Summary: Her mother had taught her three things. A reflection on Rose's life with the Doctor and what happened next. Slight TenRose, mostly NineRose. Rated for minor explicit scenes. Complete

Characters: Tenth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Jackie Tyler, Rose Tyler, Martha Jones.

Rating: T, for romance. It needn't be as high as 'M', but if there was a T plus, I'd use that.

Words: 4,902

Genre: Romance, Angst, Drama, Humour.

Spoilers: Season One and Season Two. Not every episode, but it would take me far too long to list them all here.

Disclaimer: Doctor Who is nothing of mine. All the BBC's creation and ownership. Believe me, it's something I cry about on a daily basis. But it's probably just as well, because I couldn't come up with the fantastic storylines anyway.

A/N: A little something with Nine and Rose, because I miss them, even while I'm writing a Ten/Rose story. I'd love to know what you think of this, because I'm not too sure of it myself. It was just an idea I was rather fond of.

Perfect Stranger

Her mother had taught her three things.

Always trust your instincts.

Rose always trusted her instincts. Even if she knew what she was doing was stupid and dangerous, if her instincts told her to do it, she'd do it. Somehow, inexplicably, it always worked out in the end. And even when she had been miserable, she was happy afterwards. Happy with life, happy with her decisions. Happy with herself. Perhaps that was why she'd even trusted him in the first place. Who knows?

When you fall in love, fall completely, honestly, wholly, passionately and eternally. Never look back.

She had 'fallen in love' a total of three times. The first was her first pet, a little grey kitten called Mouse. Ironic name for a cat, but at ten years old, Rose didn't care. Instinct had told her Mouse, so Mouse it had been.

She had happily fallen for the beautiful little bundle of fur and it had captured her heart, giving her great joy whenever she was around it. She had even wept into Mouse's fur once or twice, when that nasty boy from school was teasing her. Now Mouse was gone; bitten by a large dog down the road and died of shock on the way to the vet's. Poor little thing was too weak to deal with the nastiness of the world, so it let go. Rose had never really gotten over it.

The second had been Jimmy Stone. A twenty-something man who smoked, owned a motorbike and had more grease in his hair than could be found in a bag of chips. Rose had put it down to the ludicrous amount of gel he'd used.

Jimmy had been bad for her. She had dropped out of school to live the life of a rockstar's wife, getting drunk, taking drugs, professing undying love under the stars in the park. He had been a rough man. Rough in his touch, in his kisses, in his lovemaking and in his severe punches. He was also a violent alcoholic, it turned out. She had been left with £800 debt and nowhere to live. It was the one time her instinct had let her down.

The third had been Mickey. Mickey Smith, best friend from primary school and the wonderful, safe, kind boyfriend whom she loved to bits. He was so special, was her Mickey. Always caring, always careful, so very, very aware of Rose's needs and how to make her happy. Tender, caring, kind – these were the words she summed up for her boyfriend. Her mother liked him, too. He was almost part of the family, the length of time she had known him. He was her best friend, her rock, her saviour from life and her everything. She wouldn't change him for the world.

And all three times – she had never fulfilled her mother's lesson.

Lastly, and possibly most amusedly, don't take sweets from strangers.

A stranger is just a friend you haven't met, her friend Shareen once told her. The very same night, they'd both got drunk and had one night stands with two of the local boys down the pub. Mickey never knew.

But all the while, through her life, Rose had been haunted by a shadow in her mind's eye, a looming, dangerous picture of a man – why was her stranger a man? – who would one day steal her away from the life she was living, from her friends, from her family, from her boyfriend, from her job and from everything else that she held close to her. A man who would tempt her with something she wanted, possibly said sweet, and end up being the death of her. It was something that always worried her in the back of her mind: a danger like that she wouldn't be able to control.

So why, when it actually happened, was it the happiest moment of her life?


