The party was in full swing, that much was obvious. Jonathan Noble, better known to his friends and enemies alike as the Doctor, was just as obviously not enjoying himself. He was leaning against the wall, his arms crossed defensively in front of his chest, with a sardonic smile on his face as he watched the people around him get gradually drunker. His trademark leather jacket — his armour against the world — was firmly in place, despite the high temperature inside.
He was wondering what had possessed him to say yes to this party, while simultaneously calculating how quickly the could get away without seeming rude. To be honest, he didn't mind a bit of rudeness every once in a while, but he did value his friendship with Harkness enough to limit it. Sometimes.
“Oi, Spaceman!” The Doctor grimaced. His sister Donna, on the other hand... well, she'd had worse. Heck, she usually DID worse. She could handle a bit of rudeness.
“Go away. I'm brooding.” She laughed and slung an arm over his shoulder, pressing a glass of... something... in his hand. He was secretly impressed with how she managed to not spill anything with that action, not that he'd ever let her know.
“At least have a drink. You're being a right bundle of laughs again.”
He eyed the monstrosity in his hand as though it might decide at any moment to get up and walk away — or worse, attack him.
“It's pink,” he stated.
Donna flipped her ginger hair over her shoulder. “Psht, who cares. Live a little!”
He was still eyeing the pink liquid dubiously when another voice interrupted.
“Doctor.” He looked up, grateful for the distraction — right into a pair of warm brown eyes. “This is Rose Tyler,” continued the voice, which belonged to his friend and host of the current party, captain Jack Harkness.
He smiled at her and waved cheerfully. “Hello, Rose Tyler. I'm the Doctor.”
A smile crinkled around her eyes and she bit her lip, perhaps in an effort to not ask the obvious question, but it was Jack who continued speaking. “Rose needs a ride to the station. I thought maybe you could take the TARDIS and drive her there?”
The Doctor grinned widely. “I would love to! Jack, good party. Donna, talk to you later, go mingle. Rose,” he extended his arm, “shall we?”
She smiled at him, a broad smile to match his own. “We shall,” she answered, taking his arm. He found that he quite liked the sound of her voice.
As they made their way outside, she looked up at him. “What's the TARDIS?”
He ducked his head a little, though a corner of his mouth quirked up. “Time and Relative Dimension in Space. It's a bit of a joke from a friend of mine, and the name stuck. She's parked right over there.”
The pair came up to a small blue car. The Doctor opened the passenger door for Rose and then went around to the driver's side. He had to fold his tall frame in half to fit inside, but once seated she was surprisingly comfy.
“I can see where the Relative Dimension is coming from,” said Rose. She bit her lip to keep from laughing.
“Oy, don't knock the old girl! She still has to take you to the station, you know.” The smirk on his face belied the indignant tone of his voice.
“Right, Doctor. Time to go then?”
He winked at her and slid out of the parking space and into traffic.
By the time they reached the train station the light mood had darkned somewhat and they were both on edge. Despite the late hour they had managed to get stuck on a traffic jam, because some idiot had parked his car against a traffic light.
The Doctor threw the TARDIS haphazardly into a space that with some creative thinking could be called a parking spot — there were advantages to a small car — and the two of them jumped out. He could see the train from here, standing ready at the platform. Holding out his hand, he looked over at the young woman.
“Rose Tyler... Run!”
She clasped his hand and together they sprinted to the station and up the stairs... only to see the train pulling out without Rose on board.
“Damn!” The young woman stood watching until she could no longer see it. The Doctor instead watched her, and the angry expression on her face as she muttered, 'now what?' For the life of him, he did not know what possessed him to utter the words that he did. He was not in the habit of inviting strangers into his home, no matter how pretty they were, and yet here they were.
“You could... come with me. I live quite close by.” He crossed his arms in what he knew was a defensive gesture, and yet he could not help himself. “You know... if you want.”
Rose turned a bit to look at him. She smiled a maddening smile where the tip of her tongue just peeked between her lips. She looked down at where their hands were still linked, and then back up into his eyes. Her smile widened into a full-blown grin.
The Doctor awoke the following morning with the same goofy grin on his face that he'd fallen asleep with. It dimmed somewhat when he noticed Rose was not lying next to him. She was up and dressed, quietly gathering her stuff. When she noticed him looking, she offered him a rueful little smile.
