Alec and Tess Hardy had already been annoyed their Sunday morning had been interrupted after arguing who was picking their daughter up from the friend's house she stayed at last night. All it needed to put the icing on the cake was them both getting a call to go out to a new housing estate where two cousins had supposedly disappeared overnight.
"She'll just have to stay there," Alec declared, not having time to get a shave, not that he was bothered and putting his tie on and leaving his top shirt button undone, making the tie slack.
"That's typical of you Alec," his wife told him, frowning at the man she was now cheating on with another male DS in their team. "Tidy yourself up Alec," she added for good measure.
"Give me one good reason?" he dared her. "It's Sunday morning, who will be bothered eh? It's not going to find two missing girls any faster, is it now?"
Tess shook her head in despair. His usual neatly plastered hair was all over the place, which made his fringe long and he had the makings of a beard, making him look scruffy and now resembling a certain American detective who had been on TV in the 1970's, down to the unfastened shirt and tie. She picked up her phone from the dresser and looked again at the time, 9.45 am.
They'd had a few drinks at a party she'd dragged him to last night, hence why Daisy had gone to a friend's house for a sleepover and she wished she'd dared go with Dave and not her husband, who'd not made any attempt to give her a reason to break off her affair.
"You could have made an effort last night Alec," she told him as she found Daisy's number.
She had disagreed with their daughter having a phone at that age but Alec had pointed out she needed one for emergencies.
"An effort for what?" he asked, a little confused as his head wasn't quite clear and cursing himself for letting the host of the party keep refilling his glass like red wine was going out of fashion.
Tess covered the phone while she waited for the almost teenager to answer.
"As if you don't know," she replied. "We go out and have a few drinks and you still don't have anything to do with me in bed."
"What? You never encouraged me, did you eh? You just turned away," he replied. "We don't have time for this now, the patrol car will be here in ten minutes."
"We never have time, do we?" she huffed, pulling her jacket straight one-handed. "Daisy, how long does it take to answer your phone?"
"Mum, I left it downstairs," Daisy told her. "Brittany's mother just brought it to me. It's lucky dad insisted I didn't have the answerphone on. So, who's picking me up? I bet it's not going to be dad."
"You don't have the answerphone on because it costs you more of your credit. It's easier if you just see a missed call. Never mind that. We have to go to work, can you stay at your friend's for now?"
"Mum, it's Sunday morning, what are you doing going to work? Is that both of you?"
"Tess, hurry up," Alec reminded her as he opened the bedroom door.
"Tell them to wait," she told him, covering the phone again. "Well Daisy?" she asked her.
"Fine Mum, I'll just get the bus to gran's house if you're going to be a while."
Alec was looking at himself again in the hall mirror. Maybe he'd keep this look? Tess had looked suitably annoyed at him, it could be worth it. They were soon on their way to a new housing development just outside the town, where a tearful mother of the youngest cousin was consoling herself with a bottle of wine.
"Put that away Cate," her husband was telling her. "It's early, even for you. Where are those bloody detectives? All they've done is sent two officers to look here for them. If they were here, we wouldn't have reported them missing," he shouted loudly upstairs, where two uniformed officers were following protocol in missing persons reports.
The female officer glanced at her partner.
"We're finished here, we'll have to wait for Hardy and his wife," she smiled. "Don't know why she doesn't use her married name."
"You really don't keep up, do you Price? Haven't you heard the rumours?"
"Yeah, the one that says she's seeing someone else? That's what I meant Andy, why doesn't she just leave him?"
Alec and Tess's car was let under the tape at the end of the street, Alec seeing people standing around and being asked to move their cars now other officers had arrived.
"Tess, go take charge of clearing the street after we've seen the parents of the youngest girl," Alec told her as they got out.
They were let inside the Gillespie house and Alec began asking the usual questions.
"Do you think they just went out early?" Alec asked.
"The patio door was open," Cate told him. "Someone took them, I know they did."
Alec saw the half empty bottle of wine and wished he'd not had any last night. Had he known this was going to happen, he wouldn't have done.
By midday, it had hit the national news as the media officer put out appeals if anyone had seen them and their photos, being secured by Tess from a reluctant Cate were being shown to reporters who had gathered at the end of the street.
In London, it had been picked up by an operative in Torchwood, who had asked her supervisor if she should inform assistant ops manager, Rose Tyler.
"I'll call Jake first, let him decide," the supervisor replied, picking up the desk phone. "There's no reason not to think they've gone somewhere and lost track of time and I don't want to bother Miss Tyler over it."
Jake was amused they thought it should involve Rose.
"I'll call her but she'll probably say not to bother," Jake told the supervisor.
He got Rose's number up on his phone and pressed the button.
Rose was playing with her younger brother, who had insisted they had a car chase on his race track after breakfast so her phone was downstairs. Pete picked it up.
"It's Sunday Jake," Pete reminded him.
"I know. Have you been listening to the news?" Jake asked him.
"About those two missing girls? You think I should tell Rose?"
"It's what she wanted, Director," Jake replied, always calling Pete that when it was business.
Rose had been unsure what she wanted to do when she'd completed her education, which Pete had insisted on before she joined Torchwood. So she had settled on what she and the Doctor used to do – help people. It wasn't quite what Torchwood had stood for but in recent years, Pete had tried to re-build it for good.
"I know Jake. I'll tell her when she comes down but I expect she'll want to go and have a look. Give me the details."
"Want me to book her into a hotel?" Jake asked, since her out of hours secretary should get on with it.
"Yeah, just arrange everything, Rose will probably go straight to the scene in the morning. She won't be able to resist it, if the eldest is the age Rose went off with the Doctor plus she likes ruffling a few feather, being able to just walk in and take charge," Pete laughed.
He decided to go find her and tell her so she could get ready.
"Dad," Tony greeted him excitedly. "Can I have some extra race track? There's not enough for me to beat Rose."
Pete ruffled his young son's hair. If it hadn't been for Rose and him meeting her mother when he'd gone over to the other universe, Tony would never have existed.
"We'll see eh? Rose, I need to talk to you. Tony, tidy up please," Pete asked him. "Rose, Jake called me about something that may interest you."
As soon as Pete told her, she agreed to go.
"Will you clear it with the police?" Rose asked him.
Since coming to this world, she had learned not to just barge in like she and the Doctor used to.
"Just call Jake, he'll get through to whoever's in charge. They may just turn up later and wonder what the fuss is."
"Well I hope so Dad. I'd better get some details where I'm gonna stay then?" she smiled. "Did Jake get any names?"
"Someone called Alec Hardy I believe. He and a DS Henchard," Pete told her. "If the DS is female, watch out."
"Don't know what ya mean Dad," Rose grinned.
"Really? After that other incident?"
"That was blown out of proportion," she defended herself.
"You should be more worried about telling your mother you're going away again," Pete smiled.
Down in Sandbrook, Tess and Alec were not in agreement.
"Alec, they're upset enough without you saying if the girls don't turn up by morning, you're going to have their garden dug up," she was telling him.
Alec stood with his arms folded, as he tended to do when Tess challenged him.
"It's unavoidable Tess. Look at that other case where a girl went missing and her own mother was hiding her? Look how long it took to find her? No Tess, we have to consider it and also Lisa's house. We also need to get the dogs involved, there are some woods nearby."
"Ricky told me they used to go there sometimes," Tess admitted.
Alec shook his head.
"Now you tell me. Well first thing tomorrow, get them started on it. We still don't know if they were abducted or not. What about the neighbours?"
"It was Saturday night Alec, no-one was taking any notice what was going on in the street," she replied.
They were in the mobile unit, everyone had left them alone, knowing what they were like.
"Well what about next door?" he asked.
"The Ashworths," Tess told him. "The wife said she was at a friend's house all last night and got back just as the police arrived."
"That gives the man no alibi then," Alec replied. "If he knew the girls were alone, he could have gone round or got them to his house on some pretence. Maybe they never needed any encouragement? Let's talk to the Gillespies one more time then call it a day. We still have to go get Daisy and while this is going on, she is not to be left alone."
"You think I don't know that?" Tess asked, finishing her cold coffee. "What do you want with them?"
"Let's see how well the two girls knew the neighbours?" he replied.
They were let in the house again, Cate having gone to lie down.
"Any news?" Ricky asked them.
"Sorry," Alec apologised. "Your neighbours, the Ashworths. How well did Pippa and Lisa know them?"
"Not that well apart from when we went for a barbeque or they came to us," Ricky replied.
"That's what you know," Cate corrected him from the doorway. "Pippa sometimes went to see Claire."
"Did she now?" Alec asked, looking at his notes. "I think we are done here for now, we'll go see what she has to say."
"You're not serious about digging up the garden are you?" Ricky asked him.
"We have to consider it at some point," Alec replied.
"I'm sorry Ricky," Tess told him. "We'll be searching the woods as well. Did Lisa have any boyfriends?"
"No-one serious," Cate told her.
"Hold on, what about the one who used to hang around the estate?" Ricky asked her. "Lisa once asked if I'd help him out, he was trying to keep his father's business afloat."
"What business would that be?" Alec wanted to know.
"Ah, agricultural services, in Portsmouth," Ricky replied. "Thorpe agricultural services I think."
"We'll look it up," Alec told him. "Call the number we gave you any time, if they come back. There will be a patrol car outside if you have any questions."
"You mean no-one's looking for them now?" Cate wanted to know, going for the wine she'd had earlier.
"We have officers going around the estate for now, some people may have been out earlier," Tess told her. "Is there any chance they would be near where Lisa lives?"
Cate shook her head. "Lisa doesn't get on with her parents, she's out most of the time."
"Then we will have to make enquiries nearby," Alec told them, putting his notebook away and getting up.
"Oh, that's a nice photo," Tess pointed to one of Pippa on the trampoline.
"That's my favourite one of her," Cate told her.
"What did she want to be when she grew up?" Tess asked, seeing Alec wanted to leave. "Excuse me."
She followed Alec to the door.
"Why don't you get off? Get a ride home and then go get Daisy, I'm going to talk to them for a while."
She had seen her chance to go meet Dave, if he could get away from his complaining wife. That was why they had started meeting. Alec had not been paying attention to her for months and Dave had told her pretty much the same. He said his wife went out on Sunday night, maybe she was meeting someone else as well?
Alec went off, thinking it would be easier to call for Daisy on the way back. He picked her up, the girl wanting to know where her mother was. He explained about the two cousins going missing and said for now, she walked home from school with friends to her grandmother's house and one of them would collect her.
He wasn't surprised when a few hours later, there was still no sign of Tess.
"Where's mum got to?" Daisy wanted to know.
"With the family of the youngest missing girl," he told her as he made them something to eat.
"Are you two going to be missing a lot?"
"No, why do you think that?" he asked as they sat at the table. "Daisy, we'll try not to work late but sometimes it's unavoidable."
"Yeah, I get it Dad," she replied.
Alec wasn't sure how things were going to be. Just after ten, he heard Tess come in and she went into the front room.
"Don't say anything Alec."
"What? So you've been at the Gillespie house all this time?"
"I'm going to bed, it's been a long day," she replied, refusing to answer him.
"Hold on Tess. Answer me. Did you go somewhere?"
"Why are you so bothered Alec?" she asked him.
Alec put the newspaper down and folded his glasses. He let her go, giving her time to go to sleep then maybe he'd get some peace and quiet.
Rose was all packed and ready to go just after seven the next morning, having got the details where the girls had disappeared from. She promised Tony she'd be back soon and set off, arriving just before nine and being stopped by a patrol car. She got her Torchwood ID out and the officer went to check with Tess, who had arrived on her own while Alec had gone to see the chief after dropping Daisy at school.
"What's Torchwood doing here?" Tess asked the officer.
"She said the director thought we could do with their expertise. They have a specialised unit that can deal with this type of thing."
"Since when?" Tess laughed. "So did you get a name?"
The officer cleared his throat, not believing he'd just been talking with Rose Tyler.
"Well let her through then," Tess told him when he gave her a name, not wanting to cross her or Torchwood but she bet Alec wouldn't hesitate if they came in and took over his crime scene.
She smiled at the thought as she saw the officer letting Rose through after he pointed to Tess.
"DS Henchard is in charge until DI Hardy arrives," the officer told Rose.
"Yeah, thanks," Rose told him and parked just on the corner.
"Miss Tyler, what brings you here?" Tess asked her as she approached.
Rose put her sunglasses on, since the sun was trying to break through the clouds after it had been raining most of the night.
"I thought I'd said?" Rose replied.
"The detective in charge won't be happy when he arrives," Tess told her.
Then she felt like laughing. Yes, Alec would be annoyed when he arrived and it may make him keep away from her.
"Well, I'll try not to annoy him then," Rose grinned. "So, you're DS Henchard?"
"Call me Tess. Welcome to Sandbrook Miss Tyler," Tess replied, going to shake her hand as she saw Alec arrive. "I think we'll be working together, I've already made friends with the parents of the youngest girl."
"Great, that makes it easy. I look forward to working with you Tess," Rose replied as Alec got nearer.
Alec had spotted Tess talking to someone and thought it was a neighbour who had some information. Then he got closer and recognised the woman. What the hell was Rose Tyler doing here? If she thought she was going to waltz in and take over his investigation, she could think again.
That was all he needed, he thought as he approached the two women. He was already getting stressed, he thought last night he'd just go to the spare room, it was better for both of them, the mood she was already in. He'd managed to avoid her this morning by Daisy being there, having not let her see him coming from the other bedroom. She'd asked questions though on the way to school.
"Why weren't you talking to mum this morning?" she'd asked him.
"Never mind eh? Remember what we told you, stay with your friends, you said you had some in your gran's street?"
"Yeah Dad, I get it. Have you and mum been fighting again? I've heard you before."
"Daisy, it's got nothing to do with you, okay? Things are just getting awkward, that's all. We'll work it out, I'll talk to your gran and see if you can stay over a couple of nights, until we find those two girls," he suggested.
"Fine, as long as they turn up safe. You will find them, won't you Dad?"
"Yes, they maybe got caught up somewhere and the youngest will turn up at school today? Do you know her?" he asked hopefully as he approached the school.
"No, I don't think so Dad but maybe she's in the class below me? I go up in class in September."
He knew that, their little girl wasn't so little any more and he knew how the Gillespies felt. So when he'd left his car and seen Tess talking to someone and he'd recognised Rose, maybe it was the perfect way of keeping Tess out of his way if she made friends with the Vitex heiress. Tess was always reading the latest gossip about Rose Tyler and recently, Daisy seemed to have taken an interest.
