Rose slipped the portable device in her jacket pocket, knowing it was fully charged and would give her chance to get back instantly should she land in a bad place or dangerous situation. What her mother and Mickey had used the last time had been an older model but she had been moved by the controller from landing in front of Donna's mother and grandfather and at the time, she was glad someone else was in control.
As the thought of hopefully landing near the Tardis buzzed through Rose's mind and the cannon made the noises she remembered so well, she saw Alec turn away and almost cried out for the controller to stop her transfer to what had been identified as her old world but at that stage, it was impossible to stop without endangering herself and ending up in the void or worse, scattered into atoms.
Thinking whatever was at the other side, if it wasn't the Doctor, she would have her device take her right back to Alec and hope he would forgive her. As her surroundings began to fade, she closed her eyes to lessen the effects as she had done before and waited for the dizziness to wear off and she should be maybe on a street or in a building, wherever the Tardis had opened the gap.
Not at first hearing any sounds, she opened one eye cautiously then not quite believing it, opened the other. The machines were stacked up as normal in front of the spot she had apparently not moved from but seemed to be on receiving mode, since she'd been present many times when Jake or Mickey were expected back from a mission, usually around an hour or sometimes a lot less but this was a new one on her, not going anywhere.
The technicians had their backs to her and she looked for her stepfather, Alec and Jake but it was Jake who appeared from behind a bank of computers plus she noticed the armed guards were missing.
"What's going on Jake?" she asked as he dashed up to her.
"Rose? Where the hell have you been?" he asked, going to give her a hug as if he couldn't believe it was her.
"Get off Jake, quit fooling around, I ain't been anywhere. Did it malfunction or something? Where's Alec and Pete?"
"Since when did you call your dad Pete?" Jake grinned, letting her go. "Don't worry, Alec's gone nowhere, he's in the briefing room, you've been gone four hours, you know food and drink aren't allowed in here and they needed a break."
Rose assumed he meant Alec and her stepfather but she did call him Pete from time to time so she looked at her friend. She blinked again in case her brain had been scrambled.
"Jake, I went nowhere, honestly. I stood there as usual and opened my eyes and you came dashing towards me and where are the guards?" she asked him, getting her device out of her pocket but then she saw the look on Jake's face and hurriedly put it back in before he could see it.
Something wasn't right and she knew it.
"Guards?" Jake laughed. "Where have you been? Did you get where we thought it was?"
"Where did ya think I went?" she asked, not sure about this.
"Now who's joking? That world we located, you forgot?" he asked, not giving anything away.
She was about to answer when the briefing room door opened and her heart skipped a beat. Maybe it was just her imagination and Pete and Alec were about to come back out but she almost panicked when what looked like a two year old girl in a white floral dress was struggling to get away from her dad – Alec.
"Where have you been sweetheart?" Alec asked as he approached her and he handed the girl to Jake, who made a face at the youngster, making her laugh and say 'Yake'.
Alec went to put his arms around her and tried to kiss her but Rose held him off.
"Sorry, I'm just a bit confused, just give me a minute, yeah?" she asked him as he looked at her.
"Hey, it's fine Rose, it has happened before, I know what to expect when you come back love, take all the time you need. Maisie got hungry so Jake had some food sent down. You have never been gone this long before though, where did you get to eh?"
Rose was wondering the same thing as he kissed her cheek and went to rescue Jake from the squirming two year old but as he grasped her, she got free and went running over to Rose.
Rose instinctively bent down to lift the girl even though it had not yet been established who she was but wondered where her stepfather had got to. Alec could see Rose was struggling so he took the girl back.
"Come on Maisie, let your mum have some space eh? Rose, I will take her back in the briefing room while you gather your thoughts, then we will go back to your mother's," he offered.
"Yeah, I'll be fine, I'll just give my report to Jake," she replied, not knowing what to say and since that was what she normally did, it would be fine.
She watched them walk off then Jake led her to the window, Rose looking for any tell-tale signs she was on the wrong world. How had she suddenly gained a two year old daughter in those few seconds?
"What happened to you then?" Jake laughed. "Had your brain scrambled? Was that on the way there or the way back?"