Here she was, Rose Tyler, nineteen-year-old shop girl with three very good lessons to stick to, trusting her instincts, falling in love and taking more than just a sweet from a stranger.

A stranger in a heavy leather jacket, sporting a worn and wearied face but daring, bright eyes and a devilish grin. A stranger she would soon learn to trust, would outsmart, would impress, would save. A stranger who would save her in return. At first not in the physical sense, like she had him, but in the sort of sense where everything was backwards and colours were hazy and thoughts bled out of you like a wound. A perfect stranger.

Everything she had ever learned was challenged when he was around. Even the simple concept of a name, something she had never stopped to think about, was different with him. 'The Doctor' – what sort of name was that? She had asked, once. The effort had proved futile.

"What sort of name is 'Rose'?" he'd countered instantly, not even lifting his head from the book he was studying.

"It's me. It's who I am. It's what my Mum picked out for me. I don't know."

"There you go, then. You see me how I am. Who I am. It doesn't get any more complicated than that."

She hadn't asked again.

Rose still trusted her instincts. Once or twice, when she was that little bit too curious, or that little bit too bold, she got herself into trouble. But her stranger was always not far behind, flashing her a grin that melted the shackles on her arms or the ice around her body.

And after a while, she even fell in love. Really and truly this time, no complications in the way. It wasn't big, or clever, or loud, or in-your-face, or even remotely stubborn. But it was there and it was real and it was most definitely completely, honestly, wholly, passionately and eternally. For the most part, she didn't even need to think about it. She just loved, and that was that.

He had even given her a sweet. Fairly early on, after a quick stop on Earth, he'd produced a bag of strange, round, red fizzy balls of sugar, that snapped and crackled on the tongue, tasting like a mixture of strawberry and cola. Rose had never seen them before, but they certainly went down well. Just one was enough to get her feeling giddy. Giddy, from a sweet! She must be mad.

"God, where did you get these?" she'd laughed, spinning in a chair in the middle of his ship's control room.

He had just stood there, grinning back at her, obviously smug with his triumph.

"I know a man."

That was the Doctor. He always knew someone, somewhere, and it always paid off. Well, almost always. There was that one time on Gyltia, but she wouldn't hold him to that – that woman's dress had hardly been his fault. Still, it didn't stop her from teasing him about it once in a while. Her own, silly, flirtatious, generous, funny Doctor. He had been quite insulted.

Rose often found she missed the last incarnation of her Doctor. He hadn't laughed as much, but when he did, it was so genuine and real that she could have listened to him for hours. He had wanted her close to him, annoyed when she ran off on her own, desperate to find her again when she was stolen away against her will. The new Doctor worried and fretted, and might have even cared – but it wasn't the same. He wasn't the same. Things were changing.

When it all came to an end, it wasn't as bad as she thought it was going to be. Her body was dying, steadily and slowly, but most definitely faster than his. She didn't have the strength to continue to travel with him, no matter how much she wanted to. There was too much attaching her to her own world, now, too much separating him from her.

And she had seen in his eyes, over the past few months, that he was detaching himself from her. Slipping quietly away, distancing himself. He had known. He sensed her thoughts of wanting to leave, even before she'd thought them. And so he left, with a small goodbye and a sweet kiss and a declaration that he would be back.

He knew it was a lie. So did she.

So when at last the end did come, years after the Doctor had moved on without her, it wasn't too bad. She had never married, or had children. Boyfriends had come and gone, some good, some not so good. She had even qualified for A levels, worked her way into an office job. Hardly the most exciting thing in the world, but at least her most common question wasn't, "Will you be paying by card or cash?"

It was quite sudden. Motor accidents obviously ran in the family.

Her mother had been on at her about exercise and health, so for the past week and a half, Rose had taken to cycling to and fro from work. The driver of the car at the crossroads didn't notice the red light, didn't notice the girl on the bicycle, couldn't slam on the brakes in time.

The doctors said she was dead before she even hit the tarmac.

