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Last Train to Broadchurch

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It was the last thing she had wanted, travelling up to Glasgow right before Christmas in the place of her stepfather, Peter Tyler, chairman of the Vitex corporation and multi-millionaire. She would have thought he would have sent her by zeppelin but since she hated the things and had never got used to them since being in this world, she was rather relieved and the train journey up hadn't been too bad, at least she'd not had to change trains.

After almost a week attending the boring conference, Rose wishing now she had opted to go work for Torchwood instead of Vitex but she couldn't come to terms with what their counterparts in her world had done and been half responsible for her being in this world in the first place so it had been her own fault really. Pete had promised her a big bonus for going in his place as vice-chairperson, one of the perks of being related to the boss. She was really his PA and loved her job.

The day before the conference was meant to end, the weather started to take a turn for the worse and Rose rang about her train and was told it may be cancelled and to check back the next day. She was surprised they had not ended the conference early but most of those attending were local. Lucky them.

It was the 23rd of December, Rose had called the train booking line the night before and been told all trains directly to London were being diverted and they could get her on the train from Glasgow Central leaving at 7.50am but she would have to make two changes, one at Plymouth and one in Dorchester with a delay of over an hour at Dorchester for a connecting train.

So having an early breakfast and arriving at the train station thirty minutes before it set off, it had started to snow, the kind of really wet snow, more like sleet and she had got out of her taxi under a canopy thank goodness. She wheeled her case onto the platform, showing confirmation on her phone that her train journey had been altered at the ticket office and collecting her new ticket and boarded the train.

She found her seat, an outside one unfortunately but she would be able to stretch her legs or so she thought. She had not be able to reserve a seat in the quiet compartment or even first class, the train was booked solid, she'd been lucky so putting her case on the luggage rack, she settled in her seat. The train was starting to fill up and people were already standing in the entryway opposite the open doors. She looked at the seat next to her, still vacant – it was reserved for Hardy. People were taking their seats, others were wandering down the carriage looking for unreserved seats and making rude remarks when passing and seeing an empty one and a name on it.

The reservation slip did say the seat was reserved from Glasgow and she wondered if the person was actually going to show up. Just ten minutes before departure, a man stopped and looked at the seat number and the name and then at his ticket. He was tall, well dressed in a suit and black overcoat and had a beard, the scruffy sort.


Alec Hardy felt he'd had a wasted journey. After the terrible nightmare of the Latimer case, he had been persuaded to go for a pacemaker fitting and against his better judgement had agreed and to his surprise he had actually survived. So still on medical leave until the new year, he'd decided to make the journey up to Glasgow, see his father who he didn't really get on with and try to see his daughter. She had agreed to meet him but hadn't shown up at the coffee shop in the shopping mall and was refusing to answer his calls. All that way for nothing. His present for her was still in his holdall.

He'd spent two nights at the Glasgow Travelodge and had made his way to the station for the train back to Plymouth, cursing it was not stopping at Exeter then on to Broadchurch that was now his home. He had even rented a cottage down by the beach, just one bedroom, he had no need of company and he could walk to work when he went back. It was meant to be a holiday cottage but it was fully furnished so he had nothing to buy and he'd got a good deal for six months and it was cheaper than the hotel, then he would decide to rent somewhere more permanent, it would be too expensive to rent it during the summer but he had it until next April. It was funny how he had hated the place when he'd arrived but was now more at home there than he was in Glasgow. His illness had made him change.

He arrived at the station, knowing he had a reservation on the 7.50 am train to Plymouth and walked down the length of the train to find his carriage. He saw a young blonde woman sat next to the seat that had his name on it.

"Excuse me Miss, that's my seat, may I?" he asked politely.

He put a holdall on the rack above the seat and Rose got up to let him in. Rose decided to be polite. She had noticed how tall he was and was going to have difficulty sitting in the cramped space for hours.

"Why don't I take the window seat, it will be easier unless you prefer to sit there."

The man agreed, waiting for her to move up.

"Thank you, I appreciate that, there is never enough room on these trains. Are you getting off before Plymouth?"

"No, but I may need to pass you once or twice to use the rest room. It depends on how much coffee I drink on the journey."

The man smiled. "That's quite alright, I'll make sure no-one steals your seat while you're gone."

The man spoke with a soft Scottish accent and to Rose seemed decent enough. He took his overcoat off and put it on top of his holdall.

