One day a strange man walked into the lobby of Torchwood tower. Everyone who saw him thought that he looked simultaneously older and younger than his body allowed him to be. He asked after Rose Tyler, inquiring as to whether she still worked there. The woman at the desk looked slightly taken aback, people didn't usually just saunter into the headquarters of Torchwood as this man had, and casually ask about staff members. She replied that there was indeed a Miss Rose Tyler working for the organisation, but that she was currently very busy with her work and not receiving visitors without appointment. The man looked thoughtful for a moment, then asked the receptionist to tell Rose that an old friend had stopped by, before swiftly turning on his heel and walking out of the building.
The woman stared after him with a bewildered expression on her face.
As Rose was leaving for the day Alice, the receptionist, called after her. She informed Rose that a man had stopped by earlier asking after her, and that he had left the message that he was an old friend. Rose looked just as nonplussed as Alice had earlier, but thanked her for conveying the message before saying her goodbyes. As Rose walked to her car she couldn't help wondering who this person was. She didn't have any old friends here. She had only been in this world for about five years; the only people she knew from before then were Mickey, Jake and her parents. They would all have said who they were, and the only other people she knew worked for or were connected with Torchwood in some way. It puzzled her all through the night.
The next day she went into work as per usual, if a little tired from a night of disturbed sleep. Once she got back into the rhythm of work she forgot all about the strange man from yesterday and immersed herself in numbers and wires. However, as 1 pm approached and her stomach began to remind her that she had not eaten since 8 am that morning Rose's concentration wavered. Instead of working through her lunch and grabbing a few bites of sandwich like she normally did, on a whim, Rose decided that this lunch time she would go out for a proper meal and leave her work for an hour. It would still be there when she came back, and she did deserve a small break, she had even been coming into the office on weekends lately as well. She tidied her desk a little, left a post-it note on her door and made her way to the lobby.
Alice looked up from her computer screen, and there standing in front of her was the strange man from yesterday. He grinned at her as she stared at him. After a few moments the man broke the stalemate and asked whether his message had been passed on. Alice replied that, yes, the message had been passed on, but as he still had no appointment he couldn't see Rose. She asked if he would like to make an appointment but he said that he would just wait instead. He made his way to a small island of chairs, sat down swiftly after choosing a newspaper, and proceeded to put his feet up on the table. Alice stared at the recumbent man incredulously, but there was something so odd about him that she couldn't bring herself to say anything.
Rose hit the last step of the staircase with a bounce and pushed open the door to reception. As she did so she noticed the man sitting reading the newspaper. She looked over at Alice who was busy on the phone, but managed to catch her eye. The receptionist caught Rose's questioning look and nodded her head towards the man and smiled to indicate mutely that he was the same one from yesterday. Rose nodded back and walked over to the man, all thoughts of lunch forgotten.
As she walked over he put down his paper and looked up at her, smiling gently.
"Hello." She said.
"Hello." He replied, standing up to be polite.
There was something about him that she just couldn't place. Something familiar. She looked up and studied his face as wild, crazy, half-formed thoughts appeared in her mind. The eyes were not the bright blue, nor the warm, deep brown she had become accustomed to, he was not so tall as she remembered, he even smelled different, but it was definitely him. She looked into his eyes as her own widened in shock.
A joyful grin spread across his face as he said; "Hello, Rose Tyler."
Rose stared at him open mouthed for a moment as he took in her appearance. She was thinner than she had been and dressed smartly in a skirt suit, she had let the blonde highlights grow out of her hair, and her natural light brown had taken their place. But her eyes, and that slightly comical expression, it was all Rose.
"Doctor?" She asked, uncertainty in her voice. She could recognise that grin anywhere, but how could she be sure he wasn't just a mirage, or perhaps she had finally cracked and gone mad from missing him so much. She reached out a hand to touch him. "Is it really you, are you really here?"
"Well, I suppose I look a little different. New, new, new, new, new Doctor. But yes, I'm real."