No parent should ever have to bury their child. It just wasn't right. And no one was supposed to bury Rose. She had lived a life full of promises and love, of adventures and secrets and dangers and laughter. Even the afterwards hadn't been too bad. She had picked herself up, moved on with life, worked on making a difference in the world. Every Saturday night she volunteered at the homeless shelter. She would make a difference, bring a smile to another person's face, please a man who didn't deserve it, blush and smile and charm her way through life.

Such as it was.

Some promises are made to be broken. So are some lies.

The knock at the front door of Jackie's flat, not two months after the accident, had her up off the sofa and opening the door with a wan smile. But it wasn't David on the doorstep, as he had promised earlier that day. It was Him.

"Hello Jackie. I told her I'd be back! Couldn't stand to be away from her, really. Er... Can I come in?"

The slap that stung at his cheek rang out through the entire flat. It was only through mumbled sobs and shouts and cries and fists upon his torso that he learned the truth. That sometimes waiting, that trying to be clever, that timing his arrival back two years, sixth months, one day, two hours and thirty seven minutes – the exact time Rose Tyler had spent with him – after he'd left was enough to get someone killed.

He had walked away with an ashen face, sunken eyes, hollowed throat and empty soul. It had been Martha who had suggested he find her again, after telling him that he was so in love with her even she could tell. He had been reluctant at first, muttering that she would never forgive him and that she was probably glad to see the back of him. Then she had produced Rose's old diary and proved that it wasn't so.

Later, in the silence of the console room, she asked him if he could just go back to an earlier time. He muttered something about paradoxes and Reapers and by taking her away too early, destroying a future time line of him returning in the two-and-a-half years because he had no reason to. Then he had been silent in his remorse and Martha, confused, had stopped trying.

The Doctor never spoke of his Rose again.

Of course, not every story with the Doctor need end in misery.

Rose had felt the pain of the collision with the car, a pain that had ripped through her like a knife down her torso; but it had finished quickly, a matter of seconds, if that. Then it had been quite still.

She had stood and brushed herself off, looking around at the gathering crowds and listening to the wailing sirens, wondering what all the fuss was about. Then she glanced down and saw her broken body pooled in her own, crimson blood, the wheel of the bicycle still spinning. She had stumbled, unsure of what she was seeing, choked by the reaction. She raised a hand to her mouth to stop a cry, felt the tears sting at her eyes. This wasn't right.

An arm came out behind her to catch her, to stop her from falling. She gasped and turned. It was the Doctor. Her Doctor. And he hadn't changed a bit.

"I..." she started, but he cut her off, a quick finger to her lips to silence her. She obeyed.

"It's okay, Rose," he replied softly, his voice tinted with the Northern edge she hadn't realised she'd missed. Hearing it again made her ache. "Don't be frightened."

Slowly, almost reluctantly, he pulled the finger away from her mouth, enabling her to speak. She swallowed with difficulty, her mouth dry, then looked up to meet his eye.

"I'm never frightened of you."

"That's because you're just fantastic," he grinned quietly, the way he accentuated the word sending a shiver down her spine. She had never before realised how much she had missed the little things. "Have you missed me?"

What a question. In some ways, of course she had – he had changed right in front of her, leaving no trace save for the new man she had fallen for all over again. But in other ways, she had never consciously missed him; she hadn't lain awake in the night crying, like she had Mickey when he had departed.

"Yeah," she sniffed back eventually, turning to look at the crowd gathered around her other body. Paramedics in green suits were already pulling up, trying to fix the wound, angling the limp body, doing CPR. It was all in vain.

"What's goin' on?" she whispered quietly, not turning back, her voice harsh and scared. She felt a light touch on her shoulder, calloused fingers resting on her skin to calm her.

"You died," the Doctor answered earnestly, his voice tinged with a sadness he felt ten times magnified. His own Rose, who should never have died this way, brought to the end through a cruel twist of fate – he knew what his Tenth self was planning to do, only just two months after this.

