Rose and the stranded Timelord

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The 10th Doctor had been investigating some disappearances in a deserted house when the weeping angels sneak up on him and zap him into the past – New Years Day 2005 to be exact and the only way to get back is to convince his predecessor and Rose Tyler who he is, once Rose has actually met him, well the ninth him.

The 10th Doctor had been investigating some disappearances in a deserted house when the weeping angels sneak up on him and zap him into the past – New Years Day 2005 to be exact and the only way to get back is to convince his predecessor and Rose Tyler who he is, once Rose has actually met him, well the ninth him.

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Chapter 1
A/N: My version of 'Blink' without Martha Jones.

Martha Jones was still adjusting to the fact he had deserted her back in 1913, leaving her for the matron of a boy's military academy to fend for herself yet at the end, he'd known what he'd done and had tried several times over to make amends but it had proved one thing - he didn't feel the same way about her as she did him.

Maybe it was time for a break, to decide if she still wanted to be his travelling companion and nothing else but she supposed it was all her own fault really, he'd made it plain the night of Leo's 21st birthday party that had turned into a disaster but after the day she'd had, it was hardly surprising but she'd got a shock when he'd been there. Of course, she'd had to open her big mouth and hint he'd been chasing her and tried to laugh it off by saying she only went for humans but in the last few days, she'd crammed in so much and now he was giving her a choice.

"So Martha, do you want a break to catch up with things? I know things got escalated somewhat and I can never thank you enough for looking after me while I was human."

"Comes with the job," Martha tried to smile, as if being a decoy with some monster chasing you wasn't enough, well that and the fact when her sister had got that job at Lazarus Laboratories he'd been about to dump her back home anyway and it was only the day after she'd left, talk about weird.

"Well, I think it was a bit beyond the job description. Tell you what, you have the day off, have lunch with your mother and talk about normal things and I'll be outside your flat in the morning, sleep in your own bed tonight?"

Martha thought about it, her mother would want an explanation as to what happened at the party and the lavish event they'd attended, as well as who he actually was.

"No, I'll give lunch with my mother a miss but I have a few errands to run, pay the rent to start with before I get kicked out."

"Right, here we are then," he said merrily, dancing around the centre console and putting on the handbrake. "I've not landed in your flat this time, sorry but it's quiet enough around here. See you in the morning then?"

"Yeah, what are you going to get up to while I'm gone?" Martha laughed, imagining all sorts of trouble he could get up to in 24 hours.

"Oh, you know me, always parts of the Tardis to repair and all that steam on that spaceship didn't do her any good. I think he liked you."

Martha blushed, thinking of Riley Vashtee whom she'd been trapped in an escape pod with, at least he'd shown some interest in her but she couldn't have stayed on that spaceship any more than the Doctor could have stayed as a teacher in 1913.

She said goodbye and he watched her walk to her front door then released the handbrake and drifted above the earth to take stock. He'd had a few narrow escapes recently but he knew that was nothing out of the ordinary for him. Martha had shocked him though, he'd been horrible to her back in 1913 and yet she had still defended him from 'The Family' and offered to explain to Joan Redfern what had happened.

He twisted a few dials and checked the monitor, picking up a signal from police in London that over a period of time, people had been going missing from a deserted house, leaving cars outside and never been heard of again. The Doctor smiled to himself – it was the perfect way to pass the time waiting for Martha to get over him rejecting her again but he had given her fair warning when he first invited her to travel with him.

He went off to get changed into his brown suit that had been neatly cleaned and pressed by the ship and put on his long coat then went back to de-materialise in front of the old house known as 'Wester Drumlins' and seeing on the monitor the chained gates but no cars anywhere, the police must have towed them away somewhere but a young woman had recently gone missing while exploring with her friend.

He exited the Tardis, which he'd parked out of sight and walked to the back door, admiring the garden statues that looked almost new. He had no reason to think why they should appear as such, maybe they were easily cleaned by the rain. He got his sonic screwdriver out and unlocked the back door and stepped inside, unaware one of the garden statues had moved.

He got no clues as to how several people had never come out, he assumed the police had done their investigations but since he had nothing else to do and he was here, what harm was there in conducting his own? He went up the grand staircase and peered out at the overgrown front garden and thought he heard something moving downstairs and just as he looked away, one of the statues had moved again when he looked back.

Thinking he'd been overdoing things a bit, he continued to look around in the bedrooms in what Rose would have called a 'creepy old house'.

"She would have just loved this," he said out loud. "This is what kept her going. Why did it have to be her that got taken away?"

He'd only been thinking about her when they had been in Manhattan, the Daleks had survived, well one of them had and was out there, somewhere and no doubt would turn up sooner or later, probably not alone. He'd even drawn several sketches of her in the journal he'd left behind in 1913, she had been in his thoughts even when he was unaware of who he was, that was how deeply he cared for her and all he'd offered her was a hologram of himself to say goodbye, not even being able to tell her he loved her back.

He shook off the thought and went back downstairs to the entrance hall, hearing noises again. Perhaps he should have also taken the day off? The noise was coming from one of the reception rooms to the left so holding his sonic screwdriver again, he went off in that direction though why he always thought his sonic was like some kind of weapon, he didn't know and it used to make Rose laugh.

He recalled how she used to tease him about it.

"Doctor," she used to smile at him as they'd explored somewhere. "What are you going to do with that? Assemble a cabinet?"

"You can mock all you want Rose Tyler," he had said back to her. "Just remember it's saved us a few times."

Then wherever they had been, they would loop arms and carry on, him slightly out in front of a still grinning Rose Tyler. He missed her, his two hearts were still heavy from her being literally snatched away from him as he'd hung on from the back-draught of the void but she was safe. That was his only consolation and he didn't want to dwell on it or the fact he'd been delayed in trying to find a way back to her but it had only been a few days since he'd allowed Martha Jones a few trips and she'd taken it as something else when all he wanted was to get Rose back, somehow.

He was so wrapped up in remembering he should get back to working on a way to go find her, he had no idea another of the garden statues had crept inside the house as he entered a room with wallpaper hanging from the walls and some sort of message was underneath, which he put his glasses on to read. He pulled at the pieces of wallpaper, revealing a green painted wall behind and several words under each other so he moved to the next piece, which peeled quite easily away and once he'd removed the third strip of wallpaper, he stared at the words.

'Beware the weeping angels,

whatever you do, don't blink,

signed Sally Sparrow.

PS, duck, duck now!'

He heard a rustling noise behind him and saw a shadow on the wall then took the graffiti artist's advice, just in time for a ball of clay to crash into the wall.

"Where the hell did that come from?" he wondered out loud, putting his glasses away into his pocket and also wondering who this Sally Sparrow was and if she'd been the last person there and remembering that the two women must have been there recently, one of whom had gone missing.

How had one got away and have time to write a warning, that was now covered up but maybe she had meant it to look like the wallpaper hadn't been disturbed?

Whoever it was had lost her friend and didn't want anyone else to go missing but how were they going missing? More importantly, where had that lump of clay, now splattered all over the wall come from? Pocketing his sonic screwdriver, he turned as he heard noises and the doorbell rang.

"Funny," he thought, "Who'd be actually ringing the doorbell of an empty house? Those annoying canvassers can't have anything else do."

He thought he'd do what everyone else did in such cases, pretend he wasn't there, Jackie Tyler used to do that when he called for her daughter, getting her told off by an annoyed Rose, who had opened the door and let him in but she'd kiss his cheek and say sorry. He often used to hope her mother would keep him waiting more often.

Now, there were no kisses on the cheek when he was kept waiting, only Martha Jones, wanting to make more of him allowing her to travel with him and he had to put a stop to it and get on with his mission, that of getting Rose back. He'd been able to tell that when he'd mentioned Rose a few times that Martha had a jealous streak, despite her protests she wasn't interested in him in that way but she was a human female.

He waited a few minutes until whoever it had been had got tired of waiting and ventured to the doorway. If whoever that person had been was being persistent and trying the back door, he could pretend he didn't live there and was thinking of buying it but at the rate people were going missing, they would probably be giving the place away.

He considered it safe to move around and continue his search for any clues the police may have missed and turned to face a door that he presumed led to the cellar. Perhaps they hadn't actually been down there but did he want to go if there was anything gruesome down there?

He let out a 'Brr' at the thought, this is what he lived for, the unknown and mysterious, Rose would be teasing him again at his hesitation and would have already dared him to go down and of course, to prove he wanted to go, he would be halfway down the steps with Rose above asking if he was scared yet. Then she would have crept down the steps and jumped on his back and shouted 'Gotcha' in his ear and he'd have spun her around and they'd both have laughed.

He hesitated for a few seconds, he'd never have hesitated with Rose by his side, she was his friend, no, she was more than a friend, she was the closest thing he'd had to a family. He'd told that to the runaway bride at Christmas, who had quite rightly turned down the offer to go with him when he'd wiped out an entire species, even though they would have devoured every living creature on the entire planet had he let them live.

He was getting dangerous, he knew it, going back to his old ways before he'd met Rose, the most brilliant and wonderful woman he'd ever met in his entire 900 and something years and when Martha came back tomorrow, he was going to tell her he wanted to be on his own for a while, before someone else got hurt or taken away against their will.

As he got his sonic screwdriver out of his inside jacket pocket, he felt uneasy, like something was behind him but he turned and of course, he was alone. He went back to what he was doing and if he'd been thinking straight instead of thinking about Rose, he would have already realised why the garden statues were so familiar. Then he stopped as the door knob gave a 'click' and suddenly realised what he'd seen outside.

He slapped his hand against his head.

"You idiot, those are the weeping angels, not just garden statues, that's where everyone has gone, back to a point in time before they were born. How could I not have realised?" he asked himself, wondering if he should go down to the cellar or just go back before they tried to get into the Tardis or were they already trying?

He had another uneasy feeling he was being watched, this time knowing he wasn't imagining it and he shouldn't have ignored it last time. The best thing he could do was sonic both doors shut and hope anyone else wasn't stupid enough to smash the windows. He sealed the cellar door again and hoped he could dodge any of the statues if they'd got inside, which he suspected that had been the noises he had heard but he'd been so engrossed thinking about his best friend, he'd ignored all the signs.

He was just pocketing his sonic screwdriver again when he felt a draught behind him and the dreaded feeling something was about to lay its hand on his shoulder and this time, it wasn't going to be Rose playing games with him by creeping up behind him. He was just about to take the advice written on the wall again and duck but he was too late as he felt a slight touch then everything went black before he had the chance to turn around.
Chapter 2
Martha had heard the Tardis fly off or whatever it did, the Doctor had never fully explained how it came and went then moved to the past, present or future and since it also landed on spaceships about to crash into a sun, she'd given up asking. Even when they had been back in 1913 and she'd had to keep checking on the time machine, he'd left no clues as to how it worked.

She decided to forget about him and the Tardis for at least a day, get some perspective on the situation where it seemed only a few days had gone by since the hospital she worked in got transported to the moon but she should have known when he'd kissed her that he'd meant what he said – that it meant nothing and would save a thousand lives. She had been the one who had wanted to make something out of it.

The Doctor's head was spinning – time travel without a capsule was deadly, well it hurt at the very least and he'd have a bit of a headache later, not that Timelords usually got headaches. It was dark, that much he knew, it wasn't just that his eyes were playing tricks on him and he was outside, it was cold and as his vision came into focus again, there were traces of a light coating of snow on the ground as he put his hand out to steady himself as he was crouched down besides what looked like a large industrial sized trash can.

He tried to shake the dizziness off and get his bearings and gingerly tried to get up slowly as he slid up against the wall behind him. What greeted him shook him even more as he slowly turned and looked beyond the metal receptacle that had been blocking his view. He knew that landmark in front of him, he'd been there dozens of times, in his past and present forms, he'd come out once to be greeted by the police and escorted to Downing Street, he'd also more recently landed there to find Cybermen posing as 'Ghosts' but the most memorable time was crash-landing when he'd regenerated – badly and Rose had not believed it was really him.

He was in the Powell Estate but how had he managed to get here? Well since the weeping angels couldn't exactly send him back to a time before he was born, his estimated age was a bit 'off' to say the least and when he'd sat with Rose on the roof of her block of flats, that had been his best guess. So the angels must have sent him back to the time before he'd just come back to earth as he'd detected something was going on and judging by the snow plus the coloured lights blinking from some of the balconies in front of him, it was Christmas or new year but not the Christmas he'd crash-landed with Rose doubting who he was.

He was about to step out of the shadows when he heard voices - familiar female voices.

"I'm late now, I've missed it. It's midnight, Mickey's going to be calling me everything. This is your fault," the young woman whom the Doctor recognised her voice immediately said.

How could he ever forget that voice? He heard it constantly in his mind.

"No, it's not. It's Jimbo's fault. He said he was going to give us a lift, then he said his axle broke. I can't help it," the other voice answered, who could only be Jackie Tyler – his nemesis.

"Get rid of him, Mum, he's useless."

"Listen to you, with a sometimes boyfriend who's a mechanic. Be fair though, my time of life I'm not going to do much better," Jackie sadly replied, Rose rubbing her arm.

Rose was dressed in a purple hat, purple jacket with a blue top underneath, that he could plainly see as she levelled with his hiding place. He had to stay out of sight, at least until she was alone and came out the following morning but could he stay outside all night? He doubted the Tardis had been sent back a few years with him. This had to be 2005, a few months before the first him had met her in the department store's basement, which he'd not so cleverly blown up.

Rose and Jackie were still stood talking.

"Don't be like that Mum, you never know, there could be someone out there."

"Maybe, one day. Happy New Year sweetheart."

"Happy New Year Mum! Don't stay out all night," Rose laughed as her mother went to the block of flats opposite theirs after they had hugged.

"Try and stop me," Jackie laughed back.

The Doctor felt privileged to have seen what they had been like, before she'd stumbled into the store's basement and he'd pulled her away from the shop window dummies. What would her life have been like if they'd never met that day? Would she have been better off without him? Well she'd still be here, in this universe for starters, that had to be better, didn't it?

Then he had a horrible thought. What if just by being here, he was to change her destiny and she never ventured into the basement that day? He felt dizzy again and slapped his hand on the metal bin so hard, it made Rose, who had been about to head for the door of their block turn towards the darkened area.

"Who's there? Is that you Mickey?"

This was his chance, if he spoke, she may never go on to meet him, the first him but if he didn't, he was stuck here because he'd not been on earth prior to meeting her for a long time, well not since the eighth version of himself, who had been a bit of a ladies man, so he'd discovered and then he'd have to wait around six months or so before his ninth self came along.

He thought if he pretended to be slightly drunk, he may get away with it but she might just brush it off. Then he had an idea.

"You all right mate?" Rose asked as she heard him cursing something about keys.

"Yeah, can't find my car keys, someone thought it was funny to toss them over here when we were on the way to a party."

"Too much to drink? If you have, you'd be best leaving them there mate."

The Doctor laughed. "Something like that. Maybe you're right? Know any cab numbers?"

"Maybe it's time you went home then but you won't get a cab for hours, they'll all be booked. Where was this party then?"

"Yeah, just my luck I never got the address, there were a few of us, left my car down the road at the pub and we walked. I planned on crashing there for the night and collect my car in the morning."

"Makes sense to me. There can't be that many parties going on, just walk on some of the balconies and listen for the noise, you might see some of the people you came here with?"

She didn't even know him yet and here she was, his Rose, being just as practical as ever and this was the time when she hadn't even turned nineteen yet and he had to look twice as old as she did. She'd always estimated he was around his early thirties, she said he'd get away with thirty four-ish.

"Thanks, I might just do that. I don't even know your name."

He couldn't just come out with saying a 'thanks Rose', could he?

"Well I don't normally talk to strange men who hide in the shadows. I'm Rose and you are?"

"Me? Oh, I'm John Smith and yeah, tell me about my parent's wicked sense of humour. Promise not to laugh?"

He heard her giggling. "Anyway, happy New Year, John Smith, hope you find your friends. If you don't find your mates, I live up there, number 48, just buzz me, I won't be going to bed just yet, too giddy."

"Well happy New Year to you too Rose and thank you. What year is this?" he asked, thinking he should maybe let her catch a glimpse of him but what about when the time came to regenerate and she remembered him?

This was getting too complicated by the minute but maybe, just maybe, he could use that to his advantage? He came out of the shadows and under one of the lamps, Rose hugging herself to keep warm and all he could think of was how much he missed her hugging him.

Rose just smiled when she saw him, probably thinking he looked a bit like that Scottish actor she used to tease him endlessly about.

"Blimey, how much have you had? It's 2005, January the first."

The Doctor knew he was right then, there were at least six months before his former self discovered what the Nestene Consciousness were up to and put a stop to it, with her help.

"2005 then? Tell you what, I bet you're going to have a really great year," he smiled as she unfolded her arms.

"Yeah? See you aren't that drunk then are ya? Have you any idea where to look for your friends?"

He shook his head. He could really use her help but her mother had taken a long time to get used to him and she wouldn't take too kindly to him in his present form, well she really would have something to worry about, all the early accusations she'd thrown at him.

Rose stood there observing him. Did she think he looked innocent enough to invite him for coffee or something and to wait to call a cab, which she was right, it would take a few hours and he still had to pretend he'd not found his car keys or remember where he'd left his supposed car. He hoped she wouldn't ask him what model it was, since he'd not taken much notice back in 2005 what types there even were.

"So, let me get this right then? You don't know where your friends went and your car keys are over there, somewhere? How were ya even gonna find them in the dark and get back to your car?"

"I have a small torch, a sort of penlight one with a blue glow?" he offered, reaching into his jacket pocket and thankful his sonic screwdriver was still there, along with his psychic paper.

Rose was looking at the silver, sleek object with a doubting look on her face.

"You expected to be able to see, with that?"

It was almost as accusing as she'd been over him assembling cabinets with it.

"Yes, it's brighter than it looks. Anyway, I'm keeping you in the cold and this isn't finding my car keys."

Rose giggled again. "I don't think there were any car keys, were there?"

He put the screwdriver back in his pocket, there was never any fooling Rose Tyler, not then and not now. He shook his head.

"I heard you coming along and decided to hide until you'd both gone past, then you stopped to talk and I lost my balance."

"That I can believe. Come on, I'll make you a coffee and you can wait an hour and try booking a cab. Where do ya live then?"

What could he say to that? That he lived in a blue wooden police box in 2007? She'd have him certified, well at present she would so he could only think of one place, since he wasn't entirely sure where he'd dropped Martha off earlier, well a few hours ago, the Tardis had obviously stored her address from last time.

"Oh, well, I probably couldn't get a cab to take me as far as Chiswick."

"Blimey, that's a way off, been out all night have you?"

"Yeah, met some friends after they'd finished work."

"So what do ya do for a living then?"

This was getting far beyond what he'd reckoned on but if he wanted to survive another six months, what else could he do? As long as he didn't tell her how important she was going to become to him in the future, he'd be able to get by, make friends with her but where would he stay?

"Physics teacher, well maths as well," he bragged.

"Show-off. Come on then John Smith, I'll probably get into trouble when my mum finds out but she won't be back tonight, trust me. So, do you have any fancy letters after your name or any fancy titles?" Rose asked as she put the code in the door lock and he opened the door for her, allowing her in first then realising she was taking the stairs to the fourth floor, her way of telling him he'd be completely sober by the time they got there.

"Well, actually, I didn't want to brag but most people call me Doctor."

Rose stopped as they got to her landing.

"Including your friends?" she asked, fishing in her jeans pocket for her key, the Doctor half expecting it to be her Tardis key.

"Yeah but you don't have to call me that, not that I'm not saying you're not a friend or anything. You could call me that, if you wanted?" he gushed out, as Rose used to tell him at 50 mph.

"Mmm, I'll have to think about that. Come on, I'll make you that coffee then you can tell me exactly how you got here, since the car was just to throw off suspicion you'd fallen down drunk by the trash can."

"You got me," he grinned as she opened the door to the flat he'd last been in just hours before he'd lost her.

He'd been back to the estate, which had been in chaos as people had been trying to locate friends and relatives and women comforting each other. He'd not stuck around in case he was asked any questions, they would have certainly seen him with Jackie and Rose at some point during his visits. Besides, it had been all too painful and he trusted the flat would have been taken care of.

While Rose was in the kitchen, probably making sure his coffee was strong or just black, he looked around to find nothing much had changed, well the cat-flap had been there, the glass coffee table that they'd smashed between them when the arm from the shop window dummy had attacked them was still intact.

He heard Rose's mobile ringing and her saying something, probably to her mother, just as the hatch opened and two cups were placed on the shelf and he could hear her saying goodnight to Jackie again.

"Don't worry Mum, I'll be fine, just come back when you want tomorrow, I'll start lunch if you want? You what?" she asked as her mother asked her something.

