Five Times Rose Tyler Fell in Love (and one time she realized she already was)

1. All those years, just sitting there, imagining what wed do one day. We never saw this, did we?

Rose moved as silently as she could into the dark living room, carefully sidestepping the table and grabbing her jacket from the chair. She crept back across the floor and opened the front door quietly, carefully and then listened for some sign that she had disturbed her mother. Hearing no sounds from her mums room except for the droning television, she slipped outside and closed the door as silently as possible.

Once safely in the hallway, Rose pulled her coat on as she took the stairs two at a time until she reached the walkway and quickly made her way down the familiar path. She reached the old play ground, noticing how eerie and empty it seemed in the dark.

Mickey was already there, leaning against the slide. Rose felt a small smile creeping onto her lips as she made out his silhouette against the harsh streetlight. He turned when he heard her approaching and grinned. Hey, babe, he murmured as he leaned down and kissed her. I didnt get you in trouble, did I?

Rose shook her head. No, I just snuck out.

He sighed. I still dont see why your mum doesnt like me. Shes known me since I was a kid.

He had a point, but her mum wasnt exactly known for being reasonable. I suppose she thinks youre too old for me, Rose answered with a shrug. His face grew serious so Rose took his hand to keep him from actually considering her mums reservations. But, she started, leaning closer, I believe the specific word she used to describe you was trouble.

Mickey chuckled as he wrapped an arm around her waist and Rose felt shivers travel up her spine. Oh, so Im the bad boy, huh? Dangerous? He sounded pleased with himself.

Rose laughed outright. She clearly doesnt know you like I do. They walked together out of the park and started to make their way down the street. So, tonight? she asked, looking over at him.

He shrugged. Up to you. I thought maybe the pub since Mitchell is working tonight and one of us is so very young.

Rose hesitated just long enough that she knew she couldnt play it off as a natural pause. Uh, probably not a good idea.

He looked puzzled. Why not?

Rose winced slightly, but decided the mostly truthful answer was best. If Mitchell is working, James will be there.

She listened carefully to Mickeys voice for some hint of jealousy or irritation, but it had neither. I know hes your first ex-boyfriend, but, trust me, you cant avoid him forever. Itll only be awkward for a few minutes. He started to pull her toward the pub, but she couldnt go.

She stopped dead and he looked back at her questioningly. James will be in there, she repeated, her voice growing softer, with Shireen. She stared down at her feet, unable to watch as Mickey worked out what she was telling him.

But Shireens your best friend? he asked, sounding confused. Rose hadnt told him. He was the only person in her life who didnt know the whole lurid tale and she didnt want to ruin that, didnt want to destroy the one escape she had.

Rose stared at the ground, aware that his hand had tightened around hers. She was. Her voice was just a whisper now. She finally met his gaze and they looked at each other intently for a moment. A cold breeze whipped through the street and caused them to shiver. Rose found herself wishing that she could be inside the warm pub, not trapped on the cold street, afraid of the whispers and stares that would meet her inside.

Alright, Mickey said finally, like he had just made a decision. Lets go. And with just a little strength, he steered her down the street and toward the pub.

No, Mickey! she protested as he continued walking. I really dont want you to start a fight or make a scene. Its not worth it!

Oh, dont worry, Im not going to do anything, he conceded as he finally stopped walking in response to her insistent pulls. You are.

What what do you mean? she asked tentatively as he turned to face her.

It is worth it, he said firmly. Those two should be the ones ashamed to show their faces, not you. He took both her hands in his. But, thats not the point.

Rose stared at her boyfriend. Whats the point?

Mickey smiled. The point is, when I was seven, you punched me in the stomach because I called you a baby.

Rose giggled despite herself. And you deserved it, she commented, enjoying the fond memory.

He looked indigent. You were four! You were a baby. But, quite suddenly his voice became serious again. What Im trying to say is: Rose Tyler doesnt take shit from anyone.

It was as if he had pulled back a curtain and showed her her life for the last few weeks. How she had shut herself in her room for days, crying over old photos. The way that she avoided being around the other kids from school, not wanting to bare their looks or hear their whispers. The way she found out, seeing them kissing in that stupid coffee house downtown and, most painfully, the way she just walked away.

