Series: First in my 'Before, After and In-Between' series. The series is as follows:
***Kissing Complete Strangers and Clinging On For Life
Never Too Late To Save Herself
Posing For Pictures As the World Explodes
Before She Sleeps
Knowing Too Much to Stay
She didn't spare a moment's thought for the fact that the Doctor – the Doctor who had the leather-clad body she was currently running towards, at least – wouldn't even realise she'd been missing. Nor did she care much that they'd never kissed prior to him regenerating, so he'd have no warning that it might be coming. After all her travels, from parallel to parallel, all she cared about was that he was finally there, right in front of her. They could deal with the rest of it later.
She could tell that the forceful kiss, and the even more forceful way she flung herself at him bodily, shocked him. He wasn't fighting her off, though. Unless the introduction of his tongue into her mouth was a type of fighting that Torchwood's tactical instructor had never mentioned.
"D'you go about kissing complete strangers often, then?" he asked her when she pulled back to just bask in the sight of him for a while.
"Strangers?" she repeated slowly, sounding rather stupid even to her own ears.
"Yeah, that's right. You and me. Unless you're saying we're not strangers now that we've been attached at the lips, which is probably fair. Can't get much better acquainted than that."
He didn't know her yet, she realised as her over-excited brain caught up with her. The dimension cannon had thrown her into the right universe, finally, but she'd gone and found the wrong Doctor.
She'd just kissed the Doctor both after they'd been separated but before they'd even met in the shadow of the not quite completed Sacré Coeur amidst a throng of people who didn't look like they belonged in her time, judging by the fashion. A few of them were glaring at the two of them as if kissing in public was some kind of capital offence.
It never ceased to amaze her just how complicated her life could get.
And how had she ended up in Paris, anyway? She hadn't intended that. Certainly not a Paris with a lack of cars and, apparently, a complete lack of city maintenance if that smell was any indication. Obviously she'd learned a little too well from the Doctor when it came to rocketing about through time and space. She seemed to have absorbed his driving skills, or lack thereof.
"When are we?" she asked.
The Doctor laughed. "I thought I was the only one that happened to. It's 1907. Around about November, I think, judging by the weather. Hopefully not December 1907, though. That's a rubbish month."
"Can't be too rubbish," Rose shot back. "Not so bad bein' kissed, is it? Or, I dunno, maybe it's just par for the course for you to have random women throwin' themselves at you. Might be a daily occurrence, for all I know."
"You seem to think pretty highly of yourself, if you think one kiss can make my whole month."
Rose's eyebrows shot up. "Is that you anglin' for a repeat?"
"Are you offering?" the Doctor replied with a shadow of the manic grin she'd grown to love seeing on both this face and the one that replaced it. Or would one day grow to love. Figuring out which tense to use in time travel was so bewildering, though admittedly less so than the Doctor's reaction just now.
This soon after the Time War, she might have expected (had she ever given a moment's consideration to the topic) that the Doctor would probably react badly, maybe even a little violently, to having someone get up in his space in any way. She would have thought having a random blonde he'd never seen before in his admittedly very long life run up and full-on snog him without warning would be even worse again. She certainly hadn't thought he'd be feeling cheeky enough to flirt with her like that. Had he ever flirted with her so openly in that body? In either body? Her memory of things like that had started to grow a bit vague after four years of separation, blending together with dreams that went far beyond how he'd acted towards her in reality; dreams starring both this leather-clad Northern-sounding man and the skinny brown-suited one. Well, not 'and' so much as 'either/or'. Though both of them in those types of dreams at the same time would be...
Right, Rose thought. Focusing would be good.
"So what brings you to Paris 1907?" Rose asked, trying to cover up her sudden flustered state.
"Oh no you don't," the Doctor replied. "You're the one who came up and kissed me out of the blue. If anyone's going to answer questions, I really think it should be you."
Rose shrugged. "Well, I was aimin' for 2007, actually. And London, come to think of it. Seems I was a bit off."
"Just a bit."
"Oi, you can talk!" Rose said. "You even failed your drivin' test."
Rose didn't even need to see the Doctor's reaction to that to know she'd said too much. He'd already picked up on the fact that she was a time traveller, of course. Couldn't get much past the Doctor. But even if he'd suspected from the kissing that she knew him, he'd had no proof of it until that she'd gone and let slip information she could only know if he'd told her.
She needed to learn when to shut up. Sometimes her gob rivalled his. Well, nearly.
"I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark," the Doctor began, "and guess that you know me. And since I don't have a clue who you are, that means you shouldn't be talking to me, let alone kissing me."
"No, I really shouldn't," Rose agreed with a sigh. "But I dunno that there's much I can do about it. I'll tell you what. My time travel device is obviously not quite working, so I don't really want to risk travelling through both time and space until I can get the device looked at. But you could give me a lift to London 2007, and there you are: possible crisis averted. We can forget this ever happened."
"Not the sort of thing I forget," he said. It sounded like a warning.
Rose grinned regardless. "What, the potential universe-rending paradox, or the kissing?"
