Best Laid Plans
"Right then. You wait here. I shouldn't be too long."
The Doctor stopped and stared at the double doors of the TARDIS. On the other side was a place he would have dreamt of often if he'd let himself sleep. The parallel world. What had he called it? Pete's World.
"You're not just gonna run out there, grab her hand and bring her back, are you?"
He turned to face Martha Jones, his latest in a long line as some might put it, though he certainly wouldn't. He couldn't help but smile, because yeah, that was basically the plan, and what was wrong with that?
As if sensing his perplexion she frowned, the corners of her mouth turned up in a smile.
"Look, there are things you need to consider. For one, she's a girl, and she hasn't seen you in who knows how long. She's probably imagined this a million times over, and if you just waltz up the her, say hi, and that's the end of it, she'll never forgive you. It has to be grand and romantic."
The Doctor stared at her at a loss and she took pleasure in her ability to shut him up occasionally. "Trust me on this."
He continued to stare at her for a moment, then broke into a grin. "Nah. Rose is nothing like that. It'll be fine."
Before Martha could protest he stepped through the doors, and walked across the lawn of the Tyler estate.
Almost immediately, Mickey came running out the front door, gaping at him in shock.
"Oh man. I don't believe it..."
"Mickey!" The Doctor's voice pitched in the way it did whenever he was truly excited. He threw his arms around the boy, then walked him into the house. "I can't believe it, Mickey the Idiot... So tell me, where's Rose?"
Mickey scoffed, unable to keep the huge grin off his face. "You always did have bad timing. She just ran out."
"What are you talking about? I've got excellent timing. Time Lord and all that. Do you know where she was going?"
"Just to Tesco I think."
"Right, I'm off then." The Doctor turned to leave and found himself being held back by Mickey's hand on his elbow.
"Wait a minute! You're gonna do more than just find her, right?"
"How do you mean?"
"Come on Mate. You can't just walk up to her like 'Hey I'm back.' You've gotta plan it out. Do it right, yeah?"
The Doctor let out a sigh. "Not you too. I suppose I should have listened to Martha. She said the same thing."
"The woman I've been traveling with."
"Definitely don't mention Martha."
"If you don't know why, then you really don't get women, do you?"
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Well, everyone else seems to think that. I think you're all mad though. It's not that big a deal."
"Of course it is! Now look, you've gotta go with the TARDIS. Just pop up right in from of her."
The Doctor sighed. "Now why would I do that?"
"She'd never believe it. She always thinking she hears that weird sound it makes so when she sees it's true? Man, she'll go crazy."
"Yes, well, as much as the plan was to make her crazy, the TARDIS isn't exactly made for travel in this world. Can't risk moving her."
Mickey thought in silence for a moment. The silence lasted only briefly before it was pierced by a startled cry.
"Oh my God!"
Another hug and smiles all around. He never did get used to her being happy to see him, so it was odd to see her practically bouncing around.
"Oh it's you!" She pulled him into another hug. "Rose is gonna be so happy."
He stepped away and was about to excuse himself to actually find Rose but she cut him off with a yell.
"Pete! Oh, Pete get in here! You're never gonna believe this!"
A moment later, the man who wasn't Rose's father appeared in the doorway. Unlike the other two, there was no hug or huge smile. The two men merely nodded at each other until finally, Pete smiled.
"It's about time you got here."
"Right. And it's about time I go and actually see Rose so..."
"What have you got planned?" Jackie asked, her eyes wide with excitement. The Doctor stared at her, dumbstruck. "Tell me you've got something planned."
"He hasn't." Mickey told her with a shake of his head.
"What do you mean, he hasn't?" She turned to the Doctor. "You must have thought of something."
The Doctor sighed, something he seemed to be doing a lot of today. "Look, I really don't see how it's necessary. I just-"
"Of course it's necessary." Jackie shot. "Now come on then let's figure this out... You could do something with that ship of yours."
"Can't," Mickey cut in. "Already thought of that."
