'900 years,' The Doctor thought to himself, '900 years of Police Box travel, all those planets and times, and no one does chips like Max Thomson, 1992.'
The Doctor typed something in a keyboard and glanced up at the pillar that stood pride of place in the control room of the TARDIS. He would usually be bouncing around, describing in the fastest way possible what he was doing to whoever would listen, but not today. Today, his movements was slow, his eyes tired and his face blank. He needed something, anything to help him forget everything. The Doctor slowly walked up to the TARDIS doors, so out of place in their surroundings. Two plain, painted, blue wooden doors in a room that is so obviously alien. They reminded him of Rose. Everything did. She was so out of place when she was traveling with him. A blond-haired teenager from the 21st Century accompanying a 900 year old Time Lord, and yet, it seemed so perfect at the same time. But she was gone now.
"She's not dead." He reminded himself, "She is still alive, it's just that you can't see her again."
"What's the difference?" He argued with himself, "For all intents and purposes, she is dead."
He picked up his long brown coat that had been folded over the railing and put it on over his pinstripe suit. Doing the routine check that he had everything, TARDIS key, sonic screwdriver, psychic paper, he exited his ship. The surroundings that were so different from the ones that he had left leapt into his view.
Rose turned around, amazed at how quickly London, 2005, could turn into a space station, five billion years in her future. She glanced at the Doctor and he smiled back. He had been different then. So had she…
The Doctor locked the TARDIS door and rested his head against it. In the bustle of daily life in the 20th century, London, no one noticed the large blue box from the 1950's standing on the street corner. The Doctor turned and walked towards the shopping centre. Outside was an old lady at a flower shop. He stopped, and automatically fingered a blood red flower.
"Would you like to buy something, Sir?" the old lady asked politely. When he said nothing, she asked, "Would you like a rose?"
The Doctor hung his head. More than you know. And walked off without saying a word.
Inside, a multi-story shopping mall was packed with people doing Saturday shopping.
"Of all the days I could have come on, it had to be a Saturday, didn't it?" The Doctor mused. He should have said it out loud, said it to someone who would laugh at his jokes and make one of their own, but there was no one, so he was silent. The smell of hot, crispy chips made it's was to the Doctors nose.
"Oh, I love chips." Rose said, shoving a handful of golden chips into her mouth.
"You sure you don't want sauce on that?" The Doctor asked, 'or salt, or something?'
"Nah, ruins the taste," Rose shook her head, "Cheese and bacon only, perfect combination. Want some?"
She didn't wait for an answer; instead she picked up a handful of chips and lifted them up to his mouth. The Doctor opened his mouth to refuse, but she just shoved them in.
"Mmm!" The Doctor mumbled, mouth full, "That's quite good."
"Told ya so."
The queue for the hotdogs was fairly short, especially for a Saturday. A little girl of about five or six shoved her way into the line, getting there just before the Doctor did. Her light brown curly hair was in a high pony and she was wearing a bright pink jumper. The Doctor gave a half smile. This little girl would grow up, have a life, meet a man and her family would wonder where all of the time went, but the Doctor could go there now. The Doctor pulled out his wallet as the little girl was being served.
"Hello, Mr. Thomson. What can I get for this much?" She said, dropping two handfuls of coins on the counter, "oh, 'nd Mum wants a tea." She added.
The Doctor looked through his wallet, attempting to find some currency of the era; two shekels from Ancient Egypt, a lump of mineral that won't be discovered on Earth for another 500 years, and finally, a scrunched up 5 pound note.
"Can I get some chips?" The girl asked hopefully.
"No, sorry, you don't have enough, but you can have a chocolate bar." Mr. Thomson said. The girl reluctantly nodded, and tea in one hand, chocolate in the other, she made her way through the crowd. Mr. Thomson called after her,
The Doctor froze. He turned to watch the girl walk away. She was fourteen years younger and considerably smaller, but there was something in her step, something distinctively Rose Tyler. The Doctor let out a long, shuddering breath. Suddenly, his legs couldn't hold him up. He made his way to a bench, always keeping his eyes on her; she stepped on an escalator and disappeared from view. The Doctor put his head in his hands. He knew, subconsciously, that this might happen; he had hoped that it would happen. But seeing Rose Tyler like this, he wasn't prepared for it. He ran his hands through his hair. He looked up a level, trying to find Rose again. Two builders removed a pane of cracked glass from a rail, blocking the Doctor's view. The builders moved and he caught a glimpse of her. Someone bumped into Rose and the tea she was carrying spilt all over herself. She yelped and took a few steps backwards.
"No…" The Doctor moaned, watching it happen, "Not again!"
Rose put out her hand behind her to steady herself, expecting to hit glass, but there was none. She lent back, too far to stop herself falling, the Doctor was moving, pushing through the crowd to get there in time.
"It happened once." The Doctor thought, "I can't let it happen again!"