She felt like her body was on fire even standing out on the freezing street. Her heart was pounding and her hands started shaking with rage that she didnt realize she had. Suddenly, she felt an indescribable urge to do something. Mickey was smiling at her as if he could read her mind and Rose smiled back. Then, with his hand in hers, she marched right into the pub.

It was hard to decide what the best part of the night was Shireens face when she saw Rose making her way to their table or James scream when Rose poured his pint of beer over his and Shireens heads. Maybe it was the way Mickey cheered when Rose returned to the bar or how he braggingly told anyone who would listen that his girlfriend was a champion or watching James and Shireen leave the pub in a huff.

The best part was probably how Mickey walked her home that night, both giggling and a little tipsy, but Rose felt a sense of euphoria and freedom that had nothing to do with the alcohol. She kissed him goodnight deeper than shed ever kissed him before.

And, as she lay in bed that night, Rose Tyler looked up at the stars, the endless potential of the open sky. Sixteen years old, her whole life ahead of her, she thought of Mickey Smith and realized that she couldnt stop smiling.

2. I want you safe, my doctor.

You sure you dont want any? she asks as she turns away from the chip stand, but the doctor is already a few steps away from her, making a beeline for an empty bench. She follows without thinking about it.

Rose Tyler, he says as soon as she sits down. And she likes the way he says it, like he knows a delightful secret, but cant quite decide if hes going to tell her or not.

She eats a chip and is comforted as the familiar flavor fills her mouth, salt and vinegar and deep-fried deliciousness. Hes smiling again as his right leg jiggles. So, where do you want to go next? His eyes are alight with excitement. It suddenly seems impossible that this cheerful man beside her is the same one who, just moments before, had confessed to her that he was the last of his kind.

His cheerfulness seems to be contagious. Rose cant help but feel satisfied, excited and even a little giddy. She looks out at the busy street bustling with people, billions of people, here, alive, on earth. Earth that, just moments ago, had been blown apart, fragments of rock floating in space. It seems impossible, but shes starting to realize that nothings impossible with the doctor.

I dont know, she replies, her mind still running at a hundred miles a minute, barely able to remember his question. How about the New Roman Empire?

He grins. I was joking about that, he admits simply as he watches a boy pass them on a skateboard.

Rose looks at him gloatingly. I knew you were just trying to be impressive, she declares triumphantly as she pops another chip into her mouth.

He answers automatically, I am impressive. Hes still looking out at the crowded street. I just took you to the year five billion.

Rose cant help but bait him just a little. And you almost got us killed, she challenges quickly, hoping hell stop looking at the crowd and look at her. Shes so caught up that she doesnt take the time to realize that shes falling for him too quickly, losing control for the first time in her life.

You loved it, he replies shortly with a wave of his hand. Near-death situations are clearly old-news to him.

I was terrified, she argues simply. And she was - trapped on that deck, sweating as the sun poured in the window, coming closer, threatening to burn her to a crisp at any moment. She had been so scared, cursing her split-second decision to leave with an alien in a time machine, wishing she had shown some caution for once in her life, realizing that she was going to die alone. She looks at the man next to her, even though he still isnt looking at her, and knows she should run as far away from him as possible. Somehow she cant seem to make herself move.

He shrugs easily, unfazed by her declaration. And youve never felt more alive.

Hes right.

She almost says something else, but hes looking at her now and she forgets what it was.

So, he starts after a moment of silence, impressed?

Rose looks back at him, feeling her resolve crumble under his gaze. Sorta, she concedes as he reaches out to take some more of her chips. Oi, you! she exclaims, slapping his hand playfully. I asked you if you wanted me to buy you some.

He retracts his hand as he mutters, Bossy, arent we?

And it hits her suddenly, powerfully, wonderfully that he could be anywhere in the universe and he chose to sit on a bench and steal her chips. Sitting with her, like she was something special.

She nudges him with her shoulder. We could go see the old Roman Empire? she suggests idly, just because she likes hearing his responses. I bet you look fantastic in a toga.

He laughs loudly and she loves how it sounds, full and happy He doesnt do it enough. Sorry, I dont do costumes.