Rose turned back, her eyes large and red. "But... I'm here... an' there... How?"

He almost laughed at her innocence. Instead he pulled her in to a hug, a warm connection that he felt spread through him as he encased her fragile, scared body in his arms. Protecting her.

"I have missed you so much," he spoke, giving her an answer to a different question. His voice was tickling the hair by her ear, adding a warmth to the chill breeze that was around them. She hugged back instinctively, burying her head in his shoulder, feeling the rise and fall of his chest against hers. When he pulled back, he cupped her cheek. "So, so much," he added in a whisper, as if he needed to clarify it.

"Missed you too, Doctor. I didn't know it; but I have."

He smiled, gently and sweetly, revelling in the feel of her skin against his touch. He had been without it for so long, he had almost forgotten.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this." He looked up, over her head, to the failed attempts of recovering Rose's physical body. He tore his gaze away from the heart wrenching scene when she asked him.

"Like what?"

"This. An accident. Meaningless." The Doctor gestured with his hand to the destruction around them. "You were gonna be great. You an' me, we were gonna do things. Change the world. Lots of worlds. We were gonna be together through the stars, travelling an' never letting go. When you... When you died, it was s'posed to be amazing. Self sacrifice to save a world, to save me. They were gonna write about you, Rose Tyler. Put your name in the stars and tell your story to their grandchildren. An' now none of that's gonna happen, and it's all his stupid fault that you'll just be another stupid ape, wasting away on this planet."

"'S'not like the future's set in stone, Doctor."

They were the wisest words he had ever heard. She didn't know what he saw, what he felt, every day. The truths and untruths that were laid before him in every waking hour; the endless possibilities of the future; all the stories of the past; his knowledge; his faith. She didn't know. Perhaps it was time she found out.

"Rose," he said softly, meeting her gaze. His thumb brushed tenderly across her cheek as she blinked up to him with adoring eyes. "I think it's time you got your memory back."

Slowly, so as not to scare her, he lowered his lips towards hers, meeting her in a mutual kiss. He was tender and gentle, his touch sweet yet craving so much more; but it was not the feel of his lips against hers that sent Rose reeling, but the images that exploded in her mind.

Pictures, memories, feelings. There was a bright, golden light, instantaneous travel, a warmth she could feel flowing through her like honey. Then there was peace and a voice – not quite her voice, but spoken by her nonetheless – that reached out to all corners of her mind, filling it with warmth.

I want you safe; my Doctor.

She saw the lights and stars of a thousand galaxies, the brightness of universes all around her. Past, present and future becoming nothing, just a stream of endless feeling and emotion, facts and figures, raw data in her mind that made sense when she wanted it to. An old voice echoing in her head, a voice from long ago.

That's what I see. All the time; and doesn't it just drive you mad?

Eyes closed, Rose felt memories flood to her as the Doctor spilled a little of what used to be hers back to her mind, back where it belonged.

As the memories began to reach climax she gasped into him, feeling the Doctor's hand on her back holding her close. There was so much... too much...

They parted when he drew back from her, satisfied that she had seen enough. Her eyes were closed and she seemed exhausted, as if the ordeal had been a great strain on her.

"Bad Wolf," she mumbled against his slight, coarse stubble, her nose nuzzling just above the line of his jaw.

"Bad Wolf," he echoed, confirming her unasked question.

It was then that she pulled back and he dropped his hand, hiding his reluctance well. His face was unreadable and calm, like he had just given the most boring business meeting in his life. "I've been sorry for so long. And you needed to know. Now you know what I see, all the time, and everything that it means."

Rose nodded, licking her lips, his subtle flavour still on her. Then she cast a look back to the debris behind her, where someone had wheeled the bike away and her body had been taken into the back of the ambulance. She felt choked by an emotion she didn't recognise, a raw sadness that stole through her like an icy wind on a bitter night.

