A/N: One-shot. Set after Girl in the Fireplace. What happened next. Really. This IS what happened. I promise. Enjoy xxx

Oh, oh, oh...Ignore this and go straight for the story if you want, BUT if you feel like you're in a generous, 'let's listen to Laura ramble' kind of mood (which I highly doubt you are. But you know. Maybe I have some loyal fans... ;P LOL) Basically... I have a quick question (well. Quite a long question, actually. One that doesn't really relate to this fic, just to my fics in general. Sorry :S)

Here we go: Does anyone reckon there was a specific episode in which Rose and Mickey are definitely 'off?'

'Cos I know in Boomtown, he's seeing someone else. And Rose says that he's better off without her. And then, in Xmas Invasion, he says something like 'You really love him, don't you?' so he obviously knows that she's in love with the Doctor. And then, New Earth and Tooth and Claw = lots and lots of ten/rose flirty moments, which is kinda stopped by School Reunion...then there's that episode (you know, the one that this fic is actually based around. *shivers nervously*) ...and so Mickey's travelling with them through that and then the cybermen ones, but he's obviously not her boyfriend there, so...I don't know. When did they officially break up?

(a.k.a: when is it MORALLY OK for the Doctor and Rose to 'get it on?' )

Because this is troubling me: I disliked the way Amy was treating Rory. But then I suddenly thought: Oh god, Rose left Mickey (though she wasn't exactly jumping the Doctor [well, maybe she was...I dunno] so that's not so bad. Is it? But then, she was in love with him, so maybe that's worse...I don't know. I'm just getting confused. Cos I feel like I'm a hypocrite if I say that it's awful that Amy basically wanted to cheat on Rory, and then I let Rose blatantly want (if not, HAVE) the Doctor, even though she's supposed to have a boyfriend, in all my fics.

Oh god. I probably sound really sad, don't I? I'm probably over-thinking this. Sorry :S I just don't want Rose to look bad. Lol :D HELP ME. I think I need some sleep. It seems like I'm living/breathing Rose/Ten right now. But I do miss them so.

Soz for my ramble-ness. Again. But you know I love to hear your responses.

Love ya x


Loving a Stranger


He folds the letter and puts it into his jacket pocket. He knows Rose is watching him, standing, hidden in the shadows, over by the entrance to the console room. He looks up, and gives her a soft smile.

Rose flinches slightly, feeling guilty for watching him when she had actually vowed to herself that she'd stay away and give him some privacy. But she can't stand to know he's upset and not do anything. Maybe he needs her. Maybe he doesn't. But he's got her anyway.

She steps into the light.

"You're not alright," she murmurs softly. And as quick as anything, she's finding herself right in front of him, her arms wrapped around his tall frame. He hugs her back, tightly, fiercely, as if frightened she will disappear; clinging on to her comfort desperately, wishing he had the courage to tell her how he really feels.

He breathes into her ear, "I am now." His voice seems to catch on the word 'now,' and neither of them knows what to make of it, so they both ignore it happened.

Instead, she scoffs. "Yeah, right."

He clears his throat. "I am. A Rose-hug can make all the difference, you know. Puts things into perspective," he replies honestly.

"Yeah?" she mumbles into his chest disbelievingly. "Like what?"

"Oh...just....things," he says, shifting her head to look at her properly.

She bites her lip to stop herself asking that questi –

"Did you love her?" she asks.

Ah. The biting the lip thing didn't work. And there it is. The question. The words hanging around the air between them uncomfortably. She thinks her heart might break if he confirms her suspicions, but she has to ask him, because he's her best friend, and she hates to see him so upset. And as his friend, she knows she has to let him grieve, and she'll be there, to comfort him, even though she knows that he –

"No," he replies firmly.

She scoffs again. "Doctor, it's alright, you know. You're allowed to love someone. Just because you're the last of the Time Lords doesn't mean you're not allowed to fall in love."

"I know that now. But I didn't love her," he states. How could he? Not when he loves -

"I think you did," she states just as confidently. Though inside, she feels like maybe if she just accepts his lies...maybe she can ignore it all happened, and they can go back to being the Doctor and Rose, flying through time and space, having fun and flirting and being fantastic. Oh. With Mickey, of course. Yeah. But she knows he's lying, so she can't let it drop.

He's not lying. But she doesn't know that.

"I knew her for a day. Not even that. That's hardly enough time to fall in love with someone," he tells her. His hand is gripping her elbow lightly, and she tries to ignore his touch, and the way her arm is tingling because of it. Like she always does.

"She knew you her whole life. She loved you," she says matter-of-factly.

"Yes. Maybe. Probably. But she didn't know me. Not really. I was just the strange fireplace man," he pauses, considering. "Strange, handsome Fireplace Man," he adds, and he winks at the woman in front of him.

