Rose looked at her companion then back out at the water.
"Where's your shoe?"
Her companion looked down at his feet and frowned as if just noticing he had lost his left shoe.
"I'm not entirely sure," he admitted. "I was in a bit of a rush when I left the TARDIS. I think it was enough that I remembered my trousers."
"I wouldn't have complained if you'd forgotten them," Rose told him.
"What? My trousers?"
"Yeah. There were days when we'd walk around the TARDIS naked. You'd say there was nothing to be ashamed of because the naked body was a thing of beauty then you regretted your decision after our trip to the nude beach on Varxiss."
"I never thought I could burn, well, there."
Rose smiled again then looked down at the sand. She twirled her finger in the sparkling grains and listened as the waves crashed in front of her.
"How long has it been, Doctor?" Rose inquired.
"Not long," the Doctor answered. "I made it though. And the TARDIS is fine. Just needs a bit of a rest before moving again."
"How long?" Rose repeated.
"Almost a hundred years," he informed her. "I very nearly gave up. Jack was quite encouraging. If encouraging actually means attempting to beat someone senseless, that is. And he only did that when I tried to…"
His words trailed off and Rose looked at him once again. His face was gaunt and the despair it held said everything he couldn't. She wasn't quite sure what to do next with him or even for him.
"I should really go find my shoe," the Doctor stated as he lifted his shoeless foot. "Some wayward child might steal it and use it for their sandcastle. A strange sandcastle, but children do use whatever they can find for even a moment of enjoyment. I quite envy them for that."
"You have landed on a popular beach," Rose commented. "And ruined my vacation."
"Oh. Sorry. I could come back. Just name a time."
"I just want to know you're not another hallucination," Rose returned. "And that you aren't leaving without me."
"I believe if I were a hallucination that I'd be a bit more dashing instead of being quite daft and losing a shoe then talking about sandcastles. I'm sure when you've hallucinated about me I was wearing a tuxedo or at least a sandless suit and then I'd kiss you quite thoroughly considering I haven't done so for many, many years before giving you the ring I was going to give you after we had finished our work at Torchwood. After that we'd bid your mother farewell and return to the proper universe."
"I never imagined a ring," Rose said.
"There is one," the Doctor responded. He began to pat his pockets then stuck his hand in an inner suit pocket, but quickly pulled it back out. He let out a frustrated sound. "It's back on the TARDIS, but since you're going to be in it soon I think it's perfectly safe there."
"I'm coming with you?"
The Doctor turned his head and stared at her with an incredulous look.
"You are, aren't you?"
"It's tempting," Rose told him. "But I'm having a wonderful time on this beach, I'm quite respected at my job and my little brother is expecting me to be at his birthday party on Saturday. He is turning five."
"I could stay here," he offered. "A new universe to explore and everything. Could be fun."
"You'd hate it. And then you'd hate me. On top of that the TARDIS quite probably wouldn't like it anymore than you would."
"You may have a point," the Doctor conceded. "There's something wrong about this universe. It's…" He furrowed his brow and looked back out over the beach, "off. The taste, the time. It's all off. And I'm certain that a week here would drive me spare before I'd have to leave. Two weeks at most."
"Are you giving me two weeks?" Rose asked.
"It was a suggested time frame," the Doctor told her with a shrug. "To make your decision or to get your affairs in order. Whatever it may be. Take a month if you must. No more than six. I'm not sure I'd be able to take your mother for more than six months."
"What if I said a year?" Rose inquired.
"Then I'd ask if we could institute a naked day at least twice a week and that tea with your mum only occur once a month unless under the penalty of a Tyler slap."
"Hers or mine?"
"Hers, of course."
"Of course," Rose agreed. "Would you really wait for me a year?"
"I waited a hundred, Rose, and I made a terrible re-entrance into your life. A year is really just a grain of sand on the beach that is my existence."
Rose crinkled her nose and the Doctor curled his own lip.
"Did you really just say that?"
"Yes. Yes, I did. I should really stop blurting out whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it's really quite embarrassing."
"Or endearing," Rose offered.
"To you, perhaps. And that it was endearing enough that you won't make me wait a year."
Rose pushed herself to her feet and wiped the sand off her bikini bottom then held her hand out.
"We should find your shoe," Rose said. "You look daft with only one."
"And after that?"
"After that we're going to back to my hotel room and enjoying the rest of the day in the nude."
The Doctor grinned.