"You saw... us."

"All the time," he repeated, confirming softly with a nod, though she didn't see it. "Always saw what we might have been. But there's a saying: there's none so blind as those who will not see. I didn't realise it before... And by the look of it, I haven't realised it since. Can you forgive me?"

She turned back at this, her bold courage enough to fight back unbidden tears. "Forgive you for what?"

The Doctor laughed bitterly, shaking his head. "All of it. Everything. Leaving you like I did. I dunno. All I ever did to hurt you."

She would have argued that he had never hurt her; but of course he had. It seemed to come with the territory, and though she would never have changed her mind given the second chance, she wasn't going to lie to him.

"You are so brave," he continued, stepping towards her. "So courageous. So kind, forgiving, perceptive. And this world will never know."

"If I'm any of those things, it's 'cause meetin' you made me like that," Rose replied. "I was nothin' without you. I was nothin' after you, as well. I deserved d– "

"Don't say it," the Doctor cut across harshly with a frown, sweeping her hands to his chest in one swift movement. "Don't you dare say that, Rose. No one deserves death. Especially not you."

"But – "


She sighed, giving up. His stubbornness was his own when it came to things like this.

"Still doesn't change anything. If I am... dead... then what's this? What am I doing here? What are you doing here?"

He smiled wryly, looking past her as he answered.

"Time Lords have this thing. I didn't know, you never know until afterwards. But... after you regenerate, you get the choice to pass on to the After. Heaven, you lot call it. No idea how you came across it, mind – this sort of choice doesn't exist for humans. They just get reborn, new lifes, old souls, again and again. Sort of like regeneration, only right from the beginning and without the memory. Like the reincarnation thing the Buddhists have, only more complex.

"Anyway, there's the choice: head to the After or stay on. Linger. Stay connected to a world that will never even know you're there, watching everything you've ever known and loved grow around you while you can't even touch it."

"That's so sad."

"Yeah," the Doctor replied, and he was very nearly cheery; except that his face was sombre, grave as he spoke. "Yeah, it is. It's not s'bad, though. If you go to the After, you forget your connections to everything else. It's like being in complete peacefulness for the rest of eternity, nothing and no one around you. Just love and warmth and enough to keep you happy."

"But... Why would anyone stay, then?" Rose asked, coming easily to terms with the new reasoning being put in front of her. Stranger things had happened with the Doctor around, after all.

"To remember," he answered simply, with a small shrug. His hands tightened around hers. "To wait."


The Doctor paused for a moment, taking in a breath, making sure he had her complete attention.

"You can pick someone to come with you, when their time is up. One person to join you, to share in all the wonders of what happens next. One person to hold on to for the rest of... well, time I s'pose."

"So... this one person..." She flicked her eyes to his coyly and he grinned softly, slipping his hands from her fingers to her shoulders. She kept her palms spread over his torso, feeling the rhythm of his double heartbeat.

"Yeah. It's you."

Even hearing the words, she still couldn't quite believe it. She had to ask, despite her mind telling her not to; her instinct was what pushed her forwards.


"You. There wouldn't be anyone else."

They stood together gazing at each other, smiling, happy to do nothing else but that. Ever so slowly, Rose's hands began to slide up the Doctor's chest and over his shoulders, her wrists linking behind his neck. He brought one of his hands to her waist, the other between her shoulder blades, caressing her gently through the thin sheet of her clothes.

"I never took you to Barcelona, did I?"

She laughed quietly, a small giggle at his humour, her forehead pressed just under his jawline.

"What, you mean after you went on about it before you regenerated?"


"Nah, you never brought it up again after that. You sort of... went a bit weird. Crazy, actually. Then you crashed the TARDIS."

The Doctor cocked an eyebrow.

"I never crash the TARDIS," he replied, matter-of-factly.

Rose looked at him disbelievingly, fighting back a grin. "No? Then how do you explain Woman Wept?"