"All right then. Oh, I know. You should send her a message. Like a text. Meet me in the park at lunch or something. And then roses! Oh she'd love that. A trail of rose petals, right through the park."
"You sure you're not thinking of yourself?" Mickey asked. "She was never really the flowers type."
"That's just because you never bought her any." Jackie retorted. "Every woman wants flowers."
"All right. So he leads her there with flowers, then what?"
"Ooh, I don't know. I can't think of everything for 'im."
The Doctor was sure his head was about to roll off from listening to the two of them when Pete cut in.
"All right then, that's enough of that love. I'm sure the Doctor here just wants to get on with things."
The Doctor smiled gratefully until Pete added "Although...
"You could meet her in a restaurant. Have one of us invite her to dinner, then show up there. Nice surprise. Did that for Jackie not long after she came here. You remember that Jacks?"
"Course I do. That was the night Jamie was conceived."
Both the Doctor and Mickey exchanged cursory glances, praying that Jackie's reminiscing stopped there. When she opened her mouth to speak again, the Doctor promptly cut her off.
"Right, well. Whatever I do I should go do it then."
He was in the middle of trying to elbow past Rose's mother when the door opened and a familiar woman stepped in.
Jackie's head immediately whipped around towards her latest guest, then back to the Doctor. "Who's she then?!" She demanded.
"Right, this is Martha. Martha Jones, meet Jackie Tyler."
"Pleased to meet you." Martha smiled sweetly and extended her hand.
"Can't say the feelings mutual." Jackie ignored the hand floating in front of her and kept her attention on the Doctor. "So what, my daughter gets stuck here and you go swanning off with someone else?"
"Oh come on now." Rose's mother or not, he really was starting to get fed up with the whole situation. Before he could lay into her though, Martha cut him off.
"I assure you Miss Tyler, I have no interest in him." She smiled at the Doctor as if to say 'nothing personal,' then continued. "I just came here to make sure he didn't muck things all up."
Jackie looked Martha up and down before finally shaking her head and sighing. "Oh, all right then, fine. What have you got? Because this one isn't gonna get anything right if we don't get it sorted for him."
Martha smiled, the Doctor sighed (just how many times was that), and their discussion returned, with his companion throwing out her advice.
"It has to be something meaningful. You know, something special to the two of you."
"Yeah. Like a conversation you had a long time ago." Jackie added.
Mickey clicked his fingers. "Got it! You show up with the TARDIS, yeah? And then you ask her if she wants to come with you. Give the whole time machine London hop story and all that."
"You still remember that?" The Doctor asked, making a face that reminded Mickey of the last time he'd been compared to a girl.
"Kind of hard to forget."
The Doctor nodded, knowing he couldn't argue with that. "Right, but anyway, can't move the TARDIS, remember?"
The five of them stood in silence for several minutes (two minutes and thirty-seven seconds but beyond the Doctor, who was counting?). Finally Jackie spoke up.
"I think you should propose to 'er"
Everyone else in the room stopped to stare at her.
"You've got to be kidding." The Doctor scratched the back of his head, wondering if Jackie'd been possessed in some way. He was going through various scenarios and the best way to handle them when he realized she was speaking again.
"What? 'S obvious you fancy her. Heaven knows she hasn't dated anyone else since she met you."
The Doctor, Mickey and Pete rolled their eyes in unison. For her part, Martha remained silent, not sure which side to believe.
Eventually the Doctor stepped forward, ready to leave. "Alright. We are done. I'm just going to find Rose, and everything will be fine."
"But what if she won't go with you?" Martha asked suddenly. "She got her whole life here."
"She's right." Mickey agreed. "You have to do something..."
"To show her that you care." Jackie finished.
Suddenly a voice spoke up. A beautifully familiar voice. A voice that angels stopped to listen to. That the essence of time flowed through. Rose.
"I think just getting here was enough." She smiled at the Doctor over the rest of her family. Within seconds he thought through everything that had been discussed. Every thought, idea and notion ran through his head. In the end, after all of their discussion and planning, all he could do was smile back.