"Alec, nice of you to join us," Tess told him sarcastically, since she'd not had a go at him over breakfast for a change.
"You knew I'd taken Daisy to school," he reminded her. "So, Miss Tyler, what brings you here? I would not have thought this would have attracted Torchwood's attention?"
"Hi, call me Rose," Rose insisted, seeing he wasn't in a very good mood, either with her or his wife.
Maybe something wasn't right in the Hardy household?
If there was one thing Rose was good at after travelling with The Doctor, it was studying people. She could walk right into the youngest girl's home and tell right away how things had been up until the young girl and her older cousin had disappeared.
"You can't just come here and take over," he continued, Tess scowling at him.
"Don't be so rude Alec," Tess told him. "Miss Tyler has come to offer her help and Torchwood expertise. They have a dedicated department."
"Yeah and I'm it," Rose tried not to boast.
"Oh, so that makes it okay?" he asked both of them. "Well don't assume you are going to take over the investigation or get more agents to join you."
"I wouldn't dream of it – Alec," Rose replied, hoping to get him more annoyed if he was going to act that way. "What can I do to help?"
Alec felt like saying she could start by staying out of his way. At least the woman would keep Tess out of the way, she would be bound to take Rose Tyler's side in things.
"If you insist on staying, you can go around with Tess. Maybe you'll have more luck getting any witness statements?" he relented.
Tess took the huff. "It's not my fault no-one noticed anything," she told him, getting a smile from Rose.
She'd read the two of them were married but Tess preferred to use her maiden name, now she could see why.
"Yeah, fine with me Alec. I'll get up to speed with what's been going on then? Tess, can you fill me in? How are the youngest girl's parents taking it?"
She thought that was a good start, she knew what her own would be like if it had been Tony.
"Well the mother's a wreck," Tess started to tell her. "I saw the father going off a while ago but everyone deals with things in their own way."
"I suppose they do? He might have just gone to sort things out at work though? What does he do? He must be well off, these houses won't be cheap?" Rose asked her.
"I don't expect they will be? We can start by talking to the neighbours again, some might have had their memories jogged?" Tess suggested, seeing Alec wasn't looking too pleased. "What are you going to be doing?" she asked him.
Rose thought he looked like he didn't want to be there but if they had a daughter, she shouldn't be so surprised.
"I just wanted both of you to know, I have a younger half brother so I can understand what everyone's going through. Can I meet Pippa's mum?" she asked.
Alec thought that the Torchwood agent would be the last person Cate Gillespie would talk to.
"Go ahead," he told Tess. "I'll see if the next door neighbours are in and Tess, see how well they got on with each other, if the two girls mentioned anything odd."
"I did get one report when I arrived," Tess admitted. "The Gillespies rent out the house on the left to the Ashworths and apparently, neighbours had seen Lisa being stopped by a young man several times and she didn't seem all that pleased about it. They said he's been hanging around."
"Well get someone finding out who he is then," Alec replied. "See if he was hanging around on Saturday night."
Rose followed Tess across to Pippa's house, stopping her just before they got there.
"So, she's a wreck?" Rose asked her.
"She was drinking a lot yesterday. Maybe she does it anyway?" Tess wondered as she knocked on the door. "She will recognise you."
"I know Tess, just say I'm here to help and that I work for a living."
She didn't get such a warm reception when Cate opened the door, as if Alec Hardy's gruffness hadn't been bad enough.
"Cate, before you say anything, Miss Tyler is here to help," Tess told her.
"She's only here to get her name in the papers," Cate disagreed. "Well she's not taking the attention off Pippa and Lisa."
"I'm not here for any such thing," Rose objected. "Tell me what Pippa was like."
Cate let them in then went for a fresh bottle of wine. Rose thought that wasn't going to help. Alec meanwhile had caught Lee Ashworth before he'd gone to work.
"Didn't your lot ask enough questions yesterday?" Lee asked him.
"We've had a new report of someone hanging around who may have known Lisa," Alec told him, thinking it was a good excuse.
"Am I supposed to know who it is?" Lee wanted to know. "I have to go to work."
"What kind of work are you in?" Alec wanted to know, Lee not inviting him in.
"Maintenance services, odd jobs. I have someone's floor to do today, I'm going to be late, I have to go get the wood for it," Lee replied.
"Right. So you've not seen anyone hanging around talking to Lisa?" Alec wanted to make sure.
"I don't know her that well. We saw her when the Gillespies were having a barbecue or if she was taking Pippa to school on a Monday morning, I think she stayed most weekends," Lee told him. "Claire may have known her better."
Alec could have sworn the Gillespies never mentioned that. He left there and went back to the command post to get some much needed coffee, wondering if Tess was having any more luck with Cate Gillespie. He picked up a few reports that had just come in and fished in his jacket pocket for his reading glasses.
Tess and Rose were just leaving Cate as Lee Ashworth was leaving his house. He stared at Rose as the pair of them walked off, a uniformed officer behind them. As his van passed them, Rose stopped Tess.
"So that's the neighbour?"
"Yes, I hope Alec had some luck with him, the wife didn't seem like she wanted to talk yesterday," Tess told her.
"Want me to try her later?" Rose offered.
"Not for now, we'll see what the husband told Alec," Tess replied, seeing Alec standing by a police tent with a paper cup in his hand.
She'd almost had a go at him earlier but Daisy would have got caught up in it. For one, she was going to tell him he was letting his appearance go, he'd not seemed to have shaved again, she'd let it go yesterday. Secondly, she swore he'd not been in their bedroom last night. Well, if he wasn't going to make an effort, maybe she should let him catch her talking to Dave?
She snapped out of it as Alec disappeared inside the tent so she followed Rose.
"Help yourself to a drink," she told Rose, since Alec didn't seem to be making an attempt to get their guest one.
"There's something about that neighbour," Alec began to tell Tess.
"You don't have to tell me," Rose joined in. "He came out as we were leaving next door, he's a bit creepy."
Tess thought that was maybe an accurate description.
"Rose wants to meet his wife later. Claire may tell her more, with her not being the police," Tess told him.
"You think so?" he muttered as he went back to the reports.
Tess shook her head. "Sorry Rose, take no notice of him."
"Yeah, this is hard for everyone, he seems to be taking it seriously," Rose replied. "So, you have a daughter?"
"Yes, just a bit older than Pippa. She normally goes to school on her own but we weren't taking any chances this morning. She'll walk back to her gran's with her friends. Well, after our break, we'll go see how the search is going in the woods, they were starting there early this morning but it's been raining, the river may have flooded parts of it."
Rose was getting an awful feeling that was where the two girls had gone.
"Tess, did ya ask Cate if the girls went to the woods?"
"We asked yesterday, that's why the dog units have been sent there. Do you think something happened?" Tess asked her.
"I hate to admit it," Rose replied, finishing her not up to her usual standards coffee. "Let's head out there then?"
Tess went to tell Alec where they were going.
"Keep an eye on her," he pointed to Rose. "It might be muddy in the woods with the rain. If nothing happens here today, we'll step up the search in there."
"Rose is thinking the same but we can't tell the Gillespies yet. Have you heard from those searching near Lisa's house?"
"I was just reading some reports. No-one has seen her but if someone was hanging around and Lisa was seen talking to him we need a name Tess."
"You look tired Alec. Don't use it as an excuse not to tidy yourself up. Really, not shaving is one thing but look at you, with your shirt and tie like that."
"Stop it now Tess, this is not the time and place. There are other things to worry about besides how I look. When you get back from the woods, we have to consider digging up the Gillespie's garden."
"They're upset already, Cate took to the wine bottle as we entered the house," she told him.
"That's not our problem Tess, unless your friend there can get her to give it up?" he nodded towards Rose.
Rose knew when she was being talked about and meant to find out what he'd been saying. What was his problem?
Tess was just finishing talking to Alec.
"Well I'll get onto the chief and get a warrant for that garden when I get back then?" Tess asked him, not liking it.
Alec knew she didn't like it and neither did he. He thought back to a similar case in the north of England and wondered how parents could hide their children like that to get attention and big money for selling their story. Well at least Tess seemed to be getting on with the Torchwood agent, that was something.
Rose was glad she had her boots on when they got to the woods to see how they were getting on but as predicted, the river had flooded and debris was floating in some of it.
"I don't like this," Tess told Rose as large branches gathered by what had been the riverbank. "We're going to have to extend the search and get units in the water to check the debris that's been left. I hate to think what they'll find. I'm going to call Alec, see if we can get more people up here."
Rose had to smile, Tess not calling her husband by his rank, despite hers being lower. When more officers started arriving, Tess decided they should go see if Claire Ashworth had arrived home. It was after four, they'd had a quick lunch in the command post that had been set up but Alec had remained on the estate.
On the way back, Rose noticed Tess didn't look too happy at the prospect of going where her husband was. They went to knock on the Ashworth's door, Alec watching from down the street.
"If we don't get anything out of them, we'll leave it until tomorrow," Tess told her.
Claire had got home and Lee was quick to tell her the leading officer had been asking questions.
"I hope you didn't say much Lee," Claire was telling him.
"Don't be daft Claire, you're the one who's likely to say something."
Claire was about to raise her hand to him when there was a loud knock on the door, by an officer on duty seeing Tess walking towards the house. Lee went to answer before Claire carried on.
"Hi!" Rose greeted him. "Can we talk to your wife?"
"Who are you then?" he looked at Rose. "Oh, I recognise you, what are you doing here?"
"Who are you talking to?" Claire asked as she tried to see. "What's she doing here?"
"I was asking that Claire."
"I'm DS Henchard," Tess introduced herself, in case they had forgotten when she'd been with Alec the day before.
"I remember. What do you want to ask this time?" Lee wanted to know.
Getting nothing more out of the pair, they decided to call it a day. Alec was also about to leave.
"Have you booked a hotel?" Tess was asking Rose.
"Yeah, I found one not far away, I still have to go check in, I thought I'd come straight here," Rose replied.
Alec was glad he wasn't sharing a car with Tess, she'd be talking non-stop on the way home. He heard the name of the hotel chain Rose was staying at and thought if Tess started one more time when they got home, that would be it, he'd be looking for something himself. What he didn't know was Rose had only just managed to get a room, since the hotel had a conference going on.
"Alec, are you getting Daisy?" Tess asked him, thinking she could catch up with Dave.
"Why don't you call for her?" Alec wanted to know.
Rose thought it was amusing. They were obviously on the verge of breaking up. Still, it was non of her business, was it?
"Really Alec, can't you collect your daughter?" Tess replied sarcastically. "Maybe it's best she stays there for a few days until we find those girls?"
"Fine, I'll get her and you can take her back later," Alec suggested.
"Well I'm just going to call in at the station first," Tess told him.
She thought that would give her time to suggest to Dave that they meet later. If she offered to take Daisy back to her grandmother's, she could claim she stayed there for a while, Alec wouldn't bother to check.
"Well, I'm off to the hotel and get a decent meal," Rose told them cheerfully. "No offence to your caterers."
Alec thought she was being a bit too cheerful.
"Don't start dinner Alec, I'll take Daisy as soon as I get back," Tess told him.
"Fine," Alec agreed, thinking anything for a quiet life.
He wondered if there would be any vacancies at the hotel he'd heard mentioned. It was a budget hotel though so what was Rose Tyler doing there? Maybe it was because it was near to the scene of the disappearance though?
He set off to get Daisy, who complained she had to go home to get her things only to go back to her gran's.
"Are you and mum going to argue again?" she asked on the way back.
"Don't be like that Daisy," Alec told her. "We try to get on, this investigation is not helping though."
"Dad, it's not the investigation," Daisy replied. "My friends talk about their parents arguing so get some help."
Alec thought if only that would solve the problem.
Tess had arranged to meet Dave after she'd taken Daisy back but as she was about to, she decided to make her excuses.
"Daisy, go wait in my car," she told the teenager, giving her the key.
Daisy knew what that meant and did as she was told.
"What about something to eat?" Alec asked her as he checked in the oven, a meal he had put in there for himself.
"I'll stay with Daisy for a while, I'll get something. What was wrong with you earlier, arguing in front of Rose Tyler?"
"I'm not getting into this Tess. While we are at it, you've been making a lot of excuses lately, what are you hiding?"
"Really Alec, don't practice being a detective with me. Why would I be hiding anything?" she almost laughed.
"Hold on a minute Tess. You've been meeting someone else. All the rumours going around about two officers, they are about you. Oh, I should have known and you were annoyed I sent that Torchwood agent round with you today. Don't deny it Tess, it's that Dave what's his name, the one you were going round with yesterday."
He had seen the two of them late on, as he was leaving in the squad car, looking like they were up to something.
"Don't be so suspicious Alec. I've been with Rose Tyler all day, in case you never noticed."
"I'm not talking about today Tess. No, all those rumours going around, it all fits."
"Think what you like Alec, Daisy's waiting in the car. I'll see you later."
"When? After you arrange to meet him? I'll move into the spare room tonight. No, forget that, I'll go find a hotel somewhere."
"I'm not saying anything Alec, please yourself but for tonight, I'm not saying anything to Daisy."
"Tess, she knows there's something wrong already. I'll be gone when you get back and I'll get the rest of my things tomorrow. You may want to cut back on a few things though, I'll be getting personnel to pay for it."
"Really Alec, don't you think you're going a bit too far?" she asked him.
"I'm going too far? I should have seen this before, now I'm going to do something about it," he replied.
How could he not have seen, especially after she had been going on call-outs with the other DS? He went to pack enough for an overnight stay, maybe he'd try that budget hotel, it was near where he needed to be tomorrow, then he'd call personnel. Great, it would be all over the station after that. Maybe he'd just pay for a few nights himself but it was only delaying things.
Tess went off to see Daisy, if Alec thought she was going to tell their daughter, he could think again. Alec threw the bag in the back of his car and set off for the hotel. Rose had eaten and thought instead of going to her room, she'd get a drink but two men kept staring at her so she quickly finished before they got up the courage to go over to her. After getting to her room, she put the TV on after letting her mother know how things had gone.
"Really Rose, did ya have to go down there?" she was asked.
"Mum, I told ya, it's what I do. They got a lot done today but I think they're gonna dig up a few gardens. It's not looking good."
"Maybe they just got carried away with something?" her mother suggested.
"Tess told me they'd got a trace on the older girl's bank card and her phone, they'll get to know tomorrow. You'd laugh if ya saw her with her husband, they are driving each other nuts," Rose laughed.
