A/N: Set after Age of Steel – they've been staying at Jackie's for a good few nights. So Rose is still pondering the loss of Mickey...and her feelings about a certain alien friend of hers...

Realising They Can't Waste Time...

Part 1

...and she can't feel guilty forever.

There is a swing. Next to a slide. Next to a roundabout. In a park. With trees.

The park and all it contains is located about eight minutes and thirty-four seconds away from her mum's flat. She knows this because this one time, when she was about fourteen, she'd bet Mickey she could be down there in less than ten minutes and he bet she couldn't and timed her to prove it. He was proven wrong, and Rose had laughed and everything was fantastic because she was with her best mate in the whole wide world.

She's always been good at running. And yet that had been the only time she'd really ran, fast and furious, determined to win the game. Until she had to run for her life, that is. You know, from shop window dummies and the like. When the Doctor showed up and told her to do just that, grabbing her hand as he did so. That was the start of it.

She ran for her life, then she ran after him, and she ran away from her mum and her boyfriend and then, she ran for her life some more. And ate chips. Lots and lots of chips.

And held his hand all the way.

But now, she doesn't just run for her life with him – the Doctor, the alien who has become her best friend in the whole wide universe – she runs for the sake of running, for the sake of being alive and that wonderful euphoric feeling you get when you have to stop to catch your breath. Only sometimes, it's hard for her to catch her breath, because they often stumble across something extraordinarily beautiful, like the fireworks of Futia or the purple frozen waterfall on Luci Five. And then there are the times when she just looks at him, her Doctor, her best friend, and sees this mad, dishevelled, beaming Time Lord who she knows, she knows - she must be a little bit in love with. And that takes her breath away even more.

But now...right now...

She feels guilty. Not for running away with the Doctor, because she could never feel guilty for that, even if she should. No, she feels guilty for taking Mickey too. Taking him from this world; from Jackie. And having to leave him behind on some parallel world because he wanted to stay there. Save the world, look after his gran, and not live in the shadow of another man, an impossible man, any longer. She left him, used him, and lost him, and it's all her fault, and now Jackie's got no one because in a few hours Rose knows, she knows, that she's going to follow said impossible man into an impossible blue box and fly away to a distant galaxy that has the brightest star in the whole universe. Billions upon billions of miles away from home

(her old home)

and memories

(old memories.)

And after about the third planet he takes them to see next, Rose knows she'll forget to feel guilty. She'll forget because all she really wants will be with her. And that makes her feel even guiltier, and so incredibly, incredibly selfish, at this moment. The fact that she won't feel like this for very long. Not once she's back on track in her better life.

She misses her mum, of course she does, and whenever she does, the Doctor brings her straight back 'home.'

(Which is unusual, really, because he doesn't like domestic stuff. Never usually gets involved with families. And yet, with Rose...it's just different. There are moments when he doesn't want to let her go home. He's a bit selfish, and wants her to himself. But she's his friend, and he likes to make her happy, loves it in fact, and so he always does what she wants even when she doesn't even know she wants it yet. He's good like that. Considerate. Her considerate, caring friend. Who also happened to land them on a parallel world where he lost her other friend to a Gingerbread House. Ah. Doesn't sound so good like that. Maybe he should be extra-extra-attentive to her in the next...well, forever. Actually, that doesn't sound like a bad idea. In fact, he might [will] even enjoy being extra-extra-attentive to her. Yes. Quite.)

And she'll miss Mickey. She knows she will. Saying goodbye to him was awful. Traumatic, even. He is the one guy who has been there her whole life, and now he can't be in her future. It's impossible for her to see him again.

She sits here, on the swing, swaying back and forth gently as she watches a crisp packet drift by and the leaves of the trees ruffle in the soft breeze, thinking over these thoughts. She bites her lip to stop herself crying; she's all cried out and can't start over again. She just sits and watches the place, the park, she used to come to so often – when she was upset, or happy, or it was sunny, or snowing, or to hide, or to play, or to meet her friends...

It's out of the corner of her eye that she finally notices him. The Doctor. The man who she can't even hate for losing Mickey because losing him would be even worse. And it isn't his fault, anyway. She's been trying to tell him that ever since she met him: the things that aren't his fault. She's hugged him fiercely when he couldn't save someone and she's tightened her grip on his hand when an alien taunts him of his sacrifice of Gallifrey.

