It had started out innocently, well at least on Alec Hardy's part after he decided to stay on in Broadchurch after the funeral of Danny Latimer. Despite him telling Ellie Miller he was out of the police on medical grounds, he'd got himself together and was being faced with having to pay for the hotel himself and be constantly reminded he'd asked Becca Fisher to spend some time with him.
So when he found the riverside chalet was vacant and it cost a third of what the hotel would, he'd gone to see the chief superintendent and asked since he could no longer be on active duty, if there was something else he could do to stave off the boredom that would have sent him even sooner to an early grave than an operation for a pacemaker would.
"Alec, we've been through this a few days ago," Elaine Jenkinson had told him. "I can't let you back, not until you're fit."
"Not even to sit at my old desk?" Alec had huffed back.
"Alec, if I let you do that and you get the sudden urge to go on a call-out, I would be responsible for you. You would just go dashing off for goodness knows what and besides, you wouldn't be able to sit still, you know that. You should have declared your illness and I'm still mad at you for that."
"You know why I could not declare I was ill. I had to get away from Sandbrook."
"I know that Alec but even so? You had a choice of two jobs, you could have taken the other one."
"To teach new recruits? I know I failed in Sandbrook but that was a punishment, not a transfer. Can you blame me for not taking it?"
"I don't suppose so and I knew about the academy job, you were made a scapegoat and I didn't agree with how you were treated. Just because you took the responsibility for that other officer, whom you chose not to name, didn't mean you had to be punished for it. Let me see what I can do, the academy job may still be open. Would you be willing to give it a month's trial?"
"I suppose so, if I have no other option. The hotel owner was asking if I am still getting my room paid for?"
"You're on sick pay Alec, your housing allowance will be reduced. You'd best go see the personnel officer about how much you can claim. It may cover the cost of a rental place, the rates will have gone down until next spring."
"Fine, I will go see her then. Can you let me know soon about another job?"
"Are you sure you want one?" Elaine smiled.
"I can't sit in my hotel room all day, that's not me. I have something to do tomorrow but after that, I may as well just do a Jack Marshall."
"Alec, don't say that!" Elaine exclaimed. "I'm surprised at you, you told me only a week or so ago you were not giving up until you caught Danny's killer. Now, I expect you to give evidence if it comes to trial."
"If it comes to trial, well that calls into question a lot of things," Alec replied, feeling his mobile phone buzzing and hoping it wasn't Tess bothering him again.
"Well we'd better hope he pleads guilty, if he doesn't, well Ellie's been through enough and so have you. I'll call you, the superintendent at the academy is an old friend of mine."
Alec nodded and got up, slowly before he got another dizzy spell. Once in the corridor, he fished his mobile out of his pocket and squinted at the screen to see 'Claire' on the display.
"What the hell does she want?" Alec mumbled to himself.
When he'd agreed to stash Claire Ripley, the wife of the main suspect in the Sandbrook case, they'd agreed minimum contact because Alec had only been in Broadchurch a week before he got caught up in another murder. The last time he'd seen her was the week he moved her into the cottage he'd acted as guarantor for, since she had moved out of the house next to the Gillespie's when Cate threw a bottle at her one night.
"Alec!" Claire greeted him when he called her back. "Why were you ignoring my call? I thought you were out of a job? I read it in the paper."
"Only for now, I was in a meeting, grovelling for another one – satisfied? What do you want?"
"Your case is over now Alec, can't you come and see me? The only person I've spoken to is the old woman next door when she's passing by. You stuck me down here and just expected me to get on with it, I've been here over two months now."
"Claire, it's only just two months and you know why I could not come down there. Is that all you wanted?"
"I miss you Alec," Claire whispered.
"What is there to miss about me?" he asked, regretting getting into this in the first place but Claire could be very persuasive when she wanted to use men.
"You were kind to me when Lee was arrested, I trusted you."
"I know and I kept my word and got you out, what more do you want from me Claire?"
"Lee got angry the day he got out of prison, he knocked me around, told me I was cheating on him, with you."
Alec shook his head, not surprised at what she was coming out with.
"Claire, you had better not have given him reason to think it was true? Did you?"
Claire laughed and he knew she was toying with him again.
"Don't worry Alec, I denied it but it could have been true, all those times you came to see me, to make sure I was okay while he was locked up. I thought Lee was going to hurt me when he got back but he just packed his things and left. I lost everything that day Alec, I don't know how I kept working."
"Well you soon gave that up, didn't you Claire?" Alec sighed, wishing she would get to the point.
"Please Alec, just come down for an hour, or maybe longer? I'll make it worth your while?"