She giggles. Yeah, well, well see about that. She eats another chip, opening her mind to all the possibilities time travel allows. Think of all the people we could meet, she says so suddenly she surprises herself. Could we meet Ceasar? she asks quickly,

The doctor shakes his head. Not worth it hes such a disappointment in person, he responds with a wave of his hand. Hes so irritatingly pass about meeting Julius Caesar she wonders if shell ever be like that, if shell ever get used to living like this.

Either way, she cant seem to stop herself from asking more questions, loving the way the sound of his voice as he answered her in that arrogant, self assured way. What about Cleopatra? she asks idly. I bet shes amazing.

The doctor nods. Yeah, she is - youd like her.

Rose barely hears his answer. Hes sitting closer to her now, carefully picking out the best chips for himself. His breath on her neck causes tingles to go up her spine and, just like that, its just the two of them. They were falling through space, while the rest of the world walked past them, as if this were a normal day, as if the earth wasnt blown up less than an hour ago.

She could feel it - the turn of the earth, the spinning ground beneath their feet, the sudden urge to get up and run, just to be sure that she didnt miss anything.

Rose Tyler, he says again. She thinks maybe she knows his secret.

3. Shall we try to get along without the psychic paper?

Jack was just one person, but he seemed to take up a lot of space. Ever since he had come aboard, the TARDIS, though vast and open, had felt small and crowded.

In her time aboard, Rose had gotten used to spending hours by herself on the ship. From time to time, the doctor would disappear deep into the back rooms. She had learned to sense when these times were coming, when he needed to be on his own.

Now, even when the doctor was nowhere to be seen, Jack was everywhere. Sitting in the main room, with his feet propped up on the console. Browsing the books in the library while humming a slightly familiar tune. Down in the wardrobe, trying on ridiculous outfits and laughing uproariously at his own reflection. And, most recently, in the kitchen, making such a clatter that Rose thought she ought to look in to make sure he hadnt broken anything important.

Nothing appeared to be damaged, but he was rifling through a drawer of various utensils as something sizzled on the stove. Youre right on time! he exclaimed as he caught sight of her standing in the doorway.

Rose couldnt help but raise an eyebrow at the apron he was wearing. You cook? she asked, her voice bordering on amused.

I told you, sweetheart, he started with the grin that was quickly becoming familiar, Im the perfect man. He finally pulled a spatula out of the drawer.

The table was set for two, so Rose slid into her usual seat as Jack dropped a strange green ball onto the plate in front of her. What is it? she asked tentatively.

A favorite of the 43rd century, or as close as I could get to it with the what I could find in here. He was already shoveling bites into his mouth. You two dont use this place often, do you?

Well, I dont cook at all and the doctor prefers finding some planet with fine delicacy. Rose slowly took a bite of the weird mixture and giggled as soon as the flavor swept over her. Its chocolate! she exclaimed, surprised.

You think they dont have chocolate in the 43th century? Jack responded with a knowing smirk. Rose quickly contained her look of surprised delight. The last thing she needed was to be travelling with two arrogant show-offs. And, where is the doctor anyway? Jack asked, looking over her shoulder and into the hallway, as if expecting him to turn up at the mention of his name. I couldnt find him anywhere.

Rose cant help but smirk. Oh, were you cooking for him? A nice little romantic dessert for two?

Jack laughed easily. Something along those lines. He shrugged and took another bite. I plan to seduce him with my cooking.

She snorted involuntarily. Good luck with that. Her voice was teasing, but she heard the slightest tone of hopelessness in her light remark.

He must have heard it to. His eyes were suddenly filled with understanding and pity, as though he was seeing her for the first time. How long have you been with him?

It took her several long seconds to realize that she can no longer even offer up a rough estimate of her time in the TARDIS. Silly measurements like days and weeks had little meaning anymore. She gave the first answer that comes to mind. Long enough.

The sharp meaning of her own words hit her like a blow. Long enough to fall for the doctor. Long enough to realize he would never want her the same way. Long enough to alienate everyone she knew. Long enough to realize she could never go back to ordinary life.

But there was something comforting in Jacks gaze. Rose was suddenly, unexplainably grateful that there was someone in her life who understood her relationship with the doctor he wasnt her boyfriend. Someone who, unlike her mum and Mickey, understood how difficult it was to live with a guilt-ridden time lord and how impossible it was to leave. And someone who, unlike the doctor, could look at her without the slightest hint of regret.