Alec had got to the hotel just after eight and saw the car park was rather full, only just managing to get a space in a awkward spot but he'd manage in the morning, since he'd no passenger. Taking his overnight bag, he walked to the reception, seeing the place looked busy with groups of people standing talking just outside the bar.
"Can I help you Sir?" the receptionist asked him when she looked up from the computer screen.
"Have you any rooms for a few nights?" he asked hopefully, as there was loud laughter behind him.
The receptionist had just looked at the bookings and seen the last room had gone earlier.
"Sorry Sir, we're fully booked. You could try our other hotel on the other side of town but it's not a budget one. We have a conference going on, that's why we're full," the woman explained.
Alec was about to give up but he was tired from all the arguments with Tess and didn't want to go back or pay more for a hotel.
"I'm DI Hardy from South Mercia Police. Is Rose Tyler staying here?" he asked, going for his ID card.
The receptionist knew she wasn't supposed to give any names out, especially a VIP.
"Yes, she's staying here," she replied quietly.
"Then what room is she in?" he wanted to know. He saw the woman was hesitant. "Look, I'm not the press," he told her, making sure she saw the ID card.
The receptionist looked around. "She's in 310. Sorry, do you know her?" she asked him.
"We've met," he tried not to laugh. "She likes to make me guess where she's staying, she usually tells hotel management not to tell anyone."
"Is she your girlfriend?" the young woman asked, at a bit of a loss and the night manager was somewhere in the bar talking to some of the conference delegates about keeping their noise down.
"She likes to pretend she's not. I was going to get another room in case she won't let me in hers," he replied, thinking he'd never get away with this and Rose would most likely throw him out anyway but it was worth a try.
"It's on the third floor," the woman smiled, thinking if Rose Tyler threw him out, she must be mad but that was reality stars and suchlike for you.
Alec picked up his bag as the night manager emerged and waited for the lift, wondering what he was going to say when he knocked on her room door. Rose had decided to get ready for bed, she was in her pyjamas and a silky pink robe and as she was watching yet another episode of CSI, not being able to keep up with all the different series on different channels, she jumped slightly when there was a knock on the door.
Thinking maybe it was just room service making sure she had enough towels, she opened it slightly then stood back, clasping her robe.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she wanted to know.
As you may have gathered, the story is going to concentrate more on Rose and Alec's relationship than the actual case.
Rose looked down at Alec's bag on the floor.
"Did Tess throw you out?" she asked, now looking amused.
"Very funny Rose. May I come in?" he replied, picking up his bag.
"What? Haven't you got a room booked?" she tried not to splutter.
Alec looked around, especially at a maid who had appeared at the end of the corridor, who may be suspicious and radio the front desk that a man with just one bag was hanging around, especially after what he'd just come out with.
"Yes and no. Can you just let me in? Can you also look like you were expecting me?" he asked hopefully and hoped she wouldn't yell at him and slap his face, which he supposed he really deserved.
"Well, that depends? Just how much am I expecting you?" she wanted to know, thinking it was a fair question.
Alec pulled one of his famous facial expressions. Rose took the hint and leaned out of the doorway and reached up to kiss his cheek. Alec was hoping for a bit more but under the circumstances, he supposed it was better than nothing. Rose saw the approaching maid and guessed he'd got her room number under false pretences.
"Wouldn't they give you my room number, Babe?" she grinned and grabbed his arm.
Alec was already regretting the most stupid idea he'd had since asking Tess to marry him. He knew he'd now pay for it, like he was paying with Tess.
"I know you like your privacy but you could have left word for me Rose," he replied, being certain he wasn't going to call her 'Babe' back or any other pet name for that matter.
"Well, you're the great detective," she decided to tease him as the maid was just opposite, one door down. "Can't make it too easy for ya, can I? Well don't just stand there, I missed ya."
With that, she grabbed his other arm and pulled him inside, Alec disappointed she'd not done more of a show but it discouraged the maid from knocking on the door.
"Well, I hope ya have a very good reason for knocking on my door and inferring you're my boyfriend?" she asked as she let go, all too quickly for Alec's liking.
He put the bag on the nearest chair, looking around the room and thinking it was one of the better ones.
"I left Tess," he began to tell her, not that she'd be bothered. "I heard the name of the hotel you were staying at but they had no rooms left."
"Yeah, I was lucky to get this, it's one of their few premium rooms. So, go on then, how did ya get my room number?" she wanted to know.
"As you pointed out, I'm a detective. How do you think I got it?" he asked, wishing she wasn't playing games.
"No, tell me ya didn't say I was your girlfriend?" she asked, looking horrified.
She saw another of his looks on his face.
"Look, Rose. I found Tess was cheating on me and I left. I couldn't think of another hotel and I had no idea a conference was taking place and it would be full."
"So what made ya think I'd go along with fooling the hotel staff?" Rose wondered.
"I was beginning to think you would give me away," he admitted. "I inferred at the desk that I knew you but I gave no details."
"Well I should hope not either. We didn't exactly get on this morning and you palmed me off with Tess all day," Rose told him.
"Was it that bad?" he asked, taking his jacket off and wishing in his hurry to get out that he'd grabbed his overcoat and hoped he wouldn't need it tomorrow.
"Sheesh, she did nothing but have a dig at ya all day," Rose laughed.
"Was that when she was with me or you?" he had to smile, standing with one hand on his hip and one fingering his beard.
"Both. How do ya put up with her, honestly? She seems to think she's in charge, I mean her going around not calling you sir. I guess she's in charge at home too?" Rose wanted to know.
"If I said yes, would I get any sympathy from you?" he asked hopefully.
"You came to get my sympathy? I should be mad at you and throw ya out and tell whoever was on the desk I asked for privacy and I'll be making an official complaint. Where was the manager?" she asked him, sitting on the bed and Alec trying not to stare at the gap in her dressing gown or the pyjama legs that had ridden up.
"He was coming out of the bar as I was waiting for the lift. I expect he'd gone to get the conference delegates to be less noisy? So, how sorry are you feeling for me?"
"Seriously? How do ya put up with her then? She started the minute ya got out of the car. Did she miss out at breakfast?" Rose smiled.
"You could say that. At least she never bothered with our daughter being there but Daisy is going to stay at her grandmother's for a few days. I honestly could not face Tess in the morning, I suppose I've been using Daisy as a shield," he had to admit.
"Sit down Alec. Who wouldn't want to avoid an argument if your daughter was there? Does she know you both argue?"
Alec knew what she was doing. It was her job mainly to smooth things over and she was trying with him. He supposed he should just let her.
"Yes, she does but so far, we've left her out of it and I told her earlier, the arguments were nothing to do with her. I'm not so sure she believed me though."
"Alec I won't pretend I know what it's like, my dad died when I was a baby but I know how my stepfather would do anything to protect my little brother. You're doing the right thing, trying to keep her out of it. So, are ya asking if I'll let ya stay?"
"That was the idea but now? I see it would be imposing on you."
"Alec, where would ya go?" she asked him.
"It's not your concern Rose, I did not intend dragging you into my problems."
"You look tired Alec. You don't look in a fit state to sleep in the chair either. What were ya thinking when ya came here?" she wanted to know.
"That I would be lucky and you would let me share?" he asked hopefully.
"Well, I was gonna watch some more TV but if you get the spare duvet out of the wardrobe, I'll let ya sleep on top of the bed but for goodness sake, tell Tess ya found a hotel room," she relented. "If she's having an affair, don't let her accuse you of having one."
"I have no proof yet that she is but I saw her with someone yesterday and there are rumours going around about two senior officers," he told her. "She probably thinks I don't have it in me to do the same."
Rose was appalled by his answer.
"Alec, don't put yourself down like that. Want to know something?" she asked him. Alec indicated to continue. "I had this friend I used to go around with, before my mum married Pete. That's all we were, best friends and we got parted and he never knew how much I loved him. I think he didn't believe he was good enough for me."
Alec thought if any man didn't believe he was good enough for Rose Tyler, then they didn't deserve her anyway.
"Well thank you for letting me stay. Tomorrow I will go find another hotel after we finish and I get a few more things. I will have to get the police to pay for it."
"So everyone will get to know you moved out?" Rose asked, giving up on watching TV.
"They will find out eventually. Most people probably already think that's the case. I don't get why no-one came out and said anything about it was Tess."
"They might have done if those two girls hadn't gone missing? So, who is she having the affair with?" Rose wanted to know.
"One of the DS's, someone called Dave," Alec replied.
Rose couldn't help but splutter.
"Seriously? No way! He has to be older than you," she told him.
"Maybe I could have accepted someone younger?" he admitted.
Rose got up and Alec did the same.
"My friend used to console me with a hug," she hinted.
"Really? Did it work?" he asked cautiously.
"You'd be surprised. You're just as skinny as he was," she joked.
"Yes Rose, that's a good way to console someone," he replied, his arms by his side.
"Aw, I was only tryin' to cheer ya up. I don't bite."
He wasn't too sure about this but why had he bluffed his way to getting her room number?
"Trust me," she continued as she stepped nearer to him.
Instinctively, he held his arms out and she opened hers, putting her arms around his back. He leaned his head on her shoulder, she seemed even smaller with just her slippers on. Rose rested into his shoulder. Why did he have to look so much like the man she'd lost?
"Rose," he whispered in her ear. "Am I making you feel uncomfortable?"
"No, of course not Alec, it's nice. It's a long time since I had a hug like this."
"You hugged a lot then?" he wondered, trying to look at her.
"Yeah, ya could say that. You've no idea how much trouble we used to get into," she admitted.
"Try me," he replied.
Rose looked up at him, Alec nudging her and their lips met briefly. He backed away.
"Alec, don't be sorry. So are you leaving Tess or not?" she asked him. "I spent a lot of time missing my friend."
"Who was he Rose? He must have been important to you?" he wanted to know, holding her back.
Rose nudged him to let her back in his shoulder.
"Alec, you would never believe me, he was out of this world."
"Where does that leave me Rose?" he asked, thinking he'd just made a mistake.
"Alec, I meant exactly that, he worked at Torchwood, they took him in."
That was the story they had all agreed on, were Rose ever to mention him.
"So, he was from another world?" Alec smiled. "Where did he go when he left you?"
"Back home. I almost went with him after the Cybermen disappeared. Alec, he went to stop them coming back here. A few of us went with him but he tricked me because he knew I'd get trapped. He's gone, at the other side of what's called The Void."
"You did not have to tell me I looked like him," Alec told her.
"What?" Rose asked.
"I'm a detective, it did not take much to work it out but it's fine, really. Do you want to watch more TV or do you want to tell me where exactly he came from?"
"A parallel world, just like this one but not Earth. He had this spaceship, well sort of. It could travel in time but he somehow landed here and Torchwood helped him to blend in after Pete took over. He was grounded though and he tried to get it working, trust me."
"So is that why he was keen to go back when he got the chance?" Alec asked her.
She hated twisting the facts but had little choice. No-one could ever know it was the other way around.
Alec leaned down and nudged her nose, finding the right angle to try and kiss her properly. Why had he been drawn to her?
"Alec, are ya sure it doesn't bother ya?" she asked him.
He gave his answer by capturing her lips again, this time for longer.
"No Rose, it does not bother me. You said you wanted to help with this investigation? Is that what you did, go around helping people?"
Rose nodded, wanting him to kiss her again but she knew they were on dangerous ground.
"If so, you can help me by keeping Tess occupied," he continued.
"Geez, ya don't want much, do ya?" Rose replied.
"Did I get it wrong?" he asked.
"Sorry. No, ya didn't get it wrong Alec. You think she would never expect you to retaliate?"
"Did I not say that earlier Rose? I need someone I can rely on and I can't trust her any more. I know I can trust you."
"You really think she'd never be able to tell?" Rose wanted to make sure.
"Trust me, it's the last thing she will think. Now, are we going to debate this all night?"
"Well, hadn't you best unpack?" Rose smiled, letting him go. "Alec, ya don't have to find another hotel ya know?"
"You will have to notify the management if I stay. I told them I was looking for a room in case you would not let me in."
"Well, I wasn't going to," she teased him.
"I could tell. It was not one of my best ideas at the time but I did not want to go back home. Tess had gone to take Daisy to her grandmother's then I suspect she was going to meet that DS, she said she would eat out and it won't be at her mother's house."
"Poor Alec. Sounds to me like she has it in for ya? Well, show her she's not gonna win."
"So, you can keep her away from me during the day?" he asked hopefully.
"Well, we were going to the woods tomorrow. Let's see if she notices anything by you insisting I go with you and other officers and she goes with this Dave?"
"She will suspect that is too easy Rose, she will think I am giving up."
"Did I get it wrong?" Rose asked. "I thought ya were?"
"That will prove to her that it is, I suppose?" he wondered.
"By giving her free reign? Do it Alec, she can't keep trampling all over ya, if she doesn't care for you. Don't let her. Prove to her you won't wait around for her to get tired of playing around. Is she serious about that bloke?" she asked him.
"I have no idea what the appeal is," he replied.
"Each to their own Alec, maybe he just got caught up with her? She might have been complaining about you to him?" Rose suggested.
Alec wondered what had caused Tess to complain about him in the first place.
"She had a go at me on Sunday morning for not shaving and leaving my top shirt button undone," he admitted.
Rose tried to suppress a giggle, unsuccessfully. Alec raised his eyebrows to her.
"Sorry. It's a bit funny though. Was that the first time?" she asked.
"That she had a go at me or I did not shave?" Rose let out a laugh. "That's not helping Rose."
"Sorry. Seriously, don't let her boss you around. I rather like the scruffy beard look and your tie being crooked, loads of men go around like that. Seems to me she's been moulding you and you broke free, she didn't like it."
"She also complained about my hair," he added.
Rose grinned and went for it, ruffling it up.
"Seems good to me. Why don't ya unpack and after we both get cleaned up, well, ya don't have to use the spare duvet and sleep on top of the bed."
"Really? You want to take a chance with me?" he wanted to make sure.
"On the condition you'll do something about her Alec, I mean it. For starters, no more letting her boss you around, insist she calls ya 'Sir' when you're working and you'll visit a divorce lawyer and at least get a separation order. Then she'll know ya mean business."
"Is that all?" he tried to joke. "She will expect me to try to make up."
"Has she made any attempts?" Rose asked him. Alec was silent. "Thought not. Don't let her try to make ya feel sorry for her Alec, she made her choices."
"I will have to explain it to Daisy, before Tess gets her to turn against me."
"Go after work tomorrow Alec, then go get the rest of your things. Are ya gonna tell your personnel department?"
"Not just yet. I can't stay in a hotel forever Rose. I need to know how long you are staying anyway."
