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Stay out of my way

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Alec Hardy's Sunday was about to get a lot worse – as if fighting his wife about going out for Sunday lunch and his almost teenage daughter crossing her arms and saying he never spends any time with her and why do they have to go out. Then, while shushing his wife and glaring at his daughter, he answers his work phone and his wife starts again.

"Go on, answer it then," Tess dared him as he squinted at the screen. "Why do you never put your glasses on, really Alec," she continued. "It's going to be the station but why call you, on a Sunday? You really need to have words with them," she added as he pressed the answer button and said 'Hardy' to the person who had dared to interrupt his day off.

He thought at least if they went out for lunch, he may get a bit of peace and quiet as the caller spoke.

"Sir, sorry to interrupt your Sunday," the desk sergeant apologised, not that he really meant it, he knew what the DI was like, especially if his wife was giving him trouble.

"Tell him we're going out," Tess insisted as Alec tried to cover his mobile to tell her for the hundredth time to shush.

"They don't call for nothing Tess," he hissed at her to remind her.

"It's up to the junior officers to deal with anything Alec, that's the protocol," she reminded him back.

"Well is your work phone on?" he replied as he uncovered the phone. "What is it then? Where are all the junior officers?"

"They've turned their phones off Alec, what do you think?" Tess scoffed at him. "You should try it once in a while, your bloody work mobile's always on, even in bed."

"Well nothing goes on there, does it Tess?" Alec scoffed back at her, not caring if the desk sergeant heard or not, even with the phone covered again.

Daisy looked round at him.

"Are you and mum getting divorced?" Daisy shouted out loud. "All my friends' parents are getting divorced, I'll finally fit in with them. Hang on a minute, are you going to fight over me or abandon me?"

"Daisy, no-one's going to abandon you, are they Alec?" Tess glared at him, daring him to say something. "And we're not getting divorced, are we Alec?" she added.

"Will you two stop?" he told them. "Daisy, you are not going to be abandoned but as for the divorce? I swear Tess, you tempt me sometimes."

"Fine, have that attitude," Tess replied. "Don't think I've not thought about it either."

"Been getting advice from your friend Dave?" Alec raised his eyebrows, forgetting he was supposed to be talking on the phone until he heard another voice calling his name.

"Sir, if it's all the same to you, you need to know why I'm interrupting your Sunday morning," the desk sergeant told him. "Sir, we have a missing child in the town."

"What?" Alec asked. "Why didn't you say so?"

The desk sergeant felt like telling him he'd be better off sorting out his own problems first.

"Sir, you're on the duty roster for emergency call-outs, along with DS Hardy. The missing girl is twelve year old Pippa Gillespie, she and her nineteen year old cousin couldn't be found when the younger girl's parents got back from an overnight stay. Officers have been out to the estate and a search is underway but they need a senior officer to take charge," the desk sergeant told him.

Alec was reaching for a pen and pad on the unit.

"Give me the address," he replied, daring Tess to object. "Tell them to carry on searching, get a map of the area and set up a command post. Are officers knocking on doors?" he asked.

"Yes Sir but some people are out or only just got up," the sergeant replied, wishing someone else had drawn the short straw of calling the grumpy detective but the whole station knew why he was so grumpy.

Rumours were rife that Alec Hardy's wife was paying more attention to another certain DS than she was her husband but he'd either chosen to ignore it or he'd already started divorce proceedings. Everyone knew Tess didn't care Alec was now aware and were surprised he'd not retaliated.

"We'll be there in an hour or so," Alec replied, Tess throwing down the morning paper where she'd been looking at various venues to go visit for lunch.

"Great, that means I get bundled off to nan's again," Daisy complained, without finding out why.

"Daisy, you're not old enough to be left on your own," Tess told her. "Blame your father for taking the call."

"I didn't want to go out," Daisy further complained.

"Well you will have to go out, your mother and I have to go to work," Alec told her firmly. "A young girl has gone missing."

"Do I have to go missing to get some attention?" Daisy asked as she got up.

"Daisy, just get your things," her mother told her.

"Am I staying there overnight?" Daisy wanted to know.

"Best take everything, just in case," Alec advised her.