"Jake, be serious. I never went anywhere and whoever that is, it's not my Alec or is that girl my daughter," Rose had to admit, thinking now, if this was Jake, he'd have called some guards to escort her to Pete's office at the very least.
"Rose, it's just the effects of the cannon, it'll wear off. Need I remind you what else you've come back saying?" he asked her.
"I need coffee," Rose declared, since she'd had nothing after leaving the mansion earlier and now, it was supposed to be four hours later.
"There's coffee in the briefing room, Maisie was getting hungry, it's after her lunch time and Alec wouldn't take her up to the canteen in case you came back. That man would wait forever, I swear Rose. He wanted to go after you and he would if it hadn't been for your daughter, I've never seen him like that before."
Rose was taking it all in. This was not her version of the world she'd just been in, not ten minutes ago. If she said anything else, she'd get locked up but she'd left another Alec behind, one who had pretended to be the clone Doctor for over a week and she was not going to play the same game as he had.
"Jake, you have to believe me, my brain didn't get scrambled that much that I don't remember going anywhere. Take me to Pete's office."
"Rose, what's wrong with ya? You only call him Pete when you talk to others about him and you know he works from home now that Owen's taking over," Jake told her.
Rose stared at the river below, at least it looked the same, now zeppelin's were almost out of fashion and there were no Daleks or spaceships in the sky.
"I forgot but I need to talk to him. Jake, please, you have to believe me, I don't belong here," Rose pleaded with him.
"I'll get a car to take you back to the mansion, you can talk to him when you get back but he'll just say the same Rose. You were away a lot longer than normal, he'll think it affected you, same as me and Alec," Jake replied, getting his phone out. "Go get changed and I'll have a car waiting downstairs in twenty minutes, your things are in the ladies, since your husband and daughter took up residence in the briefing room," he grinned.
Husband? Rose panicked, suddenly noticing a mark on her finger where two rings should have been. How long had she supposed to have been married – to Alec? Well probably at least two years judging by the young girl and how long had he watched her going on missions, which Pete had stopped four years ago? No, she was in the wrong world and unlike Alec, she couldn't fool all of them like he'd done so well.
As Jake held his phone, he hinted towards the ladies room for her to get changed.
"I know where it is Jake," Rose tried to smile.
Alec came out of the briefing room as Rose disappeared through the door, the girl wanting to go with her.
"No darlin', wait for your mum coming back then we will go see your nanna and grandad," Alec told her.
Jake went up to him. "Are you worried about her?" he asked Alec, who was holding the toddler to the window.
"She's been confused before when she's come back Jake, she'll come around. What did she say to you?"
"That she went nowhere but that's never happened before," Jake grinned as Maisie tried to go to him.
Alec leaned back on the ledge. "I know but we all saw her go Jake, should we be worried?"
"Let her speak to her father, he'll convince her it's just an effect of the travelling between dimensions Alec. Best not let her mother know though," he replied as Maisie messed with his hair.
"Yake, down," the girl told him as she saw Rose come back out.
Rose had found some clothes she presumed were hers but not what she'd been wearing when she'd arrived, at what she now gathered was a different to this one Torchwood Tower. A million things had been running through her mind, the first one was where the hell was she and what mission had she supposed to have been on? Then she'd taken the device out of her jacket pocket and tried pressing it but nothing had happened but what did she expect?
She put it in her shoulder bag and hoped Jake wouldn't mention it because if she was on another world, no-one could get their hands on it. Alec had picked up Maisie again as she'd tried to run to Rose.
"Come back tomorrow for your debriefing Rose, when you can think a bit clearer," Jake told her. "I'll report to Owen that you were a bit off when you came back but he'll expect a full report from you. You'll need to be here anyway, he makes his decision tomorrow."
"What decision's that then?" Rose asked as she took the toddler from Alec and Maisie buried her head in Rose's shoulder as Alec went to kiss her cheek.
Rose looked at Alec and gave him a smile, it wasn't his fault she didn't know him or the girl. He did look different when she looked at him properly, how had she not noticed he now had a strange resemblance to a certain Scottish actor when he wasn't playing a part?
