There were a lot of expectations in the Doctor's mind when he finally made his way across the void to find Rose. Hugs taken at running leaps and previously cut off confessions were high on the list. What he heard when he finally asked her how she was doing was perhaps least expected.
"I'm working in a shop now."
The Doctor frowned, completely thrown by her answer. "What happened to Torchwood?"
Rose shrugged. "Oh, you know. Got boring after a while."
"Yeah, well, it's not like it was running around with you. You've seen one Weevil, you've seen 'em all. And there's way too much paperwork."
"So you left and got a job in a shop?"
She smiled and bit her lower lip lightly. "Actually, I have my own."
The Doctor's eyebrows raised and he smiled back, pride clear in his face. "Not the Defender of the Earth position I was expecting, but well done just the same."
"Come on, I'll show you."
She took his arm and began to lead him down the street, walking slowly as if he might disappear once she got there. For his part the Doctor was more than happy to let her lead and listened as she chattered on about everything she'd been doing since she'd last seen him. They finally stopped in from of a quaint looking antique shop called, of all things, The Gilded Rose. The Doctor turned to give her a quirky grin.
"Shut up." She nudged him with her elbow before moving to unlock the door. "I didn't name it. The old lady who used to own it did."
"Ah. Old lady. That does sound a bit more appropriate to an antique store."
Rose wrinkled her nose, the front door swinging open. "Odd choice, I know. But I do sell some... non-antique items."
"Do you really?" The Doctor began poking around and looking at the different shelves and displays, then stopped. "This is a Haleyan bonding clasp."
Rose grinned. "Glad to put a name to it. I was starting to feel like Van Statten, choosing names for things that I was sure already had them. Although I think calling that a lover's broach is a bit more original than Metaltron."
"Oh yes, quite." He picked up the clasp and tossed it in the air, catching it on its descent. "Where'd you find it?"
"Yep. To be honest, that's the real reason I chose this place. Gives me an excuse to travel. Pick up interesting pieces, and every once in a while I find something... out of this world."
The Doctor tilted his head and frowned. "Rose Tyler, that is one of the worst puns I've ever heard."
She laughed and poked her tongue out at him briefly. "I'm terrible, I know. I think I got it from you." Her expression soured. "Seriously though, I know what you're thinking, and I'm careful. Anything I find I bring to Torchwood to have it checked out. If it's dangerous or advanced technology or anything, they keep it. The harmless trinkets are the only ones that end up here."
"Mix this baby with vinegar and it's got explosive power ten times that of dynamite."
Rose froze. "Seriously?"
"Nah." He quickly ducked the Victorian plush rabbit that came flying in his direction.
"Come here." Rose held her hand out to him and he took it, quickly eliminating the space between them. "I've missed you. And..." she licked her lips nervously, "I've got this girl, Marie, who works the shop a few days a week. She knows it pretty well and she's smart. I could... I could just hand her the keys and walk away. If you, that is... I mean, if you want-"
"Come with me."
She looked up, hope in her eyes. "Yeah?"
"Of course!" He scooped her up in a crushing hug, careful not to swing her into the nearby display of ancient looking crockery. When he set her down he gave her a gleaming smile. "My how things have changed," he commented.
"Well, last time I found you in a shop I had to blow it up to get your attention."
She swatted his arm playfully, then hooked hers through it. "Guess I'll always be your little shop girl."
"No," he whispered, watching her relock the front door. "You'll always be so much more."
For fanfic writers, there are two things that bring them joy: the creation of their work, and the response of its readers. Please take the time to review, not only this fic but any other you read. Thank you.