He really didn't know what to expect when he and Tess got there but it was Sunday and people had things to do and places to go so half the estate would be unavailable. He always concentrated on immediate neighbours though, since they didn't usually miss much, though they tended to take some persuading to talk.

Daisy moaned all the way to Tess's mother's house, about how they didn't care about her and any excuse to get rid of her, until Alec pulled up outside the house.

"We'll spend some time together, yes?" Alec promised her as she got out.

"Don't say that if you don't mean it Dad," Daisy warned him as Tess got out.

Alec elected to stay where he was, he knew how his mother-in-law hated the way he worked too much and he'd heard Tess blame it on him when she'd called to say they were bringing Daisy over.

"Aren't you coming in Alec?" Tess wanted to know.

"You don't need for me to go in," he replied, checking his phone.

He counted how long it took Tess to come back out, it was the usual length, which was why he'd said an hour to get to the scene when it was only a ten minute drive away. When they arrived, they were let through to where the girls had disappeared from and Alec saw all the officers stare as if to say why had those two been called out?

"No saying we'll find them safe and well," Alec warned Tess.

"I know how you feel about these cases Alec, I don't need reminding."

"Well all the better if we do find them safe and well but they have to be prepared for the worst. I hope the other girl's parents are here. We need backgrounds on both families so we know what we’re dealing with, a list of friends and visit the next door neighbours."

"In what order?" Tess wanted to know. "I wish you'd stop firing orders out Alec."

"Tess, we're working now," he reminded her. "Look for anything out of place, anything suspicious, remember that case in Yorkshire?"

"This isn't Yorkshire Alec, that was on a council estate," Tess replied.

"That makes no difference Tess. Right, let's get started."

They got out of the car, a uniformed officer knocking on the door and wishing them luck, since the parents hadn't said much in their initial interview.

Half an hour later, Alec was back in the car, leaning over the steering wheel while Tess was still talking in the doorway to the girl's mother.

"You'll find my Pippa?" the mother was asking Tess.

"We have a lot going on Cate, we have a lot of people working. Are you sure you've told us all the places the girls liked to go?" Tess wanted to be sure.

"What's wrong with him?" Cate pointed to Alec, who was now leaning back in his seat.

"We have a daughter, the same age as Pippa. It's just getting to him," Tess replied, hoping that was the reason.

It was and it wasn't, Alec had thought it could have easily been Daisy but it was the way the girl's father was acting, like he knew something and Alec didn't like the feeling he was getting. They'd found out the older girl's parents were separated and now had to go see them and he wished Tess would stop talking, seeing her watching and then pointing to his watch.

Tess got in beside him, asking what his problem was.

"We've a lot to get through Tess and you're spending too much time talking to the mother," he complained.

"I'm trying to get her to talk to me," Tess replied. "You could have shown more interest Alec. What about the girl's father?"

"What about him?" Alec wanted to know. "He knows more than he's saying and where are the other parents eh? They're family, why aren't they with each other? Right, we call next door now, find out what the neighbours know and I want a full check of both houses."

"You really think one of them's hiding the girls?" Tess asked, being a bit puzzled.

"Do I have to remind you where they found that other girl? How do we know they're not playing some kind of game?" he wanted to know. "Find out how well the girls knew the neighbours and find out if the Gillespies really were at that wedding all night."

"Why would one of them leave?" Tess wondered.

"You tell me?" he quipped.

Up in London, Pete Tyler was reading the morning papers, one eye half on his young son, whom he thought he'd never in a million years ever have a son and who was playing with his plane and zeppelin collection with his big sister.

"I don't know why your mother has to still supervise Sunday lunch," he complained as Jackie was missing again.

"Old habits die hard Dad," Rose laughed, going to tickle Tony as he reached over with a plane over her head. "She spends most of the day in the kitchen. I wish something exciting would happen though, it's been boring at work."

"Mum always says be careful what you wish for," Tony laughed.

"Listen to your brother," Pete also laughed. "Maybe you and Mickey should think up some new project eh?" he suggested.

The next day, Rose was going to wish she'd not said anything when Pete read out the news headlines over breakfast, Jackie trying to keep Tony interested in something else and listen at the same time.

"So where's Sandbrook?" Jackie wanted to know.

"Near Portsmouth," Pete told her.

"Where all the boats are," Tony grinned. "Uncle Mickey told me."