They had just got settled when there was an announcement the train had been delayed by ten minutes due to the train in front but Rose thought nothing of it. She connected to the internet on her phone using the free wi-fi on the train and looked up as to what time they would arrive in Plymouth, hoping she wouldn't miss her connecting train but she had half an hour to spare. A ten minute delay was not pushing it to a last minute dash.

The man noticed her engrossed in something and she told him their estimated time of arrival.

"Just great," the man grunted, "I have a connecting train to catch."

"So do I. I have to catch another train to Dorchester, then another one to London. It was the only way I could get back home. Are you going visiting for Christmas?"

"No, I'm going back to where I work, I've just been visiting, if you can call it that."

"I'm going home, just been to a conference, lucky me. My little brother will be so disappointed if I don't make it back home in time."

Ten minutes later, the train pulled out and Rose thought at least they had got moving. It was still snowing but the railways were more efficient here than back on her own world where one leaf of a line would cause severe disruptions. That theory was about to be put to the test.

The stewardess came round with a drinks trolley, Rose getting coffee and the man, Hardy getting tea. Rose thought since they were going to be stuck together for a few more hours, she would introduce herself.

"I'm Rose by the way, I know your name is Hardy, I saw it above the seat. People were looking for empty seats before you got on board."

"I'm Alec but you can call me Hardy, I don't really like my first name."

"Nice to meet you Alec Hardy." She wasn't in the habit of giving out her surname, her name was everywhere and she didn't like being recognised and tried to keep a low profile.

Her phone rang – it was her mother.

"Yes Mum, I'm on a train but I'm having to take a detour via Plymouth, it's snowing up here."

"That's what I'm calling for, it's really bad down here. They say on the news there are severe travel disruptions. Your dad's working from home today. I was hoping you hadn't set off yet, he could arrange to get you back, send a helicopter for you."

Rose heard her stepfather in the background telling her mother not to be daft, neither helicopters nor zeppelins could fly in this weather.

"I'll be fine Mum, I should be back by this evening. I'll call if I get held up. Bye, love to Tony, tell him to be good."

Rose ended the call and smiled at the man next to her. "It's not looking good down south, severe travel disruptions. Where are you getting another train to?"

"Broadchurch, I'm getting the Dorchester train as well."

"At least you'll be home then, I still have to get to London and if I get delayed by too long I'll miss the other train, it will be late when I get home. Since my original travel plans have been changed, I'll have half of London to get across when I get there just to get home. If the weather is as bad as my mum just told me I could be in for a long journey."

The man just smiled at her. "You might be best staying over in Dorchester and continuing tomorrow, the weather may improve."

"Maybe but it's not that long to London from there, it's faster than going by road."

"That's if the trains are still running."

"Thanks, that's all I need, for the trains to be cancelled."

Alec Hardy didn't know if she was joking or not.

"So, what do you do in Broadchurch then?" she asked, wanting to be nosey plus she had never heard of the place.

"I'm a Police detective. It's a small coastal town in Dorset. I was only supposed to be temporary but I kind of got stuck there."

Rose was about to say she knew the feeling of being stuck somewhere she didn't want to be. She wanted to be back on her own world, travelling with the Doctor and enjoying kissing him after they had got out of trouble again and the hugs they shared when she was scared of something. She missed him still – terribly but after all this time he would have surely regenerated again and she might not accept him this time, he might have a completely different personality and he may not be her Doctor any more.

Rose was staring out of the window, the train wasn't going nearly as fast as it should be doing, she was going to miss her connecting train and goodness knows how long she would have to wait for the next.

"Rose?" Alec was asking, seeing she looked miles away. "I was asking you what you do, in London?"

"Sorry, I was thinking that if this train goes much slower we'll miss the connecting one and I won't get home tonight. I'm a PA at my stepfather's company."

"Sounds important."

Rose smiled as the countryside whizzed past, fields covered in snow and towns and villages in the distance. They had stopped in Newcastle then at Leeds and the weather wasn't getting any better. People had got on and off, the train got busier and the stewardess with the trolley was stuck two carriages down.

Alec volunteered to go get some drinks, Rose promised no-one would get his seat even though people were eyeing it, she purposely pulled up the armrest and moved into the middle of the seat, glaring at a surly looking man stood behind a woman. If she were to let the seat go, it wouldn't be to him, some gentleman he was. Alec came back and handed her a cup and had brought some chocolate wafers back.

"They had run out of sandwiches, sorry," he apologised as Rose devoured the snack.

"I'll just have to wait until I get to Dorchester and hope I have time to grab something, if this train ever gets to its destination. By the way, that man down there was eyeing your seat while you were gone," Rose grinned, wanting to have a bit of fun.

