of money at a time but it won't last now I can't get it topped up."
She had already almost used half of it on the last parallel world.
Pete counted out £100. "I know it's not much but if you get out of London, somewhere where it's cheap to live and get yourself a job, you'll be ok."
Rose had the money thrust in her hands. Was that all she was worth? She had been worth a small fortune.
"What am I supposed to do? I don't belong here, didn't you hear that bit?"
"Of course I did but what do you want me to do? I can't help you Rose. Look, I can do one thing for you. If indeed another man who was me on your world was your stepfather, which would make you a Tyler, if my wife found out, she would divorce me and it's bad for business so I can't pretend to be him for you but if you use the name, as long as you don't say I am, I won't pursue any legal action, ok?"
That was the best she was going to get. She couldn't even go to Jake if he had never met her and there would be no Mickey here, just a Ricky so that was no use, she was well and truly on her own.
"Look, I'll have my driver take you to the coach station, just get out of London and remember, don't talk to anyone about Torchwood, don't even mention the name and if people ask if we're related, just say it's coincidence, everyone knows we have no kids, she never wanted to spoil her figure and we left it too late."
Rose looked at him. "My mum married Pete Tyler in my world, I have a seven year old stepbrother, it's never too late to start a family."
Pete actually smiled at her. "Well if I were ever to have had a daughter, I would have called her Rose, unlike that yapping menace my wife calls a dog. I think it's best you leave and if you need a job reference, you can put me down, I'll vouch for you although I'm taking a big risk, not knowing you. This could all be an elaborate ruse to trap me but you don't look like the type really."
"Thanks and thank you for trying to help me. So there's no way I can get back in there and try to get back to my own world?"
"What's that thing on your wrist?"
"Oh, it's supposed to take me home, after a mission but it's stopped working, I don't know why. It's suppose to recharge itself but this universe is out of sync somehow."
She remembered how the Tardis wouldn't work in Pete's world but the device had always worked, wherever she had landed and it was well over 45 minutes and should be charged.
"Look, even if you could get back in the tower and I got power restored, you could still end up anywhere, right? You could be far worse off than you are now. I'm sorry, I really am but I'm afraid you're stuck here."
Rose got up and Pete opened the door for her after calling his driver. A car was waiting outside and this Jackie Tyler was glaring at her. Rose didn't envy the man explaining things to her. Pete walked her out and shook her hand.
"Dave will take you to the coach station. Good luck and I hope you get sorted."
Rose got in the back seat and the car drove off. She had barely been able to take things in and her head was still reeling with the fact she was totally out of her own universe. If she could find someone she could trust to help her get her own device working again, she still might make it back but just who could she trust?
The car stopped outside the coach station, Rose noticed instead of Victoria it was called Elizabeth. She was going to have to be very, very careful. She looked at the destinations board after thanking the driver. She had £100 and so she had to find the cheapest fare and the cheapest place to stay and find a job until she could get her device repaired.
Suddenly distracted from studying where she was the most likely to find a job, she looked at the TV screen and had to blink twice. There, on the large screen was the name Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and looking again, there was a man she recognised, albeit with a hint of a beard, as the Doctor. Under his name was the place the broadcast was coming from – Broadchurch.
Was the Doctor really here and using another name? There was only one way of finding out and maybe Broadchurch was as good a place as any to find a job so she went up to the counter and bought a one way ticket and sat in the waiting area to board the coach to find out if this Alec Hardy was indeed the man she had lost and he had been searching for her all this time and had also got stranded here.