Title: A Second Pair of Partners in Crime

Characters / Pairing: Mickey, Rose, Doctor / Rose.

Spoilers: Partners in Crime.

Summary: Rose returns "home."

Disclaimer: Not mine, never mine.

A/N: Not sure if I got the character voices down - I imagine Mickey would be a little more grown up and confident in Pete's World - but this had to be written. Albeit very quickly.

" I'm guessing from the less than delighted expression on your face that he wasn't there."

Rose walked round her desk and dropped into her chair, as if a dead weight. Reaching down her shirt her hand found the cool, hard device rested against her chest, and tugging on the chain she pulled it over her head and cradled it in her hands.

Her blank stare settled on it, as again she stubbornly pushed away the pangs in her chest and the stinging around her eyes.

" You guessed right."

Above her, Mickey smiled sympathetically and moved away to his own computer, where he began tapping at keys.

Shaking his head he swore quietly under his breath.

" I could have sworn I picked up readings of a spaceship."

Rose straightened up and settled the device onto her desk with a sigh.

" Well if these was one it was long gone by the time I got there." Fixing her eyes on Mickey she added morosely. " And so was he."

Mickey averted his eyes, and adopted a more formal tone as clicked on something with his mouse.

" And how long were you there for?"

" About 5 minutes actually. At least it's getting longer."

Mickey nodded and typed something into his computer in response.

" Smooth going?"

" Hardly."

" And you're sure you still have control over the fading?"

" Yes I'm sure." replied Rose, a little snappily.

Immediately picking up on her tone of voice, Mickey broke away from his computer and looked over at her with a raised eyebrow.

Sheepishly, she smiled back.

" Sorry - I'm just tired."

" No wonder." agreed Mickey, spinning back round on his chair. " I'd imagine travel between parallel universes takes it out of you."

Rose leant back in her chair and laughed dryly.

" Correct guess again."

As Rose's eyes returned to the silver device placed in the centre of her desk, Mickey watched her covertly.

After a moment or two he spoke, with the tone of someone who was saying what they had been thinking for some time.

" Rose - you don't suppose we're looking in the wrong place do you? I mean, there are alien sightings all over the world - what makes you think he'll stick to the London circuit?"

Rose didn't draw her eyes away from the device.

" Because he will. You forget Mickey, he sounds like he's from London. He can fit in there. Plus, London's become a bit of a hot spot for alien visits recently. Makes sense that he'd visit there."

Mickey bit down on his lip - wary of Rose's reaction - but still persisted.

" But what makes you think he'd visit England anyway? He's an alien Rose, he can go anywhere."

Mickey - expecting an angry, impassioned response - was a little bit more than surprised when he saw a small smile play around Rose's lips.

" He likes the tea."

Rose said no more and Mickey staid quiet for a moment, watching her.

Part of him instinctively felt that maybe he should go comfort Rose - but today Mickey knew better. He could tell from the softening of her expression, and the small wistful sigh that parted her lips that Rose was reminiscing - not regretting.

In the past year Mickey had grown remarkably talented at telling the difference.

Quietly Rose sniffed - and her expression imperceptibly changing she shifted out of her reverie, and spun round to face her own computer.

Deciding quickly Mickey thought now was probably the best time to broach the next problem that had been playing around in his mind.

What he wasn't expecting was for Rose to get to the point first.

" How long have we got left with the device Mickey?"

" What?"

Tapping away diligently - though Mickey expected Rose had no idea what she was typing - Rose stared fixatedly at her screen as she briskly continued talking.

" Well the senior executives must be expecting a report on the desks soon. And once new technology has been catalogued you know as well as I do that Torchwood won't let us play with their toys without written permission. " Rose punctuated her sentence by tapping her keyboard keys a little harder than required, and spun around to face Mickey's eyes with a levelling gaze." No more midnight adventures. So how long have we got?"

Mickey swallowed and replied honestly.

" 2 weeks."

" 2 weeks?!"

Rose's face slackened in surprise and the first few hints of despair.

" That's why I suggested we try somewhere else!" rebuked Mickey." You know what they're like ! Ever since that incident with the pendants they've been keeping everything under lock and key! Trust me, I had to sweet talk Jake into even letting us borrow the device."

Rose snorted derisively at Mickey's definition of "sweet-talking", and slightly angered Mickey stood up from his own desk and strode over to stand in front of Rose's.

" I'm serious Rose! They don't even know about you staying back this late this past month - can you imagine their reaction if they found out you've been expending their money and your energy on useless side projects?"

" Useless side projects?!" exclaimed Rose indignantly, jumping to her feet to face Mickey.

" Why?" challenged Rose. " Because no-one's shooting at anything?"

" No! " roared back Mickey. " Because you're doing all of this just so you can run away again!"

Rose shut up like she'd been slapped in the face.

Mickey's mouth hung open as his own words - and the true feelings that they belied - were left hanging in the air.

A tense silence fell over the laboratory corner of Torchwood London's Central Hub.

Then somewhere in an unseen corner, there was a large rattling and a distant crash - no doubt the result of the team's pet dodo walking into some piece of equipment or other - and both Mickey and Rose's heads whipped around to source the direction of the noise.

" Knock it off Owen!" yelled out Mickey in exasperation.

Meanwhile Rose took the breaking of their stalemate as an opportunity to look away, down at her desk. Picking up the device she walked over to the safe set in the wall behind her, and went about her usual process of entering the code, and setting everything back in it's proper place, and the right technology in the right case.

When Rose turned back around she found Mickey watching her, anger replaced by the worry now sketched over his face.

Without saying a word Rose walked around her desk and hugged Mickey tightly around the waist. Automatically he brought up his arms and wrapped them around her shoulders, squashing her head lovingly into his chest and resting his noise in her hair.

Below his chin he heard a sniff and a swallow.

" I'm sorry - "

" Sssshhh." interrupted Mickey, rocking her slightly. " You don't have to explain to me."

" But I need you to know how grateful I am, I know you don't want me to go again - "

Cutting her off, Mickey quietened her once more - his throat only a little thick.

Held in his arms Rose loosened her clutched handfuls of Mickey's jumper, and gratefully exhaled against his chest, letting her tired head rest there.

" Thank you." replied Rose quietly. Her voice was small and child-like, and when she spoke again Mickey had to strain his ears and keep very still to hear her. " You have no idea, how much it means having you here. I don't know what I'd do without you."

Mickey smiled.

" What are you talking about? And what have you done to my action figure best friend?"

Mickey felt Rose smile back against his chest, but the growing wetness also forming there didn't help soothe the unease he felt when she was like this.

" I'm serious Mickey." continued Rose, voice growing a little stronger but still shaky.

" It's so good to have someone who understands - who knew him."

" Jackie knew the Doctor."

" Not like you did. She never travelled with him. Saw it all. "

Mickey laughed, and uncurling his arms gazed down at Rose lovingly.

" I was a bit of an idiot back then though."

Eyes still red-rimmed, Rose grinned back.

" Who says you're not now?"

Chortling Mickey kept one arm round Rose's shoulders and started to walk her up the stairs out of the small laboratory, into the main Hub, where he steered her towards the circular exit.

" Oh, she bites! You wound me Tyler."

" But it's so easy."

" Hmph. C'mon then - let's go annoy Jake instead."

" He'll be asleep by now."

" Since when has that stopped me?"

As she let herself be led away, Rose threw one last glance over her shoulder at the Hub. Even though she couldn't see it anymore as the lights flickered into darkness, Rose knew the device was safely locked away - in the wall just behind her desk, waiting for her to try again.

And in her head she made the same, old, sing-song promise.

See you tomorrow.