"You think I'm leaving when ya find the two girls?" she wanted to know.
"Are you? You work for Torchwood Rose, don't you have other people to help?"
"What? There are others beside me. I asked for this assignment Alec, despite my stepfather pointing out I took it straight away when I saw it on the news. I can stay for as long as needed but you think I'll leave you when it's over, don't ya? Alec, I'll stay, if ya want me to? Once you get your separation or whatever, then what?"
Alec looked at her.
"You have to ask me that Rose? I thought I was making it clear? I want you to stay after we find the girls. I was afraid you'd leave to go help other people?"
"Alec, I am helping people. Who says I can't be attached to the Sandbrook police?" she smiled. "You thought I'd choose to leave?"
How had it got to this, he wondered, when it had started out this morning that no Torchwood agent was going to take over?
"You would do that? We've only just met Rose and maybe I was wrong to impose on you but yes, I will go get a separation order because I am not going to let Tess get her own way and continue to keep finding fault with me. Who are you Rose? Who was this man you were involved with and none of this about he came to Torchwood for help."
"I'm no-one special Alec, really. I just learned a lot from him, that's all. He was the one who was special."
"Then who was he Rose?" he wanted to know.
"He got here by accident, that's all. His ship, well he couldn't get it working, he got stranded here. Then he got the chance to go back after the Cybermen tried to escape. He knew I'd try to go with him and leave my family, he wouldn't let me."
"Then I will have to accept that Rose. You see what he was trying to do. How could he have let you sacrifice everything to go with him? I'm not going anywhere, if that helps?" he asked, opening his arms.
"Yeah Alec, I know that. I've never let anyone get close to me since, I suppose I was afraid they would leave?"
"Well, I am going nowhere, I want you to think about staying. Give me a few days, then I will get the personnel department to help me get a place of my own. Then Tess will know I'm not going to let her win."
"You can't tell her about me Alec, not yet," Rose replied.
"I wasn't going to Rose. I expect you are rather good at hiding things?" he smiled.
"You could say that?" she smiled back, putting her arms around him.
Less than an hour later, they were laid on the bed just kissing, Alec daring to unfasten Rose's pyjama top after she got his shirt off.
"So, do you feel comfortable with me?" he asked her as he traced his finger where the top was unfastened.
"Yeah, I feel comfortable with you Alec. Do ya want to know anything else about me?"
"Well, I expect not everything went in your official Torchwood biography?" he smiled. "I took the time to look you up while I had a few moments to spare. Is there anything you want to know about me? I take it you looked me up before you came here?"
"Yeah, guilty, sorry. So, we hide this for now then? No-one would ever believe it anyway, would they?" Rose asked.
"I will be back in a moment," Alec told her, trying to get up. "Rose, if we get involved, you should know that I may have something wrong with me."
"What? What's wrong with you Alec? Have you seen anyone about it, your CMO or anyone?"
"It's nothing, it's probably the stress of Tess going on at me. I promise, if it gets any worse, I will go see him, he's a friend. Just go easy on me eh?" he replied. "I will go get something tomorrow, until you are sure about me but I've not been with Tess for a while. I do not like the thought of not protecting you though. Maybe tonight, we can just get used to each other?"
Rose was a little surprised but had to agree. She took her own precautions but he was being practical. After all, he'd just left his wife, even if Tess didn't know it.
"Yeah, it's fine Alec, really. So are ya gonna go to the nearest garage and get a red packet?" she teased him. "What size will ya be getting and how many in the packet?"
"Stop it Rose. I will be discreet, no-one knows me around there."
"You've been on TV Alec," she reminded him. "Mind you, no-one will guess you're married, especially with Tess in the mood she's in."
He thought she did rather have a point.
"I will make a stop before I join the search in the woods. When we get there, I will do as you suggest and pair Tess with her new friend, see if she objects with me you joining me."
"Bet she won't be bothered? Mind you, leave that until the day after Alec," she suggested. "Let her go around with me tomorrow, see what she has to say. She'll still be out of your way."
He leaned back over to her and kissed her forehead.
"We'll do that then? I will miss your company though."
"Ah, never mind Alec. So, a river runs through the woods? What exactly have officers been looking for? Have they checked all the debris? I hate to think the youngest one fell in and got herself trapped."
"Rose, that is what I was thinking, I don't want to be right. Do you think they went to the woods that night and Pippa got lost? She could have fallen, then it rained. Surely Lisa would have gone for help though?"
"Maybe not, if she was responsible? Maybe Pippa didn't get lost but they were playing some kind of game and Lisa pushed her in and Pippa hit her head?" Rose suggested.
"I don't like this at all Rose, not one bit. There are all kinds of questions about it. Then there's the mysterious young man hanging around. Was he friends with Lisa or was he pestering her? Leave this until tomorrow eh? There is nothing we can do about it now, we still have officers at the start of the woods and on the estate."
When he came back, his trousers now over the back of the chair, he joined Rose and they soon forgot Alec's problem with his marriage as they got as close as they could until he called and got some protection the next day because as much as they both now wanted to, they couldn't go too far.
Was this now going to be a distraction for Alec or a problem of keeping it quiet so Tess didn't beat him to get a separation? He wanted to do it first to stop Tess realising someone else was interested in him, when she had made him feel like he was responsible for her finding someone else. Maybe he was in some ways?
The next morning, after a few delays, they both set off for the estate to see Tess. Alec had told Rose when he got there he would assign Tess to stay with her for the day, to see if she could get Tess to admit she was cheating. They had discussed it quietly over breakfast after Rose went to admit her boyfriend had arrived and was sharing the room.
"Sorry about giving your room number out last night," the young receptionist apologised, getting a frown from the night manager.
Rose thought he should have been there in the first place then.
"It's okay, I should have told you to make an exception for him. I hope he didn't make too much fuss over it?" she smiled.
"Thanks for that," Alec whispered to her on the way to the dining room.
"Well ya admitted ya showed your ID to get my room number," she laughed.
They had found a table and ordered when the waiter arrived.
"So, you agree to go around with Tess today?" Alec wanted to know.
"Yeah, if it helps? Do ya think she'll open up to me? I mean about her cheating and what she thinks happened to the two girls?"
"Both, I hope," he replied. "If they had been found, I would have been told by now. I'm taking a bet at least one of them is stuck under some debris in the river."
"Yeah, I hate to think about it. How far do the woods go?"
"Not much further than officers are already searching but the river bends and goes deeper into the woods at that point. Have Torchwood got any equipment that will help look through the debris?" he asked hopefully.
"I can find out, if ya think it'll help? Let me make a call but I'd get someone onto where the debris is at the side of the riverbank, if Pippa slipped or was pushed. She could have got knocked unconscious then drowned?"
Neither of them liked where the investigation was going.
"When we get to the estate, I'll talk to those who were near the debris and have them concentrate on those areas and get more divers to examine underneath. If Torchwood has equipment, it will save a lot of time," Alec told her. "I'll see you there, I have to make a stop on the way."
"Yeah, don't forget to put what ya buy in the glove compartment," she teased him.
"Very funny Rose," he just replied, finishing his coffee.
After kissing goodbye in the doorway, they went off to their cars. Rose parked her car at the end of the street and went to where Tess was based.
"Glad to see someone can get here on time," Tess told her, looking up from some overnight reports.
"You're married to him," Rose replied, thinking probably not for much longer, judging by last night.
"I don't discuss my domestic arrangements," Tess scoffed. "Do you have a boyfriend?"
Rose figured she should have expected that.
"No-one at the moment. I lost someone a while back, I'm not in a rush to replace him."
Tess just went back to the reports.
"Did Alec tell you we'll be back in the woods again?" she asked.
"I think the youngest got trapped under some debris that got stuck," Rose replied.
"What makes you think that?" Tess wanted to know.
"Think about it Tess? If they'd gone off, Lisa would have used her phone somewhere. What about her bank card?" Rose asked, wondering why she was doing all the thinking.
"Alec was ordering a trace on her phone and if she used her card," Tess told her. "There's nothing so far but she took some cash out on the Saturday."
Rose had heard it before but dare not let on. She saw his car arrive and him getting out. She hoped he'd not give the game away and would treat her like he'd done yesterday.
"You're still here?" he asked her as he went to where the coffee dispenser was.
"Really Alec, where did you get to last night?" Tess interrupted him.
"Tess, can't you be a bit more discreet? While we're at it, stop calling me Alec in front of everyone."
"Excuse me? You want me to call you 'Sir'?" she asked him.
Rose was trying not to look so amused.
"In company, yes. Right, you take Rose around again, I have more important things to do," he replied.
Rose thought she could take offence at that.
"Huh, such as?" she wanted to know.
"Really?" Alec asked her. "Tracing Lisa's phone and if she used her bank card again, for starters. Need I go on?"
"I was just saying to Tess that maybe I can get some Torchwood experts in to try to look through the debris. It can't be easy for the divers."
"They have such equipment?" he asked her.
"I can make a call? It could save ya a lot of time," she offered.
"Fine, do that then. You go with Tess back to the woods."
"I hope ya have some luck tracing that phone," Rose replied. "Maybe Lisa accidentally hit her and knocked her out? Then Pippa slipped down, when it was raining heavily?"
"I hope you're not right but we have to consider everything. If the rain holds off today, there will be less water coming from further upstream. If she did fall in, we have to hope she's not been carried that far then."
Rose went off to call Jake and Alec to give a briefing, which he didn't enjoy when he told heads of various units.
"Now, we are fortunate to have the services of Torchwood on hand," he was telling them. "They may have equipment we can use to look through the debris."
"You think my divers can't handle it?" one of the heads of departments objected.
"As you all may or not know, we have a Torchwood agent present, who has had experience in locating missing persons. Miss Tyler will answer any questions you may have but you should treat her the same as any other senior officer."
He got a few who mumbled something back then told them to go about their appointed tasks.
"Miss Tyler, you will be with DS Henchard again today, unless you prefer to be with another officer," Alec nodded towards Tess's new boyfriend.
"No, I'll stay with her, thanks. I should get some news if I can get some specialist equipment," Rose replied.
"What sort of equipment?" the chief of the diving division wanted to know.
"If either of the girls are trapped under the water by the debris, it should be able to locate them I expect?" Alec answered for her. "I think we all know where this is leading? Get your divers to go back to where there is the most concentrated pieces of wood or other debris for now but everyone else should go deeper into the woods, in pairs," Alec continued.
"You expect to find the youngest underwater?" he was asked by Dave.
Rose couldn't understand what Tess saw in him.
"We are assuming now that both girls came to the woods and possibly it got out of hand. We are still waiting to find out if Lisa's phone had been located," Alec replied.
"If Lisa's mobile is on, then won't she have used her bank card?" Rose asked.
"That's being looked into," Alec told her.
Everyone went off and Rose was waiting for Tess.
"We'll take my car," Tess told her as she came back. "Any questions?"
"No, I'm good. Let's go and see if we can find Pippa but I hope we're all wrong about it. If anyone brings some specialist equipment, I hope they don't find anything."
"Neither do I," Tess agreed as they set off. "What makes you agree with Alec that Pippa's been trapped?"
"I don't think two girls would go off like that, not with Lisa being older anyway. Let's wait and see where her phone is. What's taking so long though?"
"We have to find what network she was with, then get them to co-operate. We should get some results today," Tess replied.
"Let's hope so then? Why would Alec think I'd want to go around with someone else today?" Rose asked innocently.
"Who knows? Maybe he's nervous he'll upset you?" Tess wondered.
"I don't mean to pry Tess but you've been disagreeing a lot."
"Don't get involved Rose, he's probably just in a mood," Tess told her as they neared the start of the woods.
They were let through and pulled up in the car park, an officer keeping the public at bay who wanted to walk their dogs. Alec pulled in at the side of them as Tess parked ironically next to Dave's car. Rose wondered if she'd done it on purpose.
The rain had subsided as Rose was lent a yellow coat that almost buried her but Alec said he didn't want her to take any chances. She followed Tess across a bridge, herself followed by two uniformed officers, Alec electing to stay on the other side and Rose was amused he'd got this Dave to follow him.
As they walked deeper into the woods, Rose hoped she'd hear something back from Jake before she lost the phone signal but Tess was using hers so she assumed it would be okay. They started doubling back two hours or so later, now they were near the river again and Rose could make Alec out on the other side. They had been spread out, searching behind every tree as they'd gone further than the day before, the outer officers in the line nearer the river prodding any debris they'd found with large sticks.
Rose was glad to get back to the command post when it started to rain again.
"Does it ever stop raining here?" Rose wanted to know, taking the too big for her head hood off and wondered if the coat makers thought everyone had a big head.
"You came at a bad time," Tess replied, looking to see where Dave was and hoping Alec hadn't asked him about her.
Alec had resisted asking the said DS any questions. Rose also hadn't had the chance to ask anything of Tess but after their short break, they went off again to resume where they'd left off.
"Can I ask something Tess?"
"As long as it doesn't involve my domestic arrangements," Tess snapped back.
"I don't want to get personal but isn't it getting awkward? I mean you have to work with Alec."
"He's told me not to call him that whilst we're on duty," Tess replied.
"It's just like me and my two friends, we always call each 'Agent' while we're working but afterwards we just laugh about it, us being all formal. I expect the investigation's just gettin' to him?" Rose asked her.
"It's getting to everyone Rose and now, he thinks Pippa's trapped under the water somewhere."
"Yeah, I hate to think she is but it's looking more and more likely but how would she have got trapped?" Rose wondered. "When we're finished here, can we go back to Pippa's house? I'd like to know a bit more about her and how she got on with Lisa."
"If you think it will do any good? We're concentrating around here but there's hardly anyone near where Lisa lives, just a bit nearer to town," Tess told her.
"Well I'd say it's unlikely Lisa took Pippa to her house if she doesn't get on with her mother," Rose suggested. "That's probably what Alec thinks."
Tess gave her a look that said she didn't have to be so smart.
"So, you subscribe to DI Hardy's theory?" Tess asked her.
"Well yeah. I should get a call soon, if anyone's arriving with any extra equipment. That will save prodding the water with sticks. Look over there Tess, there are a lot of branches overhanging the river," Rose pointed out as she saw Alec near the edge and hoped he'd be careful.
Then she saw he'd stopped to look at something. She left the line to go towards him, Tess following.
"Hey, did you find something?" Rose shouted to him as he was staring at some branches and twigs through the rain.
She thought he must be soaked, he was only wearing his normal raincoat.
"No, I thought I did but they're just branches and some tree trunks, the river has really flooded the riverbank here. How about on your side?" he shouted back as he held onto a tree.