"I know you don't want it Rose," Jake told her. "You knew this was coming and we discussed it when your dad stepped down. You know Owen's been against the project since that mission of yours went wrong."
She was about to ask which one that was but thought better of it. She couldn't discuss this if she was on the wrong world but this had never happened to her before – well apart from finding herself back on her old world briefly then being told she couldn't stay.
"Well I'm glad it will all be over love," Alec told her, trying to take the girl from her. "Come on Maisie, say bye to uncle Jake."
"Bye Yake," the girl repeated as she went to Alec.
"Bye Maisie, see ya later. Don't worry so much Rose, you'll feel better tomorrow. You're almost as bad as when we used to get totalled at the pub with Mickey," he laughed.
Rose thought she could at least relate to that as Alec took her hand, holding Maisie in his other arm and they crossed to the lifts.
"Jake's right love, you'll be fine tomorrow, I'll cheer you up tonight, we have something to discuss."
"We do?" Rose asked as she pressed the lift button again, Alec trying to stop her.
Well some things hadn't changed. A car was waiting, with a child seat in the back and Alec fastened the young girl into it, allowing Rose to get in at the side. Rose assumed it was a Torchwood car since the driver never asked where they were going and Alec was watching her through the mirror. Then it dawned on her – she was in a mirror universe of some kind, altered when she didn't go anywhere and the world changed around her. Either that or it just seemed like she'd gone nowhere.
At least this Jake had mentioned Mickey, maybe he'd believe her? Why did Jake keep saying about her stepfather though and why had he given up being the director? They drove across London on the circular road Rose noted which took a bit longer but avoided all the traffic lights and eventually pulled into the grounds of what until recently had been her home.
She expected Tony would be at school when just her mother came to greet them, grabbing a sleepy Maisie as soon as Alec un-strapped her and smothering her with wet kisses.
"Here's my baby girl then?" Jackie cooed at her, the girl looking at who Rose now gathered was her husband and Maisie's father. "Has she had her lunch Alec?"
"Yes, while we waited for Rose, there was a delay with one of the computers," he lied, looking at Rose.
Rose was grateful he'd not given her mother any cause for concern but if he'd seen her go off before, he was probably used to it.
"What about you Rose, have you eaten? I got the cook to save ya some soup," her mother continued as they went inside.
"Thanks, yeah I'm a bit peckish so I'll go get some then. I'll catch up with ya."
"Want some company love?" Alec asked, slipping his arm around her shoulder and kissing her cheek as they followed her mother inside.
Rose wondered how to refuse without offending him. "Yeah, I need to talk to you Alec."
"I hope it's about what I want to talk to you about?" he smiled back.
"You two, no snogging in the kitchen," Jackie called after her as they went off, fussing over her granddaughter.
Alec had a guilty look on his face that Rose could spot a mile off – even if it wasn't her Alec, whom she had just been getting used to now he wasn't pretending to be the duplicate Doctor with memory loss. The cook saw them enter and went to get two bowls of soup from the large pan on the stove and the assistant brought some crusty bread to the table as they sat next to each other.
"Thanks Sarah," Alec acknowledged the young woman, still holding Rose's hand. "This will help you feel better love."
"Yeah, I'm probably just hungry but then I have to go find Pete," Rose replied, feeling his hand on her leg.
"Love, why are you calling your dad that, there is just the two of us," he asked her.
Rose thought she was lucky his name was still Alec, she could hardly tell him apart from the actor now. Apart from him wearing a very fetching red casual sweater that looked very expensive and a pair of jeans, there was something about him now and it wasn't the fact that only yesterday, he'd had an alien equivalent of a pacemaker inserted. She also didn't remember packing the clothes he was wearing, which now, he had rolled up the sleeves, showing a very expensive smart watch as the soup bowls were put in front of them.
"Thought you'd eaten earlier?" Rose asked him, just for something to say.
"We shared, Maisie had most of it," he smiled, blowing to cool the hot soup. "I bet your mother is making a fuss over her by now. Anyone would think Maisie was hers."
Rose finished her lunch in silence, Alec waiting for her as some tea was brought over.