Then she mouthed to him to be quiet.

"No Mum, I did not pick any strangers up after you left me. Yeah, I know I used to bring cats home but they all left. Don't you trust me?"

He could only imagine what her mother was saying on the other end. All he wanted to know was what time she'd be back so he could escape her endless questions she would undoubtedly have.

Rose put her mobile by the side of the two mugs then went around into the living room.

"Sorry about that, I think my mum has psychic powers or something. Here, drink this."

He took one of the mugs, seeing she'd made it just how he liked it and he wondered how she'd known that first time she'd brought his other self inside on some false pretence it was about the store fire.

"Thanks, I don't want to get you into any trouble with her."

"Too late for that don't ya think? So anyway, about getting back to Chiswick in a taxi, I hope you have plenty of money on you? It'll be double until the day after."

"Oh, I never thought of that," he grinned, pretending to search his pockets.

"Lost your wallet as well as your car keys?" she teased him, a smile on her face as she curled up in the chair, like she used to do when he was there, then she'd pat the space at the side of her and he'd sit half on the arm and half in the chair, her mother scowling at him.

He thought of bringing out the wallet containing the psychic paper but he dreaded to think what she would make of it.

"Just my small wallet with my bank card," he had to lie as he fingered it, made sure she'd seen it then put it back again. "I'll have to go find a cash machine."

Rose laughed. "You'll have a trek then, there are none around here, where have you been living? Oh I forgot you come from a posh area, you probably have them in shops and every street corner in Chiswick?"

"Not quite," he smiled back, remembering when he was getting money out to pay for a taxi with Donna and having to fix the machine to churn out notes to distract the robot Santas.

"Can I trust you?" Rose asked, sitting up.

The Doctor nodded as he put the empty mug down.

"You can sleep on the sofa but you'll have to be gone before my mother gets back."

"You should not be encouraging complete strangers to sleep on your sofa Rose."

"You're not a complete stranger, I know your name, what you do for a living and roughly where you live."

That was exactly what he had meant, he didn't come from Chiswick but he had posed as a teacher, twice and got away with it. Maybe he could find a place to stay, get a job and lie low until the day the department store blew up then go find his former self and hope he'd get a ride back to just after he'd dropped Martha off, before he'd been stupid enough to get zapped into the past by the angels but the question was, did he really want to do it on his own?

He'd been given another chance to spend some time with Rose but if he did, how exactly was he going to play this?
Chapter 3
Rose took his silence as he agreed her offer was preferable to being embarrassed having to locate a cash machine or spend the night trying to find his friends, if he'd been telling the truth, which she was determined to get but he seemed safe enough. He was probably tired and hungry and she'd offered him nothing to eat and if he'd been drunk, he had sobered up quickly.

"Sorry, where are my manners, are you hungry?"

"Nah, I'm fine, thanks. I'll be out of your way in the morning."

"No rush, my mum won't be back that early, I can at least make you breakfast."

"Then I look forward to it. You go ahead, don't mind me, I'll watch a bit of telly if you don't mind?"

"Nah, I don't mind, there won't be much on though," she replied, going over and switching it on. "We don't have the sports channels."

"That's quite alright, if there is only you and your mother, or is there someone else?"

He could have sworn Jackie had said Mickey was her sometimes boyfriend but he shouldn't assume anything.

"No, no-one else. Well I sort of have a boyfriend, I was supposed to go to a party with him but he'll have gone on his own now. My mum's friend was supposed to pick us up from the pub but his car broke down, so he said. I think he'd had too much to drink and didn't fancy getting caught."

"Quite right too and I really didn't leave my car at a pub, sorry."

"What can I believe about you?"

"I'm a teacher from Chiswick?" he smiled.

He hoped she believed that, well the teacher bit would be easy, wait for the schools to re-open, present his qualifications and convince them they needed extra help. As for the living in Chiswick bit, he'd have to be careful he didn't run into a certain ginger bride.

"Okay, I'll believe ya, you don't seem to be penniless, unless you're like me when my card keeps getting chewed up?"

"No, I have money."

All he could do was rely on his psychic paper and his sonic and hope no-one noticed their dwindling bank account but if he thought about it, UNIT had supposed to have kept him on their books, he could see if they still did. It would only take one phonecall to the brigadier.

"Well I'll go get you the spare duvet, don't stop up all night, will ya?"

"I will do my best not to. Why do you keep looking at me like that? Have we met before?" he asked, trying to throw her off.

"You sort of look familiar but no, I've never met a John Smith before. Who are you, really?"

She put the cups down and sat on the sofa next to him.

"Are you in trouble?"

"No Rose, well sort of but not with the law. The thing is, I don't belong here."

"No, you belong in Chiswick. They'll be some buses tomorrow, I'll lend you the fare into town and you can get some cash, yeah?"

"That's very kind of you Rose but the truth is, I don't live in Chiswick, well I know someone who does live there, sort of."

"You're not making sense Doctor, care to explain?"

He was already too deep in this, after she met his past self, he'd regenerate and she would know instantly but he couldn't risk her not being in the store that night it had blown up, after he'd got her out safely.

"I will tell you in the morning, it's late."

"I'm not tired and I'm not stupid so tell me or I'll call my mum's friend and he'll come over and find out who you are."

He believed she would as well.

"Where do I start? You work in a department store, right?"

"How do you know that? Did Mickey put you up to this?"

"Mickey the idiot? No, he didn't."

"You know him then?"

"Rose, you watch TV, science fiction, right?"

"What are you getting at?"

"You'd better go get a refill, you are going to need it."

She went off, undecided as to ring her mother and have Jimbo and his mates come over, if the bloke messing with the TV remote was actually crazy, which served her right for picking up strays after lying to her mother she had done no such thing. She made the drinks, unaware she had made his the way he liked it but everyone got the same as she had, there was no asking what they wanted.

"Right, out with it, who are you, John Smith or should I say Doctor?"

"Just Doctor, well The Doctor if you want my full title, John Smith is just the name I go under sometimes, it saves a lot of explaining."

"Not this time it doesn't."

"Right, of course, down to business then. I told you that you were going to have a great year, ask me how I know?"

"I keep asking ya questions but I'm gettin' no answers. Go on then, how did you know?"

"Because, Rose Tyler, you are going to meet a very important person this year, well in around six months or so. When you do, your life will never be the same again."

Rose almost got up and threw him out until he put his arm out to stop her.

"Hear me out Rose, you wanted to know."

"How did ya know my surname? Have you been going through my stuff?"

"No, I would never do that."

He had, well the other him had when he'd first been in her living room and that had been the first time he'd really noticed his appearance and Rose had not even bothered, she'd gone with him anyway. This could completely ruin any chance of ever getting back but he had to risk it, to tell her some of it, without interfering in her destiny.

"Rose, you are going to meet a man who will take you away from all this and when you do, you have to do exactly what he says and then go with him, not right away though, he will go away and come back and ask you again."

"How do you know all this?"

"Because, how can I explain this? I'm from a few years in your future, I know what happens and I know you are going to call your mum's friend but hear me out first. I got here by accident, into the past, well my past actually, call it a freak accident because I wasn't paying attention."

Well that part was true, he'd been thinking about her, maybe that was why he was here?

"Then how did you get here?"

"The touch of an angel, well a weeping angel to be exact. There are these creatures, in 2007 that can send you back to the past but I think they had been a bit off with me. They are supposed to send a person back to before they were born and they consume all the energy and let you live your life in the past. The only creatures who kill you off in the present and do it nicely. I was being nosy, seeing why people had disappeared and they got me."

Well she had sat back, that was a good sign.

"You're right, you should have waited until morning, you might have sobered up a bit more by then. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and let you stay but you had better still have the same story in the morning, right?"

That seemed fair enough to him, at least she'd not kicked him out or got Jackie's then boyfriend to toss him over the balcony and his story wouldn't have changed, that was all he could tell her at present, at least until she trusted him.

"You'd better have gone in the morning before my mother gets back, I lied to her."

The Doctor thought that was not the first or the last time Rose would do that in the not so distant future. She disappeared and came back with a pink floral duvet and put it on the chair, noticing he was watching some channel she didn't recognise the logo of. He had 'zapped' the TV box to get all the premium channels but before his past self came along, he'd have to change them back. Well maybe?

"How did you do that? Mess with the TV box?"

"That penlight I showed you, it's not just a torch."

"It can upgrade TV's? If you are right and you're stuck in the past, do you realise what everyone would do?"

He hadn't thought of that. "Enlighten me."

"This is just too weird. If you know what's gonna happen, people will think you can predict the future and they won't leave you alone so why are you telling me?"

She had a point. "I trust you Rose but you can't tell anyone else, especially not your mother."

"Do you know me in the future then?"

"Sort of. When you meet this man, after you have done what he asks you to do, I need you to get him to meet me and take me back to the time I come from."

"How will he be able to do that?"

"Trust me, he'll be able to."

He knew that Timelords always recognised each other but it wasn't that simple if it was a past or future incarnation of yourself, especially if your brain happened to be scrambled at the time but he had to risk it, he had very little choice.

"What, he has a time machine?" Rose laughed and stifled a yawn.

"Get some sleep Rose, we'll talk in the morning, I don't need much sleep but I'll keep the volume low on your upgraded TV, no charge for that."

"Well okay then but if you want to leave, my key's on the table."

"Right, got it but you promised me breakfast. Do you believe me?"

"Sort of, I suppose. Why would you make a thing up like that?"

"Exactly. Goodnight Rose, see you in the morning."

"Yeah, night Doctor. Oh and if my mum does come back early, you're not a stray, you know me and I bumped into you after she left me and invited you for a drink, just stick to your original story that you couldn't find the party."

He had to smile, Rose was always thinking on her feet.

"Gotcha, party, you invited me for coffee since I'd apparently already had one drink too many but I can assure you I never touched a drop, except for your excellent coffee."

"Don't think praising my coffee will get you anywhere. Just one question though, when am I gonna meet this man and how will I know him?"

"In around six months time and trust me, you'll know him."

"Are you gonna bump into yourself? Oh, you're the man I'm gonna meet but how's that even possible?"

"Rose, I can't tell you, honestly but you can trust the man you are going to meet and as for me meeting myself, let's just say I wasn't around here during this time."

He had told her more than he'd wanted to but Rose had always been curious, she had clearly been like that before he'd met her and now he knew why he'd gone off after she'd turned him down and gone back for her. He never went back for anyone and there had been times he'd regretted it, such as when he'd seen Sarah-Jane again but that was his life and Rose had been the exception.

He thought Martha would take his mind off things for a while but it was clearly getting out of hand and the sooner he told her when he did get back, the better. It would be six months or so for him but to Martha, it would be the next day, if she didn't go looking for him, which he suspected she may. She had a Tardis key and it would glow when she got nearby and she'd know he'd gone looking for trouble, it was a simple matter of her finding something he'd be interested in, like people disappearing from an old house.

He hoped she wouldn't go near it because he wasn't there to help her and she would be sent back to another time period and even if by some miracle she got sent back to 2005, he had Rose to think about. He had been more than fortunate to find himself there before she had met him, it would have been awkward if there had been two of him there.

Since he didn't need much rest, he turned off the TV so as to give it a rest and taking off his Converse shoes, laid back against the cushion and closed his eyes. He should be happy he had found her again and he was but he would have to be very careful not to tell her too much but Rose was curious and wouldn't take no for an answer.

The next morning, Rose found him in the kitchen making eggs and toast, after she'd tried to sneak to the bathroom without being seen.

"Morning Rose, I woke early so I thought I'd make you breakfast for letting me stay. Here, sit down, it's almost done."

"Wow, thanks. Morning Doctor."

"Good morning to you too Rose. As you can see, I am completely sober, not that I was drunk, it's virtually impossible for me to get drunk, it takes some doing, trust me."

"I believe you. Okay, I'll go with your story, what do you want me to do?"

That was a relief, he'd expected to be told to walk to the nearest town centre and not come back.

"You can help me in lots of ways Rose. I can get a job, no problem but I need somewhere to stay."

"No place in Chiswick then?" she smiled.

"Afraid not, sorry. I can probably find somewhere but I don't really have a bank account, there was no bank card, just a blank piece of paper that shows people what they want to see. I can bluff my way into a job though but I need help with the rest. I have no idea how to get a bank account or where to look for somewhere to stay."

"Blimey, where do you come from then?"

"Let's say I never had any need for either shall we?"

"Right. I can talk to mum, see if she'll let you stay on the sofa for a few nights but she might get a bit suspicious."

The Doctor thought for Jackie Tyler, that was a bit of an understatement.

"What will you tell her?"

"What do you want me to tell her? I could stick to what I said last night? Maybe add a bit more to it? You have to say you have a job though or that you're waiting to start a new one, she hates people being unemployed."

"Whatever you say Rose. What did you have planned for today?"

"Nothing much, watch a few old films on the telly later. Mum might just turn up, she doesn't normally call first so you're a friend, right?"

"She had better not have a load of questions for me," the Doctor smiled.

"Oh she will, just leave it to me though, I've done it before."

"I just bet you have."

"So, do you stick to the same story you had last night then?"

"Yep, afraid so. Look Rose, I can't tell you too much, about where I came from. I made a mistake, a rookie mistake and I got sent back in time and I'm sorry Rose, I am really sorry but right now, you are the only person who can help me and who I can trust. I have to wait until that man you are going to meet in around six months time comes along then, before you meet him, you will have to do everything I say in order to do so."

"What if I don't meet him? What if you're wrong about me?"

"I'm not but now I'm here, things are in danger of changing so I'm sorry but you have to stay friends with me because if you don't, I am stuck in the past."

"Won't you meet up with yourself in six months time?"

That was a fair enough question he supposed. Temporal mechanics were not Rose's strong point so he had to explain in a way she would understand.

"It's not that easy Rose, technically, I will eventually run into myself and that's very bad because I won't have done the things I've already done and that can have a huge impact on a lot of things."

Yeah, nice one Doctor, if not for you, Rose would still be here, in the future.
Chapter 4
Jackie didn't turn up until after noon while Rose was putting lunch into the oven and the Doctor was watching TV, having been assured she had everything under control. Rose heard the door opening and rushed into the hallway, hoping the Doctor had the sense to take his feet off the coffee table if he was as bad as Mickey was.

He'd also heard the door and turned down the sound on the TV, making Jackie suspicious already.

"Rose, what's going on? Is Mickey here?"

"'Erm, no Mum, it's just a friend who popped in. I'll introduce you."

The Doctor sat up, thinking at least now, his former self might get a better reception from her, getting used to having Rose's friends around. He got up as Jackie got there before Rose did.

"Who are you then? Rose, you said last night you'd picked no-one up after I left you?"

"I didn't pick him up Mum, he's a friend of mine, John, this is my mum, Mum, this is John Smith, he's a teacher, from Chiswick."

"Is he now? Rose, he'd better not have been here all night?"

"Mum, he slept on the sofa, you know what taxis are like on New Years, he'd have had to wait for hours."

"Well what's he even doing here?"

"Ah, I can explain that Mrs Tyler. A pleasure to meet you, Rose has told me so much about you."

"She has? What's she told you then?"

"Yes, well, that you're her mother. Anyway, as for my being here, I lost my friends when they came to a party so I remembered Rose lived here and I rang the buzzer and she invited me up for coffee. She thought I'd had too much to drink really, she was just concerned at me going all that way back on my own. You raised her well."

"Yeah and I raised her not to pick up strangers but since you claim to know her? So, were you staying for lunch?"

"Yeah, he is Mum and the thing is, he's sort of looking for somewhere to stay for a few days, he and his flatmate fell out."

"Convenient. Where's your things then?"

"Ah, that's just it, I have to go get them later, I didn't fancy going back today. I don't mind sleeping on the sofa, if there are no objections?"

"Suppose not," Jackie grumbled.

How had she just agreed to that? She'd never even let Mickey stay after ten, she'd always frog-marched him to the front door at the first hint of the ten o'clock news.

Jackie shook her head and went to her bedroom, Rose having put the spare duvet back where it belonged earlier. As her bedroom door closed, the Doctor breathed a sigh of relief at making up such a story.

"Now ya gettin' it," Rose smiled. "See, it was easy but now you have to produce the goods so you need to go into town tomorrow and get a holdall and some more clothes, if she sees you wearing the same suit and shirt every day, she'll assume the worse."

"Got it, clothes shopping."

"Well not just clothes but personal stuff, you know?"

"Like what?"

"Blimey, how have you got by?"

If only she knew.

After their lunch, he wished he could have just stepped outside and gone to repair a few things in the Tardis but the ship was not there and he missed it. The familiar hum of the only possession he had, he was connected to it but now, there was nothing, only Rose. She could see he was getting restless, sitting in the chair pretending to watch a James bond film just after three.

"Wanna go for a walk?" she asked as Jackie went to make more tea.

He swore the inventors of adverts had shares in the popular brands of tea.

"Yeah, anywhere, this isn't easy for me, sitting still. Rose, I need to find a place of my own, not too far away from here. Can we go look in some shop windows at flats or rooms to let?"

"Yeah, okay let's have a drink first then we'll walk down to the parade of shops, the newsagents usually has ads in the window. Sure you want to stay around here though?"

"I have to stay near you, I don't want to lose contact with you."

"Aw, no fear of that, I wanna meet this man you say I'm gonna go off with but not a word to mum."

"What are you on about now Rose?" her mother asked as she opened the hatch.

"Nothing Mum, John and I were just talking, about him getting a flat around here."

"Where does he work then, Chiswick?"

"Actually no, I just quit before the holidays. I think my flat-mate thought I wouldn't be able to pay the rent so we fell out."

"Convenient you were in the neighbourhood for a party where Rose lives then?"

"Yes, very fortunate. Actually, Rose and I are going to take a walk and start looking for a place."


"Ah, well, she offered to help me, I was not inferring she would be sharing."

"Oh. Well it might do her some good, getting out on her own, why don't you think about it Rose?"

Rose could only stare at her mother. What had suddenly come over her? She had moaned and objected when she'd skipped school to go shack up with Jimmy Stone and look how that had turned out.

Rose just gave a weak smile and drank her tea, not daring to look her mother or the Doctor in the eye. How long had she supposed to have known him? This had all been thrown at her when she'd had a few drinks herself last night and maybe he hadn't been as drunk as he'd made himself out to be?

They finally walked down the steps into the courtyard and had the misfortune to bump into Mickey, who had been on his way to ask her why she'd skipped the party last night.

"I was just coming to see you. Where did you get to last night?"

"Blame Jimbo, we had to walk from the pub."

"Who's this then?"

"Oh, this is John, he was on his way to a party last night when I bumped into him."

"You two know each other?"

"Sort of. We were just going down the shops."

"So this is why you didn't turn up last night then? Had your own party?"

"Stop it Mickey, you and I aren't exclusive you know?"

The Doctor had always known he was the reason she was so distant with both himself and Mickey. She'd been caught between the two of them and had never been able to decide but now he knew, because he'd come along, if originally she'd gone back to Mickey, she wouldn't now. In these six months, she'd started dating Mickey again and then met his other self and just because she'd gone with him, she'd still not been able to distance herself from Mickey.

"I thought, you know, we could make up?"

"Not now Mickey, you prefer football over me and you know it."

She put her arm in the Doctor's, nudging him to play along. He didn't want to get involved, not then and not now but she was forcing his hand and he needed her to get out of this time. He could risk his other self believing him but it would be difficult because if she didn't go with him, everything would change.

So now, he was going to have to keep Mickey from making up with her by pretending to go along with her and he hoped she knew what she was doing.

"I don't need you Mickey. Yeah, John and me go back a bit but he lived too far away and he was with someone, they broke up, didn't you John?"


He wasn't used to people just calling him John.

"Yeah, Reinette and me had a big row, a huge row when she caught me talking to Rose last week, see what you did Rose?"

"Sorry but she wasn't worth it, you were too good for her."

He knew Rose was no match for Madame Du Pompadour or Reinette as she was better known as. He'd felt bad how he treated Rose during that and had spent every moment afterwards trying to make up for it, only to have things get worse. Having Rose meet Sarah-Jane had been bad enough.

Mickey huffed and went back to his block of flats and Rose, despite knowing he had turned around, left her arm where it was. The Doctor had missed that, walking around and holding hands and laughing, often at the trouble they'd just got themselves out of. He was quite happy to go along with whatever she had in mind as long as it didn't get complicated but it had with Martha, despite her protests it was nothing.

Twenty minutes later, Rose still holding his arm, they were looking in the newsagents window at flats to rent.

"So if you go after one and they want references, you can use that psychic paper?"

"Well, for now, I only use it when I have to but I can get by. If I go after one, I can't pay right away."

"Can't you get some money?"

"Well, I can make a phone call tomorrow, there might be a way. Ever heard of UNIT?"