She stood up and slowly made her way around the table, acutely aware that Jacks eyes were following her. She stopped when she was standing right beside him. He must have known what she was about to do because he looked up at her from his seat and met her eyes.

And, before he could make some stupid, suggestive comment, she kissed him.

He was every bit as good at kissing as she thought he would be. The kiss ended up being much longer and deeper than Rose had initially intended. When she finally did break away, they were both breathing heavily. Jack looked at her half surprised, half amused.

She silently returned to her seat on the other side of the table and he caught her eye. She tried not to smile.

And what was that for? he asked casually.

Rose didnt want to ruin the moment with a serious answer. Because you smell good, she said with a shrug.

He leaned back in his seat and took another bite of his chocolate crisp. Fifty-first century pheromones, no one can resist.

Their laughter filled the large kitchen and, even though nothing had changed, Rose didnt feel alone.

4. And even if he was, how could I leave him? All on his own, all the way down there? No, Im gonna stay.

For two days, Rose felt like she was walking on air. She got so caught up in saving the world and Christmas and the snow and the doctor being healthy, that she hadnt stopped to think, hadnt wanted to.

But Christmas ended in that unfortunate way that holidays do, bringing with it a creeping sense of reality. Two days after the world didnt end, she sat on the grate floor of the TARDIS, picking at a lose thread on her jeans and pretending to listen to the doctor as he bustled about repairing the damage that had been caused by their crash landing four days ago. Being back in this room had caused old memories to press in around her, giving the unpleasant sensation of being smothered.

That, there, was where she held onto the console for the first time as her doctor asked her where she wanted to go. That was where he was standing when he looked up and told her she was beautiful (for a human). That was where they sat as he held her while she sobbed over her fathers death. This was the room where her doctor had taken her hand and showed her that he could dance. That was the spot where he died.

And, then, this new man had taken his place He seemed so right, three days ago, high atop a ship on Christmas day, but he was just wrong now. The more she thought about it, the more wrong he became.

Her doctor didnt smile like that, open and carefree. Nor did he smile that often; it was reserved and special, saved only for the most exciting moments. Her doctor would never have agreed to come to a domestic Christmas dinner and would have complained for hours over Rose asking to hang around home for a few days. Her doctor wasnt that thin and didnt have floppy hair. Her doctor sounded like he was from the north and said fantastic and would stubbornly resonate concrete for hours.

Rose? The voice of the new doctor dragged her away from her thoughts. Rose, are you alright?

She forced herself to look away from her hands and to meet the unfamiliar eyes staring at her. Fine, she said unconvincingly.

I asked where you wanted to go first, when we leave tomorrow, he added, speaking softer now, like he knew something was wrong.

I Rose trailed off, unable to answer the question. For the first time since they held hands in the snow, she found herself thinking that she didnt want to go with him at all. Suddenly, overcome by the urge to go home and hide in her bed, she realized that the TARDIS now seemed like a dark and unfamiliar place. Every time she looked at the new doctor, her heart dropped and a lump formed in her throat. How could she face that every day?

The new man was looking at her intently, eyes rapt with concern and understanding the wrong eyes. I am him, Rose, he said cautiously, as though he was afraid she was about to bolt she kind of was.

Youre different, she said slowly.

I am, he agreed as he dropped down to sit next to her. Im rude and not ginger. He grinned hopefully as if expecting her to smile back.

Thats not what I meant. She knew that his smile had faltered, so she added, And you were plenty rude before.

He chuckled a little, but it was half-hearted. Yeah, well, I was angry, wasnt I? he asked simply, leaning back on his hands. Angry and lonely and so tired. I looked at the universe, just bursting with life and I couldnt stand it, not when everything I loved was gone.

Rose frowned. But, doctor, you werent all that. You werent that angry, she said, clinging to the memory of her doctor who was kind and good and would risk his own life to save anyone.

Yes, but thats because of you, isnt it? he declared like it was the most obvious thing.

Uh, is it? Rose asked, feeling clueless, but curious exactly the way she always felt around her doctor, like she was discovering a secret.

