Disclaimer: Sadly, not mine.

Author's Note: Dedicated to all of those with whom I debate the merits of Moffat.

If You Want My Future

Under normal circumstances, there isn't any way that Rose would leave the Doctor alone in such a state. He's obviously upset, more so than she's ever seen him in this body, and she wants nothing more than to give him a hug, sit him down, hold his hand, and make him tell her what happened.

But when Mickey tugs her away, demanding a tour of the TARDIS, she goes willingly. He seems to think they're being noble, letting the Doctor have some time alone to sort through whatever he's feeling, but she knows better. The last thing the Doctor needs is more time alone. No, her reason for leaving him alone is far more selfish than that. She wants the Doctor to talk to her, like he always does – but she doesn't want to share him with Mickey.

So it isn't until a bit later, when she loses Mickey's attention in a room full of video games (most of which hadn't yet been invented in their time), that she ventures back into the console room. The Doctor is fiddling with something, as usual, but he looks a bit less enthusiastic than he normally does.

She settles herself in the jump seat and nearly puts her feet up on the console, but decides this isn't the time for that.

"Tell me," she says simply.

He hasn't looked at her so far, but he doesn't seem surprised to hear her voice. He looks up from whatever he's doing, and even though he doesn't reply right away, there's a dull sadness in his eyes that makes something catch in her throat.

"Doctor?" she says softly, and just like that, it clicks. She wonders why she didn't figure it out sooner. "It was her, wasn't it. Madame de Pompadour. You went back for her one last time, and the time windows... it was too late, wasn't it." He looks down again, and she knows she's right. "And you can't cross your own timeline now, can you. You can't go back in the TARDIS to see her again."

"I know I can't," he snaps, eyes flashing, and then almost immediately draws back into himself. He runs a hand through his hair, heaving a long sigh. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to shout, least of all at you. It's just..."

He trails off, making a vague gesture with his left hand.

"I know," Rose says quickly, and reaches out for the Doctor's hand. He takes it, and there's warmth between them. "It's like with my dad, yeah? Same thing."

"It's not," the Doctor begins, and then pauses. "Actually, I suppose it is, isn't it."

Rose nods. "I'm in his timeline now, on the day he died, so I can never go back and see him again. He can't meet me before that day. I know that now. And it's a hard thing to know, because..." She pauses, feeling a question looming before her, and while it's a question that's been nagging at her ever since they found that bloody fireplace, it won't be a comfortable question to ask. So for now, she decides to ask it without asking. "Because I loved him," she says, "and now I'll never see him again."

The Doctor looks at her shrewdly, but doesn't say anything. She swallows and doesn't look away.

Finally, he slips his hand out of hers and says softly, "The universe is a cruel place sometimes."

He turns back to the console, halfheartedly checking monitors and tweaking dials, and she frowns at his profile. So much for subtext.

"Doctor," she says bravely. "Did you – do you love her?"

He looks up in surprise. Whether at the question or at her daring to ask it, she doesn't know, but either way she feels a little thrill of satisfaction. They've never spoken of this sort of thing before, after all. Sure, there've been vaguely innuendo-laden conversations about dancing, back when Jack was there to act as a buffer, but she's almost sure that neither of them has said "love" in any serious context before.

"I knew her for all of half an hour," he says with a wan smile. "That's hardly enough time to love somebody."

He begins to fiddle again, but she jumps up and stills his hands with hers. "Doctor, please. I'm not asking about timelines and logistics and things. I'm asking how you feel."

With some surprise, she realizes that one of her hands has come to rest on his chest. She stares at it, then sees him staring at it too. His eyes flick up to meet hers, and she feels a wall fall between them. She keeps her hand right where it is.

"I'm quite sure she loved me," he says in measured tones. Rose opens her mouth to say again that that's not what she meant, but the Doctor shushes her. "No, let me finish. She loved me, because I was some mysterious bloke who turned up every time she was in danger and, you know, not too bad too look at either, but really that's neither here nor there. Um. Point is, it's nice to be loved. Especially if it's someone you already admire. Imagine if... who's your favorite actor?"

Rose blinks, thrown by the question. But she plays along. "Well, I suppose... I think Orlando Bloom's a bit fit..."

The Doctor looks at her quizzically. "Really? Well, to each her own. What I'm saying is, what if we were to take the TARDIS back to when he was seven years old, and there were clockwork men who wanted to kill him. Or, you know, werewolves or ghosts—"

"Or aliens," Rose interjects, smiling a little. She sees where he's going with this, but lets him finish anyway.

