A/N: This is a bit of an, ahem, retelling of parts of Rise of the Cybermen. Specifically the on-the-way to the mansion/Jackie's birthday party part. Before everything goes wrong, etc.

::

Before the Rise

After convincing the Doctor to allow them to meet her parallel father, Rose was in rather high spirits, despite her growing nerves. They walked alongside the Thames for a bit, planning what they were going to do when they arrived at Pete and Jackie Tyler's rather large mansion.

"I can't believe it all worked out for him. God, if Mum really knew the extent of it..." She shook her head wistfully. "When she told me stories about him, Mum pretended as though she thought he could've, you know, made it, made it big, made it rich, if he'd lived. But when we went back, when I spoke to him...when I saw the way she spoke to him, it all sounded as though she didn't have much faith in his schemes. No one did. Thought they were useless. And yet..."

"And yet here, he's got it all," the Doctor surmised. "Big house, all the money, success, a wife." He paused for a moment. "I wonder if there's another you," he pondered thoughtfully.

She shrugged. "I didn't see any mention of kids in the biography I read when I searched him on my phone. So either they don't talk about personal stuff to the public or whatever, or..."

"Or there isn't another you," he concluded, finishing her sentence again. "Hmm. Shame."

Rose rolled her eyes. "What, were you thinking of trading me in?"

He sniffed contemplatively. "Weelll..."

She punched him in the arm.

The Doctor laughed and grabbed her hand. "As if I'd do such a thing." He gave her his most innocent smile then ruined it with an, "Although..."

"Oi, watch it," she told him firmly, raising an eyebrow. "Or I will stay."

His smile turned into a nervous one. "No, but really Rose, they aren't your parents, and you can't do that. You can't stay. Not only would it be significantly problematic for me to return to your mother without you, but it would probably completely - "

"Cause a paradox, ruin the fabric of time and space, yeah, yeah, I know," she waved him off dismissively.

He frowned. "Actually, I was going to say that it would probably completely destroy my capacity for dealing with loss and leave me an utter wreck, but yes, it's also potentially damaging to time and space."

She stopped walking and looked up at him. "What?"

"What?" he repeated, as though denying he'd even said anything. He resumed their walk and tugged her along after him.

"Doctor," she persisted.

"Rose," he countered, unyielding.

"Is this one of those times you say something really deep and meaningful about our sort-of-relationship to emotionally blackmail me into doing something, and then brush it aside? Like the other day when you practically wrote me a love poem just so that I wouldn't eat the last banana? Is this a repeat of that?"

"Maybe," he mumbled, swallowing hard.

"'Cos you know, I'm starting to mentally note these moments down. They're getting kind of frequent. Might even be daily, actually. Let's see...oh yes, I do believe yesterday at the Freirovian market was another prime example."

"Alright, alright, let's leave yesterday out of this."

"No, no," she disagreed, smiling up at him cheekily. "Let's leave yesterday very much in this. You see, by my reckoning, yesterday marked the twenty-sixth time you've not denied we're a couple. Seven of those times have been to my ex-boyfriend, by the way, but that's another matter entirely."

"We sort of nearly are, though, when you think about it," he muttered. He refrained from informing her that it was actually the thirty-third time he had not denied their couple-ness.

"We've never had sex," she retorted bluntly.

He pretended not to be completely shocked at her casual declarative statement. "Well then, maybe we should get around to that at some point," he countered, hoping to unbalance her and recover control of the conversation.

"Well maybe we should."

"Which means of course, for that to be feasible, you can't stay in this universe."

"Like I would anyway," she scoffed. "With Mum in the other one."

He sniffed contemplatively. "Remember what I said Rose – parallel world, gingerbread house."

"I just want to see what he's like, yeah? Anyways, you'll be right there, ready to intervene if things go wrong. Again."

He smiled softly. "I'm just worried about you, that's all."

"I know," she replied, returning his smile. She glanced around them for a moment. "Right, fancy getting a taxi?"

"Yeah, alright. Oooh look, someone's getting out of that one over there, let's grab it."

They dashed over to the taxi and Rose told the driver the address.

"Ah, no sweetheart, sorry," he said apologetically.

The Doctor bristled at his comment, more for the fact that he'd called Rose 'sweetheart' than anything else. "What do you mean?"

"That place is gonna be swamped what with the party tonight!"

"Party?" asked the Doctor.

"It's Mum's birthday," Rose told him.

"I can take you within about three miles, but it'll be impossible to get any closer than that 'cos of security and caterers and the like, I expect."

Rose smiled at him gratefully. "That's okay, we'll walk the rest of the way."

"Alright then," he shrugged.

Rose and the Doctor sat silently in the back of the taxi for a minute or so. She could feel the Doctor's eyes on her but firmly looked out of the window, worried about what his insistent gaze meant.

"Rose?" he murmured, and she couldn't ignore him any longer.

Turning around to face him, she replied, "Hmm?"