"No, who are they?"

"Ah, they're a military organisation that deal with the unexplained."

Rose began to giggle. "You mean like you?"

"That is not funny Rose. Yes, I've had dealings with them, I used to work with them, they might even give me a job but I never stayed all that long in one go. Six months is a bit much, I think I'd rather teach. I think they owe me for the last time I helped them. Can you make a note of that number?"

He could have written it down but he wanted to make her feel useful. Rose put the number and name into her phone, the one he remembered from when he'd first met her. Rose fished some change out of her pocket and went into the shop, she was surprised it was open but these days, not many places actually closed on New Years Day or even on Boxing Day any more.

Jackie was going out later, she was in her room doing her hair when Rose stood in the doorway.

"Mum, thanks for letting John stay. He's gonna ring somewhere tomorrow."

"Well I could hardly throw him out, could I? Just as long as it's only for a few days. So, is he just a friend then?"

"Would you get mad if I said no?"

Her mother stopped what she was doing. "Rose, he looks a lot older than you."

"I'm not bothered. Chill Mum, he's not that much older than Mickey."

"Well you seem infatuated with him, just be careful though."

"What time are ya gonna be back?"

"Don't know, don't wait up and I'll try not to wake his lordship in there and no sneaking him in your room."

"I know Mum. Anyway, we haven't talked about if I'm gonna move in with him yet. He has to get settled in his new job first so he might be here for a while."

Jackie went out and Rose found the Doctor watching the news. He hadn't been around at this time so he'd no idea what had been going on. All he remembered was realising something was happening and he'd decided to take a look, resulting in him meeting Rose in the store basement and changing both their lives.

Now he had to decide what to do, risk her still meeting him that day or have her life take an entirely different direction but there was one thing he did know, it was her destiny to be taken away from him and if he changed her destiny, he'd never meet Donna or Martha or would he?

Anyway, it wasn't up to him, it was now up to her how she wanted to spend the next six months or so, wondering what he'd meant and who she was going to meet. She was now expecting to meet him somehow, would she be disappointed and refuse to go with his past self? No, she wouldn't do that, Rose was full of adventure and she wouldn't turn him down but when the time came for him to go back to 2007, would he want to actually go, now he had Rose again?

Rose broke the silence, by turning off the TV.

"You're not gonna sit and watch the news all night are ya?"

"No, watch whatever you want."

"Let's put some music on and dance? Mum has this forties CD I like to listen to. Do you know how to dance?"

He thought back to the first time they had danced around the Tardis.

"Yes, I know how to dance, what makes you think I don't?"

Rose pulled him up from the chair then went to find the CD.

"If you're gonna pass as my boyfriend, you'd better start acting like it or my mum will really think there's something fishy going on."

"Is that where this is going? I have to pretend to be your boyfriend? What about Mickey?"

"We were on and off, he doesn't own me. So, think you're up to the task, well for the next six months, which is about average to keep a boyfriend."

"Really?" he asked as they waited for the first tune, trust it to be a slow one.

Three tunes later, Rose was leaning against him as another slow tune began.

"You could have gone out with your mother," he told her, though he was beginning to like this more than he should do.

"With her friends? No thanks."

"So, being your boyfriend, what does that entail exactly?"

"Oh, you know, sitting on the sofa, holding hands and letting her catch us snogging," Rose giggled.

The Doctor stopped. "Ah, well, about the last bit."

Rose looked at him. "I'm just kidding, we can work up to that bit. Seriously, if my mother doesn't think something's going on, you'll be out, I won't be able to stop her. You have to at least make some sort of effort. Don't worry, it will be nothing serious and you can keep Mickey away from me."

"Is that the only reason?"

"No but if I'm gonna help you, you have to help me, it works both ways."

He supposed she did have a point.

"Well why don't you make a start and sit in the chair with me?"

"Well ok then but keep your hands to yourself, Doctor. We'll have to tell my mum you prefer being called that but won't we have a problem, when she meets the future version of you?"

"Well actually, he will be my previous version, from my perspective, how did you work it out anyway?"

"It wasn't that difficult, the way you made it sound important. You said you wouldn't look like you do now though, how's that work?"

"Did I?"

"Well you inferred it then, when you tried to explain it to me. So, go on then."

"Ah. Well when I was around before, I didn't look like I do now."

"I take it you didn't have plastic surgery?" Rose smiled as she got up and told him to move over.

He'd missed this, sitting in the chair with her, he'd missed everything about her. Was it so wrong to want to do these things again and maybe a bit more? Everyone had assumed there had been something going on between them, why not this time give some truth to the assumptions? What harm would it do to let her pretend he was her boyfriend, it was only going to last six months, which was about the same length of time this version of him had been with her.

Why couldn't he have had the chance last time? He'd been the one to put her off, well him and Mickey being around but Mickey had been well and truly dumped by the looks of things so he wouldn't be a problem this time around. Now, he still had the guilt that it would all end but she knew it wasn't going to last, she had no illusions it was going to last any longer than six months or so.

"Rose, are you okay with this?"

"I suppose so, it's not as though I've promised you forever, is it? So, when the other you comes along, you go back where you belong and I'm expected to go with the you that's left behind?"

"That's one way of putting it and I'm not trying to make you go with the version of me that comes along but you have to choose. Would it be too much if I said you had already chosen once?"

"I suppose I must have done, you're here now and you know me. So, how do explain how you change?"

She was going to see it anyway, when he regenerated after the space station and the destruction of the Daleks. He couldn't tell his past self anything other than he had to get back to where he'd come from to make things as they had been but he could do one thing for Rose, when the time came – make her forget she'd met this version of him but he should give her the choice.

As long as he didn't give details, he could tell her bits of it, it would ensure her help and if he didn't tell her something, she could still walk away.

"Okay Rose, I am going to tell you what I can but you have to understand, you can't even tell your mother and don't worry, I'll make sure she understands that I'm going away when the time comes and that I'll be back."

Then it occurred to him – he could have told Rose that he was going away and he'd be back and when his other self had come along, well he would have just had to risk believing himself. If he got Rose to help him though, it would be better.

Rose relaxed into the chair and he found himself putting his arm around her shoulder.

She began to giggle. "Me and Mickey never got like this. If I sat next to him and the football was on, I'd have got a black eye when he cheered."

The Doctor smiled. Perhaps in the past, he needn't have been so worried about Mickey the idiot after all?
Chapter 5
Rose fell asleep watching a film, the Doctor didn't want to disturb her, it reminded him of nights in the Tardis library where he would read to her but he couldn't tell her that. Jackie came back, not so quietly that he had to give her a "Shush" as she was about to say something.

"I hope you're not gonna break her heart when you've had your bit of fun with her," Jackie huffed and sat down.

"Of course not and I'm not having a 'bit of fun' with her, we decided we might give it a go, there was something in the way before."

He thought he may as well stick to the story they had told Mickey earlier, it was as good as any he could come up with anyway.

"What was that then? Was it 'cos she was seeing Mickey?"

He thought of saying yes but he couldn't put the blame entirely onto him.

"Partly and partly because I was already involved with someone but we split up. I appreciate you letting me stay, can I call you Jackie?"

"Suppose so, since she's taken to you. She and Mickey were never like that, I used to throw him out at ten, they were gettin' nowhere fast, they just sort of muddled through."

"Don't we all?" he smiled as Rose moved. "Come on sleepy, time for bed."

"Oh, hello. Did I miss the film?"

"Yeah, never mind, it'll be repeated. I was just telling your mother I had split from Reinette."

"Oh, she was French?" Jackie asked, getting up to make her last cup of tea for the night. "Anyone want a drink?"

Both Rose and the Doctor shook their heads. Jackie continued.

"How did you get to know Rose?"

"Mum, leave it, I'm off to bed. I'll go get you the spare duvet again. Did you tell my mum you prefer your nickname?"

"Not yet, you tell her."

"Oh, it's got to that stage already?"

"No Mum, everyone calls him The Doctor, 'cos he's got a doctorate in physics and maths."

"Oh, well that's different, if he's got qualifications? Hope they ain't just honorary degrees?"

"No, I can assure you I am qualified to teach the subjects," the Doctor replied as Rose was about to get up but he held on to her.

As Jackie disappeared into the kitchen, Rose was trying to get away.

"Now Rose, you were the one who said we had to convince your mother we were dating. You can't go to bed before her, we have to let her catch us, you know?"

"I thought you said that bit came later? Blimey, make your mind up. Well if I mess up your hair like this," she teased, running her fingers through it and making it look like it used to do. "Then if I loosen your tie a bit more, then all you have to do is look like you've just been snogged."

"How does that look then?" he asked innocently, remembering the time she'd been possessed by Cassandra.

"So when you knew me before, we never snogged? Was mum right, did Mickey get in the way?"

"I suppose he did, there were other factors though and I can't tell you what they are."

"You were gonna tell me before I fell asleep. I have to go back to work tomorrow, why don't you come into town with me and get a few things? Can you get some money?"

"I can do better than that. Give me your bank card."

"What? I've only got enough to last me until next payday, the holidays are an expensive time ya know?"

"So I've been told. No, I am going to give your bank account a bit of an upgrade. Just don't go on a spending spree but you can get cash out and your balance won't go down and I will sort something out tomorrow."

Rose got up and went to get her bank card out of her coat pocket, handing it to him reluctantly. She heard her mother moving around and went to sit on him again.

"Quick," she whispered. "Make this look good."

Before he could object, she nipped at his neck, which reminded him of Miss Finnegan drinking his blood when the hospital had been transported to the moon.

He could only grin at the look on her mother's face.

"Well that's an improvement on Mickey I suppose but next time, wait until I've gone to bed Rose and don't stay up all night, you have work tomorrow. What are you gonna do Doctor?"

He thought it was almost like old times, things had hardly changed, except he'd enjoyed her nipping at his neck more than having blood drained from it. Fortunately for him the Plasmavore had been fooled into thinking she'd taken every last drop and he owed Martha his life but look how he'd repaid her? Rose was looking at him.

"Where were we? Right, yes, tomorrow. I will go get my things and see about some accommodation. I don't start my new job until next week."

Well at least it gave him time to find somewhere who could use a maths and physics teacher, just as long as it wasn't run by bat-like creatures who ate the pupils for lunch.

"I'll give you my key so you can get back in, if mum's gone out," Rose volunteered, waiting for her mother to leave so she could get her upgraded card back. "You'll be able to find your way?"

"Yeah, no worries Rose. Goodnight Jackie."

He hoped he hadn't sounded like he wanted rid of her.

"No sneakin' in her room you. Rose, don't encourage him either. You'd better get that duvet."

Rose got up, reluctantly, considering she'd been about to before she'd had a go at his neck, which had been enjoyable. While Rose was getting the duvet, he quickly gave the bank card a scan and made it so she could get a little cash out at a time, not too much or she'd get caught, not that he hadn't taken money out before but he intended earning his keep this time around, unlike when he'd helped himself to help Donna get to her wedding.

He handed her the card when she came back.

"Don't spend it all at once Rose," he smiled, beckoning her to sit on him again.

"Hey, you have to be up at the same time as me in the morning, remember? Are ya really gonna look for a job?"

"I said I was Rose, I can't stay in all day, your mother would go mad. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine and tomorrow when you get back, we'll ring about that flat."

"Sorry about mum thinking we were gonna share, I think she's tryin' to get rid of me 'cos she thinks I'll never leave home otherwise."

"You've not left home before then?" he asked as Rose lay her head on his shoulder.

"Well not if you don't count a bad experience I had but I don't wanna talk about it."

He knew what it was, she'd never wanted to mention it so he'd left it.

"Rose, you can tell me anything, you know that? To answer your earlier question, yes, we knew each other well before but some things, you never told me. I know this is strange to you but you have to trust me, this is going to get very complicated, more for me than you because I can't change any of it."

"I wish you could tell me a bit more," she yawned.

"Go on, get to bed, don't worry about me. It's not often you get a new boyfriend overnight."

"Can't you even tell me if we were like this or not?"

"Rose, put it this way, we could have been, had it not been for certain things."

"You mean Mickey?"

"Him and your mother, I get on better with her this time, I don't know why? Maybe it's because she hasn't had to deal with my past self this time around?"

Rose managed a smile and kissed his cheek.

"Maybe Doctor, I mean if she didn't like the other you, this you could have taken some gettin' used to?"

He was so right about her, she was extraordinary and Martha had been no match for her.

"I wasn't easy to get on with when I was like that, I admit. Why have you never asked me how I can appear differently?"

"You'll tell me when you want to. You're not from around here, are you?"

"I'm not from Chiswick either. Rose, your life is going to change like you could never imagine in six months time, until then, just carry on being you eh?"

"How can I when I know something's gonna happen? How do you expect me to stay normal now?"

"That's why I can't tell you much Rose. Ok, like I said earlier, I'll tell you some of it but not tonight, tomorrow we'll make a start, deal?"

"Yeah, deal. You can kiss me goodnight if ya want?"

"I would be only too happy to kiss you goodnight Rose."

He leaned over and brushed her lips ever so gently, sending a shiver through Rose.

"Night then, I'll make breakfast in the morning, we leave at eight fifteen."

"Ah, maybe I should leave a bit later?"

"Mum will ask you all kinds of questions, do ya want that?"

"Well, if you put it like that?" he smiled, brushing her cheek with his thumb. "I never expected you to take this all so well."

"Well I can't just leave ya on ya own, can I? You told me my life was gonna change but it's already changing."

She was right, he was already changing her destiny, before he'd arrived the first time. She deserved to know some of the things he could tell her without altering things too much but who was to say it would actually do any harm, her knowing a bit more? In the next six months, she was going to be prepared for his arrival, well his former self's arrival but he had to tell her she couldn't let on until the time was right that she'd already met him.

If this wasn't an endless paradox, then nothing was. A lot of things could change between now and him coming back to earth after wallowing in self-pity for goodness knew how long, he'd never kept track of what had been going on, anything could have happened. He could have already met his future self or more than one, he had gaps in his memory he couldn't account for and he couldn't for the life of him remember how he'd changed from his eighth regeneration into his ninth or who he'd been during the Time War but that wasn't important.

Rose was his top priority until his ninth self arrived, keeping her as close as he could and if he was in danger of losing her, he'd have to take some drastic action to keep her and if being her boyfriend for real was part of it, then so be it. Things could be worse, he could be stuck in 1969 with Martha Jones, not that there was actually anything wrong with Martha, she'd come along too soon after Rose. He had still been missing her badly and he should have left Martha after the hospital but as Rose used to say, travelling was better with two, just not when your companion was showing signs of making a play for you.

Rose said goodnight again, kissing him back with a bit more enthusiasm and smiling at daring to catch him out.

"We'll talk tomorrow about this," the Doctor told her as she was leaving. "I'm not opposed to being your boyfriend, I just don't know how things are going to turn out in the next few months."

"No-one knows that Doctor," Rose smiled, yawning again. "It'd be great if we could all see into the future, you're lucky, you already know."

"Yes but not this future Rose, only after I first met you. This is all new to me, I wasn't around during this time, I already told you."

"Yeah but you never told me where you were."

"Then I will tell you some of it tomorrow, bed, young lady."

As he settled on the sofa, taking off his jacket and his trainers, he thought about exactly how much he could tell her. This was a new experience for him, he'd been in the past numerous times but not in someone's personal timeline, which was the reason it had been forbidden by the Timelords for fear of disturbing it but this was an entirely different situation. As far as he could recall, none of his past selves had got zapped into the past and had to get back.

Sure, he'd been banished to the past for upsetting the council but he'd lived it out and got straight once he'd got the Tardis back working again but never had to live through his own past timeline. Then, there was when his ninth self had taken Rose back twelve months later than he should have done and he was still trying to work that one out. Jackie had never forgiven him for that, maybe that was why she'd been so against he and Rose getting together?

Rose had all that to come, as long as he didn't actually tell her what they were going to do together and where they were going to go, it should be safe enough and if through that, they got a bit closer this time, what of it? He had been selfish before, he knew that. Rose had taken it entirely the wrong way when he'd said he couldn't spend the rest of his life with her, maybe that had also put her off, if she thought he was going to leave her behind but he could change that this time, if he wanted to.

The next morning, after a hurried breakfast of tea and toast, he experienced a journey into the centre of London by bus, where once off, he vowed he was going back by taxi, Rose having got some cash out of a nearby machine and handed him some but he planned on using his psychic paper for his purchases in the store.

He got what he thought he'd need to get by for six months from the men's department of the store, glancing over to the fashion department of the ladies section and Rose going about her job and sneaking a little wave to him. She had jotted a few numbers down on the pad by the phone and he intended calling a few of them and using his charm to get himself a place to spend the following months, not too far away from Rose.

When he got back, having stuffed all the carrier bags he had into a holdall he'd bought in the luggage department, he let himself into the flat to find Jackie had left a note to say she'd left him a ham salad for lunch in the fridge and she'd gone shopping. This Jackie was a far cry from the one he'd first met. Rose had said he could hang his shirts up in her wardrobe when she got back, he'd managed to get himself a new suit, similar to his blue striped one he'd taken to after losing her.

He'd never been able to bring himself to wear his brown one as much after the battle of Canary Wharf, it reminded him of his loss but for some strange reason after leaving Martha that morning, he'd felt compelled to go put it on again. Did he somehow know this was going to happen, that he'd be sent back to see her? Maybe because he'd been thinking so much about her, it had prevented him being sent into oblivion, since the angels couldn't exactly send him anywhere else.

Jackie came back but stayed away from him, she'd told him from tomorrow, she would have people coming in for their hair doing so that was an incentive for him to keep out of her way and to find a place of his own. Just before Rose got home, she had a question for him as he was telling her he had some numbers to call.

"Are you gonna take her with you?"

"I'm not here to take Rose away from you but if she wants to come with me, you know as well as I do, they'll be no stopping her. I will make sure she is looked after, I promise."

"Well just you make sure you do then or I'll have something to say about it."

He knew all too well she would. After their tea, Rose thought it would be better if she made the calls about the flats and the one room bed-sit, which she was leaving until last. The second number, a woman answered who said the only reason the two bedroom flat was still available was because the previous occupant was taking their time moving out.

"I swear if he doesn't move out by the weekend, I'll throw his stuff out," the woman apologised.

"Well, we're not in that much of a rush, Saturday would be fine but can we come and look around?"

"Well, I'm there now, I could wait if you're here in the next half hour?"

"Yeah, we can be there. Do you need a deposit?"

"We can come to some arrangement, I don't want to leave it empty. When you say 'we', is that you and a girl friend or a boyfriend?"

She was about to ask if it mattered and would she get turned down if she said it was the latter?

"Well actually, it's me and a friend, a male friend. We both need a place and thought it would be cheaper to share."

"Oh I don't mind dear, we are in 2005 after all. If he's your boyfriend, it's nothing to do with me."

The Doctor already had his long coat on at the sound of her saying they would be round in twenty minutes. As they walked along the road, Rose put her arm in his again. He was getting to like it and it showed.

"So, are ya getting used to this?" Rose asked as they watched out for the street. "Did we do this before?"

"Yeah, all the time. Rose, when we get back, we have to talk about this."

"You mean me saying there were two of us? It makes sense I suppose and it's a bit nearer to work. Have you looked at schools yet?"

"Ah, about that. I think I'd be better off in a college with older students. I've had to pretend to be a teacher before, I have bad memories of twelve and thirteen year old pupils."

"As if sixteen year old's are any better?" Rose laughed as they turned into the street and she was looking for the number.

They stopped outside the large house and Rose rang the doorbell. A middle-aged woman answered.

"You must be Rose then? I didn't catch your friend's name."

"John Smith and yeah, tell me about it. So, about the flat?" the Doctor asked, keen to get it over with.

The woman led them to the second floor and used her spare key to let them in, having been in earlier to make sure it was tidy. As Rose and the Doctor looked around, they stopped in the kitchen to discuss it after asking how much the weekly rent would be.

"So, watcha think Doctor? Wanna take it for six months or do ya wanna sleep on my mum's sofa?"

"While there is nothing wrong with your mother's sofa, I think I would rather take this but are you certain you want to share?"

"Why not? You said you wanted me nearby, I'll take the smaller room."

"No, have the larger one, I don't need to sleep much anyway. Rose, while we wait, you know, I thought of trying to get back on my own."

"Oh. Well, even that could take a while, yeah? Let's go tell her we'll take the flat, we can sort out the details later."

He had just told her he might not even be here for six months and she was still willing to stay with him so why had she got so upset when he'd told her he couldn't stay with her?
Chapter 6
The Doctor was facing another night on the sofa. He'd have been more at home tinkering with his ship and roaming the corridors but Jackie's living room was the limit. It was only for a few more nights, he'd have his own place on Saturday, well a place to share without being watched like a hawk.