Of course! he exclaimed, louder than was necessary, just the way her doctor always did. All that love and compassion, all that humanity you reminded me why I needed to keep going, that there are still things worth fighting for.

She stared carefully at the new face. His eyes and chin and small ears and crazy hair and it was okay. Suddenly, he was alright. He was different from the man she loved, but she realized as he smiled at her, she could love this man too.

After a moment of silence, reveling in her realization, she asked, How many different, uh, bodies have you had?

He paused for several moments, as though it was taking a while to remember. This is the tenth.

Rose cocked an eyebrow. Youve had ten bodies? she asked incredulously.

Yeah, the doctor said as he nodded. You want to see them?

Then, he was her crazed and excited doctor again. His hand found hers and she followed him hurriedly into the library. Time flew, as it usually did inside the TARDIS, as he pulled out several thick photo albums. He leafed through them as he pointed out various men, often assigning them a number and a strange characteristic like this one was obsessed with cricket and I used to hand out jelly babies and that one was such a git.

She giggled and teased him over all of his fashion choices the long scarf, the green suit, the bow tie. He insisted that, being a time traveler, he couldnt exactly be expected to stay in fashion.

Rose studied each of the men in the pictures. No matter how closely she studied the photographed faces, she couldnt find a single common physical characteristic. Some of them were short and others were tall; some were smiling and others were somber. Every face had a different nose, different ears, different eyes. But, Rose realized as the doctor pointed to a picture of a brown-haired man who looked like he came straight from a Beetles concert, all of them were her doctor. He had lived so many lives, had countless adventures, saved hundreds of worlds and now she was a part of that life. It was brilliant.

Rose? Once again, the doctors voice pulled her away from her thoughts, but this time she smiled at him when their eyes met. Where do you want to go tomorrow?

Rose shrugged and gave the first answer that came to mind. Far away, she answered as the familiar urge to run overcame her.

5. The stars are going out

Owens hands were always cold.

She noticed the first time they met. She was in Torchwoods medical bay again. The routine investigation became a little more interesting than she anticipated. Her team got out alright, but she was a little scratched up.

After an hour, the door to her room finally opened. Agent Tyler? he asked, his eyes glued to a clipboard in his hands.

Yeah, thats me, she replied as she attempted to sit up straighter but found it difficult since her arm was elevated. But, uh, call me Rose.

He didnt give any indication of having heard her, just continued flipping though his papers as he closed the door. Right, Im Dr. Harper and it says here you cut your arm; it needs stitches?

Yeah, Rose confirmed as she glanced over at her right arm, a large gash starting at her shoulder and drawing halfway to her elbow. Its not too bad though, pretty minor. These phrases were second-nature now. Each of her numerous trips to the medical bay went with frantic calls from her mum and dad.

He sighed and shook his head. And now theyve got me stitching up little girls whenever they fall down, he muttered under his breath as he checked something on the chart.

Excuse me? Rose asked, not sure she heard him correctly and trying to decide whether or not to be insulted.

Do us a favor, love, he replied as he dropped the clipboard with a clang onto her bedside table and pulled a stool up to her bed. Next time you go running after aliens, try to get a really serious injury. You know, something a little less boring.

Rose felt a smile tugging at the corners of her lips. Itll be life-threatening, I promise.

He paused, like he was surprised with her response. Rose thought for a second he would smile too, but he just went about with his work. His cold, meticulous hands brushing over her skin as he stitched her arm up she couldnt help but shiver.

The second time she noticed they were closer to the stars.

She and Owen spent most nights drinking beer on his flats balcony, looking at the lights below. Angry and bitter curses fell from their lips as they grew light-headed from the alcohol and breathed in the cool night air. When it was just the two of them, it was like they were free, allowed to be as miserable and hopeless as they wanted. Responsible to no one, they reveled in falling apart.

She kissed him up on that balcony. While the rest of the world lived their lives below, Owen pulled her deeper, fingers desperately clinging to her as though hed never held something so warm. That desperation, that need coursed through her veins as she clawed at his clothes, overcome by the desire just to be close to someone. Everywhere his cold hands moved, Rose trembled and pushed into his touch, like she had never in her life been touched enough.

