Following hard upon "Age of Steel", the Doctor takes Rose on a little trip . . . that takes an even more unexpected turn than usual.

This can be read on its own, or as a sequel to "The Girl in the Stalking Spaceship". Thanks to KateCarter and Saavik13 for their marvelous beta work, and to lyin' for pointing out a little discrepancy in the last chapter! (It's been fixed, so don't bother going to look for it.)

Disclaimer: Surprise, surprise, I own neither Doctor Who nor Harry Potter (which will come up later in the story). Nor do I get anything from writing these stories--except wonderful, constructive reviews! Wink, wink; nudge, nudge ;)

Chapter 1, A Little Cheering Up

The Doctor watched Rose from across the console as she sat in the captain's chair, pretending to read. He didn't doubt she was making an honest effort, but the fact that she'd been on the same page for the past ten minutes told him her heart just wasn't in it.

Not that he could blame her. He thought back to this morning's visit with Jackie. At first, they'd focused on calming Rose down and making some tea. But then, the details about their little trip to parallel earth came out. Soon, it became a matter of calming Jackie down, with Rose valiantly trying to keep her from throttling the Doctor for leaving Mickey behind. Although they'd parted in peace, the Doctor had been sent back into the TARDIS fifteen minutes before Rose had finally joined him.

She hadn't said anything; she simply walked up to the Doctor and buried her head in his suit jacket with her arms around his waist. He wasn't sure how long he'd held her, standing just inside the doors to the TARDIS. She was obviously emotionally drained, so the Doctor eventually chivvied her off to her room for a nap.

He'd heard her emerge from her room before he'd even reached the end of the corridor. He'd tried to insist she get some sleep, but at her quiet, "Can I just stay with you for a while?" his hearts nearly broke. So, he'd led her back into the console room where she'd curled up in her current position with the book she'd brought from her bedroom. The Doctor proceeded to set them adrift in the vortex, but then took the opportunity to just watch her as he fiddled with this or that control.

He was still fiddling when he saw Rose finally give up on her book. He looked away just as she turned towards him, pretending to be studying a readout. Of course, the scanner was on the other side of the console, but Rose didn't seem to be paying close enough attention to catch that little detail. "Doctor, could we go somewhere?" she asked, more weakly than the Doctor liked to hear.

"That's what I'm here for," he replied casually, glad to finally hear her voice again. "Did you have something in mind, or are you up for 'Doctor's Pick', or completely random?"

"Earth," she said quickly. Then, "I don't care, whenever, but could it be somewhere on earth?"

"Earth it is," said the Doctor happily, moving quickly around the console, flipping the necessary levers. He paused before initiating the sequence. "Could be anytime or anywhere on the planet," he said mysteriously, and was rewarded with a small smile from his companion as she stood up to join him at the console. "Well," he added, "anything other than London 2006. We've just been there; that wouldn't be any fun!" With that, he threw the last lever, and the TARDIS rocked and jolted its way to their unknown destination.

The Doctor helped Rose up from the deck grating after the TARDIS stilled. She got her balance, and then asked, "So, where are we?"

"No idea," said the Doctor with a huge smile.

To be continued.