Rose had gone to bed but she couldn't sleep for thinking about what he'd said, about finding a way back himself. She still couldn't get her head around what he'd told her, that she would meet him in six months and he'd look different when she did, yet this one would still be here. She had come to the conclusion time travel had to be involved somehow. The man who was in the living room was from the future, that much had been established and he needed her help to get back where he'd come from. She had a few questions for him.

The Doctor was surprised when she stood in the doorway so he turned off the TV.

"Sorry, I told you I don't really sleep."

He moved his legs and she sat down beside him.

"Are you a time traveller?"

"Yes and you used to travel with me, well both versions of me."

"Are you a sort of shapeshifter?"

"No, I'm a Timelord, I regenerate when I'm in danger of dying. It's a way of cheating, we just change."

"So I'm gonna meet you, before you changed?"

"Yes. Are you ok with that?"

"Yeah. So you have a time machine then or did you just get sent back?"

"I got sent back, I told you. These creatures called the weeping angels, one touch and they zap you into the past. I got caught and here I am."

"How did you get caught?"

"I was trying to find out why people were disappearing."

"Did they all come here then?"

"No, to a time before they were born, it could be any year but because I didn't belong there either, they didn't know where to send me. I was caught out, I wasn't paying attention."

"So you got sent here? That was lucky then?"

"Yeah. To be honest Rose, I don't think it was luck. They just sent me back to when I came back to earth, I'd been away for a while."

"When you say away? You mean not on the planet?"

"No, I was just sort of wandering around, I come back in six months."

"You said earlier, you might find another way."

He could wait six months, there was only a very slim chance he could come up with another idea. He'd done three months of being human recently and at least there were no 'Family of blood' after him but what else had lurked on earth before his arrival? How long had the Nestene consciousness been around? Maybe they'd just arrived when he did? If he remembered correctly, he'd suddenly made the decision to do something about it before they turned everyone to plastic.

He'd have to somehow get Mickey involved, to make things happen but he'd do that when the time was right.

"Just wishful thinking Rose, I was thinking out loud. I'm stuck, well and truly and I really do need your help."

"You're not just saying that Doctor?"

He reached for her hand and stroked it.

"No, I'm not just saying that. You're taking all this very well. What else do you want to know?"

"Just one thing. You're not from Earth are you? It's ok, if you're not."

"You are very clever to work that out. Yes, I'm a Timelord, from the planet Gallifrey. Now, you should go to bed and tomorrow, I am going to try a few schools and colleges before they resume after the holidays."

"Ok but I want another goodnight kiss. Tomorrow night, why don't you stay in my room for a while, we can do some kissing."

"Your mother might have something to say about that."

"You could sneak in for a while?"

"She warned me about that too."

"Did you take any notice of her before, when you were here?"

"Well, actually, no. You wanted to know how I got caught by the angels? I missed you Rose, I missed you a lot and I was thinking about you. I was travelling with someone else, trying my best not to miss you but it didn't help."

"Well I'm here now. If you missed me?"

"Yes you are. Ok, tomorrow night, I will sneak in your room but if your mother kicks me out, you're to blame."

"Aw, don't worry Doctor, I'll make it worth your while. Night then?"

The goodnight kiss lasted a bit longer than the earlier ones, Rose seemed reluctant to bring it to an end. After breakfast the next morning, Rose went off to work and the Doctor went out on the pretence he was looking around his new school. He'd been looking in the local paper and scribbled some addresses down of a few. He had decided he could talk his way into a high school not far away from where he was going to be moving to and after convincing the school's caretaker to admit him found the head teacher's office.

"Yes, come in," a deep male voice announced.

"Ah, headmaster. I'm the Doctor, I've come about the vacancy."

"A doctor? So, where have you worked before?"

The Doctor got his psychic paper out and reeled off the names of the schools he'd passed as a teacher and twenty minutes later, they had agreed on his salary and he would take a six month's post. He told the headmaster he would give his personal details when he started, he'd probably just use Rose's bank account, it wasn't worthwhile opening an account of his own. At least he wouldn't have to depend on Rose or UNIT.

He had wondered how the clever Tardis had integrated him into that military academy and there he was, doing it on his own. Well Rose would be pleased and Jackie would be happy he had gainful employment but he thought back to last night, how had it gone from him getting a place to suddenly sharing? He didn't exactly object to sharing, they had spent a lot of time together onboard the Tardis but there, she'd never asked him to be her boyfriend and kiss her goodnight though he had to admit the kisses were nice.

After tea that night, Jackie was off out to play bingo, leaving Rose and the Doctor with the usual 'You two behave while I'm out' lecture.

"Tell me some more Doctor," Rose asked as she got him to move over in the chair. "You told me not to go with you the first time you ask, why's that?"

"Ah, that was because you said you had to look after Mickey."

"You mean I went back to him?"

"Well he was still around, maybe you were still friends?" he lied, knowing he couldn't tell her more.

"After the other day? He must do something to get back in my good books then?"

"I expect he does then. What else do you want to know?"

After telling her about where he came from and that the planet was gone, he knew she felt sorry for him.

"So, there's only you then? So when I meet the other you, I'll be able to talk to him about it, yeah?"

"Yes, after I go back where I belong. It won't change anything Rose, you'll still go on to travel with me. You just can't say anything about me until I say. The first time you meet, like I said before, you can't tell him about me. That's the reason I can't tell you about anything we did together."

"I still have questions but they can wait. Can we do some more kissing?"

They were still kissing and cuddling when the Doctor, with his sharp hearing heard the door opening and got Rose to sit up while he tried to fasten his top two shirt buttons, Rose trying not to giggle.

"Leave them," she whispered, leaning on his shoulder. "She'll expect something to have gone on."

"We don't want to disappoint her, do we?"

"Come to my room tonight? Say you're just gettin' a clean shirt for morning."

Jackie was making as much noise as she could in the kitchen, opening the hatch.

"Did I interrupt anything?" she asked.

The Doctor wondered what had come over her, maybe it had been his other self that had made her hostile but just wait until Rose went missing for a year, Jackie Tyler would not be so friendly then so he may as well make the most of it. After Jackie went to her room, Rose shushed him and they crept to her room, which she had tidied, not that he'd seen much of it when he'd arrived back after regenerating.

He put his jacket on the chair and let Rose unfasten a few more buttons on his shirt and his button-down undershirt he always wore. He could think of no valid reason why this time around, they couldn't get a bit closer, thinking about her had brought him here by accident, why should he waste it? Before either of them knew it, Rose had gone to put her pyjamas on and he lay on the bed waiting for her return having taken off his shirt, to avoid creasing it, he'd told himself.

"Are you staying on top of the covers?"

"Now Rose, what's the rush?"

"You'd better be out of here by morning you know?"

"I get the message," he replied as she lay her head on his chest.

When the time came for them to move into their own place, Friday night, Rose was packing.

"So you'll get the keys and then come back and wait for me?"

"That was the plan Rose," he smiled as she ran her fingers through his hair after she stopped what she was doing and he put his arms around her.

The last few nights they had got closer and Rose seemed contented. It assured her help when the time came for him to leave but was this going to make it more difficult for both of them? Rose had it to look forward to and as long as he didn't tell her how he had changed, she was none the wiser and then when he did, maybe she'd persuade him to see things her way and go along with the idea they'd already made a start.

He had now taken to actually getting into her bed, Rose still wore her pyjamas but he only had a pair of boxers and a t-shirt on but that night, Rose went to sleep on him for the first time. He knew when they got moved, he'd have a difficult time reminding her there were two bedrooms.

The Doctor got Jackie to help him downstairs with most of the things, a taxi waiting for him even though it wasn't far. When Rose had gone out that morning, she had agreed it would be easier for him to get it over with and her to go directly there since it was on the bus route. Rose said she would call at the local shop and get the basics and they'd get a take out and go shopping the next day.

That night though was going to change everything for the next six months as Rose decided to wear just a vest top with her pyjama bottoms and he was already in his room and thought she might change her mind despite hanging all her things in the large wardrobe.

"Want to talk about this?" he asked, pulling back the duvet.

"Nope, do you? You stayed with me last night though you were gone this morning."

"I may act tough but if your mother had caught me?" he laughed as she got in and turned out the bedside lamp.

"Tough guy. We can just sleep if you want? I still want my goodnight kiss."

"That I can do. Come here."

The goodnight kiss turned into a full-blown snogging session as Rose was panting for breath.

"You're not even out of breath and I didn't want to say anything Doctor but have you got two hearts or something 'cos I swear if you haven't mine's going double time."

"Yes, I have two hearts. I can also hold my breath longer than you can so you'll have to be the one who takes a break from kissing. I've not put you off have I? Only this is very enjoyable."

"No, it's not put me off, it's just a bit strange, that's all. I won't tell anyone my boyfriend is an alien. This is just like a film plot."

"Well I can assure you, I'm not that actor you used to think I looked like."

"What actor? Did I say that? Sorry."

"It's quite alright Rose, I should have been flattered I suppose but we never spoke of it much. See, I can tell you things like that, just don't ask me what we did or where we went and things will work out just fine. I can answer some of your questions though such as do you want me to be here in the morning when you wake up?" he asked as she snuggled into his shoulder.

"Yeah, will you stay?"

"I can do that and I'm sorry, for the other night when I said I could maybe work out a way of getting back on my own, it was thoughtless of me. The truth is, I was in denial, I thought if I got out of here sooner it would be easier on you but it won't, it will only make things worse. Who says this isn't how you spent the six months before the other me arrived?"

"I can think of worse ways Doctor," Rose giggled as she glanced up at him in just the light coming from outside.

"Yeah? Like spending six months with Mickey the idiot?"

"Why do ya call him that?"

"My other self used to call him that but don't worry, I insulted everyone except you. You should hear me go on about your mother's cooking though to be fair, it's not half as bad as I remember."

"Well you'll just have to get used to mine and I promised her we would go round for lunch every Sunday, just to keep her happy. You don't mind do you?"

"No, if that's what you want? I never thought I'd be doing this Rose, getting all domestic. We sometimes talked about what would happen if I got stranded somewhere with you."

"You did? What did you tell me?"

"We sort of shied away from the subject. Rose, this isn't going to be easy you know? If you want to back out?"

"No Doctor, I don't want to back out. You need someone yeah? Well I'm here so don't think ya gonna get rid of me that easily. You said I go off with you to goodness knows what and you change at some point so how's that work?"

"Timelords have this trick to cheat death, we regenerate. This is my tenth, you meet me in my ninth but I can't tell you how or when I do change, I just do."

"Then if you know me in the future, why are you here now and why were you thinking about me? Do I leave you?"

"Not by choice but I can't tell you how or why Rose but trust me, neither of us wanted to, there were some very unusual circumstances and you didn't leave without a fight. I made a mistake of thinking it was for the best but it wasn't, I know that now. I made a lot of mistakes and trust me, I won't be making them again."

"Good, I must have made mistakes as well but you know what they are. So are we gonna talk all night then?"

Rose moved slightly and went for the hem of his white t-shirt. What harm was there in getting a bit closer he thought as he let her pull it over his head and she lay her head on his bare chest, listening to his two hearts beating. He kissed her forehead and put his arm around her as she kissed his neck.

"Why didn't we do this before Doctor?"

That was a very good question and what was there to stop them now, at least for the next six months or so but was it fair they got close and intimate then he just dumped her with his former self and leave her wondering if they could pick up where they left off? This was going to make it difficult for both of them to part but this time, Rose had the advantage. She could tell both versions of him what they had shared and hopefully, neither his former self or his present one would be stupid enough to turn her down this time but what if her feelings for him only developed when he'd changed?

That was something that would only come to light when he'd gone back to 2007 but would he remember what they'd had together if he let something happen? Rose would remember and that could only be a good thing, couldn't it? If she went to the other universe knowing what he felt for her, that had to be better than leaving her wondering, didn't it?
Chapter 7
When the Doctor hadn't returned to collect Martha the morning after he had left her, she was pacing up and down the floor, expecting him to do a haphazard landing in her living room again or she'd settle for him being outside. By lunchtime, she had to face it, he had gone somewhere on his own that he didn't want her to be involved with or he'd found a wormhole or whatever and gone to rescue Rose Tyler.

What was so special about his last companion? She got her things and decided to show up for work, she could always use a bit more experience and the hospital staff were still recovering from the death of Mr Stoker and the police would be wanting to question her, since she was the last person to see him.

Before she left though, she picked up last night's paper and saw an article about mysterious disappearances at an old house on the outskirts of the city. Betting that's what he'd been up to on his day off, she got the address and drove off. Parking just outside the gates that were hanging off their hinges, she sneaked through, looking for the Tardis but unknown to her, the angels had carted it into the basement and were surrounding it.

Martha wondered whether he was inside, if he'd landed the Tardis in one of the rooms and was about to go inside but the doorknob seemed stuck. Then she heard a noise behind her and turned to find a scary garden statue behind her.

"Well he can forget that, if he thinks I'm going in there," Martha huffed to herself and marched off to get back in her car.

The day after Rose and the Doctor moved into their new flat, Rose went shopping then they walked up the road to have lunch with her mother, the Doctor just wanting to keep the peace since Rose had upped the stakes last night. She had successfully got him down to just his shorts and she'd laid on him so it was difficult to sneak away but he was happy to let her stay where she was.

Rose had woken up and he had kissed her good morning and she had teased him about not bothering to wear his t-shirt that night but he'd teased her back.

"So, you want me minus my t-shirt tonight?" he'd asked.

"Well, we have to make a start somewhere don't we? It's only a t-shirt and you said you don't feel the cold."

"No, that's true. Just how far are we going to take this Rose?"

"What do ya mean?" she'd asked.

So now they were walking down the road, not holding hands or Rose with her arm in his. He knew he'd upset her by asking how far she wanted to take the whole idea of him being her boyfriend, how stupid had he been? Why couldn't he have just gone along with it? This could be why it had never happened the first time, so much for getting another chance then.

Rose was just about to put the code into the door when he stopped her. Not even a week had passed by and here they were, moving in together and having their first tiff.

"Rose, about earlier."

"What about it?" Rose sighed, thinking this maybe hadn't been one of her best ideas, having Sunday lunch with her mother and moving in with a man she'd met a week ago and already having their first domestic argument.

"Look, I'm sorry, I'm just not used to this so why don't you just teach me how to be your boyfriend?"

Rose let out a little smile. "Oh, well as long as you're willing to learn?"

"Yes Rose, I'm willing to learn. So, sleeping without a t-shirt is normal then?"

He let go of the door and she punched in the code.

"Yeah, when the bloke is fit and has just the right amount of chest hair," she smiled, licking her lips.

The Doctor smirked. "So I've got the right amount then?"

He could only guess her reply as she was up the stairs before he was but he heard her muttering something about him being 'fit'.

After escaping from Jackie Tyler, the Doctor set out to prove to Rose he could pass as her boyfriend for the next six months or so. Compared with some of the things he'd had to do, it would be easy and they would only be together at night and weekends anyway. When they got back, Rose lay down a few ground rules.

Most of them were thrown out over the coming months though. They got closer, Rose had ditched her pyjama bottoms for shorts then just her underwear and it wasn't long before she'd assured him she took precautions and since he had no lab to check he had to just hope for the best but they agreed to take extra precautions at certain times of the month.

The Doctor continued to tell her things, mostly about where he came from and what his former selves had done, which he had considered was safe enough and now, there was less than two weeks before his ninth self came back to earth, since he'd not taken a note of the date exactly. They were both getting edgy and it was showing as they went to Jackie's one Sunday lunchtime.

"What's wrong with you two then?" her mother had asked them.

They were sat on the chair, Rose playing with the Doctor's jacket button.

"Nothing Mum. He has something to tell you."

"Oh, what's that then? You're not splitting up are ya?"

"Well not exactly but, well you tell her Doctor."

"You've not got my daughter pregnant have you?" Jackie asked accusingly. "If you have, don't you think creeping off with do you any good."

"I'm not pregnant Mum, geez. John just has to go away for a while, that's all."

"Oh? What about your job?"

They had decided it would be easier to explain his absence if he'd been offered a posting in the USA for an undetermined period of time, to explain he could come back sooner rather than later but they'd not discussed yet how Rose would explain his former self's presence.

"He's had this great offer, haven't you Doctor?"

"Yes, I have actually and Rose and I have discussed this, I should be back around Christmas. Rose, ask her."

"Ask me what?"

"Can I move back, while he's away? I don't wanna be on my own and we've given notice yesterday."

"Well, I suppose I'll have to say yes then, haven't got much choice but what about when he comes back?"

"Ah, well, Jackie, I think we may just have something else to tell you when I do get back, though while I'm away, a few things might come to light, eh Rose?"

"What are you two on about? Look Doctor, I know I agreed to you two living together but you said nothing about going away, did ya? How come you're only telling me now?"

"Well nothing was certain Mum, now it is. Don't fuss, it'll pass in no time and he could be back sooner. Would you rather I went with him?"

They still had no idea how this was going to work and Jackie would hate being lied to but the Doctor had convinced Rose that coming out and telling her mother he was going to change to look differently then change back and he wouldn't be Rose's boyfriend any more would be a bit much for her to take in.

Rose had agreed to break it to her gently though he had argued it would be a bit hard on her so when they got home, she tried to assure him she could handle it but he wasn't so sure.

"Rose, I can try and explain it to her next Sunday, if you want love?"

"No, I can do it. When I go off with the other you, she'll think I'm cheating on you?"

"Yeah, knowing her then? Rose, I know there's not much time left so let's make the most of it eh? You have to watch out for any signs I might be hanging around the store or if any of the staff say they've seen the dummies walking on their own. You have to be ready."

"I know that Doctor. I've known all along just how much time we had but now, it's nearly here."

He went to put his arms around her and kissed her forehead.

They both had known what they were getting into but Rose had a chance of picking up where they had left off, if she could convince him of what they had shared but that all depended on if she could time everything right and meet his ninth self. He had noticed the last few nights she wasn't sleeping properly though she had been trying to hide it from him.

"Rose, if you can't sleep, I can help you with that."

"What makes you think I'm not sleeping?"

"You can't fool me, remember? Let me help you love? I can help you relax."

"Yeah, ok, it's just, you know, you going away soon and it won't be five minutes for you."

"Yes it will. I have to go back, you know that, for things to be the way they should be."

"You're a Timelord, the only Timelord so why do you have to stick to the rules?"

"There are consequences Rose, if I don't go back, there can't be two of us in the same time period. It's just six months but maybe you can get the other me to cheat a bit? He can keep you occupied so it will seem like no time has passed at all but the one thing you can't do is get him to take you forward six months when you meet him."

"You don't have to explain that to me, I know what it means. It means I'm missing out of things you want me to experience."

"Yes and they are so important Rose, in more ways than you can imagine. I've told you everything I can these last few months but there's one thing I can't tell you, one thing you'll have to discover for yourself."

She leaned into his arms, a hint of tears on her cheeks.

"I love you Doctor. I don't want you to go away but I know you have to."

"Rose, I love you too, my precious girl but there's no other way. There is so much waiting for you out there and I can't wait to show it to you."

"I can't wait to see it Doctor, you know that though. So, when are ya gonna tell me what I have to do when I meet you?"

"You'll know love but there's something else I need you to do."


"Make friends with Mickey while I'm gone."

"Don't be daft, I've not seen him for almost six months. Why?"

"Because he was with you, when I first met you, he's part of the events. Everything has to be the way it was, I'm sorry Rose but just be friends with him."

"To make you jealous?" she smiled.

"That's better love and yes, I admit, I was jealous. Why should you choose a 900 year old Timelord over Mickey?"

Rose nudged him. "I would have chosen you, you daft alien, if you'd given me the choice."

"Well, your chance will come along in a few days time but when the other me asks you the first time?"

"Yeah, I get it, tell him I have to look after Mickey but what if he doesn't come back? What if...?"

The Doctor put his finger over her mouth and went to kiss her neck.

"Shush, don't worry so much, I'll come back for you."

"I have to trust you, don't I? You still can't tell me why I'm not with you in the future. I know you said I don't go without a fight."

"No, you put up one hell of a fight Rose, I can tell you that. Why don't you choose something to watch and I'll make some tea and toast?"

He heard her quietly sobbing after they had made love that night, she thought he wouldn't notice as she lay in his arms, since he only closed his eyes for a short time, mainly to concentrate on listening to her breathing, thinking about how much he loved her. He knew this was now breaking her single heart that was so full of love for him and both his own hearts loved her back.

"Rose, sweetheart. Don't cry love," he whispered.

"Easy for you to say Doctor. Sorry, it's just I've only realised the last few days that all this is coming to an end and I knew it would. I thought I'd be ok with it."

"I never expected you to be ok with it," he sighed.

