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Alec Hardy and the fairground girl

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A/N: Takes place during the trial of Joe Miller, just as Alec is about to go for his surgery. Rose is an ordinary woman who had been travelling with the fair across the south of England since she was six years old, her mother having gone off with the fairground owner and became a fortune teller after she revealed she always believed in the stars. They both stayed when the fair was sold and they now live with Jack Harkness in a three bedroom trailer. Jack has raised her as his own since she was twelve and always watches out for her though there is nothing romantic between Jackie and Jack other than when the said Jackie gets drunk and tries it on with him. They had been to Broadchurch the previous August and left after two days, the town in the middle of the murder investigation but since it was on their schedule, they arrived the following March. Rose used to go out with Mickey Smith who runs the dodgem cars but had split up with him over six years ago.

May not follow the exact events of the second series in the correct order. A lot of familiar characters will be included in various roles. Inspired by the fairground scene in episode 5.

Alec and Ellie had been out after the trial ended for the day. They'd had a long drive back from Sandbrook after driving up and staying overnight, a full day of questioning and Miller checking over Claire and Lee's still empty house then driving back late last night. Alec had enjoyed an evening out with Daisy but was upset that Tess had been there and had told Ricky Gillespie where they were dining.

Ellie had picked up young Fred and they had been discussing Joe and talking about the Sandbrook case but it was getting past her son's bedtime and Ellie really wanted to get him home and she had an hour's drive back to her small flat in Exeter but as they pulled into the field to drop Alec off, he was not happy they are stopped by a fairground that had appeared since he left that morning.

Ellie was getting Fred out of his car seat while Alec got his overnight bag out of the back and Fred's pushchair. "So I take it this wasn't here when you left then?" Ellie asked, thinking it was funny and would annoy the hell out of him.

"No, the rental company failed to inform me, I'll be having words with them."

"It was here last August Alec, don't be such a grump. Who's a grumpy uncle Alec Fred?" she asked the two year old.

Fred just laughed as she put him in his pushchair and he pointed to the coloured lights. There was no way of getting to Alec's chalet without walking through the fair itself.

"Oh look Fred, let's get uncle Alec on the Teacups!" Ellie exclaimed, more for Alec's benefit than her son's.

"Huh, you can take him on if you want Miller, I get dizzy enough thanks. Go on, you promised him now, I'll wait with his pushchair."

It was only seven thirty and Fred was still wide awake so the boy held his arms out excitedly. Ellie frowned at Alec.

"You could at least make the effort."

"I'll suffer if I do, go have fun Miller, it's been a long day. Don't let that bitch of a barrister get to you, she was clutching at straws to save him from drowning. We both know he's guilty and we did nothing wrong. Maybe going to Sandbrook wasn't such a good idea but at least we proved a couple of things. Go on or he'll be too old by the time you take him on there."

Miller scowled at him, trying to stop a squirming Fred from running off as the ride stopped.

"Grump," she muttered as the man operating the ride pulled back a bar to let two people out and Ellie and Fred got in, Ellie buckling the safety belt on Fred, not that she didn't trust the ride, much.

Alec waited, slowly looking around the rest of the fair and wondering what time they closed and if he would have hoards of kids knocking on the back wall of his chalet as soon as it was light. Why wasn't he consulted? Miller said they had been here before so maybe it was just assumed that people would know and he might have seen the odd poster around town and maybe he had not put two and two together and associated the fair with the fact his chalet backed onto the showground.

There were the usual fairground attractions, thankfully nothing with really loud music or the speedway that attracted rowdy layabouts and teenage girls who would be trying to shag each other behind his chalet or even worse by the gate that led to his door. He was tired, too tired and their trip up to Sandbrook had been a mistake and the confrontation with Claire had not helped. She had accused him of abandoning her but if she, as he suspected was already back with Lee, he was going to confront her anyway about it. She no longer needed his help and he was contemplating now forcing her hand, since she had lied repeatedly to both him and Miller.

He caught a glimpse of young Fred, waving at him and so he waved back. Then he saw some side stalls, the usual shooting range, a coconut shy and a darts stall but what made him look twice at that particular stall was a young woman with blonde hair talking to a dark-skinned man. He couldn't make much out but they seemed to be having a heated discussion.

"How many times Mickey? Get it through that thick skull of yours will ya? I'm not going to the pub with you after we finish. Why don't you ask Tish?"

'Tish' was a young woman who had recently joined them when they were on Hampstead Heath, part of a larger fair that brought together other travelling fairs and where everyone got together to catch up and sometimes disgruntled employees and stall holders swapped and changed fairs. Young Tish had been one of them, having left her family after a number of failed jobs that only lasted a few days and who envied her older sister Martha who was now a fully trained doctor and working with her husband out in Africa somewhere.