Mickey didnt think it was healthy. Dating another rude doctor, eh? he asked casually over lunch the next day.

Rose couldnt meet his eyes. He didnt understand. He and her mum were happy in this hellish universe. They belonged here the same way Rose had always belonged in the TARDIS, the same way she was starting to belong with Owen.

The third time she noticed, she was in Torchwoods medical bay again.

Mickey had been shot on assignment and was wheeled into emergency surgery. Rose waited in the hallway, hunched over on a bench, her face in her hands. Dont die, dont die, dont die. Her face grew warm as tears slid down her cheeks and she couldnt keep the image of Mickeys bloodied body out of her head. Dont die, dont die

There were approaching footsteps and, then, a cold hand resting on her shoulder. I came as soon as I heard, Owen said softly as he sat down next to her. Rose turned into him, hiding her face in his shoulder and sobbing quietly.

Four months later, she decided she couldnt avoid it any longer. With Owens hand in hers, they walked up the path to her parents house. She idly noticed that his hand was uncharacteristically warm and sweaty he was nervous.

Her dad was perfectly nice, but Jackie was rude enough for the two of them. Rose wasnt exactly surprised. Her mother never liked her boyfriends and Owen wasnt exactly likable. He had no idea how to make small talk and couldnt seem to stop the occasional sarcastic comment from slipping out. Her mum, quite pointedly, neglected to offer him a drink and repeatedly sent him upstairs to quell the crying baby.

After dinner, Rose slipped upstairs to check on Owen. Her mum sent him up twenty minutes ago and he still hadnt returned. As she approached her little brothers room, she heard Owens voice drifting into the hallway. She peaked into the room and watched as her rude, sarcastic boyfriend read a story to her two-year-old brother.

He seemed to sense her there and looked up to meet her eyes. Shut up, he mumbled softly before she could say anything. It was the only thing that kept him quiet. Little Tony was smiling smugly from under his covers.

Rose quickly made her way across the room and sat down on Tonys bed. Go on, then, she prodded Owen as she pulled her little brother onto her lap and Tony laid his head against her comfortably. They listened as Owen read Tonys favorite book and Rose laughed silently as her brother insisted Owen read it again and again.

Two months later, she got the call.

She arrived at the hospital twenty minutes later, but it was already too late. She felt numb as the doctors explained that there was nothing they could have done, that the damage was too extensive. Finally they let her go in to see the body. She approached him quietly and brushed her fingers over his pale face.

Suddenly, with a deep breath and a chocked sob, she realized she was falling, too fast and too hard. Her fingers shook as they brushed through his hair and words started to slip from her lips with no control. She begged and pleaded, unsure who she was talking to. She was full of something dark and cold desperation and despair and, she realized suddenly, love. Feeling as though something deep inside her had shattered, she brushed her hand over his pale face and tears streamed freely down her cheeks as she sobbed. She was so full of love it seemed impossible that she hadnt noticed, that she hadnt told him.

As if in slow motion, she reached out and clutched Owens hand - it was as cold as ice.

6. Yeah, and how was the sentence going to end?

The kiss had been very nice, if a little too short, but Rose still wasnt sure. She didnt quite believe it and she felt ashamed that she was so doubtful.

His hand was still in hers, though he was talking with Jackie. Rose couldnt seem to find the energy to pay attention to what they were discussing while they walked down the beach, let alone participate, but she grateful that he wasnt looking at her.

She felt like her head was spinning after the events of the last few days. Hell, shed barely slept for two months, since the first stars went out. But her heart was racing the way that it used to when life with the doctor got too hectic and then calmed all at once.

Had it really only been a few hours ago that she had found her doctor? Did he really run toward her, hold her in his arms and tell her she was brilliant? It had all happened so quickly that it didnt seem possible now.

She turned her head again to look over his shoulder, desperately fooling herself into thinking shed see the TARDIS reappearing on the beach. With a steady sigh she turned back and noticed, out of the corner of her eye, that he was watching her now, that he had seen her look.

And the guilt boiled up again as she tried to smile at him but couldnt quite manage it.

This must be the universes idea of a cruel joke, she thought idly as she kicked the sand. To give her everything she wanted, but find a way to make it wrong. Still, she knew she shouldnt complain she had made her choice.