He knew he shouldn't have let all this happen but he was being selfish again so he'd have something to remember when he got back to 2007 but he'd convinced himself after that first night, it would also give Rose something to remember when she was sent to the other universe. After his first internal debate, he had concluded the other Rose, the future one was maybe a lot happier knowing they'd had this time together but what if by being intimate, things had changed?

He had to get over this doubt that she wouldn't meet him or she refused to go with his former self when he'd gone back which meant he'd still regenerate at some point but she wouldn't be responsible. He might miss this one out and regenerate into a babbling idiot with a tendency to wear bowties and a fez or even worse, a grey haired Scot with a sour disposition and he thought his sixth had been bad enough but he'd mellowed somewhat before changing only to get shot by a street gang in 1999 San Francisco.

Rose went to sleep, finally but the next morning was trying to come up with excuses over breakfast why she should stay off work.

"Rose, you can't stay off love, you know that? It could be any day now, I can't remember the exact date. Oh, hang on a second. What day do you collect the lottery money?"

"What? Oh, you mean the syndicate? Did I tell you about that?"

"No, not when we met but when you and Jack were talking once, you told him how we'd met and he said trust me to blow the shop up just so you didn't have to share the winnings."

Rose smiled, the Doctor thinking it lit up the whole room.

"Yeah, I remember that. Thursday, oh my! That's so Wilson can put the money on for it on Friday. Do ya think that's it?"

"I'm not sure, it could be next Thursday?" he offered hopefully.

"Then on Wednesday, my day off, let's do something special? Can you get the day off?"

"I can ask love, if it's important to you? I could be right, it could be next week, I'll have to try and remember what I did before I began roaming the store's basement looking for the best place to plant the explosives. See, you changed me Rose, in more ways than you imagine. I was fresh from the timewar, I had so much anger, I had to stay away from everything, I thought I was too dangerous to be let loose anywhere, let alone earth."

"So, great then, I get to meet a very angry version of you?"

"Don't be like that love," he told her, clearing the breakfast table. "Come on, I'll give you a ride to work eh? You can be a bit early, it'll be a change from you getting the bus though why you never let me take you is a puzzle to me. Anyone would think you had to pay to get into the city centre though it will come to that, one day."

He couldn't say too much but he knew a later mayor of London would introduce such a penalty, despite him trying to persuade the said mayor it was a big mistake and that if they did that, then parking should be free.

"Yeah, I can see that going down well? Even buses might have to pay?"

"Nah, it's a plot to get people to leave their cars at home but it'll never work, they'll pay rather than lower their standards by using public transport. Can you imagine the city gent from somewhere posh sitting on the tube with a pair of headphones stuck on his head?"

Rose giggled as she got her jacket and her shoulder bag, checking she had her phone and her keys.

"Yeah or some actor with a funny cap trying to disguise himself and fiddling with his music on his phone on his way back from rehearsals?"

"Well the poor bloke might get recognised and someone may take a photo and stick it on a certain website? Perish the thought!" the Doctor grinned.

All that week, including Rose's day off, they were a little off with each other except in bed, since Rose was determined if Thursday was the day before he left, she was going to give him all she had. Now they knew what day but not what week, the Doctor himself was getting nervous that his former self would not take too kindly to being used as a taxi driver to take his future self back to where he'd come from, especially to the time before he'd entered the deserted house and got caught because he was thinking of Rose, the woman his former self had only just met.

Things were extremely tense on the Thursday morning, Rose got a call before she left from her mother, asking her to put money on the lottery and she'd pay her back.

"Rose, why don't you both come for tea tonight? I'll make shepherd's pie."

"I'll ask him and I'll text you back, yeah?"

She didn't want to say that she might be back anyway, if the store got blown up tonight.
Chapter 8
The Doctor was going to drop her outside the store again and they were both quiet on the way there, thinking they may not see each other that night.

"Mum wants us to go round for tea tonight," Rose told him as they approached the store.

"She's asking a lot, since we told her I'm going away. Does she want to have another go at me?"

"Of course not Doctor. Anyway, how could I tell her you might not be with me? She'll see it on the news, if the store goes up in flames, she'll know before I get there."

"Good thing I remembered you'd just been trying to hand the lottery money in," he smiled as he pulled up and a few girls waved to Rose, giggling and nudging each other and pointing to him.

"You were very popular when you started dropping me off. I'm sure they missed you yesterday?"

She gave him a kiss in front of them and got out of the car.

"I hope I'm gonna see this version of you tonight?"

"So do I Rose, I really hope this isn't 'That' Thursday?"

He drove off to the school, meaning to go to the headmaster and explain he may have to go away suddenly but he'd have time tomorrow, events would only kick off tonight, it would be tomorrow before the fun started. He knew Rose had made no attempt to contact Mickey so during his lunch break, he brought up Mickey's number on the phone Rose had chosen for him and called him.

"Who's this?" Mickey demanded to know.

"It's Rose's friend, John Smith, we met?"

"That was month's ago, where did you get my number?"

"From Rose. Listen, I don't have much time to explain but very soon, Rose is going to need you as a friend."

"Tough, she dumped me, for you."

"Get over it Rickey, I'm being serious. I'm going to have to go away, for at least six months, I want you to keep an eye on her for me."

"It's Mickey. You are so kidding man, why are you going away?"

"Work and stuff. Do it for Rose, not for me, you'll find out why she needs you soon enough, just be there whenever that is."

"You don't know when you're going away?" Mickey laughed.

"I'm waiting for a phone call," was all he could think of.

When he did have time to think about it on his way back to their flat, it was like waiting for a phone call. Ten minutes after he got back, he was sending her a message to call him as soon as she got to her phone because if he wasn't going to see her again this time around, he wanted to at least talk to her.

Rose was in the staff room on the dot of five, checking her phone and the Doctor answered it on the first ring.

"Hi love, anything to tell me?" he asked, letting out a deep breath.

"Nothing to report lover. Are you waiting for me to go to my mum's?"

"Maybe it's better eh? If we're right about it being tonight, I shouldn't be there when you get back. Remember the plan?"

"Yeah, if a stranger down in the basement, wearing a green jumper, black jeans and a leather jacket grabs my hand and tells me go with him, I go."

"Yes love, you'll have to ask him questions and he'll ask you some, I can't tell you what they are, I can't put the words into your mouth."

"I know, I gotta go now, I love you Doctor and I hope I'll see you soon."

He hoped so too.

"I love you Rose, always, always remember that no matter what happens."

Rose knew the routine, get in the lift with the other girls, go to the front entrance and the doorman was waiting with a clear plastic envelope.

"Oi, Rose, lottery," Steve mumbled at her, dangling it in front of her like he'd been doing forever.

Rose rolled her eyes and got back into the lift, pressing the 'B" button and wondering what was waiting, the chief electrician or shop window dummies and another version of the man she loved.

The Doctor had only warned her that something was moving the dummies, she'd begged him to tell her more but he couldn't.

"Wilson?" she called out as the lift doors opened.

No answer. Rose ventured toward Wilson's 'room' to find it locked and she didn't like this, he always sat in his chair reading the paper and waited for her. She heard a noise in the distance, thinking it was one of the cleaners putting something away.

"Who's down here?" she called out.

She heard it again, still not liking this. She got her phone out but there was no reception – typical when she needed the Doctor's reassurance she was imagining things. She heard another noise and went through the double doors in front of her, knowing she was going to regret it and she'd been right, it was today and she couldn't even contact him, had he known that?

Before she knew it, something stepped out behind her and she turned around.

"Very funny, who's that? Is it you Derek?"

She began to back up as more figures appeared to be moving and a million things ran through her mind. She was backed up against a pipe as one of the figures raised an arm, Rose wondering what was controlling them. Suddenly, a hand grabbed hers and she knew instantly. As the events unfolded before her, she found herself taking immediately to her lover's former self but things were not going to be that easy.

After he told her to go home and eat her beans on toast and to forget him, she was dying to call her Doctor but he'd told her if she didn't come home, he would know anyway and for her to stay the night at her mother's and his other self would show up as she was still holding the arm from the dummy.

Jackie was frantically trying to call both Rose and the Doctor, neither of them were answering. The Doctor knew exactly what time Rose got home and she wasn't there, giving him his kiss and hug like she'd done every night since they'd been together. He was ignoring Jackie's calls, he'd told Rose not to call him and that they couldn't see each other until it was over, which was breaking both his hearts as much as it was her single one.

He dare not even turn on the TV but Jackie had it on and she got so desperate, she was the one to call Mickey.

"Jackie, I've not seen her for six months," Mickey answered when she asked if he'd seen Rose.

"I mean tonight Mickey, don't you watch the news? The store Rose works in just blew up."

"What? No, I just got home. Where's that bloke of hers?"

"I dunno Mickey, neither of them are answering their phones. What if she was caught in it?"

"Calm down Jackie, the police would've called. I'm coming over now."

He had already forgotten his beef with this John Smith who had waltzed in and ruined any chances of he and Rose getting back together again.

"Hang on, someone's at the door, it could be either of them," Jackie told him, ending the call.

Rose stood at the door, trying to hide the plastic arm but Jackie pulled her into a hug, making it awkward to ignore.

"Rose, I was so worried about you, why are you on your own, where's the Doctor? What are you doing with that?"

"This? Long story Mum, you should have seen the look the taxi driver gave me, I had to tell him it was a prank I was playing on my boyfriend."

"So where is he?"

"We were supposed to meet here," Rose lied, tossing the arm in the corner, since she didn't even know why she'd brought it back after it had been thrown at her.

Jackie hadn't locked the door, expecting the Doctor to come bursting in and comfort Rose, who was clearly shaken up but Mickey came barging in.

"What are you doing here?" Rose asked as her mother went to make the answer to everything – tea.

"Well excuse me for worrying about you. Are you ok?"

"I'm fine, I wasn't inside, I'd already left, the bus was late."

"I got a call from him earlier, what you give him my number for?"

"He must have got it from my phone, he never said anything."

Jackie brought tea in.

"Tea?" Mickey gasped. "You need a proper drink, come on, I'm taking you to the pub."

"If the football's on, you go."

"I'm hurt by that Rose. Where's your boyfriend when you need him? He asked me to watch out for you, when he goes away so where's he going?"

"He's got a job in America somewhere," Jackie interrupted, displeased at Mickey insulting her tea making skills and that Rose's boyfriend of the last six months was absent, just when she needed him.

"So, answer my question, where is he then?" Mickey insisted, sitting down next to Rose, who moved over like he was the plague, then remembered what the Doctor had asked her to do, be friends with him.

"I think he might have gone off, for an interview."

"Without even telling ya?" her mother asked.

"He said if he got a call, he'd have to just leave, they'll have been a ticket for him at the airport. I'm sure he'll be back tomorrow at some point, he'll call me when he can."

"Well a fine time for him to be gallivanting across the other side of the world," Jackie complained.

"They have the news over there you know?"

"Not the English news," Mickey butted in, getting up and trying to grab her arm.

Then he spied the plastic arm in the corner and leaned over to retrieve it.

"Is this some kind of joke?" he asked.

"Just throw it in the bin on your way out, I never even realised I was holding it," Rose explained, getting her a frown from her mother.

"Well if you ask me, Mickey's right, you need a strong drink."

The phone interrupted her, Rose's heart skipping a beat in case it was the Doctor and he'd changed his mind about them discussing what had happened. Rose grew impatient when her mother began discussing compensation and grabbing the phone, hung up on the caller.

"Well what are you gonna do, if the Doctor's going off to work over there? You can't live here rent free you know?"

"Don't worry, he'll send me money," Rose lied, thinking now she'd have to go back to relying on her tampered with bank card again though thankfully, she'd just been paid.

"You're coming back here?" Mickey asked, waving the fake arm around and Rose wafting it away. "He asked me to look out for you, while he was gone and I will but I'm not doing it for him."

Rose knew the Doctor was worried about her though he'd said he wanted her and Mickey to be friends again, he'd never told her to call him, since they didn't know when everything was going to kick off.

The Doctor was staring at his phone, he was tearing up inside, not being able to talk to her then he brought up her number, thinking she'd been right all along. He was a Timelord and what harm could it do by just hearing her voice as long as they didn't discuss her meeting with his former self.

Rose's phone rang and her heart leapt.


"Rose, are you ok love?"

She didn't want to let on he was still in their flat, which if things went according to plan, she would be clearing out before the notice was up on it. He knew she couldn't give the game away.

"Hi, where are you?" she asked, trying to sound cheerful.

"Did you tell your mother what we talked about?"

"So how's New York then?" Rose asked, trying to escape into the kitchen so they could talk properly but Mickey took the plastic arm, waved it at her again and left, intending to toss it in the large bin downstairs.

Rose made sure the hatch and the kitchen door were closed.

"I'm fine. It happened, I met him, now what? I thought you weren't gonna ask me?"

"I was worried about you love and no, I don't want the details, I was there, remember?"

"How do I know I met the right person? There was a lot going on down there."

He knew he shouldn't reply. "I told you to run," he said sadly.

That was all she needed. "I still love you Doctor, I always will."

"I know but you can't tell the other me that."

"Why not? I thought we agreed I convince him we were together?"

"Not that version of me, I thought about it. You make me better Rose, that will never change but you can't tell the other me how you feel, not until the end."

"The end of what? When you turn into you?"

She was aware how enigmatic that actually sounded, to anyone else.

"Yes Rose, when I'm me again but I'll take some convincing so don't you ever take no for an answer, do you understand? Never give up telling me how you feel, I'll try and put you off at first but you have to wear me down."

"Like I did when we first met?" Rose smiled.

"Exactly my love. You stay there, you have to be there when the other me comes looking for the arm. Did Mickey take it?"

"Yeah, he said you called him."

"I had a feeling it was today, I had to be ready, just in case. Tomorrow, you can say I'm on my way back from New York, to collect all my things then I'll just disappear, at least to everyone else. Just think Rose, what better way of hiding is there than to hide in front of everyone eh?"

"You think you're so clever," Rose laughed. "You won't fool mum for long."

"You have to break it to her gently, over time but I think she might guess and Mickey certainly will. Remember, you have to go through the motions of looking me up, like we discussed, everything has to be the same and oh, watch out for Mickey."

"Why? Is he gonna grow two heads or something?"

"Not quite. Just go along with what the other me tells you, ask the right questions and give me some answers, that way, I'll be certain to come back for you because when you turn me down, well, I never go back and ask someone again to travel with me, you were the exception."

"Hey, maybe some of what we have now, trickled back to the other you so that means I convince you."

The Doctor smiled to himself – she was something else.

"Yes, you could be right love, maybe it did? I never thought of that before. Contact me, when I ask you to go with me but you can't let him take you anywhere, I can't be here for too much longer. Me already being here may have alerted him, Timelords could sense each other but I'm out of my time, that should dampen it a bit but if I use my sonic screwdriver, that will give me away."

"Then don't use it. Have you told the college?"

"I said I may have to leave suddenly. I'll risk the morning but after that, I'd best just come back here, on my own and I'm sorry Rose, I am really sorry but what's about to happen, I can't interfere, you know that? If I do, you'll never get me to come back and when I do, tell him there's something he needs to know, before he puts the Tardis into flight, then call me and I'll be right over. I'll get a taxi, you'll have to send the car back, the lease is almost up anyway, just tell them they can take it, your name's on the agreement with you making the payments."

"Doctor, please let me see you, just once more?" Rose sobbed.

"Oh Rose, my love, I would give anything for that but we can't. He can't detect I've been over there or he'll start looking for me, before everything's resolved."

"Then why don't you work together?"

"What? No, we can't," he told her sadly.

"Why not? Then at the end, he'll be more likely to take you back."

The Doctor thought about it. He'd met a few of his past lives and nothing had been harmed, in fact some outcomes couldn't have been achieved without a collaboration. For one more night with his true love, surely it had to be worth the risk, if he took a back seat?

"I'll be round in five minutes, no, make that four, meet me downstairs but we can't stay there, I'm supposed to be away, remember?"
Chapter 9
The Doctor, slightly elated at not losing her quite so suddenly, picked up the keys of the black SUV he'd rented for the last six months, having fooled the leasing company into seeing his driving licence and remembering Rose's comments about him driving a scooter in the 1950's but he considered himself experienced enough to safely drive the roads of 2005.

Rose had gone back into her mother's living room, picking up her jacket.

"Where are you off to madam?"

"I'm going home Mum, I've got nothing here anyway, I'll be back in the morning with my things, then I'll bring John's things over, he's not got that much, he'll have packed most of it."

"Should you be on your own tonight?"

"I'll be fine Mum, honestly. I'll see ya in the morning, yeah?" she asked, picking up her old keys.

"Are you ok with him going off?"

"It's not forever Mum, he'll be back like no time's passed at all."

Little did her mother know but she'd been seeing some form of him the next day. Rose was down the stairs and out into the courtyard, making sure Mickey wasn't still hanging around but he'd be off sulking somewhere that he'd been summoned under false pretences by her mother, as if he could help but she'd already promised the Doctor she'd put up with him, she needed his help to make it all happen.

She went out onto the main road, where the Doctor was waiting for her just past the crossing.

"Hello love, are you really ok?"

She kissed his cheek, then he checked the road and turned the car around.

"Yeah, just a bit shaken. You could have given me a bit more warning ya know? Those dummies were after me."

"I know love and I'm really sorry."

"How did you know I was there?"

The Doctor thought about it. "I just did, be grateful eh? If I hadn't come across you, you'd have been stuck there but knowing you, you'd have got away in time."

"I must have been lucky you were there then, though I'd never have thought about pulling its arm off as it attacked me."

The Doctor smiled and pulled into their street. Once in their flat, he turned to give her a hug.

"I love you Rose," he whispered, then kissed her.

"I love you too Doctor, your other self isn't that bad, a bit rough around the edges but I could tell he was part of you."

"Really?" he smiled, observing her. "Which part? It wasn't my charm, I had none back then and I apologise for what's about to happen tomorrow but it will all work out, you just have to be strong, can you do that, for me?"

Rose managed a nod as she leaned into his chest, reassuring herself he still had two hearts. They had a quick bite to eat, then he wanted to have a serious talk, one he shouldn't really be having but the rules were meant to be broken, he'd already done that numerous times before.

"About my helping with this Rose, maybe I can do it through you, tell you what to do?"

"Don't want to meet your past self?" Rose asked, studying him.

"It's just I don't think it's a good idea, two of us being there, considering I did it on my own last time, with just your help."

"Ok, tell me what to do then?"

The Doctor outlined a few things, such as what was controlling the dummies and where the transmitter was being hidden.

Rose laughed. "You mean you didn't see it?"

"Stop laughing Rose, don't you see? You're much too clever for me. That was one of the reasons I went back for you, well that and the fact you save me in the end but I can't tell you how you do that, you'll just have to put some of your many talents to use."

"What talents? I've not even got a job now, I had to tell mum you'd keep sending me money and why she's not asked why I'm not keeping the flat, I don't know. How do I get Mickey involved?"

"Oh, don't worry about that Rose, he'll already be annoyed that you ditched him for me and then I'm leaving you, asking him to watch out for you. I bet he's on his computer right now, looking me up but, well I shouldn't tell you this but you should look me up as well. Go round to Mickey's tomorrow and ask to use his laptop, then get him to take you to see someone."

He was glad he'd got her to tell him what had happened.

"What if I get the wrong person?"

"You won't, trust me. The other me will come looking for the arm in the morning, you'll have to leave here early, you have to be there love."

"I know but it's not gonna be easy, pretending he's not you. When it's over, how do I tell him though?"

"Well maybe I can make it a bit easier for you? When Mickey's gone home, I'll be waiting where the Tardis lands but whatever you do, don't let the other me go off right away or it will be too late but he should ask you a few things first, then you tell him there's something you have to do before you go and I'll take over."

"What if he throws me out, tells me I've told someone else about him when I should have kept quiet?"

"He'll be curious but I don't know how he'll react, I've not done that bit before. Oh, hang on, I should know. No, yes, I should know but I don't because it's not happened yet."

"Doctor, what are going on about?"

"Nothing, sorry. It's a paradox Rose, an endless paradox that will never be solved. Well it might be, eventually but never mind. I get to have one more night with you, my love, that's enough, isn't it?"

He pulled her close and lay her back against the sofa cushions, putting his hand up the front of her t-shirt.

"It's just not fair Doctor, only having one more night together, then I have to watch you step inside what you call the Tardis and he comes back, without you."

"Oh Rose, I wish there was another way but there isn't, you have to live through this."

"Yeah, you take the high road and I take the low road and you'll be in 2007 before me," Rose smiled, holding his hand on her stomach and pressing it into her, his fingers sprawling out.

"I love you Rose, I swear that will never, ever change, no matter how many times I regenerate after this but I can say this, when you meet me again and I'm not quite me, I may say some things you won't want to hear and maybe, just maybe, that will be your chance, to get me to believe we had something already."

