A/N The story moves on, I decided against including the Sandbrook case and what happened over the years, it was just background about their married life and Alec moving on.
Alec took a long time to finally forgive his father for what happened to Heather. He'd kept in touch with Rose, even visited their riverside apartment they'd bought with the money from the sale of the house and the clinic but when Johnnie was taken ill, Alec relented and went to visit him in hospital.
"So, how's Sandbrook?" Rose asked him as they sat with Johnnie. "How's Daisy? She must be getting big now."
"I sent you the photos," Alec smiled.
"Yeah but it's not the same, I've not seen her for ages," Rose replied.
"I'll bring her next time if she's off school then," Alec offered.
"Still using the Scottish accent?" Johnnie smiled.
He had stuck to his Scottish accent and no-one apart from Tess knew he hadn't actually been born there but he'd never told her how he'd come to pretend he was Scottish, since he'd spent a long time in Glasgow before he'd got transferred to the south of England.
The arguments though were already starting as he'd wanted to take Daisy with him to see his dad.
"It's no place for a young girl Alec," Tess had told him the night before.
"She'll see inside a hospital sooner or later Tess," he'd argued back but he'd had to set off alone on the Saturday morning.
He had decided to stay overnight and catch up with his mother.
"So is he going to get any better?" Alec asked her when they'd got back to the apartment.
He could tell by the look on her face. Rose shook her head.
"We have to hope though," she tried to smile. "Do you want to go see Donna tomorrow afternoon?"
Even though he was older, he still called her Auntie Donna on the few occasions he'd seen her.
"You look so like your dad," Donna fussed over him when they arrived at her retirement flat in Chiswick.
Alec didn't know how to take that, since things were still a bit strained between them, even though he'd forgiven Johnnie over the loss of his sister.
"Did I tell you James still visits me?" Donna asked Rose.
"You mean your cousin or your nephew?" Rose smiled.
"My nephew, keep up Rose," Donna laughed. "He followed James into the same line of work, he got a job in Ipswich, of all places."
Alec had always wondered why Donna kept going on about her cousin and had deduced at some point Donna had tried to play matchmaker between him and his mother.
"He likes to travel though, he's thinking of writing a travel book, good luck to him I say," Donna laughed.
So Alec took his mother home and they went back to see Johnnie in the evening, then Alec was going back home.
"So things aren't too good with Tess?" Rose asked him as they drove to the hospital.
"She thinks having another baby will stop the arguments but how can I ever agree?" he asked as he looked for a parking space.
"Yeah, it would be wrong," Rose had to agree. "Me and your dad wanted more but after Heather, it was too late."
"I know Mum, I know all about you losing hope you'd have another but no-one could have replaced her."
Rose turned to hug him.
"Your dad never stopped loving you, even when you weren't talking to him ya know?" Rose asked him.
Alec put his arm around her. "I know Mum."
Less than two weeks later, Rose was waiting for Alec to collect her to take her to the church for the funeral. She'd hardly stopped crying when she'd been at Johnnie's bedside when they'd argued with the hospital staff that he wanted to go home. The last few days though, she had known he was getting worse.
Alec arrived with Tess, leaving Daisy with her other grandmother, Donna was waiting with whom Alec guessed was her nephew, who without the beard bore an uncanny resemblance to himself and that Scottish actor everyone confused him with.
Then Alec and Tess got caught up in a murder of a young girl and her older cousin being missing and Alec was getting nowhere with the case he and Tess had been working on. It was 2012, late April and he'd hauled the man next door in several times, then after a breakthrough, they thought they finally had him, until he found out Tess was going behind his back with another DS and she lost a vital piece of evidence.
The case fell apart and Alec decided enough was enough and asked for a transfer, it was time he looked after his mother instead of calling her every night and visiting when he could.
"You want a transfer where?" his chief asked him, knowing Alec and Tess were getting divorced.
"Either by the sea of somewhere in London, I don't care which," Alec replied.
"Getting you somewhere in London is a big risk Alec, they won't be so forgiving you covered for your soon to be ex wife," the chief reminded him.
"Wherever it is, I either want to take my mother with me or be stationed close to her," Alec told him.
"Well you may have to wait a while, take some time off and go see your mother," the chief suggested.
Alec knew they were trying to sweep it all under the carpet but he had some leave due, he could spend some of it in London with his mother. Finally, he had a glimmer of hope he'd get his transfer, near the sea as he'd wanted and Rose had already argued she wanted to stay where she was but she knew he was doing it for her.