"He was, was he? So he would have taken my seat and left that woman standing? Not very chivalrous is he? Let's see if he'd be so polite if he knows I'm a policeman."

Rose giggled again as Alec put his drink in the holder and brought his ID out of his jacket pocket, stared at the man and held out his warrant card and his badge. The man in question shifted a bit, looked at the floor then turned around the other way. It was all Rose could do to keep from laughing out loud as she covered her face with her hand and put her other hand on his shoulder then leaned on his arm, stifling her laughter. Alec was grinning too, pleased he had impressed his fellow passenger.

After that, they talked a lot more. Rose had been impressed by who had turned out to be, a detective inspector in the Broadchurch Police and soon he was telling her of his wasted journey to see his teenage daughter and his brush with death and having an operation. They were talking in lowered voices by this time, the armrest still raised and Rose sitting closer to him. She felt at ease with him more since he had revealed who he was and knew she was safe with him.

They had just left Bristol when Rose realised they would only just catch the connecting train providing there were no more delays, they had just over five minutes to spare so as the train was approaching Plymouth, the guard announcing apologies for delays and that those connecting with other trains were assured that they would be waiting for them, Alec got up to get his holdall and coat down and passed Rose's to her and the small holdall she had with her laptop and things in so they were ready to get off.

They made their way to the luggage rack and retrieved Rose's case, then Alec looked to see what platform their train went from and found it was just over the bridge and it was delayed. On arriving at the platform having spent over ten hours on the train and Rose only been able to get up again once it left Bristol since her first visit to the restroom was a nightmare of trying to get back to her seat. They enquired if it was the train to Dorchester but the guard told Rose it was terminating at Broadchurch because of the weather and she would have to get a bus that would be waiting as a replacement service to Dorchester but all tickets were valid because of the situation. She had no idea now if she could even get a train to London once she got there, it was now after six in the evening and thought once she got to Broadchurch she should find a hotel for the night.

Once on the train, which was cold as it had just started from Plymouth and been brought in as a replacement train, Alec put Rose's case on the rack for her and they found a seat together as the train was already quite full and he had just fitted her case on for her having moved another up that was taking a lot of room up. Rose knew she wouldn't have been able to do it on her own and was thankful he had stayed with her.

"I'm going to call my mum, I might have to stay in Broadchurch tonight. Do you know any good hotels?"

"There's The Traders, I used to stay there when I arrived there. I've still got the number, I'll call for you."

So Rose called her mother and said hopefully she would be back sometime the following day and not to worry, she had met a police detective on the train and was sitting with him and she was fine.

"Well just make sure you're back tomorrow, it's Christmas eve, Tony's been asking every five minutes when you're getting back and you be careful, police detective or not, he's a stranger."

"Mum, I've been sitting on a train with him for over ten hours," Rose laughed, smiling at him as he looked at her, not good news she gathered as he held the phone. "I'll let you know what's happening but my phone needs charging up, I didn't think I would be late home."

If she had gone direct she would have been home hours ago, in a nice warm sitting room playing with her brother and making paper Christmas decorations instead of sitting next to a quite handsome male detective on a freezing cold train. There again, she wouldn't have met Alec Hardy.

"Sorry Rose, they're all booked up for Christmas and people that were stranded. I'd try another hotel but my phone has very little charge on it either, I thought I would be back by now and not need it. We could try when we get there, I'll go with you, there are a few hotels down by the harbour."

"Thanks for trying Alec. I'll just have to try when I get there but I need something to eat, I'm starving."

Alec had managed to get them some sandwiches at Bristol as the train had pulled up by a kiosk and he had gone out to it as it was just at the train door and he'd asked the guard if he had time since there was supposed to be a seven minute stop and he had been back in three.

They were halfway to Broadchurch when the train came to a stop at some signals in the middle of nowhere. An announcement was made the train was delayed due to a broken down train between their current location and Broadchurch.

Rose was totally fed-up. She was tired, she was hungry and would kill for a decent cup of coffee. She couldn't believe they had stopped in the middle of nowhere.

"Can you let me out Alec, I need the restroom." More like she wanted a good cry and didn't want to do it in front of him.

She was back in a few minutes, she had managed to keep her emotions in check but they still hadn't moved, the signal was still on red. Alec saw she looked tired and as he let her back in her seat and took her hand and squeezed it.

"Are you ok Rose?"

"Not really, I'm tired, I'm hungry and I'm cold." The heating had not improved despite people complaining to the guard. She had her coat and her gloves on but was still cold.

