Written for solarflar's smut prompt in my LJ.

04. Nine meets Rose before the episode 'Rose'. Romantic smut ensues. She has to forget.

Time is not a Straight Line

Chapter One : Of all the gin joints in all the world…

The Doctor was a little surprised when he opened the TARDIS doors and saw that he was back on Earth. Well, maybe back was the wrong word, since technically he hadn't actually left Earth, he'd just sort of moved a bit, apparently. He glanced up at the moon. Different time, slightly different location, but definitely still Earth.

He looked back at the console and a small frown of consideration formed on his brow. He should've landed on Rel 9, one of the twelve planets in the Bandon system, several billion light years away from… he checked his watch… London 2004.

He shook his head and reasoned that more often than not, TARDIS travel was a hit and miss affair. Sort of like playing 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey', but with time and space.

He hesitated in the doorway. He could go back inside, try again, maybe actually reach the Bandon system this time. Not that the Bandon system was all that fantastic, and if he was honest, Rel 9 had been a bit dull the last time he'd visited. So all in all, maybe the TARDIS had his best interests at heart. She usually did.

A cool breeze touched his face and he breathed in the London air; the Thames, buses, people, rain washed pavement, chip shops. His spider sense remained tingle free. No aliens. Well, not unless he counted himself.

He smiled a little. He had a soft spot for Earth, that was his trouble, and he was beginning to think that the TARDIS did too. Why else had she brought him here? Although he figured that he should probably still have a good long talk to her, remind her who was boss. Not just now though. Later. Maybe.

He told himself that he deserved a little down time, maybe even a celebratory drink. After all he'd saved the world; well… he'd had a little help. More than a little.

His smile faded slightly as he stepped out into the fresh night air. He turned and locked the TARDIS door behind him, before slipping his key into his pocket and setting off into the unknown. Seeing the lights of a bar up ahead, and reasoning that it was as good a place as any, he crossed the road and headed over.


Ten minutes later, sitting at the bar, nursing a drink that he didn't really want, listening to music that he didn't particularly like, and quite correctly guessing that he was the oldest person there, he considered going back to the TARDIS and trying again for Rel 9.

Perhaps the real problem was that within only a matter of minutes of walking into the bar, he'd been propositioned by a man, a woman and a… not quite sure. Which for a nine hundred year old he should really have felt flattered by, but for reasons he didn't want to think too deeply over, he just felt… irritated.

The music changed to something not quite so deafening as he took a swig of his drink, swallowed it down without really tasting it, and decided that he definitely was leaving, when he felt someone bump against him. He turned, his eyes dark, but seeing the woman stumble forward he moved quickly, catching her before she had a chance to fall. Even so, she grabbed at his shoulder as his hands set themselves at her waist.

He heard her take an unsteady breath, felt the movement of her breathing under his palms, and tried to ignore the sudden quickening of his hearts as he hid his astonishment away before she had a chance to see it in his face.

"You okay?"

She pushed a hand though her long blonde hair, brushing it back from her face, she looked up, meeting his eyes.

"Sorry," she apologised, straightening up, but not moving her hand from his shoulder. "It's these shoes."

He found his attention straying as his gaze followed the path down her legs to the vampish red killer heels she was wearing. He followed the same path up again, but much more slowly this time, for his sins. When he met her face again, she was smiling a little, clearly aware that he'd been looking a little too closely, but if her smile was anything to go by, she didn't seem to mind.

"Not much good for running," he said quietly.

She looked a little confused for a second, and then grinned. "Oh," she said then nodded. "The shoes, yeah. Not much good for walking either, if I'm honest." She ran her hand down from his shoulder to his elbow, fingers exploring muscle beneath leather. "Thanks for catching me."

"My pleasure." That was true enough.

She bit her bottom lip as she looked at him. "I… do you want to dance?"

He looked over his shoulder, then back to her. "I don't think that's a good idea." Also true, if regrettable.

"Oh." She let go of his arm. "Right." Her smile faded and nervous fingers pushed her hair behind her ear. She took a step back, turned, took a step away.

Immediately he felt a surge of unexplainable loss tear through him. In a second she would be gone, swallowed up by people and time. He might never see her again. Without thinking he got to his feet, reached out and caught her wrist. She stopped and turned around, questions forming in her soft brown eyes.

"I mean…" The feeling of her pulse, beating hummingbird fast against his fingers clouded his mind and he tried to clear his thoughts. "Not in those shoes."

She held his gaze, a slow smile curving her lips into a bright grin as she realised what he meant. "I can fix that," she told him, and reaching out to take hold of his arm so that she could balance, she stepped out of her shoes. She glanced up, her eyes full of laughter. "Better?"

He stared at her for a moment, realising that he couldn't take his eyes off her. "Much better," he said softly. He held out his hand to her, and she took it without question. Silent, he led her away from the bar and over to the dance floor and as if on cue the music changed, a slow and seductive melody filling the warm dark air around them.

He hesitated, understanding that the mood of the music changed things; it invited a different dance entirely. He looked at her, fully expecting to see reluctance in her eyes, but it wasn't there, and that surprised him.

She slipped her hand from his and snaked her arms up around his neck as she moved her body closer to his and rested her head at his shoulder.

He slid his hands to her hips, already certain that this was a mistake he couldn't stop. Unconsciously one of his hands strayed a little, stroking the small of her back in a tentative yet exploring caress.

Warmth radiated from her, and as if she were a fire burning in the chill of winter he found himself drawn closer to her. Even so, he still had the presence of mind to control his body's reaction to the way she moved against him. Although he had to admit it wasn't easy. Mathematical equations were his saviour, at least they were until she sighed softly, her breath warm against his cheek. She swayed gently to the music, her hip brushing his. He stopped breathing.

She lifted her head from his shoulder and looked up at him with wide eyes. His jaw tensed, but he didn't look away, not even when her fingernails gently grazed the back of his neck.

She smiled a little. "I'm Rose, by the way," she told him, then licked her lips and waited.

"Hello, Rose," he said and she felt her stomach flutter at the way he made her name sound.

"Hello." She still didn't know his name, and she was beginning to think that he had no intention of telling her. But the way he looked at her… she wasn't even sure that it mattered.

His hand cupped her face despite knowing that he shouldn't. His thumb stroked across the apple of her cheek, holding her attention. "How old are you, Rose?"

He watched her eyes, saw her consider her answer. "Twenty one," she said eventually.

He shook his head, trying to think. "It's 2004… that makes you… seventeen?"

"Almost eighteen," Rose corrected before she could stop herself. Caught out, she lowered her mascara heavy lashes and bit her lower lip. After a second she found bravery enough to look at him again. "Seven weeks," she said honestly. "I'll be eighteen in seven weeks."

His grey-blue eyes were suddenly darker, but they glittered with something un-named, something that drew her in and made her tremble.

His fingers pushed through her hair. "Old enough," he said, his voice possessively dark. And then he pulled her in close against him, his mouth claiming hers, and he was kissing her, kissing her like no one ever had before, or ever would again.