"I meant to take you there!"

"Yeah, right," she snorted, shaking her head laughingly. "An' I'm a closet Beatles fan."

The Doctor grimaced. "Oi, no kidding about that sort of stuff. I might just change my mind."

The thumb at her waistline pressed into her skin slightly, a small nudge, telling her otherwise.

"So... we can go anywhere?" she asked eventually, the humour in the conversation died away.

"Yup," the Doctor repeated again, a grin in his voice. "Absolutely anywhere. Can't interfere with people, though, not allowed to do that. So you'll have to make do with me, I'm afraid."

"Just you?"


"All on our own?"

"'Fraid so."

A pause as she smiled into him, closing her eyes and catching his scent deep in a breath. She tightened her arms around his neck causing him to pull her closer to him, his breath deep and warm, tickling seductively at her skin. She had never been with him like this before, had never even know he'd had it in him. And now she had an eternity to get used to it.

"I think I can handle that."

He pulled his head back slightly, enough to look her in the eye. What he saw reflected in her deep, brown reservoirs of affection made him want to growl, sweep down and take her with his mouth, embrace everything he had ever felt for her since the first time she had woven her way into his heart.

So he did.

Surprised at first by his abruptness, Rose soon relaxed as he moved against her.

They kissed long and deep, mouths tender and shy yet not afraid to explore each other's passion for each other. She parted willingly beneath him, letting him slide his tongue gracefully to tickle over her bottom lip, teasing her with promised seduction. The kiss deepened, their tongues dancing like new lovers, gentle yet decisive in their pursuit for one another. He tilted his head slightly, gaining a better angle and an advantage, pulling her close to him with his hands. Air was crushed between them and his fingers travelled delicately over her back, searing her flesh whenever he met bare skin.

After they broke apart, he found her hand easily, entwining their fingers like he had the first time they had met, so many years ago. He grinned at her, joy spreading through him like an eagle flexing its wings.

"Come on. I've got somewhere I want to take you."

She laughed as they ran, the street disappearing under their feet to be replaced by something else. Soft grass, stars twinkling up above them, trees with lights dancing in them like fairies. A cool blue stream bubbled to their right and all around them, the sound of laughing drowned in the air.

"Where are we?" Rose asked as the Doctor stopped and twirled her, bringing her in to an easy set of dance steps, laughing and grinning like the happiest man in the world.

He caught her up in his arms and lowered his head towards her, close enough for their noses to touch. His eyes were alive with excitement she had never seen before, his mouth curled into a seductive grin. She was tempted by his mouth in an instant and almost leaned towards him; but he stopped her with his words.

"The beginning." His eyes continued to ensnare her, locking her gaze and making dizziness rise inside her. "So, how about it, then? Fancy a dance?"

She laughed and he grinned, and together they moved together with a warm breeze filtering through them. They learned of each other's differences and similarities; of the fears, and the hopes, and the memories, and the dreams. The rules of living applied no more and they were free to do and see as they wished, sharing a secret that no one else could see. He showed her Gallifrey. She showed him bliss. It was a fair trade.

He wasn't entirely accurate. Her name was written in the stars; but it was the both of them, together, that made the tale.

All through time and space their story was woven, the Doctor and his Rose painted in the sky as they continued their journey together, the universe beneath them, the stars around. Every now and then, Rose stumbles as she dances, and once or twice, the Doctor does too; their feet are seen slipping through the stars, shooting asteroids into the atmospheres of nearby planets. But the other is always there to pick them up and hold their hand.

Hands entwined, they never did stop running.

He even took her to Barcelona. The planet. Dogs with no noses. Skies that shined like amethyst. It was the first place they made love.

The sound of her groaning in ecstasy against his skin as he lost himself in her was worth the wait, he reflected.

She was worth the wait.

Worth it all. His Rose.

Her Doctor.

Perfect strangers – until the end of time.