She promptly ignores that too.

"She looked into your mind. She was amazing. She could read your mind and see things that no one else has seen or knows about you. She connected with you."

In ways I can't, she thinks sadly.

"Weeelll. I suppose she did, yeah. And that...I've only just realised – that is why I went to save her, I suppose. She saw things...terrible things...that should have made her hate me. But she didn't. I felt...free, I guess. But I'm surprised she didn't see..." he trails off.

"What, Doctor?"

He averts his eyes from hers for a second, before allowing them to capture hers again. "Oh. Nothing. Other...stuff." Like you; like my feelings for you, he thinks to himself.

To his surprise, she accepts this as a sufficient answer. "Ok," she murmurs.

"But why..." he swallows uncomfortably, "...why I left you there...I don't know...I'm so sorry - "

She interrupts him by putting her finger to his lips. "Don't. Like I said. You fell in love. Love makes people do stupid things. Like leave their best friend on a 51st century spaceship," she adds, flashing him a cheeky smile.

He knows it's not genuine. He doesn't smile back.

Because how can she think that? How can Rose think that's all she means to him? He found his way back to her because he missed her. That's not to say he didn't miss the travelling, or the TARDIS, or the universe, or even Mickey, to some extent. But Rose? He missed Rose Tyler most of all. He made a mistake, and he had to get back to her. Because, if he's allowed to 'fall in love' with a stranger; if the universe allowed him a chance of that, then why shouldn't he let himself be with the woman he really loves? Why should he pretend all the time, and use people like Mickey and Reinette as distractions, obstacles? Why should he? Why should he miss out on loving Rose, when other people have held her and kissed her and broken her heart so horribly? He won't break her heart. As long as his hearts beat out that samba he'll be fighting to keep her with him. He knows that now. Before, he'd try to deny it, because he believed that one day he'd have to leave her behind just like the others, and he refused to get too close to her in case he hurt her by doing just that, the inevitable: sending her home. But...he can't. She's different. He just...can't. He's never abandoning her, or letting her go, ever again. She may not live forever, but he's going to damn well make the most of the time he does have with her. Why shouldn't he? He knows she loves him too. They've both been kidding themselves. For so long. Pretending.

It's time to stop dancing around each other and dance with each other instead.

"No. Love makes me do stupid things like ignore it's even there. Love makes me do stupid things like almost sacrifice an entire universe to keep - " he begins, before he realises what he's saying. He leaves the 'you by my side' end of his sentence inside his mind.

She doesn't pick up on what he almost said. "God, just accept it. You loved her, now you can grieve for her, okay? Honestly. You're in denial." She thinks that she's doing quite a good job of this 'I'm just his best friend. Support him. Ignore my own feelings' lark. It's quite exhausting, though. Her heart aches a bit. Ok. A lot.

"No. No, I think I've just come out of denial, to be honest," he says softly, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear and stroking her cheek lightly.

"What? I don't understand." Ok. It's when he says things like that, things that don't make sense, whilst making those small, too-intimate-to-be-simply-platonic gestures, that her heart aches even more.

"Maybe, for a few hours, I pretended that I could love her," he says. "But I couldn't. Not really. Not completely. Not at all."

"She was beautiful, clever, witty, sexy...of course you could love her. And you did." And as she says the words, she tries not to choke on them.

"She was a stranger. We hardly knew each other. A day isn't - "

" - A day is long enough to fall in love with a stranger," she insists, her eyes imploring his. She did, after all. And maybe it's silly, and maybe it sounds like something from a romance novel, but she knows that the first adventure they ever had together was the time she fell in love with him. And she's been denying it ever since. Because they're just friends. And he loves someone else.

But then...

He's touching her again. She feels her heart beating too fast and she prays he doesn't notice, or connect it with the way his had his brushing against her arm, his fingers tracing an ancient pattern on her soft skin. What's he doing? she thinks. Why's he doing this to me? It hurts...

"I know," he whispers, "But not her."

Oh. Does he mean...? No. No. No, he can't mean that. Oh god, why is he messing with my mind like this? she thinks.

"You asked her to go with you," she points out, just as quietly.

"I asked her to come with us," he corrects, "Because she was curious and intelligent and wanted to see the stars. And..."


"And, she would have been a distraction."

"From what?"

"It doesn't matter now."


"It just doesn't. Anyway, I knew deep down that she could never really come with us. She's part of history, and anyway, she wouldn't have been able to deal with how different our lives are."

"She said you were worth the monsters. She was right. So you see, she would've put up with our lives just so she could be with you. And she wanted to be with you. You can't deny that."