What she really wants to do is kiss him better, but she thinks that might be going a bit too far.

Anyway, she sees him watching her from over the other side of the park, by the blue fence with the chunk missing - from when she rode her red bike into it that time. She doesn't know if he realises she's realised he's there, simply watching her, presumably to give her some space whilst being absolutely sure she isn't going to break down or something. He walks slowly over to her, and she senses him take his seat on the swing next to her. She smiles softly, and looks up at him with teary eyes.

"Hello," he whispers.

"Hi," she murmurs back.

They share a smile, and then she starts to swing a bit faster, silently challenging him to do the same. They soon find themselves competing in a 'who-can-get-highest' competition, and she giggles happily, glad to feel like laughing instead of crying for once today, when she declares that she wins and he shoots her an injured look.

They slow down, and the swings come to a gentle stop. She glances at the space between them, and is delighted to find his hand already waiting for hers. She links her fingers with him instantly, and they sway their joined hands with a slower momentum than they were swinging at. His thumb strokes against hers and she can't help it when her breath hitches at the touch.

"Bet you and Mr Mickey used to play a lot in here when you were kids," he murmurs encouragingly, urging her to speak to him, after a few silent minutes.

She smiles. "Yeah. Amongst other things." She laughs when he cocks an eyebrow, and she points to the corner of the park. "That's where I cut my leg once. Me and Shareen were fighting, dunno how old we were, and she pushed me. I fell over and cut my leg really deep. She was horrified, bless her," Rose laughs. "Anyway, she ran and got Mickey, and he carried me all the way up to Mum's flat. I'd never seen him act so...gallant," she laughs again. "And never did see him act like that again, not until he helped us save the world." She smiles softly at the memory. Mickey finally proving himself to be a brave hero rather than a scared little boy.

The Doctor tugs on her arm a little, and she frowns. "What?"

"Come here," he instructs, awkwardly pulling her out of her swing and onto his lap.

That wasn't what she was expecting, but...well. Here now. She clears her throat. "And over there," she tells him, in a hushed tone, pointing towards a tree. "Is where he kissed me for the first time." She watches his reaction, giggling internally as his brow crinkles and his nose wrinkles.

"There? Right there? Next to a bin?" he dismays.

"Yep," she replies, wondering if she's imagining the way the Doctor's grip on her has tightened.

"That's not very romantic."

"We were teenagers. Teenage boys aren't romantic. It doesn't matter. I didn't need a big song and dance about it. It was sweet."

"Sweet," the Doctor echoed, if a little sarcastically.

"Yeah."

"Right. Sweet," he nods. In his opinion, Rose deserved to be kissed in a much better place than in between a dying tree and an overflowing rubbish bin. But he can't exactly tell her that. He shouldn't. Because she was Mickey's girlfriend back then, and has never been his.

Rose feels a little defensive now. She lets go of his hand and shifts in his lap to face away from him. She folds her arms and huffs purposefully. "He didn't exactly have all of time and space at his disposal, did he? The park and few cans of beer were the best he could do, and I suppose I must've loved him for that."

The Doctor swallows nervously. Ah. Oh dear. She's annoyed at him. Whoops. "Rose," he begins, completely intent on apologising, but then he gets distracted by replaying her words in his head. He didn't exactly have all of time and space at his disposal, did he?

Hang on a sec. Is that supposed to be a hint? A dig? A gentle push in the right direction...?

Is that...?

Nah. Course not. This is Rose. She's just lost her ex-boyfriend to a parallel world.

He hugs her closer all the same. "I'm sorry," he whispers close to her ear.

Rose answers immediately, "Not your fault."

He sighs against her hair because they both know that it is. Who else's fault could it be?

He thinks about where he'll take them next. To show her how much he's sorry, and how much she means to him. He doesn't want her to stay here on Earth with her mum, however selfish that may seem...he can't help it, he wants her with him. Always. So he'll show her something spectacular to make sure she stays.

He's thinking this through when suddenly he hears a young woman's voice cry, "Oh my god, it's Rose bloody Tyler!"

TO BE CONTINUED

A/N: Hope you liked the first chapter. Please let me know what you think :D x