Alec removed her gloves and started warming her hands with his. "You'll feel better with warm hands," he smiled as he rubbed them.

There weren't all that many people on the train now, most had got off at the last stop but they still kept their voices low.

Rose managed a smile back. "Thanks Alec, I'm glad I was sat on that other train with you. I could have been sat next to that creep who tried to steal your seat."

Alec laughed and continued to rub her hands until she pulled them away.

"I'm fine now, thanks." She put her wool gloves back on and since no-one was sat opposite them now, she turned and kissed his cheek.

It was now seven thirty, they had been stuck over half an hour and Rose was certainly not going to get back home tonight and since she was cold and tired, she would settle for anywhere warm Broadchurch had to offer.

"I know a place that does great fish and chips and it's open late," Alec said suddenly, taking her hand again and stroking it absent-mindedly.

She didn't try to move it. "Sounds good to me, they don't do accommodation do they by any chance?"

She was staring at the blankness but only saw their reflections in the window, there was nothing else to see.

"You never told me your other name Rose, you have the advantage."

"It's Tyler, Rose Tyler."

"Well Rose Tyler, if you don't mind me being so forward, you can sleep on my sofa tonight after I take you to the best fish and chip shop in Broadchurch. That's if your mother hasn't warned you about sleeping on a stranger's sofa that is."

Rose laughed. "Well she did warn me about strangers but we've know each other for nearly twelve hours and if that train had stopped at Exeter we would have been in Dorchester by now. I wonder why it didn't stop there? It stopped at Bristol."

"Well yes but then I would have had to go to Dorchester and then get back to Broadchurch and I wouldn't be enjoying your company right now on a freezing cold train, would I?" He squeezed her hand again.

"I suppose not. You had to go mention food didn't you?" she smiled, taking her hand away and locking it through his arm.

Alec smiled, it had been a long time since he hadn't had to work at talking to a woman to persuade them to go home with him and here was this Rose Tyler, accepting his offer of sleeping on his couch. Maybe when they did get back, he would offer her the bed and sleep on the sofa himself.

"Well, I programmed the timer on the central heating to go on at six this evening so at least the house will be warm. You can get warmed up, take a nice hot shower if you want and I'll find you a warm duvet and a pillow and tomorrow I will personally drive you to Dorchester to catch a train to London. That's after you ring the station in the morning and check the trains are still running. It's still snowing out there."

"Thanks Alec, I can get a bus down to Dorchester, you've done enough already."

"Rubbish, I would be failing my duty if I didn't see you get a train tomorrow. Anyway, they might be even running from Broadchurch tomorrow if it doesn't get any worse."

"Are you kidding, have you seen it out there?"

"No, I can't see anything out there, except for our reflections. When I was a wee boy, I used to think there was another train at the side of the one we were on and our doubles were on it."

Rose giggled. "Me too!"

She moved up closer and he put his arm around her. "I promise you Rose, I'll make sure you're home to spend Christmas with your family."

"Yeah, thanks. What about you? How are you spending Christmas?"

"Well I have this friend, well she was my work colleague, she lives just outside Broadchurch now, she invited me to spend Christmas day with her and her two boys. She's on her own this year, her husband has just been found guilty of murdering a young boy from the town. Do you not get the news in London? Don't you know about what happened in the town?"

"No, when was that?"

"A few months ago, it was all over the national news, I was on TV and in the newspapers. I was the one who found out he was guilty."

"I had no idea Alec. The poor woman must have been devastated."

"She was, especially with two young boys, one is barely two years old, the other was the murdered boy's best friend."

"It must be terrible for them. Is she getting over it?"

"She moved out of town, she actually works for Dorchester Police now. We helped each other really, she encouraged me to go for a life-saving operation, I've just got over it. I'm on medical leave until after the new year."

"You look ok, what was it?"

Alec leaned his head closer, like it was still a secret. "I had a pacemaker fitted."

Rose looked at him in horror. He was treating it so casually. "But you are alright now, aren't you?"

He put his lips up to her ear and said, "Yes, I'm fine now."

It had been forty five minutes and Rose thought if they didn't move soon they would be stranded there all night and need rescuing. Suddenly, the train engine revved and they started moving, slowly and they passed the green light of the signal. The train guard made an announcement, the train in front had been cleared and they'd had to wait for a unit to come out and clear the snow.

