A/N: Another story that just popped into my head! It will only be a short one though – just a few chapters. Living a Life will be updated tomorrow, then Siori, probably after the weekend.
Disclaimer: It's not mine. Seriously, can't you tell?
"She said that?"
"Yes. But I don't see how you can get all big headed about it. After all, she was a giant, talking fish."
"Yeah, but still…"
Rose looked at the Doctor incredulously. "That saddens me. Although…" she said slowly, thinking the situation over, "I can see why that would probably flatter you. I mean, when woman aren't exactly throwing themselves at your feet, you kinda have to take what you can GET!" Rose half yelled, half squealed as the Doctor made a lunge for her, chasing her around the console before they stopped on either side staring at each other, each anticipating the others next move.
"Take that back right now, Rose Tyler," the Doctor demanded, trying to look serious, but the tone of his voice gave him away.
Rose stuck her tongue out at him, and a smile twitched at the corners of his mouth.
"You are so easy," she grinned, walking past him to sit on the battered control room chair.
"I'll have you know," he said, coming to sit next to her and propping his feet up on the console, "that plenty of woman fall for my charms."
Rose shook her head. "Say what you like space-boy, big fish lady still doesn't count."
"It's true! I frequently attract the attentions of the opposite sex."
"You do remember that it was Jack who was the intergalactic playboy, not you?" Rose said, raising her eyebrows and looking at him as though he were delirious.
He looked a little hurt. Rose snuggled up to his arm.
"All right, you could be. I suppose you are kind of easy on the eyes."
He fixed her with a puppy-dog stare. "Kind of?"
She smiled up at him. "Okay, very easy on the eyes."
The Doctor grinned and jumped up. "Fancy a brew?"
"Yeah, go on then." Rose took hold of his proffered hand and he pulled her up.
An hour later, and after much light-hearted gossiping, Rose announced that she was going to bed. She scraped out the remaining contents of her yoghurt pot before tossing it in the bin and sliding down from her perch on the kitchen counter, spoon still in her mouth. She licked it clean and chucked it in the dishwasher.
"You sleeping tonight?" she asked the Doctor, who was leant back in his chair, legs up on the table.
"Nope," he replied, as Rose bent down and kissed his cheek goodnight. He returned it and smiled up at her. "Sweet dreams."
She grinned. "Night night."
The Doctor watched her leave the kitchen, then spent a few seconds staring at the empty space she had once occupied before deciding to wander down to the library.
A few hours later he was startled back to the here and now when the corner of his eye caught Rose lingering in the doorway. He put his book down and glanced up at her, thinking she must have had a bad dream. All the colour in her face had drained away and she looked distant.
"Rose?" the Doctor asked, getting up and making his way towards her when she made no attempt to move. He looked at her, his eyes heavy with concern. He put a hand to her cheek and brought her gaze up to his. "Are you all right?"
Rose blinked and looked at him. It was as if she'd only just noticed that he was there.
"I need to go home for a bit. I need to help mum with the funeral arrangements," she replied, her voice almost devoid of any emotion. She sounded as if she was on auto-pilot, like her body had been left with only basic functions whilst her mind had gone off for a wander.
The Doctor frowned. Now he was definitely worried.
"Rose, what are you talking about? What's happened?" he said, placing his hands on her shoulders.
"I should have known, you know. I'm sure mum told me. I guess I didn't pay attention properly, just thought she'd get well again. She always did before. But this time..." Rose shook her head slightly. "Everything has it's time," she whispered distantly, making the Doctor shudder. The last time he'd heard those words Rose had had the vortex burning inside her.
Bringing his hands up to her face, he gently forced her to look at him properly.
"Rose, you're starting to scare me a little. Who... What's happened?"
"She was a great person, you know. Always looked after me when I was younger so mum could go out to work. I loved going to my gran's after school. She'd let me eat sweets before tea and we'd watch old musicals together."
The Doctor bowed his head. Her gran had died.