"Well done Tony," Rose patted him on his head. "It's awful, imagine two of 'em going missing?"

"You wanted something to do," Pete replied. "You could go offer Torchwood's services, go see the detective in charge."

Then he turned the page to read more and changed his mind but Rose was already watching.

"What's wrong Dad?" she asked him, getting up.

He cautiously moved his hand away from the photo Alec had not wanted taking at the press conference he'd had to go to last night.

"You're kiddin' me," Rose stood back on seeing the photo.

"What's wrong?" Jackie turned away from Tony, who complained. "Blimey, when did he get here?"

"When did who get here?" Tony wanted to know.

"Never you mind young man," his mother replied. "Hurry up or you'll be late for school."

"I want dad to take me," the boy insisted.

"Nanny will take you, as always," Jackie told him, to which he pulled a face.

"I'm too old for a nanny," he complained.

"Mum, it can't be him, we'd know if it was," Rose turned to her mother.

"Pete, could it be him?" Jackie asked.

"I don't know Jaks, there's been no signs of any activity and we have been watching," Pete replied. "There's someone monitoring 24 hrs a day, ask Rose, she wanted a job there and no-one will give notice," he smiled.

"I'd swap with one of them," Rose replied. "Anyway, how can it be him, unless he's disguised himself?"

"Don't get your hopes up Rose," Jackie sympathised.

"I'm not Mum, if he'd found a way, he'd have come to find me."

"Why don't you and Mickey drive down and check him out?" Pete wondered.

"I'm not taking Mickey," Rose insisted. "I'll go take a look, see if we can help."

"Good, offer them lab and other facilities if they need them, you know what to do," Pete told her.

"Yeah, though whoever he is, he'll think we're trying to take over," Rose smiled, remembering the last time they'd offered to help a police force.

"Just don't go barging in, like they do in Cardiff," Pete laughed.

So after getting to work and making all the arrangements, having passed her driving test, much to the relief of Mickey and Jake, who had taught her, she set off the next morning and booked into a hotel and found the police station.

She was taking her mother's advice and not getting her hopes up that The Doctor had found his way here and was masquerading as a police detective as she made her way to the police station. The desk sergeant thought he was seeing things when Rose walked up to the desk.

"Miss Tyler? What can the Sandbrook police do for you? Has your car broken down or maybe you're lost?" he asked her.

"Neither, thankfully," Rose smiled. "Can I see the detective who's in charge of finding those two missing girls?"

"Of course, take a seat," he indicated to a row of chairs attached to the wall opposite, Rose thinking they were taking no chances that no-one smashed them up or stole them.

She walked across and pulled one down and sat on it, wondering what had possessed her to come here.

The desk sergeant was waiting for Alec to answer his phone and was just about to hang up and try Tess's.

"What?" Alec snapped as he'd been arguing with Tess again and he was getting tired of it and was thinking of doing something about it. "I'm busy man, get on with it."

"Sir, there's someone in reception to see you," he was told.

"Well who is it? It's not my daughter is it? If she's skipped school, she'll be in trouble," Alec replied.

"No Sir, it's not your daughter," the sergeant replied.

"Well I've not got all day to guess, how am I supposed to know who it is?" Alec snapped again. "If it's anyone short of Rose Tyler herself, tell whoever it is to see DS Hardy."

"Sir, it is Rose Tyler," the sergeant tried to sound serious.

"I'm coming down there and if it's not her, you're on school crossing patrols," Alec warned him.

He wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen for himself.

"Miss Tyler? Come this way," he spoke more gently than he had done with the desk sergeant.

He led her to a more pleasant interview room and opened the door.

"May I ask what you're doing here?" he wanted to know.

"Well, I came to offer the services of Torchwood," Rose replied. "We're trying to help any police force who need it."

When he didn't seem all that keen of Torchwood barging in and taking over, she began to tell him all the benefits.

"We won't take over, not unless we're invited," Rose insisted.

"I will have to clear it with my chief," Alec half relented. "However, any signs you are taking over, you'll be asked to leave."

"Fine," Rose agreed. "So, we'll work together? I mean as a team?" she added as he raised his eyebrows like The Doctor used to do, which didn't help convince her he wasn't the real deal.

"Agreed but there is one thing. Stay out of my way when we are not working, understand?"