A cold wind blew through the side streets of South London as Rose squeezed her eyes shut, bringing her memory to the forefront. "An' they had red napkins, I remember. Closed down when I was about seventeen, but it was always my favorite." Rose rambled her reminiscence, walking the slushy January streets, arm-in-arm with the Doctor. "Very thick-cut chips," she continued, opening her eyes and turning them downward so as not to slip on the icy pavement, "and always piping hot. Be great on a day like today." She held his leather-clad arm tight through her mittens and shivered in the evening air. Why he'd brought her to boring old London, she'd never know, much less in this sort of weather. "Don't you get cold?" Rose wondered aloud, suddenly struck by his lack of winter clothing.
"Sometimes," the Doctor admitted, nodding. "But then I go for chips." He looked down at Rose, a serious expression on his face.
"That's what I've been saying! But the one 'round here went out of business ages ago." The Doctor continued to stare at her. "What?" she asked, in the aggravated tone only a nineteen-year-old could produce.
He shook his head down at her like a disappointed teacher. "Unappreciative, you lot." With a nod to the shop in front of him, he added, "Time travel, that's what."
Rose looked up to see a brightly lit sign that, in her time, had been faded and vandalized, broken and falling apart from disuse. Now it shone in the diminishing sunlight as she and the Doctor exchanged wide grins. She tugged harder on his leather sleeve as she walked forward into the light spilled from the chippy's windows, anxious to get inside out of the frigid air.
"So he ended up running off with some bint called Noosh what turnt out to be a bloke, an' now he's a door-to-door salesman for encyclopedias." Rose replaced the cap on the malt vinegar and held out a hand for the salt cellar.
The Doctor passed it to her. "Sounds like a real charmer," he commented, taking the vinegar for himself and applying it liberally to his second serving of chips.
"Yeah, well, I had to move back in with mum after that," Rose continued with her mouth full. "Got a job at Henrik's to pay off the money he borrowed, as it was technically in my name." Rose waved a chip in a dramatic gesture and sighed. "Some bloke promises a girl he'll be famous and rich and they'll travel and all, then spends his time drinking with his mates and leavin' her to clean up after." She scoffed and wadded up the greasy newspaper from her first basket, searching for a new topic. "So how far back are we? Not gonna run into myself, am I?"
The Doctor gave a scathing look. "I know better. TARDIS says you're in your mum's flat watching telly, we're about two years behind." He snatched the salt back from Rose's side of the table and sprinkled his chips irritably. "You really quit school for this guy?"
"I did, yeah." Rose tossed the handful of newspaper across the table at the Doctor, who dodged it easily. "All for the best, though 'cause then who'd've saved you from the angry plastic lava-mouth?"
"Ricky," the Doctor replied, completely straight-faced, stuffing a forkful of chips into his mouth.
Rose huffed and crossed her arms. "Mickey," she insisted.
They left, warm and full-bellied, two hours and five baskets of chips later. Rose was still giddy at the treat, and more than a little impressed at the Doctor's attention to detail. She must have mentioned the place to the Doctor at some point and was trying to remember exactly where they'd been at the time, when a slurred voice bellowed at them from across the street.
"Oi, Bitch, what do you think you're doing!?" A dark-haired man in his early twenties made a drunken bee-line towards them. Rose gripped the Doctor's arm a little tighter, but stood her ground, staring into the man's face.
"Leave off, Jimmy, you're drunk," she stated, with the ease of repetition.
"Don't talk to me like that, who's this old geezer?" Jimmy waved his half-empty bottle towards the Doctor, whose expression held several questions. He raised an eyebrow at Rose, in a you-want-to-handle-this? gesture. She nodded, so he remained stoic.
"He's a friend. And I don't see how it's any of your business who I'm—"
"You lying cunt! You said you was with your mum, and here you are out and about with some wanker old enough to be your dad."
"Just shut up, Jimmy, he's ten times the man you are."
"Nine," the Doctor mumbled, unheard by the other two.
Rose continued, "I'm not even— ugh, I don't even care. Come on, Doctor. Let's go somewhere else." She turned, and the Doctor turned with her. A split second later, he felt Rose yanked off his arm and twisted around to see Jimmy Stone with his hand raised to strike her.
The Doctor was much quicker. A combination of senses finely-tuned by war kicked his reactions into overdrive, and his Venusian Aikido training returned full-force.
He punched Jimmy Stone in the face.
The Doctor heard Rose's cry of surprise, and reached out for her, pulling her to him without taking his eyes off the unconscious face of her ex-boyfriend. "You alright?" he asked her.
Rose looked down at his hand, picking it up and brushing her thumb across his knuckles. "You're bleeding."
"'S not mine." The Doctor nodded towards Jimmy, whose nose was swollen and dripping. "Sorry if I got any on you."
Jimmy groaned from the ground.
"Think we should leave before he wakes up?" Rose suggested. "He's bound to cause more trouble."
The Doctor nodded. "Don't think he'll remember anything."
His grin was infectious. "Because he'd have said something to you." He held out a hand to help Rose step over Jimmy, and Rose once again latched onto his arm.
"I thought you didn't like violence," Rose teased, glancing back at Jimmy for the last time.
"Can't have everything we want. Where to next?"
"Well, I'd sort of like to go see mum. In my proper time, you know. I'd like a change of clothes…"