"Oh, Rose. I'm so sorry." He tried to pull her into a hug but she backed away.
"I'll go and get ready,' she said, and she turned and left without another word, leaving the Doctor staring after her, frozen to the spot.
The Doctor was waiting in the control room when Rose walked in with a small bag of her belongings. Her skin was still sallow, but there was no evidence to suggest that she had been crying – no red eyes or damp cheeks. As worried as he was, Rose was in shock, and the Doctor knew he would have to tread carefully. It was the waiting for her to cry that would be the worst part. Crying would make it real, make Rose admit that she would never see her gran again. But it would begin the healing process. Waiting for her to grieve would be like waiting for a bomb to go off, but he knew it wasn't something he could push. Well, not unless it went on for an unhealthy amount of time, then he would have to gently coax her into letting it all out.
He watched the time rotar pulse up and down, eventually coming to a stop, and rubbed a hand over his face, stealing a glance at Rose. She edged slowly towards the doors, looking over her shoulder at him as she reached them.
"Aren't you coming?"
The Doctor tried to hide the surprise on his face as he looked at her.
"You want me too?"
She nodded warily. "Please."
He gave her a small nod and headed out after her as she stepped out into the warm sunshine. He'd seen death more times than he cared to remember, and he didn't really like to hang around, which was why he was unsure of how to act around Rose. If she had been crying he would have been there with a supporting hug and soothing words and an ear if she wanted to talk it through. As it was, he didn't know how to deal with her when she put walls up around herself. He didn't want to put his foot in it by saying the wrong thing. So, he decided he would wait around in the background in case she needed him, maybe help with the arrangements and deal with any unexpected visitors that came to the door offering their respects. He was sure that however well their intentions were meant, the family would want some time to themselves.
Silently trudging up the stairs of Bucknall House, Rose paused when she got to her front door and took a deep breath before placing her key in the lock and turning it gently. As soon as the door swung open, Jackie came running up to them, eyes tired and bloodshot from crying.
"Rose!" she cried, flinging her arms around her daughter. She clung to her for a second, before pulling back and studying her face. "You got here quickly," she said, before sending a small smile of thanks towards the Doctor, who was standing awkwardly in the doorway. He returned it sympathetically.
"Right," Rose said, pulling out of her mother's embrace. "I'll go put the kettle on."
"Okay, sweetheart," Jackie replied softly. She watched Rose disappear into the kitchen and then turned towards the Doctor and walked up to him. He automatically put his arms out to her, and she accepted the hug gratefully.
"I'm so sorry, Jackie. If you need me to do anything..."
"Thank you," she said, sighing deeply and sniffing back a sob. "How was Rose when she told you?"
"She didn't exactly tell me, she just said she had to come home and help you with the arrangements. She did mention her gran, although she never actually said that she'd... Well, it wasn't hard to work out," he replied, leaning back slightly and looking down at her. "She hasn't cried, she's just..."
"On auto-pilot?" Jackie offered. The Doctor nodded.
"I was like that when Pete died. Refused to except it. You'll help me keep an eye on her, won't you?"
"Already doing it."
Jackie smiled, and led him into the living room. A few minutes later Rose came in with a tray of tea and biscuits. She placed it on the coffee table and curled up in one of the chairs.
"There's only two mugs, darling," Jackie said gently.
"I know. I didn't want one."
"Well, how about a biscuit?"
Rose shook her head. "I'm fine."
An uncomfortable silence hung in the air whilst Jackie and the Doctor drank their tea.
"I'm going to the hospital later to..." Jackie trailed off, before taking a deep breath. "Do you want to come and see her?"
Rose blinked up at her mother, startled out of her reverie. "Would you mind if I didn't?" she said, her voice almost monotone.
Jackie gave her a sad smile. "Of course not."
The phone rang then, making them all jump, but Rose still sprang up to answer it. As she disappeared out of the room, the Doctor and Jackie just looked at each other.