“I have to go if I want to catch my train.”
“Ah. D'you want me to drop you off?”
“What, with your driving?” She answered with a raised eyebrow, although her tone was teasing. “No thanks, I quite like to live.
“Seriously though, you don't live that far away. I'll walk.”
“Oy! I'll have you know I'm an excellent driver, me!”
Rose smiled. “Whatever you say, Doctor. Still, no need to get up on my account. Get some more sleep. See you when I see you.” With that she slipped out the door, and the Doctor was left staring at the space she had vacated.
Two hours later, he gave up getting more sleep as a lost cause. With a sigh he got up and pulled on dark jeans and a jumper, followed by his leather jacket. Today was a Sunday, meaning he didn't have to go in to work. Good thing, too, because he didn't think he was quite up to concentrating today. His mind was filled with blonde hair, sparkling brown eyes, a bit of tongue peeking between pink lips.
As it was, he let his feet guide him through London without realising where he was, and with no destination in mind. By the time he came somewhat back to himself, he was sitting on a bench along the Thames, staring out over the water, and the sun was sitting low in the sky.
The rest of his week was not much better, until he just decided to take some time off. By the Saturday he was a little better. At least, he was aware of where he was most of the time, even if he didn't do much with the knowledge.
On Sunday afternoon he was again staring out over the Thames, this time standing on the Millennium Bridge.
Movement next to him drew his attention. Jack placed his arms in the same position on the bridge railing as his own.
The Doctor looked sideways at him for a moment, then turned his face back towards the water.
For a moment the two of them stood in companionable silence, although he knew it would not last long. Jack wouldn't have sought him out like this without a reason.
Sure enough, Jack's head turned a little to study the Doctor's profile.
“Are you ok, Doctor?”
“Sure, never better.”
“Ok... because you kind of have us worried here. You're not answering any calls or texts, and I know for a fact you've been standing here for the past three hours. What happened?”
The Doctor kept his eyes determinedly on the water. “Nothing that I want to tell you about right now. Who's the 'us' doing the worrying?”
“Myself, Martha, Donna of course. Others too. Would you like the whole list or will you just take my word for it?”
“Look, Jack. I appreciate the concern, but I'm fine. I just needed some time for myself, is all.”
Jack kept his gaze on the Doctor for a little bit longer, but eventually he nodded and faced the water again.
They stood like that for some time, without speaking. The Doctor debated asking after Rose Tyle, but deicded against it. He might as well hold up a neon sign proclaiming the cause of his distraction if he did that — Jack had a nose for these things.
The weeks that followed showed some improvement in his ability to concentrate. Rose still invaded his thoughts at regular intervals, but at least he could do his job without Hartmann noticing anything amiss.
Summer was just starting to consider making way for the fall when he saw her again. He'd been driving in Chiswick, after visiting Donna, and he saw her standing in line to get on a bus. He braked hard, to a chorus of honking behind him. He jumped out of the TARDIS and grabbed her hand. She looked astonished for a moment that someone would randomly take her hand, but when she saw who it was her eyes lit up.
“Rose Tyler! Where are you going?”
“To St. Pancras,” she answered, her mouth twitching in amusement.
“Right! I... err... I could take you? If you want, of course.”
Her wide grin was answer enough.
“I would love to. Thank you, Doctor.”
As he led her back to his car, he ignored the rude gesture from the driver behind him. Some things were worth it.
They made it to the station in record time, lady Luck smiling down on him. He even found a decent parking place for once, which was in itself a miracle.
He walked to the ticket desk, Rose's hand in his as if it belonged there. She led them straight past the normal ticket desks straight to the international desk. She'd obviously been here before.
“One ticket to Paris, please,” she asked the clerk, who quickly typed it into his computer. Coming to a split-second decision, the Doctor leaned forwards.
“Better make that two.”
Rose looked at him with a raised eyebrow. He grinned unrepentantly back at her.
“You're not getting rid of me that easily. We have some talking to do. Besides, who wants to travel to Paris alone?”
Her smile shone like the sun. “Better with two, yeah?” she said, extending her hand. He took it, marvelling again at how well it fit. He felt elated at her easy acceptance.