"Well, nice to be doubly memorable," Rose teased.
"I'd remember you even better if I knew your name."
"You will," Rose promised. "One day. But not today."
"You want me to take someone whose name I don't even know across time and space with me?" the Doctor asked.
"Wouldn't be the first time, I'd say," Rose said. "What're names to you, 'Doctor'."
After holding onto the hard look he'd been giving her for a moment longer, the Doctor's face split into a wide grin. "Nope, hardly the first time. Nor the last, I'd say. And you're more than a bit rude, there, aren't you? Whatever your name is, I think I like you. All right, off we go then."
Rose frowned. "What about whyever you're here? Is the world gonna end if we just up and leave?"
"Nothing keeping me here. Not this time. I'm... well, I'm sort of taking a break," the Doctor admitted. "Bit of a holiday, if you like. Thought it might help, with things."
With coping with the after-effects of the Time War, he clearly meant. A chance to clear his head, probably. Though why he'd chosen Paris in 1907 out of all of time and space to get his head together, Rose didn't think she'd ever quite understand. Given everything, maybe he hadn't chosen at all. The TARDIS had probably just dumped him there.
"And did it?" Rose asked. "Help, I mean?"
The Doctor eyed her contemplatively. "It might have. I suppose we'll see what it's done when the time comes around."
Oh, Rose thought. Well, that would explain why he'd wanted her with him enough, all those years ago, to ask her twice, wouldn't it? With that kiss, he'd received a glimpse of what he thought might be between them. Obviously he'd thought that she could be the one to help him. She wondered why he hadn't just mentioned to her that he'd already known she would travel with him when he asked her along the first time; she wouldn't have hesitated then, probably. Then again, the Doctor was all about giving people choices. Perhaps he'd thought it wouldn't be fair on her to use his knowledge of future events that way. Or maybe it was a matter of pride. Time Lord or not, he was a man.
"Come on, then," the Doctor said. "One trip to get you where you belong. No point wasting any more time here."
She didn't comment on the TARDIS in any way when they arrived, though she did take a moment to run her hand longingly over one of the coral support struts. If the Doctor hadn't already realised that she'd travelled with him in his personal future, that alone would have given it away. She wondered how long it had been since someone set foot in his TARDIS for (seemingly) the first time without making some comment to the effect of 'it's bigger on the inside'.
The Doctor jumped almost erratically around the console, flicking switches and turning knobs seemingly at random. Rose never got tired of watching him do that. No matter what they'd been through in their adventures outside the TARDIS, once they were inside and on the move he always seemed completely alive when he was flying.
Rose grabbed more firmly at the coral she'd been touching to prevent herself from falling on her backside when the TARDIS came abruptly to a stop.
"Right, this is your stop. Don't let the door hit you on the way out."
Rose frowned at his sudden brusqueness. "Don't worry," she said, anger working its way into her tone. "I'll get out of your hair. Or lack of hair, whatever. Sorry to inconvenience you."
But however keen the Doctor suddenly was for her to get out of his sight (what the heck was up with that? They'd been getting along fine, she'd thought), obviously the TARDIS had other ideas. The moment she stepped out beyond the wooden doors, she realised she wasn't going to be leaving him just yet.
The ground beneath her feet was on a lean. It was a steadily increasing incline, actually. People all around were whimpering and screaming by turns. And the air was bloody freezing, thank you very much.
The ground beneath her lurched enough to make the TARDIS slide away from her a few feet.
"What was that?" the Doctor asked, stepping unsteadily out of his ship. He looked at her as if it was somehow her fault.
Oh, when she met up with her Doctor again, he was never going to hear the end of this. No wonder he'd never mentioned he'd met her before she met him.
The ground tilted further, causing both Rose and the Doctor to reflexively grab the nearby railings to steady themselves. The TARDIS, on the other hand, found no such anchor. Rose saw the Doctor's eyes widen as he watched his precious ship slide and slide and slide until it splashed into the black ocean.
"This," Rose said, gesturing around herself, snapping the Doctor's attention away from the TARDIS bobbing in the water what seemed like half a mile away, "is not London in 2007."
The Doctor looked around them properly for the first time and clearly recognised their surroundings as easily as she had (though, admittedly, she doubted that the image in his memory was conjured from a Leonardo DiCaprio flick).
"Oh," he said.
"Yeah, 'oh'," Rose echoed. "If the TARDIS sinks to the bottom of the Atlantic and we get stuck here, you and me are havin' words. And I'll have that apology about my time-travellin' accuracy whenever you're ready, thanks."
He'd mentioned to her once – long ago for her, and still to come for him – that he'd been on board the Titanic. Ended up clinging to an iceberg, he'd said.
It would have been nice, really, if he'd mentioned to her that she'd been right there clinging alongside him. At least then she might have known that her first reaction to seeing him again (the version of him that she'd lost long before she'd ended up trapped in a parallel world, at least) shouldn't have been to sprint full-pelt into him and pull him into a snog.
It should have been to put on her damned thermals.
The next part of the series is 'Cannon Fire'.