"Okay then, I'll come down for a month, see how I like it," Rose finally agreed.
"Good, I will find you something on the seafront, a rental apartment, two bedrooms and I will stay with you, no sense in finding a hotel, unless you want to stay in a hotel?" he asked her.
So Alec went down first, to the sleepy seaside town of Broadchurch to meet with his new chief.
"So Alec, do you need somewhere to stay?" the chief asked him.
"No, I'm looking for an apartment, my mother will be coming down to stay with me for a while, I'm trying to persuade her to give up her London apartment," Alec explained.
He went back to London to help his mother pack what she needed, Rose insisting it was only a trial. He knew the apartment was where her memories of his dad were, of them both sitting on the balcony watching life on the river.
They had been in Broadchurch less than a week before Alec started work and he was going to regret ever going there, for more reasons than one. He got woken up early one Friday morning and tried not to disturb Rose. She called out to him just as he was leaving.
"Something came up and all the junior officers are busy elsewhere. Are you okay to get your breakfast?" he asked.
"Yeah, go on, you have a job to do," Rose insisted.
"My DS is back today, no doubt she'll have something to say about me taking her job," Alec smiled, putting his jacket on.
"Just bring her round then, you can blame it on me," Rose smiled, going to hug him goodbye.
"I can't put the blame on you Mum, you know that. It was my idea to accept this posting. Remember that time we had that caravan up on the cliff somewhere?" he asked.
"Yeah, we used to have fun on those caravan holidays," Rose remembered.
"Yes and Heather finally told me why you and dad were always late up," he smiled.
Alec regretted going out early, farm break-ins were not really up to him but the driver had a call to take him down to the beach and then all hell broke loose. He'd already made his new DS an enemy, after she made it known he'd taken her job but Alec brushed it off.
They'd just stopped at a garage for his new DS, Ellie Miller to get sandwiches and drinks but Alec insisted they drove onto the seafront, just past the station.
"Why have me drive around here?" Ellie asked he got out.
"I have to check on my mum," Alec replied, Ellie having wondered why he bought two sandwiches but had assumed he'd missed his breakfast.
"What? Sir, we're working here," Ellie tried to remind him.
"I check on her at this time Miller, if you don't like it, go back to the station and wait for me," Alec told her.
She followed him across the road, ignoring the parking ticket machine in favour of putting her police sign on the dashboard and wondering if he was going to do this every day. Alec went around the back and got his key out, opening the door of number five.
"Mum, it's me," Alec called out as Ellie closed the door behind her.
Rose had seen them crossing the road, looking like they were arguing and she'd thought it was just Alec's luck he got another female DS to argue with, as if Tess hadn't been enough. She was sat on the covered terrace and turned around. Alec went up to her and kissed the top of her head.
"I brought you some lunch," he told her, the small plastic bag in his hand. "I'll make you some tea. Have you been okay?"
"I'm fine. Hi, are you Alec's new DS?" Rose asked Ellie.
"Yeah, I'm Ellie Miller, you must be Mrs Hardy?" Ellie asked, not knowing.
Rose let out a laugh. "No, he's called Hardy, I'm Rose Smith and it's a long story, maybe he'll tell you. Anyway, just call me Rose. I've heard a lot of sirens, what's going on? They said the traffic was backed up on the main road, for miles in both directions."
"Yes Mum. Sorry but we found a young boy on the beach this morning, he'd been killed."
Ellie scowled at him, since they were due to go back and give a press statement and her nephew was dying to know who the victim had been. She just hoped Olly wouldn't jump to any conclusions and put Danny's name out on his social media accounts, then Hardy would be really mad. She saw how Alec was fussing over his mother, he did have a soft side after all, since they'd just had the morning from hell.
Alec came out of the small kitchen with three mugs of tea and handed one to Ellie, then put Rose's on the wicker and glass table. He sat down opposite her and reached for her hands.
"I can't tell you any more Mum, sorry. I have to go give a statement to the media. I'll be back as soon as I can but I may have to work a bit late. Call me if you're worried."
After finishing their drinks and Alec making sure Rose had eaten her sandwich, they set off to go face the press.
"You could have warned me she had a different name to you," Ellie told him as she drove around the back of the police station.
"It's no-one's business Miller, it's complicated."
"Did she re-marry?" Ellie wondered.