They finally arrived in Broadchurch, it was just after eight and it was still snowing. Alec got the only taxi left down to the harbour and they got out in front of a row of cottages. They had been going to call at the fish and chip shop but it was still open so Alec gave Rose the key to the cottage and got her case and the holdalls out of the boot of the car and asked the driver to take him back.

Rose entered the cottage and found the light switch and pulled the luggage inside. It was nice and warm just as Alec had promised. She went to the rear of the cottage to the kitchen area and filled the electric kettle with water and switched it on, getting two mugs from the cup holder and finding the teabags. Ten minutes later, a knock came on the door and she let Alec in, holding a paper carrier bag containing two cartons. Rose almost snatched one out of his hand as he put them on the counter-top.

"Someone's in a rush," he laughed as she opened the carton and took a handful of chips.

He decided he should be the one to make the drinks as Rose sat at the kitchen table and he handed her a mug of tea.

"Thank you Alec, I don't know what I would have done without you, really. I can never say thank you enough. You knew how to keep me warm and calm on that train."

"Well, you learn a few things in the police. Where have I heard your name before? Tyler?"

Rose kept quiet. "I need to charge my phone then I should call my mum, let her know I'm safe. She's a bit of a worrier."

"After we've eaten, I'll plug the phones in to charge and you can go get a nice warm shower, then I'll dig some spare bedding out. You can have the bed if you want it."

"No, I'll be fine on the sofa, I've put you out enough already. I don't want to cause any more trouble for you."

"Oh you're no trouble Rose, really. I don't get many guests."

"What about your friend, was she working with you on that investigation when all along it was her husband?"

"Yes but she had no idea. Like I said, we helped each other. I helped her get another position and she talked me into having surgery."

Rose looked at him, her appetite almost satisfied as she finished her meal. "Are you are her just friends? Or is there something more?"

Alec laughed at the thought – him and Miller. Not in a million years. "No, just friends. I don't think she could quite forgive me for arresting her husband and having him locked up. That's a bit personal Rose, what about you. Boyfriend back in London is he?"

Rose blushed. "Sorry, I'm just tired. If you can charge my phone for me, I'll go get a shower and take some clothes to change into. Thanks."

Alec finished his meal and Rose passed her phone to him along with the charger. She opened her case and got out a pair of pyjamas and a dressing gown and a clean pair of underwear, thankful she had got the hotel to do her laundry for her the day before.

"Bathroom is just at the top of the stairs, you can't miss it. I'll just get you some towels and use the bathroom before you go in."

"Thanks Alec." She looked up from her case with the night clothes in her arm and caught hold of him.

"You didn't have to do this." Then she kissed his cheek.

Alec was the one who blushed. "Who are you Rose?"

Rose knew the game was up. "Promise not to tell anyone." Alec just nodded. "You're not the only one who's made the papers Alec. Tyler, as in Peter Tyler? Ring a bell?"

Alec looked at her. "No way, you're that Rose Tyler?" he laughed. "So I sit next to The Rose Tyler for over twelve hours and I didn't know who you were."

"Yes Alec and you asked me if I ever watch the news."

Alec took her things off her and put them on the chair arm. "Well it's a good thing I looked after you then or I'd have your stepfather on my case, wouldn't I?"

"Wouldn't want that would we?" Rose laughed.

Alec moved closer and brushed her cheek. "Are you feeling better now?" he asked, brushing his lips against her ear, making her shiver, not from the cold.

"Mmm, I'm good, thanks. Just tired now."

"Take the bed Rose, I insist. I'll be fine on the sofa. I'll bring your case upstairs while you're in the shower then you can go straight to bed. Don't worry, I've fallen asleep on the sofa before, when I came out of hospital. I fell asleep while my friend was here so she let herself out and tormented me for a week about it. She thought it was funny."

Rose smiled. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "You're a good, kind man Alec Hardy."

"Well just you try telling that to my ex," he laughed.

He moved away and picked up her clothes. "Here you go, enjoy your nice hot shower Rose."

She took them and was just heading for the stairs when her phone rang. It could only be one person – the one she had forgotten to call.

"Mum," she said as she put her clothes down again. "I was going to call, I was just charging my phone, the battery was almost out."

"Where are you? Have you got lost or something?"

"No, the train was terminating at Broadchurch and there are no more trains tonight. It was after eight when we got here. They had a replacement bus to Dorchester, to get a train to London but I had no idea if there were any running, there was no-one to ask and if I'd got there, I could have been stranded there. It's awful down here Mum, the train was stopped for forty five minutes, it was freezing. We got to Broadchurch but Alec had called a hotel and it was full, then both our phones ran out of charge so he couldn't find any more and there was only one taxi at the station so I'm here, Alec offered to put me up for the night on the sofa."