"Maybe. That's why I feel guilty. I was leading her along, all that time. I just feel so guilty that she spent her entire life waiting for me to save her from those things, then, when I did, I gave her this false hope. I got back too late, and she was already dead. She wrote me a letter – well, I suppose you know that, don't you, spying on me like you were," he says, nudging her playfully, which somehow – despite the tense atmosphere – was so very them that Rose has to remind herself that they are basically having an argument. She leans away from his touch slightly. "And she wrote about waiting for me. Again. And I never got there. She wasted the last years of her life waiting and waiting for a man she could never have anyway."

Just like I will, Rose thinks.

"God, you really don't get it, do you?" Rose exclaims, pulling out of his embrace. She takes a few steps back and a few deep breaths. "You're worth all that. You don't see it. You hate yourself. You feel guilty when you can't save everyone, and I know it's 'cos you're trying to redeem yourself for whatever happened in the Time War. I know you had to kill them. All of them. I know you - "

"See?" he demands, interrupting her flow. "See? You know me. You really know me. She didn't. She just read my mind. You got there all by yourself."

"Well, it doesn't take a genius to work it out, really, does it?" she retorts, confused as to why he said all that anyway. What is doing? Comparing the two of them? She feels uneasy at the prospect. In a 'who's better? Rose or Reinette?' competition, she's sure she would lose. Reinette's bloody royalty, for god's sake. Well, sort of. She was just the mistress. But she was so incredibly 'accomplished...' and Rose is just a London shop-girl. Not even that.

The Doctor wonders if Rose, however much she knows him, can ever see her the way he sees her. He's certain that she feels inadequate for him, somehow. Why else would she be so calm about him snogging another woman? But all that's ridiculous. Rose is...Rose. She's brilliant and brave and he really, truly needs her. She keeps him sane. She makes him better. She stands uo to him. She helps him save the universe, time after time, and she love it. Their life. She finds the adventure and sometimes the danger just as much fun as he does; they are so different – hell, they're different species, even - yet so alike in that way. And she's so beautiful. Though she'd never think it of herself, she is. To him. She is.

"Maybe not," he replies, shrugging, and she doesn't know why but he's staring at her, really looking into her eyes as if to challenge her. At what, she has no clue.

He wants her to see that he loves her.

"As I was saying, before I got rudely interrupted," she begins, trying to sound angry. "Despite you being a completely daft idiot most of the time - "

"Oi!" he exclaims indignantly. Yet a smile tugs at his lips. He sort of loves it when she insults him. Equals him. Completes -

"- and being incredibly thick when it comes to people's feelings - "

"People's feelings?" he interrupts, unfolding his arms briskly.

She swallows. "Yeah."

"What people?" He takes a step towards her.

"Just people," she replies hastily.

"You, people?" he asks, a frown adorning his face. Another step forward.


He gives her look. One that says 'Yeah, right...'

"Ok, maybe 'me,' people. Amongst others."

"Like who?" he prompts, leaning towards her, an eyebrow raised.

"I don't know!" she shouts, and he retracts his steps hastily, leaning against the console, eying her warily.

"Just you, then. I'm being incredibly thick about your feelings?" he asks, somewhat tentatively. An angry Rose is quite fearsome, really. She's got Jackie's genes. Which means angry slapping, no doubt.

She sighs. "Yes."

"I don't think I am. I know you quite well, Rose Tyler."

"Of course you are. And maybe you don't," she sighs sadly.

"Oh, I know what you're feeling," he declares boldly. He's suddenly got this huge smile on his face, and Rose is so confused at how quick the atmosphere can change with him that she can't quite decide whether she prefers his daft grin to him being all melancholy. At least when he was all sad and pensive, she knew what he was thinking.

Well. Actually, she didn't. But she didn't know that.

"How? How can you possibly know?" she asks him desperately, wanting to go back to comforting him instead of arguing with him, but her stubbornness preventing her from doing so.

"Because I..." he pauses, swallowing thickly. He walks towards her slowly. Nervously. Should he really do this? He doesn't know. Her breath hitches involuntarily as he takes her hand in his, intertwining their fingers. Yes, then. He will. His breath ghosts over her features as he stands there, silent and still, watching her look up at him with a confused yet wistful expression on her face. He tilts his head, and leans his forehead against hers, and she continues to stare at him, wide-eyed, but nevertheless puts her forehead to his with equal pressure. He looks into her eyes and can see it. The longing. The lust. The love. He notices the way her pulse has quickened, and her breath is coming in quick pants and he thinks he might just kiss her. Because, why shouldn't he?

He needs her.

He uses his free hand to trace the path of her spine, down her back, and lets his hand rest just a centimetre higher than the curve of her bum. Suddenly, he pulls her body closer, pushing her to him until their bodies are touching at every possible point of contact, except their lips.

He wants her.

