Title: Barefoot

Pairings/Characters: Rose/TenII

Author's Note: Written for Challenge 67 (Quotes) at LJ comm then_theres_us. Please let me know what you think!

"That was such a wonderful time, even in its strangeness and sadness-and life isn't the same now. It's wonderful, but it isn't the same."

Wicked, Gregory Maguire

Rose, in her dusty Torchwood office. Feet on her desk. One shoe's by the door, the other's under her chair. Clicking aimlessly through files, not seeing. The Doctor's on assignment. Rose checks her watch.

"Where's your ward, Rosie?"

Rose looks up from her computer. Cheeky intern from fifth, good in a fight, revolving door boyfriends. Leaning in her doorway.

"He's not my ward," Rose says, rolling her eyes. "That skirt makes you look like a hooker."

"Whatever," says the intern. "I don't know what you did to get saddled with alien babysitting duty, but if you ever need a break...someone to take him off your hands..."

"Get the fuck out of here," Rose says, laughing, and the intercom buzzes.

"I'm here for you," the intern stage whispers, and sashays away as Rose reaches out with a perfectly manicured finger, offset by bruised knuckles, and depresses the flashing button. "Yes?"

"Hello? Ms. Tyler?"

Paul from the lobby. Pain in the ass.

"Yeah honey, you called me."

"Doc's down here bleeding all over the linoleum."

"Jesus," she says, and forgets her shoes, running to the elevator in bare feet.

- - -

"I'm fine, Rose!" He's calling across the room as soon as she steps out of the lift, and security escorts a rather prickly looking alien into the space she's vacated. There are two medical techs hovering over the Doctor where he's sitting in one of the lobby's plush chairs, and he seems all right, if a little ruffled, but she shoots one of the techs a look as she hurries over. Stan? Sam? Something. He's just finished securing a bandage on Doctor's forearm.

"He's fine," the kid confirms, and pats Rose's elbow awkwardly. She realizes she must look crazed.

The Doctor's pulling his jacket on over the bandage and grins blindingly up at Rose. "Good as new! How's your day?"

"That's it?" Rose yelps. "You're just slapping a plaster on him in the lobby?"

"It really wasn't bad, Ms. Tyler," says Stan, or Sam, and the Doctor is slipping his hand into hers and tugging her gently toward the door.

"Do you want chips, Rose?" the Doctor says. "I really could go for some chips."

"There's a board meeting in half an hour," Paul at the front desk calls after them.

"Tell Mr. Tyler I'm busy," Rose says. "Also, tell him you need sensitivity training...oh! Wait, wait, I'm not wearing shoes."

- - -

She wiggles her toes in the sun on a park bench. He said stay here, and she stays, letting the adrenaline burn off, wondering how he talked her into the piggyback ride, and when she started caring about looking "undignified." Anyway, he's back before she has time to think too closely about it.

"Tom at the pub says hello," the Doctor says, dropping onto the bench next to her and holding out a greasy bag like a peace offering. "Something you'd like to tell me?"

"Yes," Rose says, reaching into the bag. "Tom and I are in love."

"Ah," he says. "Wellll, we had a good run."

"What happened out there?" she says, lightly running her hand along his arm, feeling the bandage under his sleeve.

"Oh! New species! Rutigi. We didn't have those, back..." he trails off. "Well, it bit me."

"It bit you."

"I'm fine," he says gently, because there's something in her voice.

She can't seem to look at him. "Have you been to Antarctica? There's a...thing. Meteorites...eating people or some nonsense. I think we should go."

"Rose-"

"I can book us passage with one of the scientific expeditions. If we leave tomorrow we can be there by Friday. That could be an adventure, yeah? I hear it's like...another planet." She glances at him sidelong. "What do you think?"

- - -

Midnight at the Tyler mansion and the dark outside was absolute. The sounds of the party downstairs escaped through the windows, much as Rose had done, with the Doctor right behind her, ditching her stilettos on the balcony and hiking her dress up so the lacy tops of her stockings peeped out under the ruffled hem. The Doctor fretted and paced below as she pulled herself up over the shingled edge and disappeared, calling down, "Now you!"

They sprawled at the highest point of the roof, the Doctor with his black bowtie undone around his neck, and Rose in taffeta, a puffy, navy tangle of fabric flowers, lace, and imitation pearls. One arm crooked under her head, she watched the sky, and the Doctor watched her.

There was the jagged trail of zeppelins on approach to the airport, eternal, appearing in the distance and disappearing into the far-off glow of London. Beyond them, the irridescent, winking brush stroke of the Milky Way. And Rose, bathed in monochrome moonlight, eyes wide and shining in the dark. Somewhere in the house, music was playing.

"It's your one month birthday tomorrow," she said. "Or today, rather. It's tomorrow already."

"I used to be nine-hundred-and-six."

Her lips crooked up in a ghost of a smile. "How the mighty have fallen."

He propped himself up on one elbow, staring down at her. "If I have to start all over, is there at least cake?"

"There's cake at the party," she said, and went to work on the row of small buttons that ran down the front of her dress.

"And what if I stay?"

Rose smiled her sharp, wolf's smile. "You know what."

He reached for her but her hand came up and pressed, warm, against his chest.

"Don't you ever miss it?" she said.

"What?" he said, breathless.

"Everything."

- - -

He thinks being here with Rose is like staring at the sun, but he loves it, the way she burns around the edges when you see her from the corner of your eye.

He thinks she is everything, so no, there's nothing missing.

"I've never been to Antarctica," he says.

"No?"

"No."

She's watching him with that certain fear. The way she watches him when he's doing the dishes or sitting in a meeting. Or that day he walked in wearing a pair of jeans. And he wants to say something, but he knows about time, and time's the only thing to convince her that he won't get restless or reckless. That he'll stay.

So he picks her up and tosses her, shrieking, over his shoulder. Laughs when she makes him bend so that she can grab the chips and pop one in her mouth on the way.

"You have to pack," he says. "I hate packing."

"Yes, well, that's because you don't understand why we can't take everything we-wait!" she says, as they're passing the Tower. "We have to stop, I need my shoes."

And she feels a certain warmth at the thought that he was prepared to carry her all the way home.