"Well, you should find your dad then, he'll be in his study I expect?" Alec suggested, Rose now noticing his strong accent had softened slightly.
Now she was beginning to think he wasn't really Alec Hardy.
"Yeah, probably but Alec, I don't remember anything about what happened today, I stood there and never moved, I swear I didn't."
"It's okay love, the effects will wear off, Jake said so and he's the expert. Maybe you went on one mission too many eh?" he smiled, kissing her cheek. "You know what I want to talk about Rose, now Maisie is two?"
Rose didn't need any further hints. If he didn't believe her, she'd be forever fending him off trying to make another baby with her and she didn't even remember this one, now probably trying to get away from her grandma.
"Can I talk to my dad on my own Alec, do ya mind?" she asked as he ran his finger under her chin and tried to kiss her.
She couldn't resist just touching his lips softly, just enough to keep him happy for now, since the kitchen staff were across the room pretending to be doing something and not watching them. Rose expected they were used to them, given her mother's warning, well who was now her mother and since everyone had said Pete was her dad, she figured she'd accepted him as her father.
The only thing bothering her now was the fact she may have swapped places with another version of herself but there had been no Rose Tyler born on what she now called home which made her think this was yet another world or it had been altered. She didn't know which was the worst but she had to somehow convince them and get back – her Alec would be getting frantic by now.
Rose got up, Alec, trying to beat her to it.
"Remember where his study is love?" he smiled.
"Yeah. Why don't you go rescue Maisie from her gran?" Rose asked, thinking that would be a good idea.
"You know she likes being called nanna, though I have no idea why but since Maisie is her only grandchild, well for now? Maybe we can go out tonight?" he suggested as they stood in the hallway.
"Yeah, I'd like that Alec, why don't you find us somewhere to go?" Rose suggested as staff passed them, Rose not recognising half of them and Alec was putting his arms around her to try to kiss her again.
At least if they went out, it would avoid him talking about having another baby and if she got drunk, he wouldn't be trying but that was only one night. What about when they got back to Broadchurch, well even if that was where they lived but it was clear they were only visiting here so she wouldn't mention home for now.
Rose went off, hoping Pete's study was just around the corner and since the door was closed she assumed he was busy so she tapped on it and waited.
"Come in Rose," Pete called.
"You were expecting me?" she smiled, closing the door behind her.
"I had a call from Jake, he was worried about you love," he replied, getting up to give her a hug. "Now, what's all this about you disappearing for over four hours and when you get back, you claim you never went anywhere eh?" he asked, indicating for her to sit.
"Yeah, I could have sworn I went nowhere Dad, Jake told me how long I'd been away. You have to get Jake to check the readings again."
"He will love, don't worry but you have to give your report tomorrow of where you went and what you saw, he's only letting you off because you were confused when you got back and now, he'll have told Owen and that will give him an extra reason to close it down for good. You already know he wants to Rose," Pete told her.
"Will you come with me tomorrow and speak to him for me?" Rose asked, since Owen may listen to him.
"Well I can try love, just for you. You and Alec behave yourselves in the kitchen?" he joked.
"Yeah, he doesn't believe me either Dad. So, you're not the director any more?" she dared to ask before she continued.
"Blimey Rose, you really did get scrambled?" Pete laughed. "No, I gave it over to Owen last month, you and Alec were there. You know I lost faith in it after the incident but I only stayed on for you, you didn't want to give in, even after you had Maisie. When Alec told me you two were thinking about having another, well I thought if I retired, you'd give up as well, since you knew how Owen felt about the project."
"You gave up because of what Alec told ya?" Rose asked, wondering if Alec now worked for Torchwood and they lived in London after all.
"Well he hinted and it's a long way for you all to travel every time it's your turn to go Rose. I know his boss understands he goes with you but she may not be all that happy about it and now I'm no longer in charge, she may stop him taking the time off and he'll have to stay behind with your daughter."
"Dad, you have to believe me, I don't belong here," Rose broke down, tears in her eyes. "I didn't go anywhere, I wasn't married to Alec and we never had a daughter, I swear it's the truth."