Tess answered him instead.
"Nothing over here, how much further down are we going?" she asked him.
"Hold on," Rose called over to him. "Where are the divers?"
"Further back," Tess told her. "Why?"
"What's that in the middle, by that large branch? Do you see anything?" she called to Alec, who was now trying to look. "Tess, can ya get the divers down here?"
Alec suddenly focused on the fact whatever he'd seen wasn't wood and was grey, not brown. He let go of the tree and raised his hand above his eyes and wishing he'd not left his glasses in the car. He looked around as other officers were joining him.
"Sir, wait for the divers," Dave told him, putting his hand on Alec's shoulder.
"What are you staring at?'" Tess wanted to know but not wanting to shout too loud.
"I think he's seen something that's not a branch," Rose told her as a shiver came over her. "Please don't tell me we were right?"
Then Tess realised.
"Don't go in there, I'm calling for the divers to join us."
"Tess. Tell the ambulances to come as well," Rose told her.
Tess got her phone out as Rose watched what Alec was doing.
"She's right, don't go in there," Rose pleaded with Alec. "Just wait there."
All kinds of thoughts were going through Alec's mind. It could just as easily had been Daisy as he slowly realised it was the youngest girl they were all now looking at. From what he could now make out, she looked like she was wearing pyjamas, which if she'd gone missing at night would be just about right.
That meant she'd not come here voluntarily or persuaded by her older cousin. It meant she'd been brought here and placed somewhere in the woods that had flooded over the last few days. He was aware everyone there would gladly go in and retrieve her as everyone went silent and the dog handlers made their way to the water's edge.
"Sir, do you want the dogs to go in?" one of the handlers called to him.
Dave nudged him. "Sir?"
Rose was covering her mouth with one hand and reaching out with the other.
"Don't go in there," she shouted to him, getting a look from Tess. "Tell him Tess, he's gonna do it."
"He won't listen to me," Tess hissed back, not wanting anyone else to hear.
Rose could hear the sounds of an ambulance making its way towards them but she knew people and Alec was going to do something stupid.
"He's your husband Tess," Rose tried to tell her but didn't want to say perhaps not for much longer.
She'd been thinking about how he got in her room so easily last night and the time they'd spent together. She wondered how he was going to break the news to Tess that he was the one who was going to be leaving.
"Well what do you expect me to do?" Tess asked her.
"Don't just stand there Tess, go to the water's edge and talk some sense into him or do ya want me to do it? I'm not gonna just stand here if he's gonna do something stupid like go in himself before the divers get here. Well?" she asked her.
Tess just stared across at Alec, who to Rose looked like he was fixated on what now appeared to be young Pippa. Rose felt awful about it but the poor girl hadn't deserved to be dumped in a river or left in the woods then it had rained, the river had flooded the woods and they'd have no idea where she'd been left originally.
Rose left Tess and joined the dog handler at the edge of the water.
"Will the dogs go in the water?" Rose asked him.
"Yes, if he orders them but they can't do much," he replied.
"He's gonna go in," Rose remarked.
"Maybe not? Look, if the dogs go in, they can only stay with what looks like the girl until the divers get here," the handler told her.
"Then send them in, it might stop him," Rose tried to insist. "Look, I'm a Torchwood agent and he's just standing over there and he's gonna do something stupid and his DS won't do anything about it," she reminded him.
"They're married you know?" the handler asked her, holding two dogs back. "Although you wouldn't think it these days."
"Is that right?" Rose replied, trying not to let on she already knew. "Well then you know she's not gonna stop him so if he sees the dogs go in, maybe he'll think twice?"
"Well okay but if he chews me out for it, I'll refer him to you," the handler relented.
"Fine, anything to stop him," she told him, wanting to call out to Alec but he was still debating what to do. "Hey, don't go in, let the dogs go first," she cupped her hands and called across to him.
He seemed to snap out of his daze.
"What?" he asked, Rose only just hearing him. "Where are the divers?"
Rose turned back to Tess.
"Ten minutes away," Tess called to her.
"They're too far away," Alec insisted, seeing two ambulances arrive.
"She's not going anywhere," Tess called over to him.
Rose scowled at her, thinking that was a bit cold and she could have been a bit more tactful. Then she thought maybe that would drive him over the edge and turned back just as Alec stepped forward and entered the water. Tess was rooted to the spot but Rose rushed forward even more, the dog handler trying to grab her arm with his free hand.
Rose could only watch as Alec waded to what looked like the still form of the young girl but she broke free.
"Well you lot, don't just stand there, go help him," she called to the officers on the other side then turned to those who had joined her at the water's edge.
Before anyone could reach him, Alec had reached his goal and stooped to pick up who he could now see clearly was young Pippa. Rose had her hands covering her mouth, waiting to see what he'd do as half a dozen or so officers from both sides approached him and he began wading towards her, the officers offering to take the girl from him but he wouldn't let go.
The rest of them now at the side of Rose were holding their arms out to offer to help him, Rose stepping out of the way but he was almost at the other side when he caught his foot on a stone and stumbled, arms trying to grab him and Rose wanting to call out.
Alec had been debating what he should do before he'd waded into the water. He could see Rose talking to the dog handler and knew what she was planning before she'd called over to him. Tess of course had done the usual and let someone else take charge and he was sure Rose would be pulling rank on the dog handler but it had been too much for him, seeing the girl lying there.
As he went under the water, he could feel arms trying to pull him up and trying to take the girl from him but he held on, having seen Rose with her hands covering her face and wanting to help. He felt arms from in front of him pulling him out and those behind him trying to help him regain his balance. When he finally emerged from the water, two paramedics were waiting with a trolley and tried to take the girl from him.
Rose stepped forward.
"You can hand her over now," she told him as the water dripped from him.
"What?" he asked, Rose thinking he'd said that twice, reminding her of The Doctor.
"Let them take her," Rose said gently as she touched his arm, not caring if Tess was watching or not.
Alec reluctantly let them take the girl from him, another paramedic putting a thermal blanket over him and leading him to the other ambulance. Alec was trying to shrug the man off but Rose went up to him, since Tess decided to see what everyone else was doing.
"Go get yourself checked over," Rose tried to encourage him.
If it had been anyone else, especially Tess, he would have told them there was no way he was leaving in an ambulance when there was still so much to do. Could he leave Tess in charge when it had been clear Rose had been doing all the work?
"I have to go see the family," he told her as the paramedic was trying to get him in the ambulance.
"Sir, we need to get you to the emergency department, you swallowed a lot of water," the man tried to tell him.
"Listen to him," Rose insisted. "Let Tess take over."
"Then tell her," Alec replied. "She has to let the family know. Here, take my car keys and follow the ambulance."
"I left my car on the estate," Rose replied. "Okay, I'll meet you there but no going off before they check you out, got it?"
"Yes Ma'am," Alec tried to mock salute with one finger.
"You'll be fine but best be on the safe side," Rose replied as Alec went up the step.
Once the door was closed, Alec sat down.
"Sir, can I ask why Miss Tyler seemed to be in charge?" Alec was asked.
"You tell me?" Alec tried to joke.
Alec was wondering the same thing, Rose was a natural.
Tess watched Rose as the ambulances drove off. Who was Rose Tyler and more importantly, why had she taken control when Alec was considering jumping into the water to pick up the missing girl? She shook her head as Rose turned to her.
"Tess, I need to borrow an officer."
"What for?" Tess asked her.
"To take Alec's car to the station," she replied. "They can drop me off at the estate on the way," she added, his car key in her hand.
Rose thought there was no need to tell Tess where she was going afterwards.
"Tess, Alec will need some dry clothes," Rose continued.
"I'll have someone from the station meet him at the hospital," Tess replied, getting her phone out.
Rose wondered how much colder his so-called wife could get. She got that Tess was now in charge but even so, the woman was showing no concern.
"Are ya gonna see him there?" Rose wanted to know.
"I have to go inform the girl's family," Tess replied. "I have to finish up here first. What the hell was he thinking?"
"Well, I told him to wait," Rose reminded her. "Why didn't ya say anything to him?"
"You don't know him Rose, once he decides something," Tess told her. "Just grab a spare officer."
"Is there anything else I can do here?" Rose offered.
"No, the Gillespies won't welcome you."
"Then I'll make sure Alec gets back from the hospital, with your permission," Rose offered.
"Fine, you do that," Tess told her.
"You don't seem too bothered Tess," Rose observed.
"I have a job to do, Alec will be taken care of. Now, if you'll excuse me?" Tess asked her.
"Fine, I'll see you tomorrow then? Where will you be?" Rose wanted to know.
"I'll see how the girl's family are, then I'll probably be back here. We have to find where Pippa was left."
"Tess, you've no idea how far down she's been carried by the river."
"I know but we have to try," Tess replied.
"Well whoever left her wasn't gonna leave any clues, were they? Anyway, it's up to Alec to decide and until he's out of the hospital, that puts you in charge but I tell ya Tess, you're wasting your time."
Rose had heard enough, Tess didn't care about Alec. She chose a female officer and told her what she wanted, handing her Alec's car key.
"Miss Tyler, are you okay?" the WPC asked her.
"What? Oh yeah, I'm okay, thanks. It was just a bit of a shock when he just went in and got the girl," Rose replied.
"I know Miss, everyone was shocked. He should have waited for the divers."
"Yeah, I tried to tell him. I know DS Henchard is gonna be busy so I'm best out of her way. Can ya take me to the estate so I can get my car? Then take this car to the station, he won't be in a fit state to drive when he's been checked over at the hospital."
"I expect he'll call for a car?" the WPC wondered.
"Well since there's nothing else I can do around here, I'll go check on him."
Rose hoped that wouldn't arouse any suspicion and the WPC wouldn't go telling everyone. She was soon at her car, thanking the WPC and finding the officer in charge at the scene.
"I just wanted to tell ya that I'm leaving for the day. Did you hear what happened?"
"Yes Miss Tyler, it's very sad and not how we wanted her to be found. How's DI Hardy?"
"Gone to hospital," Rose managed to smile. "I wish them luck keeping him, he didn't want to go."
"Sounds about right Miss," the man replied. "He's tough, even more so recently."
"Is that right?" Rose wanted to know, hoping she could find out a bit more of what he was like.
It had now hit her of what had happened last night. She'd let Alec in her room, practically had sex with him and yet she hardly knew him or what was going on with him leaving his wife. Well, even if he had called at a shop and bought something, sex was on hold until he told her he was leaving Tess.
She was not going to get in the middle of Tess accusing her of splitting them up but everyone could clearly see things between Tess and Alec were not good. Pete would go crazy if Tess made such allegations publicly and as for her mother, well she didn't even want to go there.
She had to tell Alec things could go no further until he told Tess he was leaving and he did something about it but now, she couldn't see that it would be much of a problem if she turned up at the hospital and Tess didn't. It hadn't sounded like Tess intended going so Alec was right about her.
Even if Tess had a job to do, she could have made the effort if she'd wanted. Rose found the hospital and parked in the 'Authorised Vehicles' spaces, putting her Torchwood card on the dashboard and hoped the security company knew the name.
Going inside, she went up to the admissions desk.
"I've come to see about DI Hardy, he was brought in earlier," Rose told the woman.
"Oh yes, he had respiratory problems," the woman replied as she looked at the screen on the desk. "Are you with the police?"
"No but I work with him," Rose replied, getting her ID card from her pocket.
"You'll have to wait here, I'll let someone know you're here. Some clothes were just delivered for him, it says he was rescued from the river."
"I can't say anything, it's an ongoing police investigation. They'll be making a statement soon I suppose?" Rose told her.
Rose then heard talking as a nurse came out of a side room.
"Anyone here with Alec Hardy?" the nurse asked hopefully, since Alec was giving her and a junior doctor a hard time.
"That would be me," Rose admitted, the woman on reception opening her door to pass Alec's spare clothes.
Rose followed the nurse and saw Alec sat on the bed in a hospital gown, his ruined clothes in a large white carrier bag.
"Have you got some dry clothes?" he greeted Rose.
The nurse stared at her. "Are you his wife?" she asked.
"Rose, where have you been?" Alec asked her. "Let me get out of here."
Well at least he'd not actually admitted she was his wife, Rose supposed.
Rose just smiled at the nurse, not wanting to confirm or deny.
"They told me to wait out there," Rose told him, handing him the dry clothes and noting they were just a police sweatshirt and joggers.
She didn't want to think about it. Alec took the bag and went behind the curtain.
"Well, is he okay?" Rose asked after a few minutes.
"He swallowed some river water," the junior doctor admitted. "He had some breathing difficulties but he seems fine now. If he has any recurring symptoms, bring him straight back but I'll discharge him."
"I need to get back to the estate," Alec called out to Rose as the nurse was leaving after the doctor.
"You were letting Tess handle it," she reminded him. "She was going off to see Pippa's parents."
"She won't put it tactfully," he replied, cringing at putting the joggers on. "I'd best go by the hotel or call at the house to get changed properly though."
"Yeah," Rose grinned as he stepped out.
"Seriously, had they nothing else?" he asked.
"I expect Tess told them to get some dry clothes here as soon as possible? You should have just waited Alec. Did you get told anything else when you were examined?"
"That doctor listened to my heart more than once but she never said anything. Maybe I was just imagining things? Fighting with Tess constantly does not help."
"Well, don't fight with her then?" Rose suggested as he picked up the other carrier bag.
"Rose, you don't know what she's like. Maybe I should just call and get the rest of my things? Drop me at the police station to get my car."
"You're in no state to drive Alec. I'll take ya. Tess will be a while yet, won't she? She'll have reports to make out."
"We'd best hope so then? I have to talk to her anyway, to tell her I'm leaving."
"Are you sure about that Alec?" she asked as they walked outside.
Alec stopped. "What are you suggesting Rose? Are you trying to say I won't do it?"
"You only made your mind up last night Alec," she reminded him as he put his wet clothes in the back of Rose's car.
"You dared to park here?" he queried.
"I was on police business. Want to arrest me for parking here? What was all that back there anyway? Why did the nurse think I was your wife?"
"I just told them I was expecting someone. I thought you were following me?" he asked as he got in the car.
"Alec, I wanted to go with you but I thought Tess would have said something. Anyway, I told her I'd check up on you so if she sees me with you, she'll think that's what I'm doing. I'm sorry Alec, that it was you who spotted Pippa."
He reached over and touched her hand as he put the seat belt on.
"I know. Tess seemed disinterested, she left it all to you. I can't depend on her Rose, either personally or working with her. I'll see the chief and tell him I'll do it on my own, with some help from you. The paramedic questioned why you were giving all the orders."