Rose was falling, screaming, The Doctor saw her face and remembered the last time he saw her in the flesh. Saw her falling into the Void, fear frozen on her face. Her father had been there to catch her then. And the Doctor was there now. He knocked over a stunned tourist and thrust his arms out just in time and Rose landed in his waiting arms. She looked up at the Doctor, and he stared into her beautiful eyes for a moment. Rose's tiny arm began to shake and the Doctor put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Her lip quivered and she turned her head, crying softly into his shoulder. The Doctor hesitated, not knowing what he should do.
"Rose!" The Doctor looked up as the familiar voice echoed around the shopping centre, Jackie Tyler ran up to the hand rail, "Rose." She said with relief when she saw the Doctor holding Rose. She disappeared from view and the Doctor was left with Rose. He carried her to the bench and tried to put her down, but she just clung tighter to his shoulder.
"Sir!" Jackie ran down the escalator, "Sir! You saved her! You saved my little Rose!"
"No I didn't," The Doctor thought, "All those times that I did, but… but I couldn't…"
He sat Rose down on the bench and knelt in front of her.
"It's okay," He told Jackie, "I'm a doctor."
The Doctor almost looked over his shoulder, expecting Rose to say some smart comment about how he wasn't a medical doctor. But it never came. He glanced at Jackie Tyler; her resemblance to her daughter all grown up was uncanny. The Doctor brushed Rose's hair out of her eyes.
"Look at me." He said softly. Rose looked up at him, tears glistening in her eyes. The Doctor placed his hands on either side of her small head, and thumbs underneath her eyes. He pulled down the eyelids, checking for trauma, but he already knew that there wouldn't be any, but he needed to hold her head in his hands. Without even meaning to, the Doctor touched her mind. He realized what he was doing, and pulled his hands away from her face. But the imprint was already there. She had seen a glimpse of his mind, she will forget his face, this memory, she might forget the strange feeling that had happened when this man held her head, but when she will meet the past him, she would instantly trust him, even with a different face.
"Rose?" The Doctor asked, "How do you feel?"
"Hungry." Rose admitted. The Doctor smiled, "Sir." She added.
Queen Victoria turned around to the Doctor and Rose who were kneeling in front of her. She placed a sword on the Doctor's shoulders.
"By the power invested in me by the Church and the State, I dub thee Sir Doctor of TARDIS." The Queen turned to Rose, "By the power invested in me by the Church and the State, I dub thee Dame Rose of the Powell Estate."
The Doctor gave Rose a little look, and a grin, as if to say, "This is what you get when you travel with me."
Rose shot back a look saying, "And I wouldn't miss it for the world!"
"Of course you're hungry," The Doctor patted Rose's leg, "Listen, I've got some change, why don't we go and have some chips?
Rose brightened and bounced off the bench.
"Excuse me, Mister…" Jackie trailed off.
"Smith, John Smith." The Doctor lied.
"Mr. Smith, are you sure she's gonna be okay?"
"She'll be fine. She's a tough girl," The Doctor answered, "You don't mind if I…?" He pointed to the chips stand.
"Oh, of course, go ahead." Jackie answered.
The Doctor took Rose's hand and walked her over to Mr. Thomson.
Late at night. Running through London, hand in hand. They had only just met and already, they were working together to save London from the Nestene Consciousness.
"What would you like?" Mr. Thomson asked.
"Large chips, thanks." The Doctor said.
"Toppings?" Mr. Thomson pulled out a cardboard tray.
"What do you want, Rose?" The Doctor asked.
"Oh, I really don't mind, what do you want, Sir?" Rose asked back.
"Cheese and bacon, please, Mr. Thomson." The Doctor ordered. He paid and they went back to the bench. Rose picked up a chip smothered in cheese and bacon and looked at it uncertainly.
"Try it. You'll love it." The Doctor promised.
She shut her eyes and pushed the chip into her mouth, she chewed thoughtfully. She swallowed then immediately, her face lit up and she shoved two more handfuls down without even pausing for a breath.
"Told ya so." The Doctor laughed.
Jackie walked up behind the Doctor, "Mister Smith, why don't you come home with us for some tea?"
The Doctor wanted nothing more in the whole world to say yes, but he couldn't.
"I'm sorry, I can't." The Doctor stared at the floor.
"Or why don't you pop around tomorrow and take care of Rose for an hour or two?" Jackie tried again. Rose brightened and looked at the Doctor with pleading eyes. The Doctor smiled.
Rose approached the Doctor, he was sitting with the cradle containing a six month old Rose Tyler on his lap, playing a game and tickling the baby's nose.
"You're not going to bring about the end of the world? Are you?" He asked the baby Rose.
"Whatcha doing?" The grown up Rose asked.
"Jackie gave her to me to mind," the Doctor explained, "Funny how times change isn't it?"
"I'm sorry," The Doctor got to his feet, "I won't be back in London for… for a long time."
"Oh," Jackie said, "Well, next time you're in London, do us a favor and look us up, will ya?"
"I will." The Doctor promised, and he meant it.
The Doctor left, leaving Rose and Jackie. He returned to his TARDIS, his home, his future.