"Stop it Claire, you know I am ill."
"I can make you forget about being ill Alec. Anyway, I didn't mean it that way."
"Yes, you did and the answer is still no. Now, if there is nothing else, I have things to do Claire. Only call me if it's an emergency. I did my part and got you out of Sandbrook and if I keep coming down there, someone may talk and you will loose your benefits."
"I could have sold my hairdressing business if Cate hadn't got drunk again and threatened me. Maybe I should start again?"
"Why not give it a try? Then you won't get bored and keep calling me."
"You don't care about me Alec, you just left me here and told me to get on with it. Remember the time you stayed with me? When I woke up and you were smiling at me?"
"Stop it Claire, you know why I was with you. I get that you were scared what Lee would do if he found out you were pregnant but that was the only reason I took you. Now I really have to go."
He hung up and reached in his pocket for his pills, now he had a good supply of them and he didn't have to hide them any more. He knew he should make a regular time to take them and not wait until something got him going. Walking down the corridor towards the lift to go to the personnel department on the second floor, he came to reception where the desk sergeant was talking to someone and taking no notice, he pressed the button and waited.
Up on the second floor, the personnel officer, Rose Tyler, was looking through Alec's file since the chief had just called her when Alec had left.
"Rose, look into Alec Hardy's file for me please, see if you can help him out with some housing costs."
"Yes, I'll have a look but we can't keep paying for his hotel Ma'am, not now his pay is about to be reduced."
"Well do what you can, after all the fuss he made about coming here, he seems reluctant to move on."
Rose smiled to herself. In the two months or so she'd been there after she'd seen Alec on TV the night after Danny had died, she'd not really seen him to talk to, which she'd not minded since all she wanted to do was make sure he wasn't the Doctor playing tricks on her. The conversation she'd had with Pete and her mother about him had been strange to say the least.
"Rose," Pete had said when they'd watched the evening news together. "Just because this detective looks like him, well you can't just go tearing off to see if it is him."
"Pete's right sweetheart," her mother had tried to tell her. "The Doctor wouldn't go hiding himself away, he'd come and find you."
Pete was on his pad looking up Alec. "Says here he was in a place called Sandbrook, that case of the two cousins where the main suspect got off. It can't be him Rose, think about it. You never said anything before."
"That's because you two kept the newspapers to yourselves. Dad, send me down there, please?"
"Rose, I can't just let you go on the off chance, what will you do with yourself?" Pete asked, getting a vicious look from his wife.
"Anything, just let me find a place to stay so I can check him out."
"I'll see if I can pull a few strings, get you a job or do you want to go on leave?"
"Can I take a week's leave to find a place to stay? Why can't I just work for Torchwood?"
"What would the police think if Torchwood came to town? No, go under cover and that way, you can see if it's really him or not and have something to do."
So Rose had driven down to Broadchurch on the Sunday afternoon, when her mother had finished making a fuss and raising her concerns and after hurriedly booking a room at a pub by the harbour, she had settled in. By the following Saturday, she had moved into a holiday apartment and been to an interview to be the personnel officer for the Broadchurch police.
Keeping her distance, she had followed the case and Alec very closely but the only time she'd actually bumped into him was when he'd been with Ellie Miller and she'd apologized for almost knocking him over in the stairwell.
"Oh, sorry," she had said when she'd been coming through the door and he and Ellie were about to go upstairs.
Ellie had just grinned at the blonde as Alec held his arms out to stop them colliding.
"Do you work here?" he'd asked, looking at her name badge.
"Yeah, personnel department, I've been here a few weeks," Rose replied innocently, trying not to let on she'd been dying to meet him.
"Well next time, don't come through the door in such a hurry eh?" Alec had told her.
Rose had just nodded and run off to go fetch her lunch and it had taken her twenty minutes to recover. She knew if it had been the Doctor, he would have grabbed hold of her and hugged her. After that, she'd made weekly reports to Pete that she still couldn't determine if she had the right person and Pete had just pacified her mother, telling Jackie if that's what Rose wanted to do, who were they to deny her?
Now Rose was waiting for him to come into the office she shared with two others, Darren, who had a boyfriend and did as little as possible in the way of work and Denise, who was still a bit cross Rose had come from nowhere and got the job she'd applied for. Her heart leapt when she saw him open the glass door and look around.
"Who's the personnel officer around here?" he asked, letting go of the door.
He knew whoever it was, he'd been told a new one had started just after he'd arrived and there were two woman who looked up as he entered. Then he saw Rose, the one who had bumped into him a few weeks back.
"I just bet it has to be you?" he asked, approaching Rose's desk.