"Only to you," Rose smiled as she checked the mirror to back out of the parking space.
"You were trying to get the dog handler to send the dogs in the river. You were trying to stop me going in."
"Yeah but I was too late, wasn't I? Would they have stopped you?" she asked him. "Right, where am I going exactly?"
He gave her the address of the police station but Rose protested.
"Get changed first Alec. You have to go in and get your car key," she reminded him.
Alec tried not to be embarrassed. He was fully aware of what he was wearing. They arrived at his house and Rose said she'd wait in the car.
"Are you going to see your daughter?" she asked him. "You should go explain to her, about her mother."
"Tess may beat me to it," he replied as he went for his wet clothes. "I'll leave these here, I'll get them from you tomorrow and send them for cleaning."
"How are you going to explain what happened?" she decided to tease him.
"I'm not staying in the house and putting on the washing machine," he objected. "Could you maybe drop them off for me?"
"Hey, I don't know where there are any dry cleaners. Drop them at the station, they probably have a contract with someone," Rose suggested. "I'll go drop them if you want?"
"Fine, it would be best you take them. I'll see you at the hotel then?" he asked.
"I could wait for ya if ya wanted?"
"No, just leave them there. The chief will probably have left for the day anyway, I'll have to leave that until tomorrow but I'm going to refuse to work with Tess."
"What will happen then?" Rose wanted to know.
"He will probably tell me to get on with it then I will suggest you work with me, you can be my liaison."
"You mean your go-between don't ya? Alec, it won't work, Tess will guess there's something going on."
"No, she won't Rose, she will be too busy thinking she's won. First thing tomorrow, we will both go see the girl's parents and I want you to go next door with me, see how the neighbours react."
"What about a press release?" Rose asked.
"The chief will have already dealt with it, he probably had Tess do it. I should have been there."
"No Alec, ya did the right thing, you got checked over after that stupid stunt ya pulled," Rose replied.
Alec gave her a sheepish look. He knew it had been stupid to wade across the river but as soon as he'd made out he was not staring at another part of a tree and realised it was the youngest girl, part of him had wanted to go in and pick her up and part of him had been trying to listen to Rose.
He'd seen the look on her face and then she'd covered her face as she'd shouted for other officers to go in after him. He'd also seen that Tess was frozen on the spot, as usual but once he was out, she'd found plenty to do. He just hoped Tess wouldn't take the credit for sending help to him. He wanted Rose to take it but he knew she wouldn't.
"Wait at the hotel for me," he told her as he went to close the car door.
"Alec, I was thinking. I'm not going anywhere until we find who put Pippa in the woods so maybe I could look at short-term rentals? Just a small apartment maybe? I can just get it in my name, if ya want?"
"You want to share?" he asked as he held the door open.
"That was the idea. I'll look at some online tonight, then I'll call my secretary in the morning and get her to arrange it. No-one usually refuses a request from Torchwood."
"Are you always going to do that?" he wanted to know.
"What's the point in working for a big organisation if ya can't take advantage?" Rose smiled.
He would have leaned back inside the car and kissed her had he not been outside where he had lived. He was sure now he'd got out of a strange car and talked to a blonde that the neighbours would ask Tess what he'd been doing. Did he care what they would say though? He had to talk to Tess and say he was leaving first though.
He went inside where he'd lived since they'd got married and had Daisy, going up to the bedroom and getting the case he'd used when they'd gone on holiday when Daisy was younger. He was surprised Tess hadn't come back yet but she would be savouring being in charge for now.
He wished he'd gone to get his car first but Rose had been right about what he was now wearing. He got changed and called for a cab to take him to the police station and just hoped Tess wouldn't get back at the same time. After he'd got there and got his car key, putting his case and small holdall in the back, he was about to go back inside when Tess arrived, going into her parking space.
"Have you been inside or just arrived?" Tess asked him, wondering if he'd class it as still being on duty so she'd not said his name.
"Just arrived, I had to go get cleaned up. Where have you been? You never came to the hospital."
"I had to inform the Gillespies, then give a short statement to the press. Besides, Rose said she would check on you. Did she give you a ride home then?"
"Yes, she did. She dropped me off," he had to admit.
Tess just tutted, as usual, Alec thought.
"Are you going to see the girl's family, since you found her?" she asked him.
"In the morning. I hope the chief is still inside," he wondered.
"Probably but he may have gone to a press conference or something. Really Alec, was it necessary to be so dramatic and go into the river yourself?"
"This was about Pippa, not me Tess," he reminded her. "I felt I owed it to her and her family to get her myself. What were you doing eh? Hiding behind Rose Tyler and letting her take over? I expected more of you Tess."
"Excuse me, you hardly stopped her, did you?" Tess huffed. "You never took any notice of her anyway," she added.
"I expected you to stop me, not a Torchwood agent. She was trying to get the dog handler to send the dogs in I expect?" he asked, knowing full well what Rose had intended doing.
"That wouldn't have stopped you," Tess replied. "What did you want to see the chief for anyway?"
"To get my version of events in before you," he muttered to himself. "So you don't say I was being reckless."
"You were being reckless Alec, I'm surprised at you, you've never done anything like that before," Tess pointed out.
"Well no other missing child has been found in the river before, have they?" he asked her, wanting to get to see the chief if he was still inside.
"That's no excuse," Tess replied.
"No-one else made any attempt, it was Rose Tyler who shouted for others to help. You just stood there and let her."
"Yes, so you've already pointed out Alec. You took me by surprise, that's all. I took charge after you left, that's what you wanted. Did you ask Rose to collect you from the hospital?"
"No, she turned up and told me you were busy at the place we found Pippa and you said you were taking over. She may be a Torchwood agent but it was a police matter and she knew it," he defended Rose's actions.
He knew he shouldn't give too much away to Tess, who was looking suitably pleased with herself.
"Are you going to see Daisy? One of us should, she'll have seen what happened on TV. I have other things to do tonight."
"Such as meeting Dave? Don't deny it Tess, I saw the two of you, it's him, isn't it?" Alec confronted her. "Well I've moved out, I'll stay where I was last night but the hotel is expensive so tomorrow, I'm getting my portion of the housing allowance towards it until I find something else."
"That's not fair Alec, how am I suppose to pay the rent?" Tess asked him.
"Stop taking Daisy shopping for things she doesn't actually need to start with," he suggested. "You'll think of something else. I will call and see her when I've finished here, since you'll probably just go off and meet Dave."
"Well what do you expect Alec?" she asked quietly as two uniformed officers came out of the building and nodded to the pair of them. "You think things are going to improve?"
"I'm not arguing with you Tess, do whatever you want, I'm done. If I've left anything, I'll go back for it when I find somewhere to live, personnel should have the names of any letting agencies, that's what they're there for. Are you going to be at the Gillespie house in the morning? I told Rose Tyler to meet us there."
That wasn't quite true but Tess didn't need to know that. Now he'd told Tess he was moving out, he could tell Rose when he got back to the hotel. If he looked for somewhere else to live, would she stay in the hotel? She'd already mentioned looking for somewhere but he couldn't sit back and let her or Torchwood pay for it though.
No-one would question where Rose lived so if he did get somewhere, she could stay with him for as long as she was around but how long would that be? That was something he needed to ask Rose when he'd finished here. Would she leave now the youngest girl had been found or would she want to stick around and find Lisa and whoever was responsible for leaving a twelve year old girl in the woods for the river to carry her however far it had been?
He thought now he'd leave the chief until morning even if he was still there, then go say he and Tess were splitting up and he'd only continue to work with her if Rose agreed to do it most of the time but would Rose still agree? He went inside to the main desk to see if the chief was actually there or not, then he'd decide.
"Sir, we all heard what happened. When you see the family, could you convey our sympathy?" the desk sergeant asked him.
Alec nodded. "Did someone leave those clothes I was lent at the hospital?" he asked.
"Yes Sir, Miss Tyler returned them a short while ago. She said she'd met you at the hospital, she'd been to check on you. Excuse me saying so Sir but wasn't DS Henchard with you there?"
"No, she was busy at the scene where the girl was found," Alec replied. "Miss Tyler excused herself from the scene, she thought she would leave the police to do their jobs and volunteered to check on me. Sergeant, are there any rumours going around I should be aware of?"
"Sir?" the sergeant questioned him. "What rumours are you referring to?"
"You all know full well, about DS Henchard. You may as well admit anything," Alec replied.
"It's not my place to say, Sir. I don’t condone station gossip. Is there anything else I can help you with?" the sergeant replied.
"Is the chief still in his office?" Alec just asked.
"No Sir, he left a while ago to visit the scene where the young girl was found. He wasn't expecting you to come back, in view you were taken to the hospital."
"Well, I will just be in my office for a while, if anyone asks for me, I'm not here," Alec told him.
When he got to his office, he called his daughter.
"Dad, that was awful, I heard about the girl who was missing," Daisy told him before he had the chance to say anything. "Who found her?"
"Daisy, everyone saw her. Are you with your gran?" he asked her.
"Yeah, I came straight home, like you told me to but can't I call at my friend's house first?" she asked.
Alec wondered if he was being over-protective but there was a child killer on the loose.
"Is it someone in your gran's street?" he asked her.
"Yes Dad, a few doors down. Please? I'm going crazy, when can I go home?" she asked him.
"Soon darlin' but it's best you stay there a bit longer. Daisy, there's something I need to talk to you about so I will come over tomorrow."
"What's wrong Dad? Is it about you and mum arguing all the time? I know you were arguing on Sunday morning. Dad, are you splitting up?"
"Daisy, it's complicated, it's best I explain it to you in person. Don't go thinking it has anything to do with you, you know how much me and your mum love you? It's nothing that you've done but it's best you stay with your gran for now and yes, you can go to your friend's house but no further, for now."
"Thanks Dad. I was hoping those arguments you and mum were having weren't over me. You can't get along with each other anymore, can you?" she asked him.
"Honestly? Your mum's making life very difficult, put it that way," he had to admit.
"I've heard her Dad but she said it was you who was being difficult. I don't know who to believe but I don't want to get caught up in it. Promise you'll come over tomorrow? Then can I go home?"
"We'll see eh?" was all he could reply.
Getting off the phone with Daisy, he checked on Rose.
"Hey!" Rose greeted him. "Geez, I almost bumped into Tess when I took those clothes back for ya. She was just going out again I think."
"Sorry then, she caught me as she was coming back, you were lucky," he replied. "I told her I wasn't going back home and that I knew about her and Dave. Then I told her we were done."
"You did?" Rose replied, wanting to make sure she'd heard him right.
"Yes, I told her I was going to find a place to live. Rose, how long did you say you were staying here?"
She knew she'd been asked that before.
"Until we find who left Pippa in the woods and find Lisa," she replied.
She knew she couldn't say she'd stay with him forever, she'd promised The Doctor that and look where that had got her? She'd not expected to have to come and live in this universe and she'd been totally unaware until a few days ago that another almost exact copy of him existed and she'd gone in head first and spent last night with Alec.
"Then if I get a place, will you stay in the hotel or maybe come and share with me? I'll have to get a two bedroom place for if Daisy wants to stay over but I have a feeling she'll take her mother's side."
"What makes ya think that?" Rose asked him.
"I just talked to her, she knows something is about to happen," he replied. "So, what do you think? No-one needs to know, if you move in with me and Daisy will have to accept her mother and myself are moving on. No-one knows where you're staying, do they?" he asked.
"No, except nosy detectives who con the night staff into giving out my room number," Rose tried to sound serious.
Alec went quiet, wondering if she meant it, until she spluttered with laughter.
"I was being resourceful," he objected. "The hotel had no spare rooms, I had to improvise."
Rose was trying to stop laughing.
"It's a good thing you're so cute, detective inspector. When are ya coming back?"
"Soon, the chief had left so we'll go see him after we've seen the girl's family. Expect Tess to be there though," he warned Rose.
"I can handle her Alec. She doesn't suspect anything, does she?"
"No, not yet but how long before she starts making accusations?" he replied. "She will, sooner or later."
Alec wondered if Rose would leave at the first sign Tess was going to accuse them of having an affair. He had to question if it was an affair when Tess was already having one.
He finished what he was doing then figured he'd be back at the hotel in time to eat so he sent Rose a quick message for her to wait for him in the dining room. He couldn't believe though what a day he'd had and how quickly he had set himself up for getting a new girlfriend and find the courage to tell Tess he was leaving.
He found Rose studying the menu as he entered the dining room, leaving his things in the car.
"Hi, you're just in time," Rose greeted him. "How are ya feeling now?"
"Better with my own clothes on. I forgot to give those I was lent back, the desk sergeant must have mistaken what you took back when I asked him."
"That's not surprising," Rose smiled. "Don't go making a habit of getting your clothes wet."
"I will try to avoid rivers altogether. We have a lot to talk about you know?" he asked as she passed the menu.
He squinted at it then fished for his glasses, which thankfully, he'd left in the car when he'd gone into the river and was glad he'd also left his phone.
"You look cute," Rose told him. "Yeah, we have a lot to discuss. I looked at a few letting agencies. Let me take care of it Alec."
"It would be best I do it, I have to establish where I will be going, I will have to tell the personnel officer that Tess and I have split. No doubt Tess will get her version in first? Tomorrow, meet me at the Gillespie's house, I'll set off earlier to catch the chief."
"I thought I was going with you?" she asked.
"Do you still want to?"
"Well yeah? Alec, we have to agree how this is gonna work ya know?" she reminded him.
"Yes, I know that. I was just trying to spare you that. Well just follow me to the station then, we will just have to try to convince the chief it would be better if Tess works with you."
"Geez Alec, I don't know? Well if it keeps her away from you though? What if she does already suspect something?"
"That's why I should get a place of my own. If I do it through the station, Tess will get to know," he replied.
"Well ya could say ya did it on your own?" Rose smiled.
"She will know that I can't get something organised so fast on my own. I'd best go get my things from the car then? I already told her I won't be able to stay in a hotel for long so I will have to tell personnel I'm paying for it myself and get them to rush something through."
"Yeah, ya can't say that you're sharing," Rose teased him. "Want some help?"
They got his things out of the car and went to what was now their room. As he hung up his shirts, he was wondering how they had got into this so easily. It had taken him months to ask Tess out when he'd transferred from Glasgow to Sandbrook, Tess was already seeing someone and hadn't seemed to notice him at first but she'd had a big argument with the DC she was seeing and he just happened to be there and followed her to see if she was okay.