There were two men standing before her and one of them had whispered in her ear the words shed once give anything to hear - I love you, I love you, I love you. Shed made her choice right then - instinctively, impulsively, without thinking any of it through, just like she always did. Shed kissed this new doctor the way she always wished she could.

But it was wrong it was so wrong. Hes wasnt her doctor, couldnt be. Her doctor had disappeared, not even stopping to say goodbye, even as she ran back to him. He was gone forever. And she hated him a little for acting like he had given her some kind of gift, as if she could ever be happy knowing he wasnt.

Suddenly, her mums phone began to ring, pulling Rose away from her deep thoughts. Jackie wandered away to talk to Pete. This left Rose alone with the strange doctor, still holding hands, looking out into the water.

After a moment of silence, he spoke, Sand in my shoes.

Rose looked over at him, feeling slightly bemused. Whats that?

Sand in my shoes, he repeated before dropping her hand and sitting with a clump down on the sand. You cant get within five miles of a beach without getting sand everywhere. Rose sat down next to him and tried not to laugh as he took off his shoes and dumped sand out of them. Natural balance relates to this metaphysical rule Well, not really a rule, more of a theory. Well, not so much a theory as a musing of this physicist Darell Connerk, brilliant man, excellent tennis player. Anyway, he said that everything in the universe is balanced, light and dark, soft and hard, even good things and bad things. Earths lovely beaches are always covered in sand the universes own way of balancing the equation.

Rose listened to this whole speech, feeling strangely detached from her body, like she was back at a different time and place. Its not so bad, she replied as she absently dragged her fingers through the sand. Its warm and soft. She went about taking off her shoes too, just looking for something to keep her busy.

Oh, please, this is not soft, he countered as he held up a handful of sand and it slipped through his fingers. Its scratchy. Most planets dont have sand. You remember that time we visited Jigrolston? We went to the ocean, but the ground was different it was like-

Like walking on a trampoline, Rose interrupted, remembering the strange planet with a purple sky and orange water. I remember. She had fallen over three or four times on that stupid ground, while the doctor pranced around gloatingly. She smiled at the doctor beside her, feeling reassured by his babbling and daring to believe for the first time.

So of all the planets in the universe, he started with a small frown, I end up on the one that has sand.

And just as quickly as she had believed, Roses spirits fell. The man beside her was her brilliant, restless doctor, the one who couldnt stop running. And here he was, stuck on earth for the rest of his life. She sighed as she looked away from him, unable to stand the sight of him sitting on the ground with nowhere to go. Youre trapped here, she said quietly.

He was quiet for a moment. I suppose, he answered finally. But do you want to know a secret?

Rose always did.

He leaned closer and she looked up to meet his eyes. Trapped here with you, he whispered, its not so bad.

Yeah? she asked tentatively.

The doctor smiled. Yes.

Then, Rose kissed him. Because she could. Shed spent months years- imagining kissing these lips, wishing she had the nerve, and now she could. Her doctor was sitting beside her and didnt offer up one protest to her kiss, just moved against her easily, drawing her in. All their history, all that laughter, all that love was still there, had always been there.

They pull apart naturally. Besides we may not be trapped here forever, he said with a little smirk. Give me some time and I could build you a spaceship.

Rose laughed light and easy. Oh, how romantic, she teased as she wiggled her toes in the sand.

This time it was him that kissed her.

Oi, you two! her mum yelled sharply. therell be plenty of time for that when were not stranded in Norway. Lets go!

Rose rolled her eyes and the doctor grinned in response. They both stood and picked up their shoes, absently brushing the sand from their clothes.

So, now what? the doctor asked, with an easy, trusting smile. A whole new world to see, a new life to live, how are we going to do this?

His question was so big, too big to ever be answered properly. Rose looked over at her doctor, still amazed that he was really standing next to her. As a gust of wind hit her from behind and whipped her hair into her face, she realized that she had no idea what their life was going to be like, no idea what tomorrow would bring exactly how she was supposed to feel when she was with the doctor.

She wanted to laugh, but settled for a wide smile as she took his hand reveling in how perfectly it fit in hers. We run, she answered.

And they did.