"Yeah? What can you possibly say to me that will upset me?"

"I can't tell you that but instead of getting angry and upset, grab hold of me and kiss me eh, even if Mickey the idiot is with you. Then I'll have to believe you."

"You said before that I can't tell the you I just met, about, well you and I being together. Why not?"

"We had nothing romantic going on, we were just best friends and that can't change Rose, please, don't try and change it but at the end, I'll know and you can tell me, when I've regenerated or maybe just before, how you feel about me and that we had something. The me you've just met is angry with everything, not just you and you make me better, that's what you do, Rose Tyler."

"Hang on though, I'm a bit confused."

"That's only natural Rose but it will all work out, I promise. You and I are just about to begin an adventure together and these last six months, well you gave me something more that I could ever have expected, you treated me like a normal human male and it's the best experience of my life. Remember I told you about going back to 1913 and didn't know who I was?"

Rose nodded, touching his cheek.

"Well, I thought I could never have a life like that for real but I have, with you. Fancy an early night?"

He got up and took her hand, kissing the back of it.

"Carry me to the bedroom?" Rose asked.

"That will be my pleasure love. Oh, there's a few other things I can warn you about that won't make much difference to how things took place."


"Yes my love?" he asked as he kicked the bedroom door to and then placed her on the bed they'd share for almost six months.

"Shut up."

"Yes Ma'am."

Satisfied it would give them both something to remember if that was the last night they spent together, for a while anyway, the Doctor put his arm under Rose and held her tightly.

"Rose, there are going to be a lot of situations where you could get a little jealous, both before and after I change into this version of me."

"Oh, you mean like the girls at work pointing and giggling towards you?"

"Well yeah and maybe a bit more? Rose, things can slightly deviate to what I remember happening, very tiny, little things that will make me happy, knowing they'd been changed because when I get back to 2007, I'm letting Martha go, it's not fair on her."

"You did nothing to encourage her, it was her own fault," Rose assured him, kissing his bare chest. "You told her straight out you weren't looking to replace me and she chose to ignore it. What did she expect?"

"Well she mentioned something about 'rebound' when I took her somewhere I'd taken you."

Rose nudged him. "Well in that case, maybe you deserved it?"

Then he heard her giggle. "That's not funny Rose, shame she wasn't a bit more like Donna?"

"You might meet her again, she sounds like fun? Doctor, why are you telling me all this? As compensation for me not being there?"

"Don't make it sound like that Rose. The circumstances under which we part are beyond both of our control, neither of us wanted it and I've been honest with you, there are going to be times when we think we've lost each other and we come through it but the final time, well that's it, no escape and you have to face it, just as I had to and trust me, both my hearts were broken."

"I know, you've already told me. So, this is our last night, like this?"

"For a while at least. Rose, you know I'd tell you more, if I could? I've risked a lot, telling you all this but you can make a choice. You can live through it or I can have the other me take it all away so you don't remember."

Rose sat up suddenly.

"What? That's so unfair to even ask me, how could you? Don't come out with any excuses it will be easier on me. I'm the one that has to explain to my mother that the man I met tonight was you, just a different you and you already told me, it changes a few things when you do come back."

"Shush, don't get upset Rose, I was just giving you the option, blimey."

Rose settled down again. "Let's not fight on our last night Doctor?"

"No, no fighting, definitely no fighting. You know that this might also change my future? Maybe I'm meant to carry on travelling with Martha a bit longer and it changes her destiny?"

"Well you can't have it both ways Doctor, you said you had to put a stop to her advances. Why did you never let anyone get close to you?"

"Oh Rose, you'll find out, soon enough. It was sometimes a case of anyone wanting to get close to me, you as always were that exception."

"I should feel honoured then?" Rose yawned, knowing this was the very last time they'd be like this for some considerable time.

"Oh no Rose, it's I who am honoured you chose to stay with me when I did regenerate, I don't keep a lot of friendships over more than one and when I do, they leave in the end though you and maybe one or two others didn't go without a fight."

"Doctor, please tell me why I leave you?"

"Rose, it would break your single heart if I did and you wouldn't enjoy all the things you're about to experience."

"You think I'm gonna enjoy the ones without this you being there? I can see I'm gonna have my work cut out."

The Doctor chuckled. "Oh don't worry, we'll keep each other on our toes."

"Yeah? Well I hope you know what you're in for, I mean the other you or should I say the other you and the other this you?"

"Rose, a bloke could have an identity crisis. There never were two versions of this me before I came here, maybe that's why I didn't know anything when I came here? What do you think? Maybe one day though we can look back on this? Maybe one day I'll split myself in two, then we'll be in trouble? Rose?"

He knew she'd fallen asleep. They'd spent many nights this time around with her falling asleep, he reckoned it was just his voice because she'd done pretty much the same in the Tardis when they'd stayed up talking or he'd read to her. This time, he didn't want her to go to sleep because there would be none of this when he went back but just exactly what would he be returning to?
Chapter 10
He didn't want to wake Rose up the next morning, just after seven. She seemed blissfully unaware of what was about to unfold when she met his other self for the second time but one thing was good. She'd not run away or told him to forget it but would it be so bad if he didn't go back, well apart from it causing a temporal flux or whatever, there being two of him.

No, it had to be done, Rose had to play her part in the events or he may just disappear, like 'Back to the future' or something more extreme. That snapped him back to reality, well that and Rose twitching her nose when he kissed it gently.

"Whatcha go and wake me for?" Rose yawned, seeing him peering down and smiling from his vantage point, one arm propping himself up on the pillow.

"Good morning my love, you seemed to sleep well."

"Yeah, thanks to you. You're so cute like that."

"Ah, you mean my manly hairy chest?"

"Yeah you nana, whatcha think I meant?" Rose sniggered as something further down stirred and he tried to mentally slap himself.

"Ah, don't bother tryin' to hide it tiger," Rose continued, moving slightly. "Last chance?"

"Rose, there will never be an actual last chance, I could never let you go willingly."

"You mean I get dragged kicking and screaming away from you?"

"Not far off. Come here then."

He pushed her onto her back, putting his hand down the back of her underwear. It was over too quickly for both of them as the Doctor retrieved his boxers she made him sleep in, him not knowing if she didn't trust him or she didn't trust herself. They hurriedly got dressed and she noticed he'd gone back to wearing his brown pinstripe suit.

"It's serious then?" she asked as he opened the bedroom door.

"What can I say Rose? I wish we'd been wrong and it was next week but it would still have come down to this. We'd just be having this conversation next Friday morning."

"I know, sorry. I don't wanna leave like this."

"I know love. You make the tea, I'll make the toast and your favourite marmalade eh?"

"So, how did ya enjoy being like a normal human male then?" Rose asked as they sat at the table for probably the last time.

"It was interesting but most of all, I got to spend it with you. Does that sound corny?"

Rose reached for his hand and patted it.

"Yep, that was corny but very sweet. Ya know, I can look at this another way, you going off and being different when you come back."

"Yeah? Well I'm sorry I'll have to leave you to explain it to your mother and trust me, she'll slap me silly."

"Which you?" Rose laughed, finishing her toast.

The Doctor smiled to himself when he remembered her telling him off for helping himself to a jar of marmalade in 2012.

"Anyway, like I was just sayin' about when you come back. Maybe I can just give the other you some hints?"

"Well maybe but only just before I change. Rose, you can't change anything with the other me, I told you that."

"How will I know when that is though? Can't ya give me a clue?"

The Doctor thought about it. Everything up to his regeneration had to stay the same, he knew that but there again, so did afterwards and he was getting set up for that to change.

"Rose, you'll know, I'm sure you will. Just watch out for anything unusual about me eh?"

"Yeah, that'll help?" he thought to himself as Rose got ready to leave.

"Can you drop me off?"

"Well, it's risking it a bit but I can drop you where I was waiting last night, if Mickey sees me, you can say I just got back from my trip, I doubt the other me will be there yet. Come on then and Rose, if there was any other way, you know I'd take it in an instant, don't you?"

Rose went to hug him. "Yeah, I know but it's not gonna be easy calling the other you 'Doctor'."

"I know that love. Well at least he'll know some things, things he's not supposed to know but he can't know which future regeneration I am."

"That's easy, since ya never told me," Rose smiled, picking up her jacket. "I'll come back for my things later, will I have time?"

"Rose, you're about to step into a time machine love."

"Some consolation that is. Let's get this over with then I can introduce the other Doctor to you, since you've already been him. This is so confusing."

"You're telling me love," the Doctor grinned, leaning down to kiss her for the last time as he wanted to.

Less than fifteen minutes later, Rose had kissed him again and stepped out of the car, the Doctor saying he would lock the door later and put the key in their letterbox for her to collect at some point. Rose had wondered when she was going to be able the clear the flat out, since he'd implied she was going to be busy. She let herself into her mother's flat and called out.

"I'm back Mum. John's on his way home from his trip so you might see him later, yeah?"

She thought she may as well set things in motion.

Her mother appeared in her bedroom doorway, wearing her dressing gown and her hair wrapped in a towel, a large hairdryer in her hand.

"Blimey Mum, no wonder you're always complaining about the bills," Rose remarked, getting her a huff from her mother.

"Same can be said about the kettle," Jackie called back as Rose went to put water in it.

Then Rose heard a noise at the door and glancing towards it, saw the cat-flap move.

"Mum, you said you'd nailed down that cat-flap, you're such a liar."

Jackie had just switched the hairdryer on. Rose saw the flap moving again and went to investigate, getting level with it. She pushed the flap outwards and caught a glimpse of what could have been the Doctor's sonic screwdriver but he'd told her his predecessor also had one. Then she saw a head and it definitely wasn't John's, it was the man from last night.

Rose was up like a shot. The other Doctor jumped as she opened the door.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I could ask you the same thing. I live here, what's your excuse?"

"Well why are you still here?"

"Because someone blew my place of work up last night."

"I must have got the wrong signal. You're not plastic, are you? No, bonehead. Bye, then."

"Oh no you don't, inside."

Her Doctor had warned her the other him would try to get away, and she wasn't to let him, not all the time.

Jackie saw Rose pass again and stood in the doorway as Rose pulled the other Doctor inside.

"Who's this then?"

"It's about last night Mum, part of the enquiry, give us ten minutes will ya?"

The other Doctor grinned.

"My daughter deserves compensation," Jackie gawked, hoping Rose wasn't already ditching John.

"We're talking millions," the other Doctor replied.

Well if Rose wasn't going after him, he was fair game as far as Jackie Tyler was concerned and he looked too old for Rose anyway but so did John.

"I'm in my dressing gown," Jackie managed, looking down.

"Yes, you are."

"There's a strange man standing in my bedroom doorway."

"Well, yes, there is."

"Anything could happen?"

As if this Doctor had somehow been warned about Rose's mother, he shook his head.


Rose had realised he wasn't following. She was on her own until he tried to get away again.

"Don't mind the mess, I've been away for a bit, tried living on my own but you know how it is?"

"Yeah, you should see my place," the other Doctor laughed, looking around.

"Do ya want a coffee?"

"Might as well. Mine's just milk."

She already knew that. After telling him they should go to the police and learning a body had been found in the ruined store, the kitchen hatch open, the other Doctor heard a noise while he was admiring his looks in the mirror, learning Rose's surname, made some observations about a celebrity couple and being clever with a deck of cards.

"You got a cat?" he asked, hearing the noise again.

"If we had, I wouldn't have been looking out and seen you, would I?"

Rose continued going on about the man who had died last night as the arm Mickey was meant to have thrown out made its way to the Doctor.

"Anyway, if we go to the police, you can explain. What's your name, I only got the Doctor bit," Rose wanted to know, mainly because her Doctor had refused to tell her that much.

Rose was attacked by the arm as she put the cups down on the glass coffee table and Jackie was oblivious to the whole thing as they crashed through it and the other Doctor finally got it under control, tossing it to her.

"There you go, armless. Right, I'll be off then," the other Doctor stated, putting his sonic screwdriver away.

Rose was after him like a shot.

"Oh no you don't. You have some explaining to do."

"Forget about it, Rose Tyler, forget about me," he told her, the arm tucked under his own arm.

She followed him along the balcony and if she thought her Doctor could walk fast?

"So you're just gonna go swanning off?" Rose asked, catching up with him halfway down the stairs.

"Yep, this is me, swanning off."

Rose took a chance and grabbed his arm.

"Explain it to me, I'm a good listener."

The other Doctor took her hand and explained how he could feel the earth revolving under his feet.

"That's who I am Rose, now go home."

Her Doctor had told her to let him go when she got her first glance of what he'd called the Tardis.

"So there's only you?"

"Yes, what did you expect?" the other Doctor laughed.

"There's me?" Rose said sadly.

If she wasn't very careful, he would go off and never come back but it would leave John here, out of his time and while that would make her extremely happy, it could cause all kinds of complications.

The other Doctor walked off, Rose watching and in the distance, there stood the time ship in the shape of a Police Box, just as her Doctor had described.

"Doctor," Rose called after him.

He stopped for a second and turned around.

"You know where I am, if you need me?"

The other Doctor nodded and walked off again and while Rose stared as he entered the small box, having already been told it was bigger on the inside, she watched it disappear. She took the short route back to her block then decided to see if Mickey was at home. She rang the bell and he answered.

"What do you want Rose? I'm not exactly in a good mood right now, the garage is short of work so don't come asking for me to lend you some money."

"Sorry, no, I just got paid, the store does these new electronic payments. Can I use your laptop?"

"Whatcha looking at?" Mickey asked as he brought coffee in.

"That cup had better be clean Mickey."

Mickey just huffed. Then Rose typed into the search box 'Doctor blue box' and at the first result, there was a picture of the man she'd met last night with some writing – 'If you have seen this man, contact Clive' followed by a phone number.

"You're not serious Rose?" Mickey gasped as she scribbled the number on the back of an old envelope.

"I tell ya Mickey, I wouldn't have got out of that basement last night if he'd not been there."

"Still, bit of a coincidence he's call The Doctor as well? Is there something you want to tell me? Have you got a 'Thing' for doctors?"

"Don't be so daft Mickey, it's just a coincidence but it might be worthwhile going to see this Clive bloke?"

"Well I'm not going in, I'll wait outside."

Rose thought at least Mickey was taking some notice, her Doctor said he was crucial to some of the events that would take place later on and into the evening though he'd never been able to say exactly how but it was all coming together.

After spending some time with 'Clive', Rose came to the conclusion he was nuts, he had no idea who the Doctor was, how he'd described him was vaguely what her Doctor had told her about his past but she was unable to go with some of the theories. Meanwhile, Mickey had taken an interest in a moving wheelie-bin and been deposited in the bottom of it and replaced with a plastic replica, which her Doctor had said, she was going to be in for a few surprises.

Rose got into Mickey's yellow VW and she became suspicious as he zig-zagged down the street.

"Here Micks, let me drive?" Rose volunteered.

The Doctor had been giving her lessons, he said he had the patience of a saint and that no matter how much she protested, he was going to get her through her test.

"Pizza, I want pizza," was all the reply she got as he straightened the car and the replica Mickey got the hang of driving, though the real Mickey wouldn't thank him for crashing the gears.

All Rose could do was hang on as they drove back towards The Powell Estate but Rose didn't think it was safe to let a rogue Mickey loose.

"Hey, Mickey, let's go to that new Bistro? You know where it is?"

Plastic Mickey looked like he was consulting something. The dummies seemed like they were interested in her but she was the key to leading the Doctor to them, which was probably who they were after, considering he blew most of them up last night. As they got seated, 'Mickey' began asking her questions.

"So, where did you meet this Doctor then? You can tell me, Rose, sweetheart, babe," he twitched.

"I'm sorry, was I going on about him too much?" Rose asked, knowing something was wrong with him, he'd not asked her if John was due back and what her plans were while he was away, since she'd no job.

Then she heard a northern accent she recognised. "Champagne?"

Mickey spoke without turning around as Rose caught sight of the other Doctor.

"We never ordered any champagne."

Before Rose knew what was happening, the other Doctor had hit Mickey between the eyes with the cork, Mickey had spat it out and when the Doctor pulled the head off, everyone ran screaming from their tables and Mickey or what was left of him was wandering around chopping tables in half.

Rose soon found out this Doctor shared certain traits such as not liking Mickey too much and she had to laugh at him not knowing at first where the transmitter that was controlling the dummies was being hidden. He'd be sure to ask how she'd known but as they got into the base of Nestene Consciousness, she realised what was meant by her using one of her talents. She led Mickey up to where the Tardis had been taken and she knew what was going to happen when they were taken back, he would ask her to go with him, she would say no, using Mickey as an excuse and if, if he came back, her Doctor would be going home.
Chapter 11
Rose's Doctor knew what sort of day she was going to have. He had been back to the school and cleared his desk, apologising with the excuse something unexpected had come up and getting away with it. It was when he saw on the news that people were being attacked in the streets by students acting like plastic dummies that he put on his trench coat, locked the door and posted the key in the letter box, leaving everything inside the flat, including the car keys.

He hailed a passing cab even though it wasn't far and made his way to where he remembered landing the Tardis after defeating the Nestene Consciousness and peeked around the corner, just in time to see Mickey stumbling out of the Tardis and cowering behind a pallet by the metal fence. Staying in the shadows, he saw Rose come out, followed by his previous incarnation.

It wasn't that often a Timelord got to see his former self, unless under extreme circumstances so this was going to be interesting to say the least. He tried to remember the conversation that would be going on.

"Fat lot of good you were," Rose was saying. "I saved you back there."

"Yes, you did. Thank you, Rose Tyler. Right, best be off then, unless?"

"Unless what?" Rose dared ask, knowing this was it – he'd either come back if she said no or leave for good and she couldn't exactly ask him if she said no, would he come back?

"I don't know, maybe you could come with me?"

"Is it always that dangerous?"

The other Doctor suddenly decided the dust on his shoes was interesting, even though it was dark.

"Not always. Anyway, it's your choice," he told her. "This ship isn't just hop on, hop off you know, it goes anywhere in the universe."

Mickey looked up at her. "No Rose, don't go, those things, they were alien, he's an alien and what would your boyfriend think?"

"What boyfriend?" the other Doctor asked. "I thought Rickey here was your boyfriend? Besides, he's not invited."

"Aw, he's just confused, take no notice," Rose bluffed, hoping Mickey wouldn't come out with any more. "I'd best not, I have to find my mum and someone has to take this lump home."

"Okay then, see ya around. Take care, Rose Tyler and have a nice life."

With that, he stepped back into the Tardis and Rose felt the wind swirl around the spot the Tardis had been standing in. She wondered if John had arrived yet, her Doctor who would perhaps have his life changed forever if this Doctor didn't come back but surely he'd have more than one way of finding another version of himself?

Then it dawned on her, why her? Why was he so dependant on getting her to get this other Doctor to believe who he was? Surely this other Doctor or another one would come back to Earth at some point and John could get a ride back? As she started to pull Mickey up, she felt the wind again and the blue box re-materialised in almost the same spot.

"Mickey, listen carefully to me. You have to go now and if you see John on your way back, don't ask him any questions, got it?"

The Tardis door remained closed so Rose assumed he was thinking about it. Rose started pushing Mickey off.

"Go on Mickey, I'll see ya around, I'm just gonna talk to him, right?"

"Whatever you say Rose but your boyfriend won't be happy, while he's away and how are ya gonna explain it to him?"

"Never mind but don't say anything if ya see him."

Mickey huffed and began walking up the alley, seeing Rose's Doctor as he rounded the corner.

"Ah, Mickey, have you see Rose? Jackie says she got home and Rose wasn't there and what's been going on? She was raving on something about shop window dummies trying to shoot her, has she been on the gin again?"

"Don't ask me mate, I hardly see Jackie, or Rose, thanks to you. If you want to find Rose, I'd be quick, she was down there a few minutes ago but she might have gone by now."

"Gone where? Where can she get to down an alleyway?"

"Find out for yourself," was all Mickey replied as he headed home.

The Doctor knew exactly where Rose was, by now, she would be in the Tardis trying to persuade his other self to go out and talk to his future self and if she could pull that off, he was halfway there. Did he want to go back though and to what? To face Martha and tell her that was it or should he let her stay? No, Martha was a liability and after six ecstatic months with Rose, he certainly didn't want things to get romantic with the trainee doctor.

The other Doctor had just opened the door, having seen Rose talking to Mickey and was now standing in the Tardis doorway.

"Did I mention it also travels in time?" he asked, a smug look on his face. Then the look faded as he saw a figure approaching. "A friend of yours?" he gestured to behind her.

Rose turned around – what was he thinking? This wasn't what they had talked about.

"John, what are you doing here?"

"Hello Rose, sorry but maybe this is for the best eh? So, Doctor, know who I am yet?"

