I was thinking … would the Human Doctor ever brave the subject of River Song with Rose, even after they have found happiness in the alt. universe? Here's how it might've happened …

I don't own Dr. Who.

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It was crisp, chilly early evening in the grounds of the Tyler Mansion. The sun hung robustly in the cobalt sky, reaching to even the farthest and most remote nooks and crannies of the estate and the cascading autumn leaves created patterns and swirls of gold, auburn and ochre on the faded green lawn. Rose and the Doctor, alias John Smith, were taking a languid stroll through the lower garden, conversing at ease about such matters as couples do when they have been living together for well over eighteen months. That night was the night that Pete had arranged for Jackie's birthday party to be held, and preparations up in the main house were well underway. The couple had sought sanctity from the frenetic hustle and bustle in the great outdoors of their home. Rose, infatuated with her Doctor even after their life together had been going on so long that it was technically "normality", would repeatedly look up at his face, eyes shining bright with an ear-splitting grin. She could talk with him for hours, listening to all the fantastic stories and tales he had acquired over the years and she revelled in his intelligence and interest. Even with his beyond-human mind, however, she always felt that he treated her as an equal – even though occasionally she found him patronising when it came to scientific or historical matters that she had little comparative awareness of, she knew that she could be condescending and superior when he was behaving densely about moral or diplomatic issues. Thus, it was that they never grew tired or weary of one another's company.

Today, the topic of discussion had reached slightly dangerous waters, however: Rose's previous lovers. Although there was absolutely no disparity whatsoever in the couple's opinions about their relationship, in that this was for life and neither would ever think of leaving the other, they had somehow reached this precarious theme and the Doctor was more than a little interested to find out about Rose's experiences, especially now that he was definitely on that list, even if a slightly more permanent fixture.

"Well … obviously there was Mickey. First love at fourteen. We were on and off, I guess, until just after my GCSEs. Then … well, you know the rest. You came along!"

The Doctor grinned mischievously and squeezed her hand a little tighter. "Is that it? Only Mickey the Idiot as a predecessor to yours truly?"

Rose smiled in mock anger, before saying, irritatedly, "Come on, surely you know by now he wasn't an idiot! He might have been slightly … inept," the Doctor snorted at this, "before you came along, but he's practically a genius now!"

"Oh, that's a bit excessive!"

"No, he is! He was really amazing with the technology and all that at Torchwood – the one on Old Earth'll be seriously benefiting!"

"Hmm …" Inspite of the Doctor's words, he was only teasing her. He knew more than anyone that Mickey was gullible to the extreme, but it was paired not only with computer intelligence but bravery and courage far beyond that which most ordinary people possessed. He also admired the fact that he, like Rose, was proof of this "ordinary people" passion of his; that they too could become brilliant and had the resources and valour to do what was right, if only they could realise it.

"So, that's it then? A beautiful woman as yourself only has one other person on her list of boyfriends?"

"Well … there was Jimmy Stone."

"Oh yes?" This was news to the Doctor. Even though they had spent a full two years together on the TARDIS, they had never reached this man in a conversation.

"I was sixteen … he was twenty. A musician, guitarist to be exact – completely irresistible! He had curly blond hair and an earring – most unsuitable! It ended in tears for him, and me eight hundred pounds in debt. That took a lot of explaining to mum!" The Doctor looked agog – he thought he was the only 'older man' his wife had ever loved! Well, being just under nine hundred years older than her, he thought he beat this 'Jimmy's' puny four years seniority, but still!

"So you've a fetish for the older man, then?"

"Oh, shut up! Besides, you're one to talk! Surely every woman you've been romantically involved with was at least a few centuries younger than you? Except -"

Rose stopped herself before she could put her foot in it. She found it hard to banter about the Doctor's romances; she knew he'd had a family, children, a wife back on Gallifrey, so she also knew that this must be a tender subject; he had lost them all and she felt that this was slightly heavy conversation for the morning. In addition, she didn't want to spoil or ruin the cocoon of bliss they had created for themselves by dragging up ghosts from the past. By 'younger women' Rose had simply meant that all of the Doctor's love interests had been technically so much younger than he – take Reinette, for example; that had started when she was a child! Fair enough, the Doctor was no paedophile and he hadn't loved her until she was much older, but even then she was hundreds of years younger than him. Clearly, Rose understood that he wasn't some sick sugar-daddy (for want of a better phrase), exchanging life experience instead of money and gifts. Yet, again Rose found that the subject of the Doctor's love life was even more of an open wound – his knack for regeneration had meant that he'd outlived most of the people he'd loved (take Reinette, for instance) and she knew it had hurt him a great deal. Nevertheless, it was moments like this that made her all the more glad that he was now part human and able to age.