She knew her mother was going to blow up and say something. "Before you say anything, I told you he's a police detective, a detective inspector and I'm perfectly safe. It was that or risk getting stranded in Dorchester and I was cold, tired and hungry."

Her mother finally recovered sufficiently to say something. "Well just you be careful. I suppose at least now you know him if you travelled all that way together and he is in the police. What's his name?"

"He's called Alec," Rose replied, looking at him as he had just come back downstairs with a duvet and a pillow. She was not going to give his surname, she knew her mother would get Pete to do a full-scale search on him if she did.

"Well you tell that Alec he'd better look after you. Ring me tomorrow and tell me what's happening, won't you?"

"Yeah, I'll find out how to get home. Alec said he'll drive me down to Dorchester if there are still no trains from Broadchurch."

"Broadchurch? Where have I heard that name before?" her mother asked.

Rose took that as a cue to say goodbye before she had to give a full explanation and she was too tired to comply.

She left her phone charging and went up to the bathroom, stepping under the hot shower and feeling much better now she was warm again. Putting her pyjamas and her robe on, she put the towel to dry and walked into the open bedroom. It looked cosy and the double bed looked welcoming and she could hear it calling her.

Yawning and fastening her dressing gown, she thought she would go down and retrieve her phone just as she heard Alec coming up the stairs and was just about to close the door when she saw him standing at the top of the stairs and turn the corner.

"Everything ok Rose? I just came to get a few things for the morning."

He crossed over to the wardrobe and took out a white shirt on a hanger then go to the dresser drawer.

"I'll be out of your way in a minute, you look like you need some sleep."

He got what he wanted and laid the shirt of the back of the chair by the door. "I'll make you some breakfast in the morning, all part of the service. No extra charge," he smiled. "I'll have to go out and get a few things though, I've not got much in, just enough milk for morning tea, I've been away for three days. I'll bring you some up, is seven ok? I'm usually up at seven."

"Thanks, that would be great since my phone is still downstairs."

"You were coming back down to say goodnight, weren't you Rose?"

"Of course I was Alec, it would be rude if I hadn't," she smiled back at and stepped closer to him.

"Goodnight Alec."

She gave him a quick peck on the lips and started to pull back but he caught her and pulled her closer.

"Goodnight Rose."

He leaned down and looked at her and kissed her back.

He left the room after picking up his clothes and Rose heard him going back downstairs and she closed the bedroom door. She was thinking there weren't that many men like Alec Hardy around who didn't want to take advantage of her. Was she disappointed though?

When Alec was back downstairs, he made himself as comfortable as he could on the sofa, smiling to himself. His first company in his temporary home and the first time since his illness a single woman had been in his bedroom – even if he wasn't up there with her. She was tired and he didn't want to take advantage of her.

Rose woke the next morning to a tap at the door followed by a 'Can I come in Rose?'

She looked at her unfamiliar surroundings then remembered the man she had met on the train yesterday – Alec Hardy and smiled to herself.

"Just a second Alec." She reached for her dressing gown and told him to come in, sitting up in bed.

"Good morning Rose, I take it you feel much better today?" he smiled, putting a mug of steaming hot tea on the bedside cabinet.

He crossed to the window. "There was a lot more snow after we got back last night, you should see it out there now."

It was still getting light outside but the refection from the snow was making it seem brighter than it actually was. Rose didn't want to see it, she had to get back to London and thought now there would definitely be no trains running.

"I'll have to call Dorchester train station, see if the trains are running. If not, I'll have to give in and get dad to send someone down for me which could take a lot longer than it usually would. At least I'm a lot nearer home than I was yesterday I suppose but it's still a good way."

"About 140 miles or so taking the motorway but it's getting to the motorway that will be the hard bit. Whoever he sends will have to get through London first then it could take twice as long once back on normal roads, then you have to get back. I'd be worried about you."

Rose looked at him, he was now perched on the end of the bed.

"I'll be fine, dad will send his personal driver down, Dave, he's a professional driver, drives in all kinds of weather."

Alec edged a bit closer, drinking his tea. "I'd still be worried. I'd rather see you home safely myself, I did promise you that you'd be back there to spend Christmas with your brother. How old is he?"

"He's seven, he's called Tony and he's mad about police cars and bikes."