Rose could feel the heat rising behind her eyes as the realisation, and relief, washed over her. She smiled up at him with shining eyes as her out-stretched hand found the fabric of his shirt-sleeve. That was enough confirmation for her; he was real and standing right there in front of her. She gave a nervous laugh and pulled him into a tight embrace, pressing as close as she possibly could, almost as if she let go he would cease to be there. He in turn wrapped his arms around her and bent his head to bury his face in her hair.
"I missed you so much." Rose whispered desperately.
"Oh Rose, I missed you too." He whispered back.
He could barely contain the suppressed emotion of all the years, but he settled for quietly stroking her hair and letting a few silent tears fall amongst the soft strands. Rose let out all the joy and pain, and rage, and love and clung on to him tighter, almost unable to support herself, so the Doctor held her up. Neither of them cared who saw, and they stayed like that for a long time.
Eventually the Doctor pulled away slightly. Rose sighed and looked up at him. He smiled down at her. Suddenly a thought occurred to Rose.
"How did you get here?" She asked, puzzled.
"Ah, well, that's a long story." The Doctor replied. Rose raised her eyebrows and gave him a meaningful glare. "But to cut a long story short . . . I did a bit of research on it, when the Time Lords could cross between dimensions easily, and I found a fairly safe way, so here I am!"
"A fairly safe way?" Rose questioned.
"Yes, well, it was a bit like when we came here the first time, only not such a bumpy ride." He continued.
"So, what about the TARDIS? Wasn't it damaged last time?"
The Doctor nodded. "She's not exactly functional at the moment . . ." He let the sentence trail away.
"Ah." Rose replied, unsure of how to respond; the Doctor was rather fond of his ship. "So . . . so what about getting back then?" She asked, hesitantly.
"I, uh, I won't be going back. Can't. Not once I've repaired the damage I've caused. That's it, time for one last adventure, Rose."
He smiled weakly at her, and she could tell that he was a little sad to leave their universe behind. But he also seemed happier than ever to be right where he was. Rose had lived in this universe now for nigh on five years, and she had to admit that it wasn't that bad, and there were enough little differences to make it interesting. She smiled back reassuringly and ran a hand along his forearm. Suddenly her stomach growled. Both of their faces cracked into grins before they started giggling. Rose had forgotten how hungry she was.
"Oh, yes, lunch break." The Doctor had clearly lost track of time as well. "Erm . . ." He began awkwardly, "erm, you weren't going to uhm, meet up with anyone, were you?" He asked tentatively and looking somewhat embarrassed.
"Actually, yeah." She replied.
"Ah." He said, scratching the back of his head and shuffling a bit. "Well then, I won't keep . . ."
"Don't be daft you idiot!" Rose burst out, playfully tapping him on the arm. "Of course I'm not meeting anyone!" She grinned at him and he reciprocated, relief apparent on his face.
"Come on then." The Doctor said, placing a hand on Rose's back and guiding her to the door. "Can't have you working on an empty stomach."
Rose looked round at Alice, just to indicate that she was actually leaving now. The receptionist still had a rather confused and dazed look about her. Rose smiled, waved and pointed to the door, the Doctor looked round too. Alice shook herself and waved back, then returned to her computer screen.
As they walked through the door the Doctor bent and whispered in Rose's ear: "Is she alright, your receptionist? She stares a lot."
Rose giggled and whispered "Shh" as she hit him with her arm. They both smiled at each other, glad to be enjoying one another's company once again.
"So, what's for lunch then?" Asked the Doctor, breaking the spell.
"Well, y'know I said I wasn't meeting anyone . . ." Rose began.
"I do have an appointment with a rather large portion of chips." Rose finished with a mischievous grin.
"Chips it is then!" The Doctor replied.
They walked along smiling at each other for a few moments until Rose remembered something and checked her watch.
"Oh bollocks!" She exclaimed, "I've only got 15 minutes of my lunch break left."
"Well then," Said the Doctor, "There's only one thing for it."
He stopped walking and put out his hand. Rose placed hers on top, slightly puzzled but intrigued nonetheless. The Doctor laced their fingers together and ran his thumb over her hand, savouring the simple touch for a moment. Rose smiled gently. He pressed his face close to hers with a deadly serious expression and she searched it, still a little confused. Then an infectious grin spread across his face and he inhaled deeply.
I hope everyone enjoyed it.