"I just...I want you to know that, um." He cleared his throat. "That what we were talking about, earlier..."

"It's okay," she mumbled. "You don't have to - "

He grabbed her hand and interrupted her. "But I want to explain. I just." He sighed heavily. "I need to ask you. The er, jealousy thing. Does that bother you?"

Rose raised her eyebrows, having not expected that. "Um."

"It's just, I can't seem to help it," he murmured next. "And I know we aren't really a couple, but. Well." He tugged at his earlobe. "Don't you ever think that maybe - "

"You're just doing this 'cos you're still scared that I'm gonna choose the parallel version of my dad over you, Mum and Mickey, aren't you?" she realised.

"No – what?"

She squeezed his hand. "You don't do this. You don't talk about this stuff, not properly. And that's okay. That's you, I get that. But don't dangle this in front of me like some sort of Doctor-shaped carrot just because you think that I've been tempted by the idea of having a proper father. I know nothing about him, or this version of my mum. I just want to meet him, okay?"

The Doctor nodded. "Yes. Okay. But that doesn't change the fact that, well, what you mentioned about the, er, you know, the thing..."

"The thing?"

"Yeah," he coughed uncomfortably. "The thing. The thing that we don't do..." he trailed off meaningfully, widening his eyes.

"Oh. Right. Yeah?"

"Well. What I said about that thing, about it maybe being about time we did do that thing, I, um. That is, if you wouldn't be opposed to the idea, I think, perhaps, if you want, I'm not so scared of the idea anymore."

She raised an eyebrow. "You were scared?"

"Obviously," he rolled his eyes.

"Why?" she laughed.

"Because you mean – it's – what we've got, already, it means a lot to me. A significant amount, in fact. And I don't want to ruin that. I don't want to lose you. But now, I dunno, I just." He shrugged.

"What's brought this on?"

"Nothing, really. I don't know. You mentioned it so casually and it didn't give me a heart attack – in either one – therefore I inferred that I'm not so scared of the prospect. Because every atom of my very being reckons it would be...fun."

Rose smiled. "Well, yeah, it would be fun."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." They stared at one another for a few moments, each imagining such an event, then Rose continued, "Listen, maybe we shouldn't keep talking about this now..."

He nodded distractedly, his eyes refusing to move from her face, from her lips.

"No, seriously," she murmured breathlessly, unable to look away from his darkening eyes. She squeezed his hand. "Let's talk about this later. Back at the TARDIS. Yeah?"

He nodded again, refocusing. "Yes. Right. Yes." He squeezed her hand back and then sincerely couldn't help but let out a little chuckle. "This is..."

Rose giggled back. "Surreal," she whispered.

"Oh yes," he replied. "Also, brilliant."

"Never thought we'd even talk about it," she added.

"No?"

"Nope. Always thought that if it did happen, it'd just be...you know. Random. Hurried. Never spoken of, after."

The Doctor frowned, and shifted closer to her on the backseat. "Rose, I wouldn't..." he trailed off with a sigh, and released her hand so that he could reach his up to cup her cheek. His free hand grasped her shoulder, urging her to turn slightly to face him better. Their knees bumped and he gave her a soft smile, his thumb stroking her cheek tenderly. "Rose," he whispered again. He leant his head forwards a fraction. "You know I - "

Rose tilted her head and pressed a kiss to his parted lips, lingering there as she felt him expel a sigh. She was about to withdraw her mouth when he suddenly kissed her back, taking her by surprise as he coaxed her own lips open. His hand on her shoulder slid up her neck and into her hair, and Rose inclined her body closer to him as she grabbed hold of his arms. Their kiss was slow at first – an exploration. Then, something inexplicably and simultaneously altered the pace for both of them, and the kiss became rather more impassioned.

The hand he'd been resting against her cheek migrated down the length of her arm, his fingertips dancing over her skin, raising goosebumps. When it reached her thigh, he curled his fingers around it, tugging her against him, raising her leg so that the back of her knee was positioned over his; and though a somewhat awkward arrangement due to their location, they hardly noticed any discomfort. Satisfied that she was as close as possible, he wound his arm around her waist, holding her as he usually did, the way he never tired of; though of course, the action was now accompanied by their heated kiss, which made it an infinitely more enchanting embrace than usual.

They kissed until Rose needed to pause for breath, and then, once she'd retrieved enough oxygen, they kissed some more. As well as pauses to gasp in air, there were pauses to giggle, to chuckle together over their strange and new situation. It was just as the Doctor had lowered his mouth to her neck that they felt the taxi screech to a halt. The driver cleared his throat softly and mumbled something about how they'd arrived at their destination. The Doctor and Rose sat back up properly, from where he'd sprawled slightly over her, and they removed their limbs from around one another. Once they'd caught their breath and righted their hair, they smiled pleasantly at the driver, paid him for the journey, and exited the vehicle, ignoring the way the man smirked at them both when he waved goodbye as he drove off.