Alec smiled. "Well trains or no trains, I've decided to deliver you personally to your little brother so after breakfast, which we'll have to go over to the café for, we'll go get some more milk, make some sandwiches and a Thermos of hot tea, I'll put some warm clothing and the duvet in the back of the car plus the snow shovel and some boots and we'll set off."

Rose stared at him. "Alec, you don't have to do that, it's too far."

"Nonsense, you could invite me to stay over, return the favour," he smiled.

"Well my mum wouldn't let you drive all the way back anyway. I don't know what to say Alec, except you're the kindest person I've met in a long time."

She put her mug down and leaned over, catching his arm. He was only wearing a t-shirt and some sleep shorts as she slowly moved to her knees. Leaning over, she put her hands on his shoulders to steady herself, then brushed his lips, feeling him put his arms around her waist to steady her.

"Thank you Alec, for being a gentleman last night."

She felt a little resistance as she tried to kiss him but she soon found he was kissing her back. She fell back against the pillow as they continued kissing, Alec still on the top of the covers. As their kisses deepened, Rose fumbled with the duvet, trying to pull it back for him to get into the bed with her. He helped her yank the duvet back and landed at her side, half on top of her. Rose tugged at the hem of his white t-shirt and they pulled it over his head as he began unbuttoning her blue flowery pyjama top, until it was undone, feeling the softness of her skin under his fingers.

"Rose," he whispered, "The café doesn't open until nine," he continued, leaning down to kiss her further down and caress her where the pyjama top was open, moving it back at each side.

Rose pulled him further over, putting her hand on his bare chest then putting her arms around his neck as they touched, still kissing.

"Alec," she whispered in his ear.

Alec was now almost fully on top of her, reaching for the waistband of her pyjama bottoms as she felt his hand on her stomach and she moved herself to allow him to inch them down bit by bit as she wriggled, then taking one hand from his neck, she assisted him as they came down over her hips then she wriggled some more and she felt them come down her legs and he pulled them off, slinging them over the headboard. He moved his hand over her tummy, kissing his way from one side to the other.

"Rose," he said softly, looking up at her and entwining his fingers with hers as he pulled her hand away from his neck again.

Then still holding her hand, he reached back and caught the waistband of his sleep shorts, pulling them down at the back. Rose allowed herself to assist him as they pulled the shorts down over his hips and down his legs. Alec moved onto his side a bit and they pulled them off awkwardly as he fell onto his back, pulling Rose with him. She took advantage and lay on him after kissing his bare, slightly hairy chest and smiling at him. Then she saw the scar over his heart.

"Does it still hurt Alec?" she asked, hovering her finger over it.

"Not any more, come here Rose."

He took her hand and held it over his heart. Rose could feel it beating regularly.

"I had an irregular heartbeat, it almost killed me twice but I came to my senses and decided to do something about it, with a little help but the important thing is, I'm still here and I met you."

He pulled her back down and they continued kissing, Rose now spreading her legs over his, feeling all his manhood beneath her as she moved gently on him. Both moving together, Rose could feel the heat building up, all those years she had never been with a man, trying to forget her past life but secretly hoping her Doctor would come back and finish telling her he loved her. All the years of longing to be touched again, not clumsily like when she had been with Mickey when she was only nineteen but properly, by a real man – a man such as Alec Hardy, a stranger she had met yesterday on a long train journey and who had offered her shelter when she had been stranded.

"I'm so glad I got that train yesterday," she moaned as she moved on him again and felt a jolt of pleasure running through her as she instinctively knew she was getting close to boiling over.

As if he could sense she was nearly at her breaking point, Alec flipped her over onto her back, running his finger down the skin exposed by the pyjama top, he wasn't interested in removing it yet, she was so close, he could feel her trembling beneath him. Now he was about to test how much of a success the operation had been, the first woman he had taken to bed since before his illness and after his divorce, not for lack of trying, rather unsuccessfully to seduce a woman to sleep with him, he'd just not been capable of it.

He smiled down at her. "Oh Rose Tyler, so am I."

Then they were both lost in the passion, Alec grasping hold of her, pushing himself as she held onto his back, making scratches as she fought to stifle a scream, calling his name. They were both tumbling over the edge and falling down the other side in a free-fall. They both felt something give and Rose knew she has crossed the line, unintentionally but not regrettably, she had never dreamt of going over that line with Mickey, he had not been the one. She just hoped it had not been the wrong time to have given in.

One final push by Alec and they both collapsed, Alec still lying on her, Rose's fingers buried in his back, both of them trying to regain their breath. He nudged her, reaching inbetween the pyjama top and kissing her breasts. Her hands were now around his neck as she buried her head, kissing the crook of his neck.