Denise just sniggered and went to do some filing. Rose had told them he'd almost knocked her over as she was going out one lunchtime.
"DI Hardy I presume?" was all Rose could think of saying after all these weeks of wanting to talk to him.
"I was told to come and see you, about my housing allowance. So, the police won't pay for me to stay at the hotel after Friday?"
"Sorry but no, you're no longer on active duty. Everyone thought you'd be leaving after the case was solved."
"Well, I am still here so that makes me your problem at present. I want to stay attached to this station, the chief is trying to find me another position," he told her as he took the chair opposite.
Both Denise, who had just got back to her desk and Darren got up, knowing the detective's reputation and not wanting him glaring at them, since it was almost lunchtime.
Rose handed him a form to fill in and he looked at it. "Bring this back tomorrow and I'll put it forward for you."
"What am I supposed to do after Friday?" he asked, not bothering to get his glasses out of his pocket.
"If you pay for the hotel yourself, I'll try and get the costs back for you. Are you going to register at the rental agency?"
"If I must? That only gives me three days to find something though. Don't you help with that sort of thing?" he asked, not wanting just yet to let on he'd asked about somewhere already.
Rose thought he was almost as bad as the Timelord she'd wanted Alec to be.
"Not normally, I mean we arrange for temporary accommodation, such as when you arrived, well so I was told when I started here. Come back and see me on Thursday then."
"I will and I remember you from the other week when you almost knocked me over."
"Yes, you opened the door on me, remember?"
"Well excuse me for being there at the same time as you, Detective Inspector Hardy."
"You are excused, this time," he told her, trying not to smile or use her name. "So, I take it you are not from around her either?"
Rose knew when she was being chatted up. "You guessed right, what gave me away?" she asked, trying not to blush.
"Lucky guess? So what do you do when you are not bumping into senior officers?"
"I like to read and just stare out of my window at the boats on the harbour. I have an apartment just opposite."
"I hate going on the water, it reminds me of my last case."
"Sandbrook? I read up on it, well after that suspect got away. Sorry that had to be you."
"It's done with, it will never go away though. I am keeping you from your work. The others seem to have deserted you."
"Yeah, I'll have to wait for one of them coming back."
"Would you like to join me across the road? I mean, you don't have to, if you don't want to. Maybe that was my fault when you opened the door on me."
"The great Alec Hardy apologizing," Rose mused, putting his folder down. "Here, give me that form back, I'll do it for you and rush it through. I'll come over and join you when someone gets back but I can't stay long."
"Don't you get an hour or will the place fall apart without you?" Alec asked, handing the form back and their fingers touching.
"I guess I'm just used to grabbing something and bringing it back because the other two do the same and we've got someone off," she told him, twisting one of her hoop earrings.
"You can't be rushed off your feet surely?" Alec grinned.
"Well you never know when officers might want someone to sort out their accommodation, I was the one who had to sort out somewhere in a hurry for DS Miller. Have you seen her since she left?"
"Only the other night while they were lighting a bonfire on the beach for Danny."
"Didn't you go join them? I was there, thought I would pay my respects since I thought I'd be intruding at the funeral."
"I suppose you would have been welcomed had you gone? Or did you want to stay out of the media, Miss Tyler?"
Rose knew the game was up, that of no-one so far recognizing her.
"What gave me away?"
"My DS was always reading the gossip columns and she remarked you had gone off the radar some time back. Why here and this job?"
"I wanted to be independent, not the Vitex heiress who sat around playing on her phone all day and going to parties. My stepfather arranged this for me but Denise didn't thank me for coming in and taking her promotion."
"I know exactly how you feel, DS Miller was not too happy when I took hers," Alec smiled. "Rose, would you officially join me for lunch? While I still have the means to pay?"
"Aw, being on sick pay ain't that bad and you said you wanted to still do some sort of work."
"The chief may send me to teach over at the academy, she said she would get back to me."
"Well good luck with that, I hope you get another chance to prove you're too good to kick out. I was surprised when the chief told me to process your medical leave."
"So I have you to thank for that? I know, you were only doing your job."
Rose's desk phone rang and Alec got up to leave.
"I'll be over when I can," Rose told him as she answered the phone.
Alec nodded and left, thinking this indeed may be his lucky day. He now wished he'd taken notice of the blonde who had almost knocked him over and taken a better look at her. The question was though, why was Rose Tyler working in the HR department of the Broadchurch police? He thought an even bigger question was, would she turn him down like Becca Fisher had done a few weeks ago if he made a few suggestions to her, such as casually ask her to have sex with him because if he was going to end up in hospital again or even worse, that would be his preferred way of going to his doom.