No. I changed my name when I was old enough, I'm not discussing it, we have work to do."
"Oh," was all Ellie could think of, which was something for her since she was always ready with a smart answer.
"Now I'm worried about her," Alec admitted on the way upstairs. "I'll be late home."
"Do you cook for her?" Ellie asked.
"No, there are meals in the freezer, she can cook them in the microwave. I got them in for emergencies, in case I got caught up and was late home," Alec replied.
Rose had put the TV on and saw Alec giving a short statement. She'd been so proud of him becoming a DI, even though Johnnie had never been around when Alec got his promotion. Less than a week later, Alec had got no nearer to finding the killer and it was too much like Sandbrook for him. Tess had called him, having heard about it and asked if he thought Lee Ashworth had something to do with it.
Alec and Tess barely communicated these days, apart from his calls to see how Daisy was and for Rose to speak to her occasionally.
"No Tess, I don't think it's Ashworth," Alec replied the following Wednesday morning.
"It was just a thought Alec, I'm only trying to help," Tess replied. "How's your mother?"
"She was very quiet this morning, for some reason. She said she's worried about me, with the case being similar. She often looks like she's miles away but I think she just misses her apartment and my dad," Alec admitted. "I should never have brought her here."
"You wouldn't have left her in London Alec," Tess reminded him. "Do you want me to come down and offer assistance in the case?"
"No, leave it for now. I don't think the two cases are connected and I have an alert out for Ashworth, if he comes back."
"The offer's there Alec, give my love to your mother," Tess replied.
Alec finished what he was doing and told Ellie he was going out for half an hour, since he was worried about his mother. He left her finishing her pot of tea, kissing her cheek.
"Alec, I think I want to go back home, I'm keeping you from the investigation."
"No, you are not keeping me from the investigation, I have still got time for you. I would be more worried if I were to take you back. Give it a few more weeks eh?"
"I wish you'd go back to your old accent," Rose smiled at him.
"Dad told me off, the day Heather died," Alec recalled.
That made Rose smile. "I'm glad you two made up."
"I did it for you Mum but maybe I was a little harsh on him?" Alec asked. He noticed Rose looked more tired than usual. "I'll try to be early tonight, that should please Miller."
"Why can't you call her Ellie? Is it because you worked with Tess?"
Alec knew how clever his mother was, his dad had always made a point of telling him nothing ever got past her.
"Dad always said I would never get away with anything," Alec smiled. "I won't be late back."
"Alec, put my music on before you go," Rose asked him.
He had got Daisy to show him how to transfer all his mother's favourite songs onto a music player, though she still had the original records back in London. Once he left, Ellie noticed he seemed a bit off when they'd been out and she went into his office.
"Still worried about your mum?" Ellie asked him.
"I'm scared I'm going to loose her Miller. She wants to go home but how can I let her?" he asked.
"Then take her back and get some help for her," Ellie suggested. "Advertise for someone or go to an agency."
"I don't want to leave her with a stranger. I thought she would like it here, we even went out for a short walk last night, she's still very active though she tends to just stare out of the window these days. Maybe I should have got her some place else so she could see better."
"There's plenty going on, on the seafront. So are you going to tell me why you changed your name?"
"Close the door on your way out Miller," Alec replied, sitting sideways in his chair and playing with his pen.
Ellie refused to move. "It's affecting your work, you're worried about your mother, I get that. Did you fall out with your dad or something?"
"Or something. Yes, then when I was old enough I moved to Glasgow, joined the police and got away with being accepted as Scottish. I was going to be an actor, I was even accepted to drama school then something happened."
Ellie knew that was all she was going to get out of him – for now anyway. As Alec got ready to leave for the day, Ellie reminded him of the reconstruction the following night.
"You will be there, since it was your idea?" Ellie asked him.
"Yes, I'll see to my mum first then get a cab up there. I can hardly bring her with me."
Alec wasn't going to get there. When he walked home, thinking of taking Rose out somewhere now the investigation was less prominent, he let himself in and found Rose asleep in the comfy chair by the window.
"Come on Mum, wake up," Alec told her gently, the music player on the table.
"Hey, what time is it?" Rose yawned.
"Just after six. I'll make you something to eat, are you hungry?"
Rose shook her head.
"Then I'll make you some eggs and toast, you can manage that?" he smiled at her.
"You're so like your dad Alec," Rose smiled back. "I miss him, every day."