"Right! Aliens! So what if you saved Orlando Bloom from aliens, then you turned up again when he was all grown and he looked at you like you were some impossible, wonderful thing, then snogged the living daylights out of you?"

"She did what?" says Rose, more than a little perturbed. She knows she shouldn't feel this possessive (not yet anyway, adds a sneaky little voice in her head), but she can't help it.

The Doctor has the grace to blush a little, but he persists with his theoretical story. "I'm serious, Rose. What would you do?"

She stands up a little straighter, sticks her chin out, and prepares to say something extremely noble and humble and... and then the Doctor raises an eyebrow at her, and she knows it's useless to pretend.

"Yeah, I'd snog him right back," she admits with a little chuckle. "So you're saying that Madame de Pompadour was your Orlando Bloom. Someone you fancy a bit, but don't know enough to love."

"Right in one, Rose Tyler. I mean, I've been around for hundreds of years, mind. I've got a lot of Orlando Blooms... which isn't nearly as dirty as it probably sounded."

"I think you're only allowed to have five," she says.

"What? Allowed? Who allows it? And why five?"

He's back in full-on inquisitive Doctor mode now, and she grins at him. "You know, the list of celebrities you're allowed to snog or... well. Let's say snog. If the opportunity presents itself. Both people make a list of five, and if either of you ends up snogging someone on the list, the other person can't complain."

"Ah," says the Doctor, nodding wisely. "I think I've seen that on telly. So is that where we are now, Rose Tyler? Making lists?"

She pauses, realizing that he knows exactly what such a list implies. There's a precipice hiding in this conversation, and it's looming closer. She takes a deep breath and jumps.

"Yes," she says firmly. "With little footnotes at the bottom saying that you are not allowed to go off and snog anyone on the list if I happen to be in mortal danger at the time."

She gives him a good, solid glare, and he winces visibly when he realizes what she's talking about. "Ah, the party," he murmurs. "I honestly thought the time window would get me back just after I'd left you. Still, I shouldn't have... that is, I'm sorry. I won't. I mean. Um. I won't do that again."

"You'd better not," she says. She means it, and he knows it, but they smile at each other and it's all right again.

She sits back in the jump seat, feeling far better than she did just a few minutes ago. She wonders if he'll go back to fiddling, but instead he just stares thoughtfully up at the column.

"Draji Matteson," he says suddenly.

"What?" says Rose.

"Draji Matteson," he repeats. "A painter from around the year six billion, give or take a few hundred. She was famous for her four-dimensional paintings of Old Earth, even though they were hardly realistic, and she had the most stunning ginger hair." He throws Rose a mischievous grin. "That's who's first on my list."

"Second," she reminds him sternly. "You already got your first."

He begins to protest, thinks better of it, and says, "Fair enough."

"Errol Flynn," says Rose. "Back when he was younger and did all those swordfight movies that my mum used to watch."

"Good choice," says the Doctor. "Helen of Troy."

"Mr. McDougal, from school," says Rose dreamily.

"Oi, didn't you say it had to be celebrities?"

"Not necessarily. David Bowie. And Captain Jack Harkness. Those are my five."

"Scary Spice," says the Doctor.

"Seriously?" says Rose, laughing.

"If you wanna be my lover," sings the Doctor, doing a little dance move that nearly makes Rose fall out of her seat.

"You gotta get with my friends," she manages, laughing, and then they sing the rest together.

By the time Mickey inevitably wanders into the room, they've finished that song and moved on to slamming it to the left and shaking it to the right, complete with swaying and thrusting of hips, which has Rose laughing so hard she can hardly sing. They both stop mid-shake as they see Mickey, who looks warily from Rose to the Doctor and back.

"Should I even ask?" says Mickey.

"Zig-a-zig-ahh," replies the Doctor.

"We are going to visit Orlando Bloom when he was a kid," says Rose.

Mickey looks completely confused, and a little suspicious. "Why, was there an alien invasion or something?"

Rose grins at the Doctor. "There better be," she says. "And this time, I get to do the saving."

The Doctor sighs dramatically and begins to set a course.

"What about number five?" Rose asks. "You've still got one more spot on that list."

"What list?" asks Mickey.

"You said it's doesn't necessarily have to be a celebrity, right?" muses the Doctor.

"I... suppose I did say that," says Rose, her stomach curling in apprehension.

He gives her a long look that ends with a small, secretive smile. "I think I'll just keep that last one open for now," he says, and his eyes linger on hers just a moment longer.

He takes them sailing into the vortex, and when Mickey asks why Rose is blushing, she absolutely refuses to answer.

If You Want My Future