"How do you know me? Rose, is this some kind of trick? Did you tell someone else about me? I trusted you."

"Don't blame her, we never could blame her. Go on, scan me though how you don't know yet but I suppose it's understandable, under the circumstances."

"Just what I need, another of the 'I know who and what you are brigade'," the other Doctor huffed, about to turn around.

"Blimey, Rose, tell him," nodding his head towards the other him.

"Doctor, meet John Smith or if you like, the Doctor."

"What are you on about? I'm the Doctor. Hang on, are you trying to tell me that's, well, me, a future me?" the other Doctor asked, folding his arms.

"I used to do that a lot," John gestured to Rose.

"What, stand in the doorway with your arms folded?" Rose laughed.

"Glad you two think this is funny," the other Doctor huffed, a bit put out he was now having a conversation with his future self. "Okay, I'll buy it, which one are you then?"

"You know I can't tell you that. Shall we go inside, I've rather missed the old girl."

"She won't like it and if you're from my future, she won't recognise you," his other self tutted.

"Why not let her decide? Besides, we can talk out here but I sort of need you to take me somewhere."

"That's a new one," the other Doctor laughed. "Lost your own Tardis?"

"Doctor, he needs your help. He got sent back in time and he's been waiting for you for the last six months or so," Rose pleaded.

"With you? So he is your boyfriend?"

Rose took her Doctor's hand. "Yeah."

"I expect he's the one who told you what to do today and I thought you were being clever. I should have known."

"She is clever and more than a match for any of us," Rose's Doctor defended his love. "I got sent back, by accident from 2007."

"That was clumsy of you. So how did you manage that?"

Rose thought that was a good sign, at least he'd not refused to help, well not yet.

"Well, Doctor, there are these creatures, you might have heard of them, they're called weeping angels?"

The other Doctor shook his head. "Nope, never heard of them but you'd know that if you really are me. Well?"

"I went to investigate some disappearances and they caught me because I wasn't paying any attention they were creeping up on me."

"That was just plain stupid," the other Doctor mocked. "Why weren't you?"

Rose's Doctor squeezed her hand. "Because I was thinking of how much I still missed Rose."

She squeezed his hand back. "You never told me just how much."

"Well, this is very touching so why are you in a hurry to leave?" the other Doctor, who wasn't known for his patience wanted to know.

"I have to, to set this timeline straight. Rose has to go with you, to do the things she was meant to do before you changed."

"I wasn't planning on changing any time soon. So, you remember all this?"

"No, I only remember meeting Rose for the first time, none of this had happened."

"So, now she knows you missed her which implies she was no longer with you or you wouldn't be here?"

"She knows but not the reason why and before you say I shouldn't have told her, she had the right to know, I gave her no details."

"It's true Doctor, he only told me about his past, before you. So, can you take him back?" Rose asked.

The other Doctor leaned back against the Tardis.

"You accept all this? That you have to travel with me, until I change?" he asked Rose, now with her Doctor's arm around her, to which he'd said originally he didn't want his past self to know about them but that had already gone wrong, what were a few minor details?

"Yeah but I also know it won't be him, this him but we talked about it. We're good."

"Do you want to come with us, to take him back?"

"No, I can't do that, this is hard enough. Can ya give us a few minutes, to say goodbye?"

"Take your time. Did you tell her not to tell me, about the two of you?"

"I thought it would be best or risk things not happening the way they should."

"You thought I'd be jealous?" the other Doctor pointed to himself. "Please, I am not the jealous type."

"Forget it, I was you, remember? You can't fool me," Rose's Doctor scoffed.

Rose smiled at him. "Stop fighting over me, this is embarrassing. Can we get this over with, like I said, this isn't any easier than it was this morning."

The other Doctor went back inside and Rose's Doctor took her around the side of the Tardis.

"He'd better not be watching in there," he smiled, putting his arms around her and kissing her neck.

"Would you be? Hey, we thought it was gonna be harder than this. What are ya gonna tell him?"

"Just where to take me, just before I was stupid enough to go inside that house. Rose, this doesn't change anything and I promise, you'll have such an adventure, with both of us. I love you and I wanted to tell how much I really missed you, you were the reason I ended up here. It could have been worse, I could have landed in 1969 with Martha."

Rose nudged him. "So what are you gonna tell her?"

"Well she'll be annoyed I went off without her, she might get the hint? Maybe she never even missed me, who knows? Remember what I said love, when you meet this me again, at least now he'll know there was something between us, maybe it will work out?"

"He's still not you though," Rose said sadly.

"Yes it will be me, an earlier me but still me. We'll still have fun and get into loads of trouble but that's what we did. At least now, it will be easier for us, me knowing we had something, unless you want me to get that version of me in there to make you forget?"

"I already told ya, that's not an option. You'll remember it, then so will I. How would it make you feel?"

"Sorry. Well, best not keep myself waiting, I wasn't so patient back then."

"Can you tell me how long I have to wait?"

"You know I can't love but I promise, you'll love every minute of it."

"Yeah, I know he's still you, I have to accept that. So, this is finally it, this is goodbye for now?"

She reached up and clung hold of his neck while he put his arms around her waist.

"I love you Doctor."

"I love you too Rose and now, you'll never wonder, if I don't get around to saying it."

"You will though, won't you?"

This time, he'd have no regrets he'd left her standing on that beach in Norway.

"I just have. Goodbye, my love and thank you for looking after me, it was better than that experience I had in 1913."

"You mean with Martha looking after you? Are ya sure I'll never get to meet her?"

"Well, you might, one day, who knows? Now, get ready for your adventures and break the news gently to your mother, although Mickey might be a bit hard to get rid of now."

They kissed for the last time as he was now and Rose walked around to the door with him. He pushed it open and stood with one foot in the doorway and he actually thought he couldn't do this, just leave her like that. Rose seemed to sense.

"Go on, not scared of facing Martha are ya?" Rose joked.

"Of course not, I just hate leaving you like this."

"Aw, you're such an old softy."

"Less of the old," the other Doctor remarked from inside.

Rose's Doctor smiled. "Told you."

"I heard that, my hearing's not gone either."

Rose giggled. "See ya soon then lover?"

"You can bet on that and don't go getting friendly with the other me."

"Jealous of yourself?" Rose teased. "He's not my type."

"That's what Martha said and look where that got me?"

"Back to me?"

"Yes, I suppose I should go thank her for that? No, best not let on I've been living in the past for six months with you, she'd never believe me. She'd check me for concussion or lock me up."

"Yeah, she might. Bye then, stay out of trouble and you never know, some temporal loop might bring us back together again."

"Yes, you never know. Bye love and tell your mother, thanks for letting me stay that time when I had just arrived and tell her to go easy on the other me, I really wasn't that bad."

"Yeah, I'll tell her but I can't promise anything."

"Stand back love, I'll send him right back for you or do you want to go see your mother first?"

Rose shook her head, she couldn't face her mother going on about shop window dummies trying to kill her.

"She needn't think I'm taking her home every five minutes," the other Doctor complained.

"Well she got it from somewhere," Rose's Doctor laughed.

Just as he was about to turn, he couldn't resist one last kiss. "Bye love."

"Bye, try not to change too soon will ya?"

He shook his head, he had no intentions of changing, not without a fight but he'd just had an idea, about maybe not giving Rose up so easily this time.

Rose tried her best not to cry as she stepped back. Once inside, her Doctor wasted no time joining his other self at the console.

"I've missed this. So, may I enter the co-ordinates?"

"Be my guest, you seem to know your way around so I take it you made no alterations and made it look like the fun-house at Blackpool Pleasure Beach?"

"Mmm, you've been then? No, Rose liked it the way it was, why would I change it?"

"You're really gone on her aren't you? Don't worry, I'll look after her for you, she's all yours, you're better than that Rickey. So, was I supposed to know all that?" he asked, seeing Rose on the monitor. "We'd best move, Rose is still there, unless you want to break her heart even more than you've already done?"

"No, she doesn't deserve that, I'm ready and I doubt we'll see each other again."

"Nope, don't suppose we will," he replied as Rose's Doctor went around the console then released the handbrake, watching Rose as they faded from her view.

Rose was wondering what was taking so long but they were probably arguing with each other until she heard a thud and the wheezing noise, then she wondered how the ship was still capable of moving.

Just as Rose's Doctor landed within feet of his own Tardis, he turned to his other self.

"I know this is breaking the rules but you might just see me again, watch out for me."

"Take care of yourself, don't worry about Rose and I can see now why she was so insistent on keeping me around. She had to make sure you got back. Weeping angels then? Best look them up."

"Yeah, I might have avoided them," Rose's Doctor grinned, opening the door and seeing his Tardis where he'd left it.

If he had avoided them, he'd never have got to experience what he'd missed out on the first time and he was now determined he wouldn't miss out the next time around.

"Never fixed the chameleon circuit then? No, don't tell me, Rose liked it."

Her Doctor smiled and stepped outside. He watched his other self disappear and was just making some adjustments when he saw Martha pull up and slip through the gates but the Tardis was out of view now whereas previously, the angels had carted it off, since they intended using it as a power source. Now he had to wait until she left, since he wasn't in the mood for any confrontations, leaving Rose for the second time had been bad enough.
Chapter 12
The other Doctor landed the Tardis exactly where he'd left a heart-broken Rose just minutes after he'd left with his future self. He wondered how things would work out and what he'd meant by to watch out for him? Surely making the occasional appearance now and then would upset her even more? He looked at her, sitting on a pallet as he opened the door.

"See, I came back, just like I promised."

Rose remained where she was. Did she really want to go but she couldn't let the version who she loved down, she'd made her promise to him.

"Yeah Doctor, I can see that. Was he ok? When you left him?"

"Yes, he was fine, he got back to his own Tardis. The funny thing is, I should have known who he was, Timelords always recognise each other."

"He said that if you didn't, it would be because he was out of his time."

"Ah, yes, good point. It's not often we meet our future regenerations but there's a first time for everything. Go see your mother if you want?"

"No, she'll be fine. She'll think I've gone back to our flat, I told her John was coming back."

"That's no excuse, you can't keep pretending he's still here you know?"

"I know. We said he was taking a job in New York for six months but I think he lied to me, he said he couldn't tell me when he'd be back."

"Maybe he was just trying to give you some hope he'd be back as soon as he could? I'm not planning on changing anytime soon and since I don't know how far in my personal future he was from, I can't tell you but we are time-travellers."

"I know that, oh, wait on, I think I know why."

"Well, I'm only too happy to listen to your theory but you can't tell me. You can't just make things happen, it doesn't work like that."

Rose looked disappointed. No, she couldn't tell him that maybe when John had said six months in New York would cover his absence he meant six months in her own time would have passed but what could they cram into six months? He'd said hardly any time would pass or was it that it would go quickly?

"Doctor, can we go now? I just need to get some stuff from the flat."

"You two shared a flat then?" he asked. "Why am I not surprised? Come on then, this one's on the house but don't think we're coming back every five minutes."

"I wouldn't expect you to, would I? What have I got to come back for, he's gone. I'll pack my stuff then I'll have to hand the keys in but I can get my mum to do that, I'll leave them with the woman below us, she used to smile at John every morning when we went out."

"Bet you loved that?" the Doctor quipped. "I'll say this for him though, he must have gone through the regeneration catalogue to pick that face and body, most of the time we're not that lucky."

The Doctor had already figured out that if he had developed feelings for his young companion, it would make sense he would reject a few models and settle on one that would be appealing to her, to impress her but now, the choice had been made for him. It didn't take a genius to work out that this John of hers was his next incarnation.

He didn't want to tell her that by John coming back, he'd created an alternate timeline and there would be two of them going around the known universe, roughly two years apart. Well, there was a first time for everything but what next, an exact clone of the new improved version living in an alternate universe?

Yeah, that was likely to ever happen but it now worried him that Rose wouldn't be staying and not by choice would she be leaving. Maybe this new Doctor was already planning to change that? Well good for him, if he could pull it off.

Rose told him where the flat was and he parked around the corner.

"Do you want me to come with you?" he asked, seeing the sad look on her face.

He was never going to be able to fix this for her, even when he changed into the one she really wanted to be with. She would always want the other one, the one in 2007.

"No, I can manage thanks."

"I can land in the flat, if it helps?" he offered.

That got a smile from her, John had told her about landing in Martha's living room and her laundry embarrassment.

"What would the woman downstairs think if she heard the noise?" Rose smiled.

"Sorry," the Doctor grinned. "The Tardis hasn't got a silent mode though it may have in your boyfriend's day."

"You both talk about each other like you're not the same person," Rose informed him.

"Rose, you must be very special. When you said no to me back there, I went away but something brought me back and I never go back, for anyone. That was before I knew about the other me so for me to stay with you after I regenerate, while it's not unheard of but it's very rare. You can count all the people I actually kept around on one hand but most of the time, it was them who left me."

"Yeah, I heard about some of them and how grumpy you could be sometimes," Rose laughed.

The Doctor could see why he kept her. "I could take offence at that," he pretended to sulk.

"Your sixth for example?" Rose giggled.

"Yes, thank you for pointing that out, it was a bad regeneration, that's all. I came around, eventually."

Rose continued to giggle. "What, in your seventh? So, which number are you then?"

"He never told you?"

"Nope, so I never knew what number he was and I couldn't tell you."

"Makes sense I suppose. Well, since you asked nicely, I'm in my ninth regeneration, I think. Does my first self count as a regeneration?"

Rose tried to keep a straight face. "You're asking me?"

She knew he was trying to take her mind off just losing her lover of the last six months.

"Well, I'll let you know when I work that one out. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't? Anyway, why don't you leave your things until morning and go find yourself a room? I'm sure the Tardis has picked something suitable for you to wear whichever one you choose."

"John used to tell me about this place, that the ship could be mischievous when she wanted to be and hide things, like the swimming pool."

"There's a swimming pool?" the Doctor laughed, leaning on a coral strut with his arms folded. "Do I still like bananas?"

"Yeah, you still like bananas but you hate pears. Mum found that out the hard way the second Sunday I took him for lunch when she made a sponge with pears in it. She'd covered it with whipped cream and you should have seen his face when he took a spoonful."

The Doctor smiled. Maybe they could be friends for the duration but she still wanted the other one, no-one would be able to substitute for the version he'd just taken back.

As the Doctor took her on her first adventure, at least he knew his future self had told her nothing so she could experience it for herself but from time to time, it pained him that she knew she was going to leave but not how. He just hoped her Doctor would figure out a way to keep her from being taken away.

It also bothered him that now, through her Doctor being sent back, there were two of them but had her Doctor even thought about that? Maybe that would give himself an advantage?

Rose gradually told her mother and Mickey what had happened, though Jackie had guessed half of it so as Rose was sent back to Earth from the games station, she wasn't giving up without a fight because her Doctor had told her nothing about losing him before he actually became him.

Then she realised as she sat on the wall outside the non co-operative Tardis who refused to take her back and Mickey came running towards her.

"Mickey! I need to get the Tardis working."

"Hello to you too Rose."

"Stop wasting time and go borrow a tow truck."

"What? Are you kidding me, where would I get one of those from?"

"Ask my mum to ask Rodrigo. Don't mess about Mickey. I left the Doctor facing his worse enemy and I have to get back."

"Rose, leave him, he said you'd get separated."

"Yeah but not until he changes."

"Oh, I forgot. Call your mum then but how are you gonna fly that thing?"

Rose was busy calling Jackie.

"Rose, you're back! Has he changed yet?"

"No mum, I need your help."

"Tell me something new. Go on then."

"I need you to call Rodrigo and let Mickey borrow his tow truck."

"Are you kidding? Mind you, he does owe me a favour. Where are you?"

Ten minutes later, they had onlookers as Mickey attached the thick chain to the central console where she had seen the Doctor opening it when they were having a slight problem with Margaret the Slitheen.

"Rose, are you sure about this?" her mother asked.

"Mum, he has to change or my John won't exist, don't you get that? John came from the future, yes but he changed from the Doctor facing the entire Dalek fleet and if I don't get back and save him, he won't come back, ever."

"Oh," Jackie mouthed as Rose led her outside and Mickey got into the tow truck.

"You'll be back though, won't you?" Jackie pleaded as she waited.

"I don't know mum but if he changes where I left him, at least I'll have been with him and if he dies, I've lost everything. John once told me if he never returns to the Tardis, she's programmed to bring whoever is onboard back to Earth and remain where she lands, like now but he can override how long she waits, like now. I have to at least try. You remember I told ya I met dad?"

Jackie nodded.

"Well he'd tell me to try anything and I am and a tow truck is the best way of opening that panel. Then I tell the Tardis what I want the most and she'll take me back."

They then hugged and Rose told Mickey to rev up the engine and start pulling.

As the chain gave way and dragged behind the tow truck, the Tardis doors closed and Jackie called out her name. Rose was relaying where she wanted to go but the ship was changing her and she wasn't even aware, her Doctor had withheld that from her, the fact she was about to change the Doctor she was trying to save.

The next thing she knew, she was lying on the Tardis grating.

"You're ok Doctor?" she asked as she propped herself up and he was messing with the Tardis controls.

He was actually trying to hide the fact he was beginning to regenerate and he suspected the person he was about to change into hadn't told her she would make him change. He'd not done nearly as much this time as he'd wanted but considering he'd hidden himself away after the end of the time war, he'd not had a clue how much time had gone by until he'd found out about the shop window dummies.

Then he'd met the young woman who was going to change him in more ways than one.

"Yeah, you know me Rose Tyler," he cheerily replied, twisting two strands of wire together and fusing them with his sonic screwdriver.

They didn't actually do anything but it made it seem to Rose he was busy, which he did most of the time anyway, just to impress her. His future self must have told her he tended to exaggerate sometimes so he probably failed to impress her but she was too polite to say anything.

"How did I get here?" she asked, trying to get up and leaning on a strut. "I was back on Earth and yeah, you told me to go home and forget about you, who were you to tell me to do that? John once asked me if I wanted to forget him and I went crazy with him. Now I get it. I had to come back to make sure you changed. You're not about to do it now are ya?"

"I can't lie to you Rose."

"But you can't change yet, you promised we had still so much to do together."

"You're getting what you want Rose, you're getting him back."

"Do ya think I wanted it this way? Why are you changing now?"

"Because you looked into the heart of the Tardis and absorbed the time vortex, no human is meant to do that."

"I've not got the time vortex in me, I'm fine." Then she realised. "What? You took it out of me and by doing that, I make you change? That's not fair Doctor."

"Rose, it was meant to be, you are the reason he looked like he did, I changed for you."

Rose covered her face in horror, seeing a yellow glow coming from him.

"I had so many places I wanted to show you, Barcelona, the planet not the city and you'll go there, with him."

"But it won't be him, my Doctor."

"You can turn him into that Rose, that's what he intended, you make him better."

The Doctor staggered from behind the console, Rose clinging hold of the coral strut. If he was going to change for her, she knew she should have the decency to watch.

"You were fantastic Rose and do you know what? You are so worth changing for."

With that, the regeneration energy took hold and Rose watched and when it finally stopped, he staggered forward again, the other Doctor's clothes hanging loosely on his new thinner frame. Then he looked up.

"Rose! Where was I? You were expecting me?"

Rose nodded.

"This is brilliant. Blimey, I'm real proper skinny, I thought the other me had been on a crash diet!"

"It's really you?" Rose stuttered.

"Yep, it's me Rose, got a hug for me?"

Rose stepped forward pensively. He may not be John but this was the closest she would ever get back and they'd already talked about it but it all depended how this version of him wanted to take it.
Chapter 13
Rose let go of the safety of the coral strut she'd been clinging hold of.

"John? Is that you?" she had to ask, in case by some miracle, they'd swapped places during his regeneration.

"Sorry Rose, it's just me, well the new and improved me and I have you to thank for that so how about that hug?"

"Yeah, 'course it's you, it's just me being daft, sorry. I didn't know what I was saying."

It was the Doctor who stepped up to her, the leather jacket almost falling off him. He outstretched his arms and Rose did the same.

"You must have missed hugging me eh? Well like I am now anyway and that's fine Rose, I'm not offended you couldn't bring yourself to treat me like your boyfriend, that's very understandable and very loyal of you," he told her as she began to relax into him a little,

He still knew he was no substitute for her version of him though. He'd looked at the whole situation a number of ways but there was nothing he could do, he'd never be the man she wanted back, even after travelling together. All he could do now was try to act a bit more like the one she'd lost and lose all that gruffness he'd become accustomed to.

They stood for a while, just holding onto each other, like they'd actually been apart for the six months or so it had seemed like for Rose.

"You ok?" he asked, letting go slightly.

"Yeah. Are ya gonna tell me what just happened?"

"You saw me regenerate Rose, it would have happened sooner or later. I don't blame you in any way for it," he assured her.