"I know you do Mum and I'm sorry I fell out with him for all that time. I should have made up with him sooner."
"He knew you didn't mean it Alec. He always still blamed himself for what happened, even though it was an accident."
"I know that now Mum, I was too young to understand at the time. I was wrong to blame him. Right, I'll go make you something then?"
He helped her back into the lounge and sat her on the sofa. There was a table in the kitchen but she seemed to prefer eating there, just after they'd moved in.
"I have to go out tomorrow night," Alec told her as he took the plates in. "We're retracing the route Danny took that night."
"Well I hope it does some good then," Rose smiled.
As he helped her into her room and left her to get ready for bed, he couldn't help but feel he really was loosing her, like she didn't want to go on. Maybe he should have left her in London but being so far way, in the middle of a murder investigation wouldn't have made it any easier.
He couldn't take her back, not now, even doing as Ellie Miller suggested and get someone in to care for her.
When he woke up just before seven, he could hear music playing. He got out of bed and smiled to himself that his mother had woken early and was playing her favourite songs. He knocked on her bedroom door and when she didn't answer, he glanced around the door and saw her all curled up, thinking she'd fallen back asleep listening to it.
He got himself dressed, switched the kettle on then took her morning tea.
"Come on Mum, I'll get your breakfast for you eh?" he asked.
He went around to switch the music off and just happened to glance at her. What happened next seemed to Alec like it was all in slow motion. He reached for his mobile and asked for an ambulance though he knew at this stage it was too late. He got his jacket on then went to the front window, seeing a flashing light and he went to let the ambulance crew in.
As they took the details, Alec said he was going with them, showing his ID card.
"We just need some details, DI Hardy," the medic who had stayed in the back with him told him.
They had just got to the local hospital when his phone rang. Seeing it was Ellie Miller and ignoring it, he followed the stretcher into the emergency room, thankful it had been saved from closure, well for now. A team gathered around but he knew it was too late, it was like when he'd seen his father had passed away.
"I'm sorry, it's too late, she's gone. If it's any consolation, she passed away in her sleep," the doctor told him.
Alec sat down, trying to take it in.
"Can I just see her?" he asked.
The doctor nodded and let him through. Alec leaned down and kissed her now cooling cheek.
"I'm sorry Mum but you got what you wanted, to be with dad again," he whispered.
"Would you like a few moments alone?" Alec was asked. "We can make the arrangements if you wish, we have a funeral director on call."
"Yes, you do that, I have a call to make. Will there be an inquest?" Alec asked.
"No, we're satisfied she just passed in her sleep though it's not that long ago. Had you spoken to her this morning?" Alec was asked.
"Yes but she never answered, she was laid away from me, she had some music on. It was only when I went to turn it off that I saw her like that."
"There was nothing you could have done," the doctor assured him, patting his shoulder. "If you wait outside, the funeral director will be here soon, I'll just see to the paperwork."
Alec decided the least he could do was take her back to London, since a place at Johnnie's side had been arranged when he'd passed away. His phone rang again so he answered or Ellie Miller would come and find him.
"Why did you never answer your phone earlier?" Ellie asked him.
"Miller, I'm at the hospital, I won't be in today."
"What? Are you ill or something?" he was asked.
"No, my mum just passed away, I have things to do. Tell the chief I need some time off."
Ellie went quiet, trying to let it sink in.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what to say," Ellie replied, not being good at this sort of thing.
"Thanks Miller. I have to get the funeral director to arrange for the funeral in London, she'll want to be buried next to my dad."
He didn't want to say it was a short distance from where his sister was laid. He'd never even told Tess he'd had a sister who had died so young and neither his mum or dad had put Tess right on the matter. A nurse came out and handed him a certificate and gave him a smile.
"You look like you need a drink, I'll get you some tea. The funeral director's been called, they're on their way."
"Thanks, I just have some calls to make."
He brought up Tess's number.
"Changed your mind about some help?" Tess asked him.
"No. Is Daisy at school?" he asked, not even noticing what day it was.
"Alec. She's on holiday, what's wrong with you? I'm just taking her to my mother's."
"Tess, tell her, just tell her that her other gran just passed away, a short time ago."
"What? Oh Alec, I'm so sorry. Had she been ill?" Tess asked, not looking forward to telling their teenage daughter.
"No, she just went to sleep and when I found her this morning, I thought she was still asleep until I went around the other side. I'm going to take her back to London, to be with my dad."