Summary: Something quiet, for the still life. A conversation, a little bit of domesticity, and a little bit of promise. These are the moments he bought with love.

Spoilers: Some months after the events of 4x13

Pairings: Yes.

Setting: Alternate Universe, England.

Notes: This is weird. It started off as one thing, led to another. It's my mildly confused attempt to capture a moment of what life could be like for Rose and Alt!Doctor. These are the moments he bought with love. Not the moment of adventure and thrill, but the moments in between, where time crawls.

Please overlook any accidents of pacing, imbalances of the humors, or a weak grasp of British colloquial syntax.

Between The Tick and The Tock and The Bell, We Live

"So what's it like, being human?"

"You tell me, Jackie," said the man, and he raised his eyes from the book.

"Right. Because you're only bits and pieces, aren't you? I forgot. Not all the way anything."

There were a number of replies the man considered giving to this, most of them crude enough to start a fight: a good and nasty row. However, the woman he loved was in the kitchen; she was just close enough to hear when something expensive and gaudy gets thrown against cherry-wood-paneled wall.

"Jackie." The man nodded in a way that was almost respectful, and his book covers met in a snap. He left his chair and headed for the kitchen, where he knew he'd find a blond woman pouring over a map too large for the counter space she'd spread it on. He leaned against the nearest pantry cabinet and waited.

Eventually, she looked up at him, and she smiled fondly when she did.

"You're quiet when you want to be, stealthy as mole when you're not talking. I remember that." The man smiled in return.

"You're more studious than I remember. And," he gestured, "you collect maps, now."

The women let her smile slide a little wider, and she pushed on a long crease with a dust-darkened fingertip. "I did some traveling last year, and when I got out into the big wide world, I realized that maps make it a lot easier to get around. If you're actually doing the walking and not popping back and forth. I like to keep track."

The man tapped his slim hardcover against his chin. "Have you tried charts yet?"

"No boat."

The man placed is book on the counter top and clapped his hands once. "That's what government organizations are for. Or so they tell the new guy."

"You want to steal a boat from Torchwood?"

"They wouldn't have any good ones," he said, and a thread of playfulness slipped through. "Maybe from the coastal guard folk--what are they called here?"

The blond woman shrugged. "Shore Watch Something. It isn't a very good name for an agency."

"Let's commandeer one tomorrow. For the greater good of Britain. And trust me, it is."

"Sounds fun." The woman tilted her head, and blond waves dipped between her neck and shoulder. "What's wrong?"

The man sighed. "Jackie." The woman frowned.

"You said you'd try to be nicer--"

"I am being nice. I was nice. I love your mother, she's a powerhouse of a lady. But we don't mix and I've...overstayed. It's not pleasant when I can hear the things she says and the things she doesn't."

"Can't you block it out? You used to."

"Jackie is loud on the inside, and I'm around her more often. Every day."

The woman chuckled at his sour expression. She rose from the chair, walked toward the man, and cupped his face. "There's been a record number of whales beaching themselves off the coast of Southern Portugal. Would you be terribly disappointed if we officially asked for the boat instead of stealing it?"

The man gave a pretend pout, bringing his hands to cover hers. "I'll be put out. I was looking forward to heisting it during the witching hour. We could wear all black."

The woman giggled, and leaned her forehead against his. "We could still wear all black, if you want to be in the spirit of it."

"Portugal, you said. Too hot during the day."

"Well, I do need charts. We could steal those."

"Too easy."

"Tell you what," the woman said, her arms wrapped around his neck now and her form pleasantly leaning on his front. "You fly to Portugal with me, use that brain the size of a planet to translate so we get to the right beach, and I'll let you steal any article of my clothing, when we get there."


"Any. If I don't figure out what you've stolen or where it's hidden, then on the second day you get to filch something else. But if I catch you..."

"Oi, you'll spoil me for the ending."

"Have I tweaked your interest?"

"Escaping your mum, a free pass at your knickers, and a whale of a mystery?" He chuckled, turned in place, and hoisted her onto the slick corian counter. Their foreheads still rested together, and this time his smile went all the way to his eyes.

"Exotic sea food, too," said the woman, whose name was Rose, who had a passion for jeopardy, and who liked to mark on maps every place on this new Earth that she planned to take him.

"Not the whales, I hope?"

"Well, we'd have to save them first."

"That sounds... fantastic," said the man, whose name was sometimes John Smith, who was all the way in love with Rose Tyler, and who didn't draw on maps anymore because he planned to take her to the places that never quite made it to ink or stylus or GPS device. All the places on her world that whispered, and sang, and lived, past the points of the compass and the scope of the sea.