After that, they had talked more, both got promotions to detective sergeants and he finally got up the courage to ask her out other than them being friends. Now, he wondered how long she had been planning on leaving but the fact of who she had chosen had to be questioned, since the male DS was married.
Now though, he knew it was over with Tess so there was no point in pretending otherwise but word would soon get around and maybe placing Rose between him and Tess wasn't one of his best ideas but Rose was at least agreeable and Tess wouldn't suspect anything, at least not yet. How long it would take her was anyone's guess though, then there would be trouble.
Rose went to put the TV on and she moved over in the chair to make room for him. She leaned her head on his shoulder.
"Sure you're okay?" she asked him as he kissed her forehead, now she was sitting with her legs across his.
"Well maybe an early night would be a good idea?" he suggested, since she'd found a programme about crime scene investigators, that just happened to involve water.
Rose just smiled back at him, getting the hint about her choice of programme.
"Sorry. I'll go get ready for bed then? Alec, we could have lost you today, why did ya have to do a stupid thing like that after I asked ya not to?"
She had tried to bottle it up and not think about it but the more she tried to forget, the more she realised she cared for him and maybe it wasn't meant to be, that she'd found someone after she thought she wouldn't get over The Doctor.
They kissed for a while when they got into bed but Alec wanted to know about the man she'd told him she'd lost.
"Was that the truth you told me, about the friend you lost? Rose?"
Rose was chewing her bottom lip and he could see she was debating something.
"Most of it was true but if ya want to know more, I'll have to clear it with my stepfather. I know you're in the police but I'll have to tell him you want to know."
"Then I will wait, I know there is something you are not telling me Rose. Hold on, was it the other way around? Was it you who came here because Pete Tyler and his first wife had no children, then all of a sudden, he marries your mother. What was he covering up?"
"Alec, I swear I can't say. I promise I'll call him tomorrow but it might be better coming from him."
"Then ask him if he will speak to me? Rose, if we are going to have a relationship, I need you to be honest with me."
"Alec, you never objected when I said my friend was an alien," she reminded him.
"I know what Torchwood is Rose, it's been sanctioned by the government, even though it's thought the president was killed by the Cybermen. There was never any proof though."
Rose knew differently, Pete had never said how it had been dealt with at the time, though he was busy cleaning the house up and getting his company back from the now defunct Cybus Industries. He'd said he was on the verge of selling the mansion after what had happened but something had made him stay.
"So, how did Pete Tyler meet your mother?" Alec continued to ask.
"Through me, how else?" Rose replied, going for his t-shirt.
"Oh, you want this off?" he teased her.
"That was the idea. Yeah, I introduced him to my mum, well sort of. Alec, just wait until tomorrow, yeah?"
"Reluctantly," he had to agree, since Rose was now determined to remove his t-shirt, seeing her hand was under it on his bare chest. "So, can I make use of what I called for this morning, which made me late?" he asked hopefully. "It also made Tess annoyed that I was late."
"Yeah, she looked suitably annoyed," Rose laughed. "It was all I could do not to laugh and tell her where you'd been. It's not that I don't trust ya Alec but I'd feel better if ya did make use of them, for now. I mean, with ya just splitting from Tess."
"Rose, we've not been together for a while now but I understand you feel that way. Are you going to let me out of bed to get them?"
Rose had to giggle when he got all coy about putting the item on in front of her. He noticed she was not offering to help.
"Not going to help?" he asked as he sat on the edge of the divan bed, making Rose smile as it moved.
"Can't manage?" she teased him, not taking the bait, since it wasn't her 'thing', having been put off at the thought Mickey had once asked her when his mate gave him a packet just after she'd agreed to be his girlfriend.
"Are you trying to infer I have forgotten?" he asked as he finally smoothed the item out and wondered if he'd not barged in on Rose last night if he would have picked a woman up in the bar of another hotel.
Rose had relieved some of the tension last night but tonight, she was actually agreeing to having sex with him and if he'd thought about it, he could have called at a service station and bought a packet of what he was now wearing last night. He heard her giggling to herself as he reached to turn out the lamp.
"Ya can leave that on?" Rose offered, going for his arm.
"There is enough light from outside Rose. I have to ask you if you want us to do this?"
"Well yeah, that was the idea? Oh, I get it, with you being in the police, you don't want me accusing you of anything later on. Yes Alec, I want this with you, okay?"
With that out of the way, he reached for the skimpy underwear she was wearing and lifted the vest top, her breasts spilling out and seeing her in the dim light. Why she had agreed last night to let him share, he had no idea but she had. He propped himself on one arm and began to kiss them as she raised herself up for him and she put her hands on his shoulders.
They were soon lost in each other, Rose thinking the awkward times she'd been with Mickey was nothing compared to how Alec was being attentive and making her want him even more. She tried to whisper she wanted him but he seemed to know. As he came away from her, she was trying to regain her senses.
Alec knew there was no way now he could ever go back to Tess, she had never been as willing as Rose had just been. He started to get out of bed to clean himself up.
"That was out of this world Alec."
"Really? I've never been told that before. Not even Tess paid me that many compliments."
"I don't need to know that Alec. Get cleaned up and come back to bed."
"You could offer some help," he tried to joke.
"Hey, that's your job," Rose joked back. "I'm just not into that, sorry."
"Then at least you are honest. I will be right back."
He grabbed his shorts, very aware she was watching as he walked off to the bathroom.
"Cute Alec," she called after him.
Alec decided he should have a little fun with her so tossing his shorts over his left shoulder, he put his other hand on his hip, tossed his head back and swayed to the bathroom, hearing her laughing. Rose scrambled for her underwear, grabbing a tissue from the bedside table.
She felt better than she had for a long time, now cringing at the fact she thought having sex with Mickey was all she was ever going to have. She'd had no time to get a new boufriend while she was travelling around and then, she'd found herself being famous and could have had her pick of men.
The truth was though, she'd not wanted any of them – until now. She suddenly felt herself bursting to use the bathroom, so grabbing Alec's shirt from the chair, she draped it on her shoulders and ran to the door.
"Alec, hurry up will ya? I'm bursting out here."
Alec was looking in the bathroom mirror wondering why Rose had indeed let him in last night, after the way he had treated her at the scene of the two girls disappearing. He'd been rude then shoved her with Tess and had told her she was not taking over the investigation.
Even though they had been together last night, he had still used her to distance himself from Tess.
"I will be right out," he called back, sorting himself out. "Someone got a little too excited maybe?" he teased as he opened the door and she tried to get past.
"Can I answer that later?" she grinned, dodging under his arm.
He smiled back and closed the door for her. He got back into bed, wondering why she was wearing his shirt. He supposed it was easier than her looking for a vest top or a t-shirt, plus he would get a good view of her as she got back into bed. She had seemed to have enjoyed his little display.
He certainly had never had the need to impress Tess, had he? It seemed to him he had just given Rose the best orgasm of her life not that long ago but he hoped when the room got cleaned, the cleaner would not look at the red tell-tale wrapper let alone the item itself wrapped in toilet paper in the bottom of the waste paper bin in the bathroom.
It was a first for him though, leaving such items in hotel rooms. Tess had never wanted to have sex when they'd been on family holidays, always opting for family rooms and saying if Daisy woke up and caught them, they'd never hear the end of it. He suspected the then youngster would have more likely laughed and told her friends.
Rose got back into bed, taking his shirt off.
"Was I right?" he decided to continue teasing her.
"Not exactly. Geez Alec, that was the best feeling of my entire life. I think I'm gonna have to invent a man I met in the hotel and brag to Tess tomorrow."
"You would not?" he asked.
"Yeah, think about it Alec. She'd never guess I was talking about you, would she?"
He supposed she did have a point. It should bother him but it didn't.
"Be careful if you are going to play games with her Rose. She is a trained detective."
"I'm a Torchwood agent Alec, I can play games all day long, trust me."
He leaned down to whisper to her.
"Then play some games with me Rose? You were a little shy earlier, did that item put you off?"
"Yeah, ya could say that, sorry."
"There is no need to apologise Rose, this is also new to me. I never showed off to anyone else."
Rose found that hard to believe.
"Not even when ya were a teenager?" she teased him.
"I am saying nothing," he laughed back. "Maybe we should dispose of our own trash in the morning?"
"Alec, I'm not saying I'm gonna make ya wear them forever. Ya have to look at it from my point of view. If I say I met a bloke in the bar, it will take some of the tension off, she'll think I'm not interested in you."
"Well okay then, if it will help. I will try not to get jealous. Just don't say his name is Alec, eh?"
"Don't be daft Alec. I've got a friend called Jake, he won't mind me pretending it's him."
As they fell asleep, Rose leaning into him, he hoped she would get away with it because it would be interesting if Tess actually worked out Rose was referring to him. Well that would teach his soon to be ex wife, if he got in first with a separation order, followed closely by divorce papers. Maybe he could skip the separation part though?
He hoped Tess would not associate Rose's arrival with his haste to dissolve their marriage but if he carried on being 'off' with Rose, it should throw her off, for now. Once the papers were served to Tess, he would give her the choice of signing them or bringing her new boyfriend into it.
The next morning, Tess avoided him as Rose had just arrived in the entrance to the police station.
"What are you doing here Rose?" she wanted to know.
"Alec asked me to join you here. Didn't he say anything?"
Tess watched him walk into the building.
"No, we're not really talking. He did say you were meeting us at the Gillespie house. Did you go to the hospital yesterday?"
"I got a call earlier, change of plans. Yeah, I'd nothing else to do. He seemed okay so I dropped him off. I should go see your chief, see how far he wants me involved. I don't even know if he's aware I'm working with the police."
Tess thought that would be rather amusing.
Rose found Alec in his office after being directed there by the desk sergeant.
"Come in," Alec called to her as she knocked on the glass panel.
"Hi. So, is Tess joining us when we go see your chief?" she asked him.
"I expect so. I want you two to work together, we still have a lot of witness statements to go through."
"How are ya, after you went in the river yesterday?" she asked, sitting on the sofa and wondering if anyone would overhear.
"I'm fine, don't worry about it. We'll go see the family, then Lisa's mother, see if she knows where Lisa may have gone. Just where had Pippa been left though?"
"Yeah, she could have been left anywhere near the river? Is there anyone who would know just how much the woods were flooded, like where the bank would normally be?" Rose asked him.
"Maybe the local council? No, maybe local naturalists, dog walkers? The area will have been cordoned off where she was found."
"Then have some officers canvas the dog walkers who venture near the area?" she suggested.
"We don't know how far she was carried," Alec reminded her.
"Yeah but further up, where we started, there was a lot of debris that was stuck in the river. She could have been left near that, it rained as she floated to that, got caught then somehow got dislodged just before we started searching?"
"Yes, that's possible. Right we will go see the chief, he's been informed you are helping though I have no idea how he feels about it," he tried to joke.
They got up, left his office and stopped by Tess's desk. Once in the chief's office, he wanted to know why Rose had been out with them without clearing it with him first. Alec had to defend his decision.
"I saw no reason why Miss Tyler could not join us unofficially. So far no-one else from her agency is involved. She has the full backing of the director."
"I see then? Any objections Tess?" the chief asked her.
"No, I've been working with her. She's said nothing about anyone joining her."
"I've not called for anyone else yet," Rose defended herself. "If any more help's needed though, I can get people down here who are good at asking questions."
"Well, thank you for the offer," the chief replied. "Tess, will you co-ordinate with Miss Tyler?"
Tess thought that was what she'd already been doing. Once outside the chief's office, Alec outlined what he wanted them to do.
"Tess, are you going back to the woods?"
"If I have to? I'll finish up there and leave someone in charge but what we'll find is anyone's guess."
"If we could just find where she was left," Rose agreed. "I'll call for a team who are experts on searching, if ya want?"
Tess wondered how many more teams Torchwood had.
"That is a good idea," Alec agreed. "It will free up officers to get back to the estate and finish asking questions. Rose, I want you to come with me to see Pippa's parents, see how they are reacting."
"How do you think they'll be reacting - Sir?" Tess scoffed.
"They still may be hiding something," Alec glared at her
"Such as?" Tess asked.
"I can think of a few things," Rose offered. "Such as are they showing any concern for their still missing niece, how Pippa was found, where she was found."
"See, those are the questions we should be asking," Alec agreed.
Rose had to smile. She'd had plenty of practice with The Doctor and it had paid off when she'd joined this world's Torchwood.
"Call your headquarters and see if you can get anyone today to start a search in the woods, extending the search area," he suggested to Rose.
"Yeah, I'll do it now. Want me to meet ya at the Gillespie house?" she asked him.
"No, come with me, you can call your office on the way. We'll take my car, then we'll see how the next door neighbours react, if they are in," Alec replied.
"Well, they may be in, they both work for themselves," Tess told him. "I'll see you at the estate then?"
Once in the police garage and in Alec's car, he stopped for a moment.
"Geez Alec, I thought you wanted me working with Tess, to try to throw her off suspecting anything?" Rose grinned.
"I do, can you think of a better way to start?" he smiled back.
Rose had to smile at the thought of Alec's idea of throwing Tess off the scent. She just hoped he didn't plan on doing it too much. Tess though had gone off, thinking she felt sorry for Rose having to put up with him. Even though she'd been seeing Dave for a while without Alec realising, Dave had not seemed happy when she'd told him Alec was leaving her.
As she drove off to the woods she knew she had to convince Dave that it was better Alec had already moved out, leaving the path clear for them. Should she seek a separation order or leave it for Alec? If he was mad enough at her, he'd be the one to go for it.
Alec parked outside the Gillespie house, it seemed Tess had ordered the cordon taken away as cars were now parked opposite.
"This is what I get for leaving Tess in charge," Alec complained as they got out.
"Residents won't be happy if they can't get their cars in," Rose reminded him.
She smiled as he just cleared his throat in answer. A uniformed officer greeted them and knocked on the door.
"What do you want now?" Cate half-heartedly asked Alec. "What did you bring her for?"
Alec felt like telling her not to be rude and asking what was she doing with a glass of wine in her hand at this time of the morning?
"I'm here to help," Rose defended herself. "I'm working with the police."
"How, by getting your name in the papers alongside my Pippa's?" Cate asked her.
"Miss Tyler is not interested in the publicity," Alec reminded her. "May we talk to you, about Pippa and Lisa?"
"I've told Tess all I can, what else is there?" Cate asked him, letting them in.
"You could tell us about Pippa," Rose suggested, seeing a picture of the young girl on a trampoline. Cate saw her. "I was good at gymnastics when I was younger. I got a medal at school. Was Lisa interested?"