She shivers at his touch and brings her hands up to grasp his arms. His nose bumps hers gently and he whispers, "Because...I feel it too."

He loves her.

She takes a sharp intake of breath, and he leans down as if to kiss her and then...and then...

Mickey walks in.

"Hey, do you know where Ro - " begins Mickey, pausing as he walks into the console room only to see who he was inquiring about - the very Rose that had abandoned his tour of the TARDIS - spring away from the Doctor guiltily, as if they had been about to...nah...were they about to...? Had they finally realised? he thinks to himself.

Mickey knew the Doctor loved her and she loved him back, but he had never seen them act on their feelings. Well. Sort of never. They do flirt an awful lot.

He has this feeling inside him he knows is partly jealousy. But it's also...he's a bit...happy, really. Which might seem odd. However, Rose hasn't been truly his in so long, and he knows it's the Doctor she loves, and he sees it on both their faces every single day...so he's learnt to push away that resentment, and concentrate on her; being happy when she's happy. And she certainly looks happy now. In spite of all that had happened today...the Doctor must have apologised for his ...um...behaviour, then...

Today was the first time Mickey had doubted his friends' relationship, actually, with Reinette suddenly in the picture. And he had seen the heartbreak in Rose's eyes, which she had tried to push away, tried to hide from the Doctor. Mickey was surprised at how much compassion Rose had had for the French aristocrat, and at the way she never showed any jealousy towards her. Acting as if 'oh, the Doctor loves her, so because I love him, I'll let him go.' Which, Mickey realises, is exactly what he's doing, but with Rose instead, obviously. It was silly on her part, though, as despite the Doctor acting like a completely insensitive idiot and swanning off without her, anyone can see that he's ridiculously in love with Rose. Maybe, Mickey muses, that's why he did it. The Doctor's always been denying his feelings for her. So the attraction and distraction of Reinette...he took the opportunity. To get away from his forbidden feelings. The unresolved sexual tension between him and Rose.

He's a daft old alien, Mickey thinks. But he's still a man. It's more like Doctor the Idiot now, though. Because at least Mickey wasn't stupid enough to resist Rose's love, when it was there.

But now...she's smiling, even as her cheeks are as red as her namesake, so maybe he's finally given in and accepted his feelings.

Mickey still wishes he could make her smile like that. Actually, he wishes he could have what she and the Doctor have. With someone else. Someone who loves him. And who knows? Maybe someday he'll be defending the Earth, being all action-hero, chasing some silly little alien with his own companion...Nah. Not brave enough for that, he thinks to himself.

Anyway, right now, he's having way to much fun watching the Doctor squirming and Rose blushing to even think about leaving. And that's when he knows...he's finally over her. And just as soon as he's found something or someone better, he'll leave them to it. So they can all move on and be happy.

"Mickey!" the Doctor exclaims loudly, attempting to break the tension. "Mickety Mick Mickey! Found the swimming pool, yet?"

"Erm, no, actually. My tour guide seemed to get lost," Mickey says, smirking only ever so slightly.

"Oh! Sorry Mickey, I just...I just came to see if the Doctor's alright."

"Which I am," puts in the Doctor, smiling widely.

"I'm still not convinced," says Rose, sceptically. "I think you might be drunk, actually."

"Why's that then?" pipes up Mickey, feigning ignorance to what he had almost witnessed.

Rose has the sudden, uncontrollable urge to tease the Doctor. Plus, she's still very confused. Thus, in an attempt to get a reaction from the Doctor, Rose answers Mickey's question.

"Oh, well you see, Mickey, I only came in here to offer some words of support and consolation..."she pauses, suppressing laughter at the Doctor's warning look he's shooting her worriedly, "And suddenly - "

" – he grabs hold of you and snogs you senseless?" offers Mickey before she can continue.

"No!"exclaims the Doctor, though to be honest, it's quite a feeble exclamation.

"Not quite," murmurs Rose.

The Doctor looks at her. Mickey looks at her. Rose flickers her eyes back and forth between them both.

Then, Mickey bursts out laughing, shaking his head, and the Doctor looks relieved, and chuckles lightly. And Rose...

...Rose just smiles.

Looks like things are going to be a bit different around here now, she thinks.

She can't wait.

And a new adventure begins.

A/N: OK. I hope that was alright. I know some people won't like it, but you know what? I had to write something for after this episode, because the episode itself doesn't really fit in my mind too well. So this is what should've happened after, in my opinion. Because seriously? I can't bear angst! (OR the thought that he'd just RANDOMLY FORGET he's in love with Rose) Lol :D

I'm such a soppy old shipper! And so incredibly proud of it ;P

Please review! And if you fancy commenting on my sort-of-question, then please do! I'm interested to see how other people feel about this.

Laura x