"Aw, Tish isn't interested, she's not the same as you anyway babe."

"You call me that one more time Mickey Smith and I'll have Jack throw you in that river over there, get it? Now scram and next time, spend your break doing something useful like having a customer aim their dodgem car at you."

"Huh? You never used to be like that Rose, you changed an awful lot."

"Yeah? Well I'd say for the better since I dumped you, all we did was go to your trailer, had a quick snog then you'd either watch football or play it on that stupid games console you spent a months tips on."

Mickey huffed again and since his break was over, went over to relieve Billy, the young lad who looked after everyone by giving them a break if they worked alone. Rose was one of them but it wasn't her turn yet.

Ellie and Fred came off their ride, Alec didn't even notice.

"I said that was fun uncle Alec, wasn't it Fred?" she repeated, taking the pushchair handle from him and bringing him out of his daze.

He knew he had to stop phasing out on things. He didn't want to tell her he had collapsed on the decking a few nights ago, hence his disappearance, ending up on the cliff top and knocking on Jocelyn Knight's door at seven that morning, making his will out and leaving everything to Daisy. The barrister had been sympathetic but he hadn't told her he thought he was going to die and very soon, judging by the past few days. Maybe this was all too much, reopening the Sandbrook case in the middle of the trial but Claire fighting with him had not helped.

At least Miller knew half of what she was up against and he had got her interested enough that she would continue if he didn't make it to the end. If he did croak-it, he wouldn't get to see Joe Miller walk free now the confession had been kicked out and everyone thought he and Miller had been in bed together on the night he had arrested her husband for murder.

"Come on uncle Alec, why don't you see if you can win a prize for Fred?"

"Call me that once more and I'll personally see he gets off and comes back to you."

"You wouldn't dare, not after all we've been through."

"Try me. Ok, but I'm not shooting ducks or knocking coconuts off a tin can. I used to be good at darts, back in the day."

Ellie sniggered. She could well believe it since he was always looking daggers at her. She knew she could never be more than friends with Hardy and if he made it through this trial and reprieved himself on Sandbrook, he would be off to try and make up with his daughter. She just wished he'd stop being an idiot and go get his operation.

He hadn't told her but he had already rung the hospital and had finally got to speak to the consultant and was going to see her tomorrow for his life saving pacemaker fitting after trying the week before and she sent him for yet another blood test that had an eight hour waiting time. He wouldn't have survived waiting eight hours. They would just have to do it when he turned up on Friday, then he had the weekend to recover before court again on Monday morning.

They had only gone to Sandbrook after Miller put some new evidence together after the visit to his chalet by Ashworth late on Monday afternoon so after court on Tuesday, he and Miller had set off, stopping at a motel just off the motorway and uncomfortably having to share a room. He had contacted Tess to ask if he could meet with Daisy the following night, who had reluctantly agreed then a late night drive back to get a few hours sleep but coming back to a fair behind his chalet wasn't going to help him, not with his operation tomorrow.

He wasn't going to tell Miller, he was going to sneak out and get a taxi to the hospital with some lame excuse and send her a text while she was still in court so she wouldn't get to read it until he was on the operating table. He knew she would go ballistic and drive straight there and if he didn't die under the knife, Miller would kill him or be waiting with a bunch of seeded grapes and hope he'd actually choke on them this time. He knew he should say something to Tess as well, even if it was only for their daughter's sake so he would send a message to her at the same time.

They had reached the darts stall, Fred was pointing to some cartoon character toy that required a top score and he wasn't that confident he could still throw one dart let alone three and get the right combination.

"Hi," Rose greeted them cheerfully, relieved Mickey had stopped glaring at her for the time being.

She just wondered why every now and then he would get the urge to pester her after almost seven years.

She explained the rules to Alec such as not standing in front of the mark and no leaning over and Alec paid the fee and Rose handed him the darts. Alec checked the balance on each dart and said they were too light for him so Rose, being used to fussy customers who thought they knew better than she did that it was not the actual darts but the person's capabilities and she handed him a new set.

Alec then got his glasses out of his pocket, to which Ellie grinned and Rose frowned. She often wished she could put a notice up saying no glasses allowed but Jack wouldn't let her and it was one of his stalls, all three were, the shooting and the coconuts included and while Jack ran the other two, the darts were hers but only because she had the patience with men or women who liked to take their time and calculate their score.

Alec did take his time, Fred was getting tired and wanted his prize and Miller was getting impatient.

"Just get on with Alec, it's just a game."

"I think your son wants that a Tigger toy," Rose smiled at him.

"He's not my son but if that's what he wants, what score do I need?"

Rose told him and he quickly did the calculations and aimed his first dart. He started off good and by his third dart, he was two off.