"Well, I guess I'm just young at heart!" the Doctor joked, resolving the situation. They walked a little more in comfortable silence, before reaching the yew tree that they often came to on walks like these. It was an epic, twenty-foot monstrosity with knotted branches and a swollen trunk. There was a smooth, curving branch that hung a metre above the ground, which they found made a comfortable bench when in need of a rest on such a walk. The Doctor grabbed hold of Rose's waist and scooped her up so that she could sit on the branch (he enjoyed gentlemanly gestures such as this, being a fan of the 'white knight' approach to courtesy) and let his hands linger on her stomach and trail down to her belt before leaning in to kiss her. She more than happily obliged, parting her soft lips and they remained in this embrace for a few minutes. Her hands swept through his thick, brown hair and she succumbed to her usual habit of fisting his locks that she cared for so much. They paused in their clinch and she smiled, happy as always to be doing this. He took a step backwards and moved to her left, before leaping onto the branch beside her, swinging one leg over the other side so he was facing her. She turned to him, still grinning. After a few moments she looked up through the dark tangles of the tree to the cerulean heavens and sighed. There were flashes like this when she could easily become philosophical; when she stared into the firmament above, the imprint that her travels with the Doctor had left upon her became even more obvious and she could get lost in thought. Then a thought struck her, and she pondered upon how to vocalise it. A compression of her hand brought her back to Earth.

"You okay?"

"Yeah … I was just thinking …"

"Thinking what?" His tone was sympathetic and caring, not at all urgent or insistent.

"While I was away – here, I mean - was there anyone else?" Her brown eyes bored into his, burning for an answer.

"Never." He didn't even pause. When she had gone, the idea that he could ever love again, or at least love in the way he had her had never occurred to him. He had been haunted by her memory everywhere he had been; every situation, victory, friendship, triumph or disaster had brought back images of her, making it an impossibility for him to find someone new or even contemplate moving on. He'd had a brief spell when he thought he could have come to love Astrid, but in retrospect he realised that this was simply because she reminded him so much of Rose. Although she was an individual in herself and an admirable, brave and beautiful one at that, he'd felt an immediate pang of fondness and familiarity for her, for all that she represented and how much she reminded him of his now wife.

Rose was also lost in a semi melancholy. Inspite of the fact that she was thrilled she had remained in his heart, it filled her with sadness and heartbreak to think that he had wandered the universe in intimate isolation. She knew he'd in turn had Martha and Donna, but neither of them seemed to have given him the same type of affection as that which they themselves had shared and it broke her heart to think that he had been as lonely as she was. It broke her heart to think he was still like that.

"Do you think you'll ever find someone? You know, in the other universe?"

The Doctor paused, unable to think about how he could phrase this. Taking both of her hands in his, he looked her straight in the eye and said, "There's something I haven't told you." Seeing her face, he hastened, "No, it's nothing like that. It's just I have an inkling about what will happen in the future. Don't worry, it's a long, long time away from where you left me behind, but I know that there is someone who will come along. Our timelines accidentally crossed – I met her in a library and she knew me. She knew about what happened to Donna. I had no clue as to who she was; she knew me, apparently intimately, and she told me that one day she would come to mean a lot to me. She didn't recognise me immediately; I suspect it will happen long after I regenerate from how I am now. But, I suppose, I think we might be lovers in my future."

Rose let go of his hands and had to turn away. She knew that she couldn't expect the Doctor, the Time Lord version back in their old world, to go on pining after her forever; she knew he wouldn't be dwelling on her too much now that she was safe and happy with him as a human, but it still hurt to hear concrete evidence of his moving on. She covered her nose and mouth with the palms of her hands and stared blankly, straight ahead of her.

"Listen, Rose – it's not that simple. I – "

"I think I need to help out for tonight. Y'know, get ready and all." Her voice broke and she jumped down off the branch, not caring that her jeans were in danger of grass stains and that her pumps had already fallen prey to the danger of muddy puddles and walked towards the main steps leading up to the house.

"Rose, wait!" His tenor was demanding, attempting to make her stay. With this, she broke into a jog and then a sprint, until she disappeared behind the row of trees signifying the walkway to the main entrance, until she had slipped inside the great oak doors.

The Doctor stood next to the yew and cursed under his breath (another habit that he'd acquired since becoming human). He looked off into the corn field that lay just beyond the garden, wondering how on Earth he could make this right.

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Ooh, controversial. Only one or two more chapters - I think this works best if it isn't too long ... please tell me what you think!