Rose Tyler leaned on the little wooden railing, looking out over the pool at Lampwick Park. Beside her Jackie was rabbiting on. Motormouth mode.
She had stopped listening after the first few sentences. Jackie was well in her stride now.
Rose knew that once her mother built up a head of steam like this it was useless to try and get a word in.
The odd snatch of Jackie's argument slipped through. "What about Ricky?....Where do you think you'll end up?...Just WHO is he anyway?..." and so on and such forth.
Around them London was coming to terms with the events that had seen Downing Street reduced to rubble. The acting prime minister had broadcast to the nation, calming nerves. Everything would be rebuilt, she had said. Everything would be put back to normal.
But that didn't apply to Rose, of course. She had seen a glimpse of the past and future and she wanted more. She wanted to see it all. And, back there, in the unlikely surroundings of the Powell Estate was a man with a police box who wanted her to see it.
Nothing her mother could say would change that.
The Doctor said that the full overhaul of the Tardis systems would take him two or three hours, then they could be off.
Rose had packed a small rucksack and Jackie had pleaded with her to reconsider. Mickey had stamped his foot and gone to the local football match.
Together Rose and Jackie had gone for a walk over to Lampwick park. It was nothing special. A little bit of green in the urban sprawl. With a pool, a tiny brook with a wooden bridge and a few swings for the kids. It was somewhere away from the graffiti and the rubbish and the loitering youths.
Rose sighed. Her mother was just background noise now. Rose had made her mind up. Around them a few people were exercising their dogs, birds flew overhead and in the pool the ducks were laughing...
"Hey, nice ass!" The voice behind her was deep and gruff.
Rose rolled her eyes. No, it was NOT a compliment. NO she didn't find it amusing and NO she wasn't interested in some social inadequate and his pathetic attempt at a chat-up.
She turned to tell him so.
But all she saw was an elderly woman with a poodle on a lead and a broad chested Rottweiler, who was roaming free and, how shall we say, sniffing at the poodle's nether regions, the way that dogs do.
"Shoo, go away." said the old woman.
"OK, lady. Keep your hair on. I'm just saying hello," said the Rottweiler.
SAID THE ROTTWEILER !!!
"Yes, leave me alone." piped up the poodle. "I'm just not interested. You're not my type."
PIPED UP THE POODLE!!!
The Rottweiler stepped back. "Whatcha think you're looking at!" he said, staring at Rose. "Jeez, can't a guy get any privacy?"
With that he turned around and trotted off.
Rose turned to Jackie. "Mom. What was in that steak and ale pie we had last night?"
"Steak and ale," said Jackie, deadpan.
"You should listen to your mother, " said the duck at the edge of the pool. "I certainly wouldn't be letting any of MY children go gallivanting off before they are ready."
Mother duck flapped her wings and called out to the brood of chicks following her. "Come along, children. Time for tea." As they they swam off mother duck called over her shoulder, "Think on it my girl. It'll all end in tears..."
"What's the matter?" said Jackie, concerned that her daughter was suddenly open-mouthed and drooling.
"I'm on my final approach. Bombs away!"
The clipped voice came from almost directly overhead. Rose looked up as the pigeon arced over them.
Jackie screeched as a stinking white blob spattered onto her arm. "Christ! Another dry-cleaning bill! It's not in my hair as well is it?"
A second pigeon followed the first. "Direct hit, flight leader. Return to base!" The pair flapped off into the distance.
"Didn't you hear them?" gabbled Rose. "And the dogs?"
Jackie stopped searching her hair for guano and frowned at her daughter. "Heard what?"
Rose grabbed her mother's arm. "I'm sorry, mom. I've got to run."
And she ran back to the Powell Estate.
On the way she was sworn at by a grey squirrel and a tabby cat advised her to get her roots done.
Rose banged frantically on the door of the police box standing in the square.
The door opened and the Doctor popped out. He was holding a rubber mallet and his face was grimy. He seemed annoyed at the interruption.
"I've still got an hour or so to do, Rose. Try and be patient."
"Doctor, there's something up. I'm going mental"
"What do you mean going -"
"Listen to me, please. I can hear animals. Talking."
The Doctor barked a laugh.
"I'm not joking! It's frightening me!"
The crooked grin suddenly vanished from the Doctor's face. His mouth formed a silent 'oh!"
"Stay there!" he said, turning, and the door slammed in Rose's face.
As she waited, fretting, a dog loped up to her. A dog of indeterminate breed and origin.
This was Smidge.
Smidge was a hobo. Nobody on the estate seemed to know who owned him or where he lived. He drifted around the square, collarless and looking as if he needed a good meal. As a result he always seemed to do very well on the 'good meal' front.
He sat in front of Rose and looked up at her. "How's it hangin', Rose?" he asked.
"OK," replied Rose, automatically.
I'M TALKING TO A DOG !!!
"I've got a good feeling about you and old big ears in there," went on Smidge. "I haven't seen that much of you together, round the estate, but it's pretty clear that there's a spark."
"You reckon?" said the bemused girl.
MY GOD, A DOG AS AGONY AUNT?
"Yep," said the dog." You've never seen the way he looks at you behind your back? I've got an instinct for this kind of thing. Still, there's a way you can check it out for yourself if you want to be sure."
"How's that then?" asked Rose, intrigued despite herself.
"Simple. You just go and smell his...WOOF!"
"WOOF, WOOF" said Smidge.
The door of the police box opened noisily. Smidge, spooked, darted away.
"Friend of yours?" asked the Doctor.
"I dunno. I suppose."
"I'm sorry, Rose. That thing with the animals. My fault. I accidentally reset the Tardis linguistic circuits to lower sentience level during the service. Any lower and you would have been talking to the worms! I've recalibrated. You just have the alien translation matrix now."
The Doctor suddenly looked concerned. "You haven't changed your mind, have you?"
"Coming with me."
Rose smiled. "Wild horses couldn't keep me away. Or talk me out of it!"