"Ask her mother," Cate replied, sipping on her wine.
"We were told Lisa spent more time here," Alec reminded her, getting his notebook out of his inside jacket pocket.
"Only after Pippa got out of school, she was barely out of it herself, she went to college. Are you still searching the woods for her?" Cate wanted to know.
"We have officers on the scene but we doubt Lisa is there, we've covered it all now. Had she made any friends around here?"
"Only Claire next door, Pippa wanted to be a hairdresser after her last birthday. Claire used to show her how to put rollers in, she used to practice on Lisa."
Alec wondered if she'd told this to Tess but Tess had never mentioned it. That would be just typical of her, to get the better of him. Still, the next door neighbour hadn't been willing to talk so far. Maybe Rose would have more luck?
"Have you got anyone to talk to?" Rose wondered. "Have you seen a counsellor?"
"I don't want to talk to a stranger about it. That won't bring my little girl back. Tess seems to understand, with having a girl around Pippa's age. Oh, I forgot, she said you two were married," she slyly looked towards Alec.
Alec wanted to say for now but that wouldn't help. He hoped that Tess hadn't said anything else.
"We have people who specialise in this sort of thing," Rose offered. "They're people who have been through this kind of thing, I can contact someone for you."
"I just want to be left alone," Cate replied. "What else do you want to know that Tess hasn't already asked?"
Since Alec didn't know exactly what Tess had asked, he wasn't going to get anywhere. He looked to Rose, to see if she had any questions that would be helpful but Rose knew when someone didn't want to talk.
"How are you feeling Cate?" Rose asked her, hoping she wouldn't be told not to use first names. "Have you seen your family doctor?"
"What for? Anyway, I'm not leaving the house, in case Lisa comes back. Her mother might not care that much but I do. Did Lisa take Pippa out that night?"
"She may have done but not to the woods," Alec told her. "We thought so at first but it's now looking doubtful. We won't take up any more of your time."
Rose noticed Cate didn't get up to see them out.
"Are we going to try the neighbours?" Rose asked when they got outside.
"I don't think we'll get anything out of them. We'll wait for Tess, then I'll go back to the station. I still need to see them about finding somewhere to live."
"So, you don't want me to talk to Claire? I could go with Tess?" Rose suggested.
"See what she says? Rose, try not to make it obvious you enjoy my company eh?"
"She'll find out sooner or later ya know? Okay, I’ll try not to say anything, I'll complain coming out here with you was a waste of time shall I?"
"That she will believe. Rose, it's only for now, until I make it official. I don't want her to turn the tables on me and her going to get a separation order and blaming you."
"Pete's PR team can handle anything that gets out," she reminded him. "Trust me, she won't get far with it."
"That's not the point Rose," he replied, leaning on the roof of the car. "Just think of the damage she could do?"
"Well, she probably won't keep quiet once she finds out," Rose smiled. "Are ya gonna wait for her?"
"I suppose I should? Don't go giving her any clues though, make it look like you don't want to be here with me."
Rose just gave him a wicked smile.
They sat in his car until they saw Tess arrive, Rose looking for somewhere to put her empty coffee carton. She got out of the car and Alec went towards Tess.
"You and Rose carry on here, I have things to do," Alec told Tess. "I never bothered with the Gillespies's neighbour, you may have more luck than I would have done."
Both Rose and Tess watched him walk back to his car.
"Is there something different about him today?" Rose asked Tess.
"What makes you think that?" Tess wondered.
"Nothing. It must be with him going into the river yesterday. What the hell was he thinking?"
"Well, that's Alec for you," was all Tess replied.
"Well he was grumpy when I got to the hospital, telling me it was about time someone got there, then wanting a ride home. Did he go back to the station?"
She already knew what the answer was, she just wanted Tess's version.
"Yes, he did. Goodness knows what they told him at the hospital," Tess replied. "We should get on seeing if the neighbour's in."
Rose guessed she wanted to change the subject. Having no luck again with Claire, Tess saying it was a waste of time, they went back to the station and Rose sat opposite Tess, which was where she could see Alec in his office.
"So, what happened to you two then?" Rose asked casually as they drank their coffee.
"What makes you think something happened?" Tess replied.
"Come on Tess, I'm a top trained Torchwood agent, I learned from the best. Before my mum married Pete Tyler, I grew up on a council estate where couples were falling out all the time. I know when people are avoiding each other."
"It's nothing to do with the case Rose, that's why you're here. If Alec, I mean DI Hardy says you can bring your people in then that's fine, you mentioned getting someone to talk to Cate?"
"Yeah, she needs help Tess, she's a wreck and she was drinking when we went to visit," Rose replied.
"Yes, well it's to be expected? I suppose Alec wasn't very tactful with her?"
"Tess, she wouldn't even talk to me, let alone him, we tried our best. How do you get on with her?"
"Fine. I wonder why she was on her own? Surely her husband's not gone back to work and left her?" Tess wondered.
"Tess, if you want to talk, just say. As for Cate being on her own, everyone deals with loss in a different way. Want to know something?" Rose asked her.
Tess picked up a folder and nodded. Rose smiled and continued, wondering if Tess would guess.
"When I checked in the hotel the night before last, I went into the bar and this cute guy was sat in the corner. Well he was watching me and last night, he bought me a drink and well, he invited me to his room."
"Well good for you Rose but won't he be leaving soon?" Tess asked her.
"No, he's in town for a few days, there's a conference going on, I only just got a room. I didn't let him get too far, just blowing off a little steam shall we say? Maybe tonight that will change, who knows? He's really cute though."
"So you said. Does he know who you are?" Tess wondered.
"I think he does but he never said anything, it makes a change though, not worrying they're with me because they know who I am. How did you and Alec meet?" Rose asked, hoping she was being convincing.
"I'd rather not talk about it," Tess replied, looking around.
Rose knew if things were well, Tess would say something.
"It's okay Tess, sorry. I heard someone talking earlier, about two senior officers but no names were mentioned. Does Alec know?"
Tess got up to go to the break area and Rose followed.
"He's found out, he moved out last night," Tess admitted. "What does he expect if he pays no attention to me?"
"Sorry Tess. I thought it was the other way around?" Rose asked her, hoping to twist things around.
Tess let out a laugh.
"Seriously? Trust me, Alec has no interest in anyone, including me. Anyway, enough about that, good luck with that man you're chasing."
Tess washed her cup out then went back to her desk. Alec had seen the two of them get up and wondered if Rose was going to ask Tess about him but he noticed they weren't talking that long. He got up and called over to Rose.
"Miss Tyler, a word," he asked her.
Rose went in his office, hoping no-one would think it was anything other than the case.
"Did ya wonder if we were talking about you?" Rose tried to be serious.
"Were you? Be careful Rose, I did warn you. What did she say?"
"Not much. I tried to throw her off the scent by saying I met someone in the hotel bar who was attending the conference. Did ya call the personnel department?"
"Yes, someone will attend to my housing problem. The question is, do you want to go with me to look at any properties?"
"Well yeah, why not?" Rose wanted to know.
*Two weeks later*
They were getting nowhere with the case, Lisa had still not been located nor had they been able to tell where Pippa had been left but Alec had given in and allowed a small Torchwood team to put together where everyone on the estate was on the night the two girls had first gone missing and it was annoying him.
The personnel officer had located a two bedroom apartment not far from the station and they had been to see it and were about to move in but Alec still had to tell his daughter. So one evening, Daisy having gone back home, he went to see her, Rose offering to go with him.
"No, I have to do this on my own," Alec was telling Rose over dinner. "I am going to tell her about us, it could go either way."
"Well Tess still hasn't got a clue," Rose smiled. "Sheesh, I've been working with her for two weeks, no wonder she's still a detective sergeant. How did she even get to be one?"
"How do you think Rose? She was married to me, I helped her but not by too much. I had no-one helping me though. How come she's not guessed these past two weeks though? What about when this man you made up was supposed to have left?"
"Nope, I thought I was wasting my time telling her. You were right though, she never guessed. So, are ya telling Tess before or after you tell Daisy?"
That was something he was dreading. How had he got so tangled up with Rose in just two weeks?
"I should get it over with. She should have suspected by now, when she got the separation order."
"I bet she got a shock when it arrived?" Rose mused. "She never put the two together, my arrival and your sudden haste? When I told my mum, even she worked it out. I hope we're still going to see my family this weekend?"
"Once we get keys for the apartment tomorrow? Are you still picking them up?"
"Well if you can get away, we can both go. Our first public appearance?" she smiled.
"I thought sitting in the hotel dining room counted?" he replied dryly.
"Better get used to it, detective inspector," Rose teased him.
They finished eating and Alec got up to leave.
"No talking to conference delegates in the bar eh?" he asked her.
As he made his way to where he used to live, he had no regrets he was moving on with his life, with Rose. He had taken a chance when she had first arrived and it had paid off, Tess not seeing what was going on in front of her was a bonus. He supposed it was only the same as she'd been trying to hide her affair with Dave.
He'd warned her the separation order was forthcoming, he'd put down it was the breakdown of the marriage and no other parties were involved, he'd told Tess he wouldn't put Dave's name on it if she agreed if he were to get himself another girlfriend, she wouldn't raise any objections when the divorce papers were completed.
He hoped that would cover when Tess found out about Rose, keeping her married boyfriend's name out of it was his only insurance. He parked outside the house and knocked on the door, having told Tess earlier he would be visiting.
"Daisy's waiting for you," Tess told him as she opened the door.
"I need to talk to you first. You got the separation order, did you sign the divorce papers or are you getting a solicitor?"
"Is there any need to get one Alec?" Tess asked him. "You've been very quiet about it but why didn't you wait for me to start the proceedings?"
"Really Tess? Would you have started them or were you afraid I'd name Dave? That's what I want to talk to you about, I also have someone, I was trying to stop more rumours going around the station, there was already enough, though they've stopped now."
"Only because I was told by personnel your share of the housing allowance was being deducted, now I have to pay the rest. Are you going to agree to pay towards Daisy's upbringing until she's sixteen?"
"What do you take me for Tess? Yes, I will inform the court there is no need to worry on that count, I just would not have found it easy to pay for both a place to live and that. I took everything into account."
"Is that all you want to talk about? So who's this girlfriend of yours and when did you have time to meet anyone, when you had no time for me?" Tess wanted to know.
"I met her in the hotel bar," Alec started to tell her, to see if it sounded familiar as Rose had told him what she'd told Tess.
"Really Alec, is that the best you can do?" Tess scoffed, going to the drinks cabinet.
"She was attending a conference," he continued, thinking she should be suspicious by now, not scoffing him.
Tess put the wine bottle down she'd picked up and turned around.
"You picked up a conference delegate? You're as bad as Rose Tyler then. Wait a minute."
Alec had to smile. "Rose Tyler picked a man up in a hotel bar?" he quizzed her.
Tess went for the nearest chair at the dining table.
"No way Alec, that's too much of a coincidence. She was talking about someone, for days, about how she'd hit it off with a man she met, saying it didn't take him long to get her to his room. Hold on, you never told me where you were staying. Was it the same hotel? She said she only just got a room there, then she'd had to pay more."
"There was no room at her hotel, I tried," Alec replied.
"Then where did you go? No Alec, tell me not to her room? Did you call her?"
"I did not have her number then Tess. I used my ID to get her room number, I'm not a DI for nothing Tess, I saw no reason why I should not."
Tess let out a laugh. "She let you in? All this time, you were staying with her?"
"Don't sound too surprised Tess. Did she not give you a few clues? Call yourself a detective?"
"You can talk Alec, you didn't know I was seeing Dave," Tess snapped back.
"Didn't I? All the rumours? Come on Tess, Rose worked it out on her first day in the station."
"Did you say Rose, as in Rose Tyler?" Daisy suddenly asked from the doorway.
"Daisy. How long have you been there?" Tess asked her.
"Long enough Mum. When were you going to tell me you were getting divorced?"
"Your father was going to tell you, weren't you Alec?" Tess asked him.
"Daisy, it's nothing you have done, this is between your mother and I," Alec answered her.
"So, you're seeing Rose Tyler?" Daisy wanted to know. "Really?"
Alec didn't know if she was surprised or completely against the idea.
"Yes, trust your father to hook up with her, since we've been working with her," Tess replied.
"You've been working with her? Why didn't you tell me? You could have got me her autograph," Daisy huffed.
Alec took that as a good sign. Maybe Daisy would be on his side, since she seemed impressed. He took her out into the hallway.
"Do you object to me seeing Rose then?" he asked her.
"Are you kidding Dad? How many other teenagers can brag to their friends that their dad's girlfriend is Rose Tyler? It's cool Dad, when can I meet her?"
Well, it had gone down better than he'd expected, now he had only one thing left to do – meet Rose's mother. If he survived that, he and Rose could settle down, see out the investigation and find Pippa's killer. Then, who knew where they would go – back to London if Rose wanted or see where they had a vacancy but he had got out of her that the friend she had lost had got a message to her, on a beach in Norway.
He had no intentions of moving to another country but just maybe he could get a transfer to somewhere by the sea. As he drove back to the hotel for the last time, he should thank them for being booked up the night he had decided to leave home. Rose greeted him when he got back.
"So, how did it go?" she asked after they'd kissed for a while.
"Good. I think Daisy is now part of your official fan club," he grinned, going to kiss her neck.
"She took it well then? Great, we can arrange visits. So, are you ready to face my mother?' she teased him.
"As ready as I will ever be. Rose, when this case is over, well apart from Daisy, there will be nothing to keep me here. We should talk about that. I could put in for a transfer, by the sea maybe?"
"After you went in the river? I thought you'd want to stay away from water?"
"Rose, you said goodbye to your friend by the sea, we can move there if you want?"
"I don't know what to say Alec. Yeah, it would mean a lot to me."
"Then that's what we'll do then, on the condition you finally tell me the whole story."
"That could take some time," she teased him, going for his shirt buttons. "How do you feel about there being other alternate universes out there?"
"Really? Rose, I grew up on comic books about other worlds. Why don't we get comfortable and you can tell me more?"
"Great. These aren't stories though."
"Good, I can't wait for you to tell me. So, who was your friend?"
Rose went to sit on his lap, pulling his shirt over his shoulders.
"Promise you won't freak at the words 'Time Traveller'?"
He reached up to kiss her.
"No way Rose, I want the full story, then if you want to live by the sea, I can put up with it. Remember that day you shouted for me not to go in the river? I know I scared you but it was something I had to do."
"Well, you'd better not do anything that stupid again, right?" she asked.
"I promise. Now, start from the beginning and leave nothing out."