"That was amazing Alec. Not bad for someone who was ill, you've made quite a recovery." She started ruffling his hair and messing it up.

Alec looked up from what he was doing and smiled. "You were amazing too Rose. It was your first time, wasn't it?"

"How did you know?"

"Because I've not been with a woman who had her first time with me, I could tell. You could have stopped me, if you'd wanted to."

"Who said I wanted you to stop? It was too good to get you to stop."

"Would you still have done it if I had just been taking you to catch your train and you'd probably never see me again?"

"No, I don't think I would have but you were fantastic."

"Well it has been a while, I've been too ill to even attempt it, it could have killed me. I asked the local hotel owner where I used to stay but she turned me down because she thought I would collapse on her. She had to take me to hospital once when I collapsed on the bathroom floor."

Rose looked shocked. "It was a good thing she found you then, you maybe owe your life to her."

"Yes, I probably do."

Rose moved over, getting from under him and he turned onto his side. "Stop being so gloomy Rose, I'm still here and I've still got it," he smiled, moving onto his back and taking her with him.

They kissed some more, Rose moving around on top of him.

"Alec, would you like to spend Christmas with us?"

"I'd like that Rose, if you're sure your parents wouldn't mind the intrusion?"

"No, they'll be thankful you brought me back but I'd better warn them I'm setting off back by road. Tony will love you with you being a policeman. I'd best give you some warning though."

"What warning would that be?" he asked, reaching up to kiss her.

"You look a bit like someone we all used to know. A friend of ours, he disappeared over seven years ago, just before Tony was born. I used to travel around with him as his research assistant, he was a doctor. Not of medicine but of just about everything else. I travelled with him on his research projects for two years, then he disappeared, the same time those Cybermen disappeared. We all thought his disappearance had something to do with them. He was always fascinated with them, trying to find out how they had been invented and how they turned people into them and we think he got too close."

"Maybe I can help you Rose, try to find out what happened to him for you. What was his name?"

"Doctor John Smith, he was an independent researcher, didn't belong to any university or anything. He had a group of backers, including my stepfather. When we weren't travelling he used to spend his time with Pete Tyler, that's how me and my mum met him and how Pete married my mum and adopted me. Believe me Alec, we tried everything to find him, my dad spared no expense. I keep telling myself he'll show up one of these days. No-one knows where the Cybermen went, he could still be their prisoner or something. They didn't have access to turn any more people into them."

It was as near to the truth as Rose had ever tried to get, a story concocted by Pete himself and had become second nature when having to explain her past. Alec seemed to accept it and she hated lying to him but she had just met him. Alec held her close.

"I'm sorry Rose, it sounds like he meant a lot to you. Were you and he?"

Rose shook her head. "No, we were getting close, all that travelling together but we were just friends, worse luck. I think we were both scared of spoiling our friendship to get involved with each other." That was very much the truth and it still hurt.

All those times she and the Doctor got so close and one of them always backed off – usually him. "I'm sorry Alec, I didn't mean to get all sad on you."

Alec looked down at her and smiled. "It's ok Rose, I understand. It's difficult losing someone. My wife left me for someone else and she's never coming back, at least you still have a hope, even after all this time. Come on, let's get dressed and we'll go over to the café when it opens. Then we'll pack up and get ready to go. I'll have to stop and fill up the car before we set off, I was only expecting to go to Dorchester."

"Then drop me off in Dorchester, I'll call the station."

Alec looked offended. "You'll do no such thing. What if the train stops again and you get stranded? I'd never forgive myself. No Rose, I'm taking you to your front door and you promised to let me spend Christmas with you. It's been a long time since I had a family Christmas, it's more than enough repayment for helping you."

After kissing again, they got dressed and Alec packed some warm clothes and they managed with difficulty to walk across to the harbour café which thankfully was open just after nine. Alec sent Rose back while he made his way to the harbour stores, getting back almost fifteen minutes later with a carrier bag with milk, four ready-made sandwiches and plenty of chocolate biscuits and Rose made a Thermos of hot tea.

Alec packed the car, called Ellie Miller to say he wouldn't be over the next day, put a duvet and a blanket on the back seat, put a pair of boots into the back of the car with his newly packed holdall and Rose's case and her small holdall and Rose called her mother to say she was setting off and Alec was driving her all the way home. Her mother tried to protest, saying Pete could send someone down for her but Rose said she wanted Alec to meet her and Pete, he had saved her from being stranded in a strange town last night.