Alec took off his glasses, poor Fred had fortunately fallen asleep and Jack was watching otherwise Rose would have felt sorry for him and just given him it but he qualified for a smaller prize, his score was still over the limit.

"Aw, never mind, you still win a prize from the first or second rows," Rose told him, pointing to the two bottom shelves.

Alec turned to Miller. "You choose something then, I don't know what to pick."

Ellie shrugged and choose a suitable toy for a two year old, a toy car.

"Want another go Sir?" Rose asked hopefully.

She thought the man was kind of cute in a scruffy bearded temperamental way. She had to ask everyone or Jack would want to know why the man only had one go.

"Maybe another time, my friend needs to get her son home."

"Oh don't mind me," Ellie replied, seeing the woman eyeing up her ex boss and now even more grumpily her friend. "Stay and have another go, you can bring it to court with you tomorrow, give them something else to talk about, cheer up their miserable lives a bit more. I'll see you there at ten, have fun."

With that, Ellie turned around and headed back to her car, laughing at her leaving Hardy with a young blonde. He wouldn't know what to do with her anyway, not in his state and if she had any sense, she would go back to what she was doing before they had arrived at her stall, talking to another man who had gone back to work on the dodgems.

Alec was left with the blonde woman and Ellie was right on one count, what the hell did he say to her? What looked like her boss had just put some coconuts back on their holders and tidying up and probably about to either take the woman's place or tell her to get her customer to have another go.

"Go on then, I'll try again, maybe I'd do better without my glasses, whatever your name is."

"It's Rose and maybe you would but try again if you want."

She wasn't allowed to give the punters any tips on aiming, Jack frowned on it and he would tell her mother but it was almost her break time, twenty minutes to grab a coffee and maybe a hotdog from the catering stall.

So Alec paid the money, begrudgingly and thought if he didn't win this time, he may call at a shop in town and just buy one for the boy, it would work out cheaper but there was something about this blonde and he found himself actually trying to impress her.

Rose had taken the darts out and handed them to him, taking his money and feeling his hands were warm, when hers were cold despite the half gloves she wore. She got his change and handed it back to him.

"There you go Sir, better luck this time then, he's a cute boy."

"I suppose, he's her boy, not mine. We used to work together and before you get the wrong idea about court, it's not a divorce or anything."

Rose smiled. "It's none of my business Sir but if you want to talk, I have a break soon, maybe we can go get a coffee?"

"You might not talk to me if I win," he grinned.

"There's only one way to find out."

"What about that white bear with the heart?"

"It's a lower score but your aim was just a bit off last time. You need 35 or above for that one. Getting it for your friend?"

"She's not that sort of friend."

He aimed his first dart, keeping it low and in the middle of the card then his second, leaving him needing to get an ace to win. He made his aim and got it just on the edge that the flight was over it. Rose went up and the point was just inside but she knew she had to call Jack to double check.

"Here Jack, come and check this will ya?" she called.

Jack came over, leaving two people trying to knock the coconuts off.

"Another one Rosy? he asked, his pet name for the girl he had helped raise since she was six then full time when she was twelve after that ass Howard had gone and sold the fair and left Jackie and her daughter to fend for themselves.

He looked at Alec, the man had tried before and it was technically in and sometimes he would say no if the dart flight was too far onto the next card.

"Yeah, it's in. Well done Sir, for the girlfriend or wife was it or the little boy? What are you choosing?"

"That white bear up there, with the red heart."

"Ah," said Jack, reaching up for it as he knew Rose would just ask him anyway since it was too far for her to reach safely. "Definitely not for the boy then."

He handed it to Alec. "Rosy, you can go for your break now, Billy's here and don't go spending it with that loser Mickey Smith. Have you been threatening to throw him in the river again?" he laughed.

Rose raised the counter after taking off her apron and handing it to Billy.

"Take your time Rosy, it's quiet tonight," Jack called after her. "Time you had some fun," he thought to himself.

Alec had picked up his holdall and was waiting by the side of the stall and Rose hadn't noticed until she realised she hadn't thanked the man for playing two games. As she put the counter back down and turned around, the white bear was pushed in front of her face.

"For you," a Scottish voice came out of the shadows, his overnight bag now at his feet.

"What? Oh, thanks, you really shouldn't Mister."

"It's Alec and is that Rose or Rosy?"

Rose laughed. "Everyone calls me Rosy but my mother calls me Rose. She says she would've christened me Rosy if she'd known at the time. Wanna go get that coffee with me, as thanks for the bear and spending your time trying to win something?"

"Why not?"

He picked up his bag and made his way over to the catering stall, Rose holding onto the bear. What did he have to lose on maybe his last night on the planet?