"I made you change though, didn't I? I was being selfish, I wanted him back," Rose told him sadly.

He held onto her arms. Yes, she'd wanted him back, the future him but this is what he'd meant, she was never destined to meet up with the other one, no matter how much they both wanted it. She had to go through these events then maybe, just maybe, the other one would have had the time to come up with a plan for whatever broke them up. That only inferred one thing, the other one would have to break the rules and come back and stop whatever it was from happening. That way, they would still be together, with Rose in the future but what did it matter if she was?

She obviously hadn't been intended to be around after whatever had broken them up so why not cheat a little?

"I should go get changed, I think I lost a bit of weight," the new Doctor grinned at her. "I had so many questions to ask but they seem a bit pointless now. I had planned for my next regeneration but now I already know the answers and guess what the best part is?" he laughed, leading her to sit down.

"What's that Doctor?"

"I get to spend it with you, isn't that brilliant?" he laughed, letting her go and doing a dance around the console.

Rose stared at him. Then she realised, this was a younger version of John. Of course it was, how stupid had she been?

"Doctor, can I ask you something?"

The new Doctor stopped for a moment, making a dance out of flipping a few switches and finishing with a 'Ha!'

"Yes Rose, of course you can ask questions, ask away then! That's what you do."

"How long is a Timelord year, compared with a human one?"

"What? Is that a trick question? Blimey," he mumbled, putting his hand on his chin and thinking about it.

"Well, if it's too difficult for ya?" she teased, doing that thing with her tongue that John had loved so much about her.

"Yes, I can answer the question, do you doubt me?" he teased, sitting beside her and doing his best not to look like the black jeans were falling off him. "Hmm, let's see," he began, doing some calculations in his head and counting his fingers.

Rose giggled.

"Rose Tyler, you are winding me up," he declared, a big smile on his face. "You were just testing me, weren't you?" he nudged her, his long legs resting against the console. "Why do you want to know anyway?" he asked.

"Nothing Doctor, I told ya, I was just being selfish. I think I figured it out, that's all."

He looked concerned at her. "You figured what out Rose? Is it the fact that you'll never catch up with the future me? It's ok to admit, it's not like I don't know how you felt about him but I was hoping, maybe he meant for you to start over, with me?"

"Yeah, that's what he said, that in the future, he wouldn't have been so sad and missed me as much, if we'd got closer," she had to admit.

"You agreed? That you'd try? Rose, you don't seem to understand. I go on to be him, I'm the one who gets zapped into the past and spent it with you, until I could get back. Think about it this way, like a ripple on a pond, where does it start and where does it end eh? You can't rule out the possibility that by going back, he'd changed things so much that it rippled back, to me."

"Whatcha mean Doctor? That part of him rippled back into you, part of his personality?"

"Exactly Rose, that's where I get my personality from that I eventually become him. Blimey, this is difficult to explain. Long and short of it, I become him. Isn't that enough?"

Rose still looked a little sad to him though, like she wasn't entirely convinced. He got up and crossed behind the console, checking the monitor. There was just one thing that might just cheer her up or send her running away for good.

"Want a home visit?"

"You said you weren't taking me home every five minutes," Rose tried to smile.

"That was the other me, you can go home as many times as you want or need, I don't think I'm going to have quite as much a problem with your mother as my former self, like when she almost caused me to skip this regeneration when she slapped me for having you go missing for a year," he smiled from behind the monitor and seeing it was Christmas Eve, a tradition even his old self knew anyone from Earth hated to miss, well almost everyone.

"Really? Well I did leave my mum wondering if I was going back or if you were. Doctor, it was so much easier once I'd told her you were going to sort of change into a slightly different John, she asked me, when you sent me back if you'd already changed."

"Blimey, it's that easy?" he laughed. "Home it is then and a nice time of the year it is back there if I might say so?"

"Doctor, don't you dare take me back to last New Years Day or you'll have a very short regeneration this time around. Did he tell you to do that?"

"Who? What? What are you talking about Rose?" he stuttered, still holding the monitor like it would save him if she got really mad with him.

Maybe some of her Doctor's traits and mannerisms were seeping back from his future self and maybe, eventually, she would accept him as he was but not in the mood she seemed to be in now.

"You, trying to cause a paradox or implode the universe, whatever, what do I know? By taking me back to New Years day and me never meeting you, him."

"What? Why would I do that Rose? That was the best thing that could have happened to me, seeing you again after getting zapped from the future. You just don't get it, do you?" he smiled, thinking he really must go and get changed.

Rose nodded her head. "Get what? This is doing my head in, I can't think straight any more," she complained, letting herself fall to the side and curling up her legs.

He went to stand beside her. "My poor confused Rose. I would never do that to you but we would have still met, you'd have still changed me, that will never change, it's a fixed point in time, it was meant to happen."

"Really?" she managed to peer up at him when he stood in front of the console. "You look funny in those clothes, like they were your dad's or something," she smiled.

"Yes, I know but it makes you smile," he told her as he offered her his hand. "Rose, would it upset you very much if I chose the same outfit he used to wear, well when you met him?"

"You think it would upset me?" she asked, wiping a damp spot on her cheek. "Oh, you think by wearing it, we can start again?"

"Well that was the idea, if you want? It's not compulsory. I know why you were asking about the years."

"You do?" she asked as he hitched up his jeans, getting him another smile.

"You think that John, who is two years in the future is now even further ahead, according to Earth time, right?" Rose nodded. "While that's true, he will have altered his appearance so that he looks very slightly to have aged like a Human male."

"Timelords can do that?' she asked, hoping she'd still recognise him if they ever did catch up.

"Well yeah, we have to, wouldn't want to get captured by some alien chasers who thought we had the secret of eternal youth, would we?" he laughed as he offered his hand again, Rose reaching out for it and letting him sit her up. "That's better, it's not easy talking to an upside-down Rose," he smiled.

"So he won't look that much different, if I see him again?"

He still knew he was never going to win this battle with her. "Rose, I think what he meant was, somehow, you take me and make me into him, to what I become in the future. It's an endless paradox Rose, there is never going to be an outcome to this, you will always be two years behind him, that has to stay. Let me explain it to you but first, I really should get changed then we'll go see your mum eh?"

"Yeah, ok but I've got nothing for her."

"You're taking yourself back, what else could she possibly ask for?" he grinned.

Rose waited for him coming back, deciding to at least warn her mother it had actually happened.

"Hi Mum, we're on our way back."

"Well thank goodness for that then. Well, is he still rude or has he been changed by a near death experience?"

"He's changed Mum, he looks like John did but he's not the same."

"Listen to me Rose Tyler, you've been wanting this for the last six months and if you hurt him by saying it's not really him, then you don't deserve him, do you hear me? Can you imagine how hard it was for him to leave you like he did? It must have tortured him, allowing himself to get close to you and him never being able to see you again. At least you get to see a part of him. Well, what have you got to say for yourself?"

What could she say for herself? She was being ungrateful that he'd come back at all, throwing it back in his face.

"Sorry, I don't mean to hurt him Mum."

"Then you'd better tell him that before you come round. I'll have to go see if the shops still have any turkeys left, I didn't know if you were coming home or not. You've not lost your key have you?"

After saying she hadn't, she sat with her phone in her hand.

"It went that well did it?" the Doctor asked from the doorway.

Rose turned around and almost fell off the seat and he dashed over, taking her arm and sitting beside her after throwing his trench coat over a strut and thinking he might just start doing that.

"Hey, are you ok? Rose? Is this too much for you?"

"What? No, it was just a bit of a shock, for a moment I…" she stuttered.

"You thought I was him? I shouldn't have been so cruel as to dress like him, sorry."

"No, I have to get over this Doctor and it's me who should say sorry to you, I've been thinking about myself, not you. I have to think about how you feel about all this."

"Oh," he blinked, absent-mindedly rubbing the back of her hand and hoping the other him hadn't done that as some kind of mating ritual. Maybe that was a bit too soon. "Don't worry about me, Timelords don't get offended," he lied.

He had been offended, something he'd never even felt before he'd met her but he still kept her with him, hoping one day she would accept who he was. Now at least, they were one step nearer since he'd emerged from his regeneration.

Rose saw right through him. "I know you, this you, remember? You can't fool me."

"No," he grinned, "I don't suppose I can eh? Let's have a nice visit to your mother's for the next day or so?"

"Yeah, ok then, truce?"

"Truce, yes, absolutely Rose Tyler. I'm not your enemy Rose but maybe you should remember your promise to John? You said you'd try and make a go of it this time around, to make it easier in the future?"

"You mean if you hadn't come back?"

"Exactly. That was a fluke Rose, it should never have been possible but it was an intervention if you want to put it that way?"

Rose shook her head, still trying to come to grips with the fact this was just a younger version of her Doctor, by two years, which was why she'd been trying to find out how long it was in his terms. As if he knew, he answered her.

"Rose, time isn't a straight line you know? It's not like going from London to Brighton, think of it more like going via Birmingham? Yes, that's me two years in the future but I'm also here with you, now and I become him, for you. You made me Rose, you influence who I become. You could even say that when I came back it was because I was thinking about you. Oh, hang on, I did, didn't I?" he grinned, nudging her.

She knew what he was trying to do, to make her understand he was her Doctor, just a bit too early.

"So, let me get this right? You got zapped back to me because you were thinking about me, I already know that, you told me just before you left but you went back happy, because you'd got to see me again?"

"Oh yes Rose, can you imagine what a vast difference it made to him, getting to see you again? He thought he'd lost you and he got another chance. That's why now, it's coming back through time, slowly and I will become him."

"There'll still be two of you though, won't there?"

"Well yes, that's inevitable and maybe we'll meet up some day? Maybe by some flux in time, we'll cross timelines but it's very unlikely, I can't give you false hope Rose but you already know that? Right, shall we go face your mother's cooking? Can we make it tomorrow though, I'm sure she'll be out partying tonight and she'll give me a lecture for going away and leaving you."
Chapter 14

Still a little confused, the Doctor landed them in the courtyard outside her block of flats on Christmas morning but a strange feeling came over him as he looked on the monitor. Not wanting to alarm Rose, who had gone to get changed, he shrugged it off.

"Must be the other me," he muttered to himself. "I think I'm getting some of his memories but I hope I don't get too many, it'll take all the fun out of it." He had a feeling it was more than that though.

He was just glad Rose hadn't heard he'd been talking to himself as she came back in.

"Not getting dressed up?" he asked, looking at her jeans, white top and grey jacket.

"What for?" she asked, looking down at herself. "I don't want my mum thinking I've got a posh wardrobe."

"Ah, good point. So, ready to explain a few more things to her then?" he asked, taking his long coat from the coral strut.

"New coat hanger Doctor?" Rose smiled.

"Possibly, I was rather in a hurry to stop you collapsing on the floor at the time. Are you feeling better?" he asked hopefully.

"Sort of. This is gonna take some explaining. I mean I told her a few things, like the you that's just disappeared was a different version of John but I'm not promising she'll get the bit where you are, well, a younger version of him."

"Rose, we can forget it if you want? I could always take you to the Christmas village in Germany or the planet Christmas."

"You're having me on Doctor," she nudged him playfully.

"No, there's a planet that has snow all year round, you'd love it," he told her, holding his hand out.

He smiled when she took it and played with it with her other hand.

"Doctor, if you'd rather go some place else? You can leave me and come back for me?"

"What? Why would I want to do that? Rose, we are going to spend this Christmas Day at your mother's because, well, it's the right thing to do."

He didn't want to tell her that he had got this feeling that things the last time hadn't gone so smoothly for the planet Earth. He wasn't quite sure how this was going to work, memories trickling into his mind of things he'd not even done yet but surely it would give him the advantage or was it cheating? No, how could it be cheating if his other self had already done it and he was just passing on a few tips?

"Oh, come on then but we should have got her a present."

The Doctor let go of her hand and dashed behind the console, bringing two boxes wrapped in shiny red paper with white bows and a tag on each.

He handed one with Rose's name on it to her. "Happy Christmas Rose," he told her, standing back. "No, don't open it until later, it's a surprise."

Rose stared at him, accepting the gift. "You shouldn't have Doctor. Thanks, it means a lot to me."

"My pleasure, now you won't feel guilty about not being able to give her anything. Come on then, let's hope she found a turkey from somewhere? Did I tell you that on some planets, they think that the English eat the people of the country Turkey for Christmas dinner?" he laughed, wondering where that had come from. "They also think that Santa has fearsome claws and you spend the day after Christmas boxing each other?"

"You're having me on again Doctor, John never told me that. Do ya think he's telling you these things?"

"You think he is?" he asked, sure that it was true to a certain extent because he'd just regenerated, been nowhere and he knew he couldn't possibly know that something should be going on outside but it was all quiet. He was getting the strangest of feelings though.

"Well, if he is, at least we know you're still around, eh Doctor?" she asked, putting her present on top of the other as he held her mother's out for her to do so.

Rose opened the door then looped her arm through his. She missed John, so much but would he want her to mope around and miss out on what she could have with this version of him? The Doctor chatted away as Rose opened the door to the block of flats and they climbed the stairs.

"I was wondering if she's invited Mickey?" Rose asked him as they reached her floor.

"Why would she do that? Doesn't she trust me that she feels she needs a referee?" he grinned.

"As long as she doesn't think I'm that low right now she can shove me back to him," Rose replied, knowing this wasn't going to be easy for either of them and it was almost a year since she'd first met him, well this him.

The Doctor let it slide, he was only making things worse for her by acting and dressing like the man she wished he was. He was about to be in for a few surprises, including Jackie giving him a big hug and not wanting to let go when they entered the flat.

"John! You're back," Jackie shrieked, making Rose take the two presents as she dragged him inside. Then once she let him go she turned to Rose, who had since put the two boxes down. "Oh, don't worry, that was just for the neighbours who keep asking if he's come back yet. I told them he might be back for the holidays and here you are."

The Doctor wiped his cheek on his coat sleeve and was sure there was still some lipstick there.

"Yeah, he's back mum, just a slightly different version but it's him. So, do ya need any help with dinner?"

"No, don't be so daft, you two go watch the telly. Oh, you don't mind I invited Mickey do ya? Only I'm sure he was only going to open a tin of baked beans, poor soul. Did he find ya in Cardiff? He never said."

"Yeah Mum, he found us. Well, open your present, it's from both of us," she pointed to the one with 'Mum' on the tag.

She went to sit next to the Doctor in the chair so he smiled and moved over, thinking she and John would have done that but at least she'd not totally rejected him. He'd been thinking that if they took it very slowly, they could make it work and when she was gone, which wouldn't ever change, he'd be a lot less lonely than his other self had been.

Jackie opened her present, a purple fluffy jumper and Rose wondered where he'd got the idea from.

"Aw, it's lovely Rose, thanks. I'll just go get yours and John's. Oh, do ya mind if I call you that now?" she added, seeing Rose was now curled up at his side, like she used to do when they had visited every Sunday before he'd 'gone away'.

The Doctor thought about it, what did Rose think about it all?

"Well, if you insist though no-one actually called me that. I came up with it years ago when I started visiting Earth on a regular basis, then I got grounded and got a job as an advisor to UNIT but they always called me Doctor."

"Yeah but don't ya get tired of it?" Jackie asked as she came back in with two presents.

The Doctor had never been given a Christmas present before so he was at a bit of a loss. Rose got up slightly and passed it to him.

"Open yours first then?" she insisted, looking at the flat package.

He smiled at her and carefully opened it. It was an olive green Beatles t-shirt and the Doctor didn't know what to say.

Rose noticed. "It's yours, I mean John's favourite band, we used to dance around to their songs."

"Oh, well in that case, they're my favourite band, I almost became the fifth Beatle, did I ever tell you?"

"Yeah, loads of time and how you got mixed up with them at the airport and everyone thought you were Paul."

The Doctor grinned. "Sorry, that's not happened to me yet but thanks for the warning."

"Sorry, I keep forgetting," Rose apologised, reaching for her present. It was a blue hooded top so Rose smiled and thanked her mother.

Jackie went off to fuss over dinner, leaving the two of them and Rose put the presents on the new coffee table her mother had made her pay for to atone for smashing the other one, being strangled by a plastic arm or not.

Rose sat back against him as he watched the 24hr news about a probe that had been sent to Mars.

"So, do ya think they'll find anything once it lands?" Rose asked him, trying to show an interest.

"What? Oh, there's no-one there now, all gone, a long time ago. I did spend quite a lot of time there in my fourth regeneration, did I not tell you?"

"Nah, you never got a round to it but I think you mentioned something about pyramids. Are you ok with this?"

"With what? Sitting watching the news?"

"No, me sitting with ya."

"If that's what you used to do then I don't object. I know this isn't easy for either of us Rose but I'm not opposed to you doing what you used to do with him, if that's what you want?"

"I think I do but I don't want to make ya uncomfortable," she replied, putting her hand in his.

"Oh no Rose, you could never do that. I wish I could explain things better to you. You looked after me, when I got stranded here and I could never repay you for that and then, I just left you and I am so sorry that I had to do that."

"Let's not go through that again Doctor. I had to accept you went back where you belonged and knowing I'd be seeing you again kept me going. You though, the other you, you said nothing about it, you let me go on about him like I was talking about someone else."

"Rose, we're all separate individuals, we just share memories and sometimes, certain traits are passed on but other times, we are completely different and are not always so agreeable and people leave but hey, there is no way I am ever going to leave you behind, ok?"

"Yeah, he told me about that. He said there were only a few who chose to stay, one was Sarah-Jane and the only way you left her was because you had to go home and humans weren't allowed. How come you never went back for her though?"

The Doctor turned off the TV. "Sometimes Rose, it's best I leave people to get on with their lives and hopefully they are better for having travelled with me but take for example when I just changed? You knew who I was, you knew who I was going to change in to but imagine if you were seeing it and you had no idea what to expect? What if you had rejected me and gone running off as soon as we landed? Sometimes it hurts to see people go so to spare myself, I never go back and that's where you were different."

"You came back for me, the first time, before you knew about John. You said you'd rarely done that before."

"Maybe I just had a good feeling about you?" he lied, knowing full well what had taken him back, the same feeling he was getting now that he'd done it before and another version of himself had already met Rose and lost her.

How could he prevent that this time, without causing a temporal anomaly but the more he'd thought about it, the more he'd come to believe she was no longer around and that meant one of two things. She had died or was lost somewhere in time or even worse, was no longer on the planet and he just hoped she'd been sent to a parallel earth and not into the void or the time vortex, both were equally deadly.

"Well, I was glad ya did come back to me," Rose smiled, touching his cheek then kissing it.

"Did your mother leave any marks earlier?" he grinned.

"Nah, you're clear, she rarely leaves a mark," Rose laughed, checking both sides of his face and kissing the other cheek.

"Tell that to the old me who got his face slapped, that really hurt," he smiled.

"Oh, you remember that?" Rose teased him.

"Well yeah, can you kiss it better again?" he asked, putting his hand on hers as he squeezed her shoulder.

Rose smiled at him. He was just as cute as her Doctor had been, maybe even a little bit cuter because he was slightly younger and he acted younger but that was to be expected after he'd only just regenerated.

"Doctor, I'm sorry, for reacting like I did earlier. I can't imagine what it's been like for you these last six months, knowing the you in the future and I shared something but he told me, before you took him back that we weren't meant to have anything at all until he changed. Don't ask me why, I thought it was a bit harsh, you were still the same person but I think I get now what he meant."

"Do you?" he asked, touching her cheek gently. "Then tell me or is it another of your secrets you're not allowed to share with me?"

"What you said, I made you regenerate, you changed to please me so that I would fall for you and I did. I get that you've done all this before, well I think I get it, it's just a bit strange thinking that I've done it all before as well so there's another me out there somewhere but he wouldn't tell me what happened."

"He, I mean I can never tell you that but Rose, sometimes things are in flux, which means anything can happen and what causes us to part may also be in flux. I'll have to study the timelines a little closer when we get back to the Tardis but even if it's not, maybe we can cheat a little and manipulate them?"

"You'd do that for me?" she asked, running her fingers through his hair, now he had some again.

"Oh yes Rose, you would be so worth it. So, what do you think eh? Want to give us a chance? I mean I know I'll be different from the other me, in lots of ways but it's what he wanted. Well?"

"Can we take this slowly? I mean it's gonna get a bit of getting used to and I know it's what I wanted all this time, to have you back but I wouldn't want you to think I'm only doing this because I don't have a choice."

"I'd never think that Rose, I know this must be really hard for you, to accept that I'm him, just a bit early. It's like looking at a photo of someone when they were younger, before you knew them. You know it's them but you've never actually seen them like that."

"I suppose that's true. My mum said I must be upsetting you, am I?"

"I can't deny you gave me a bit of a frosty reception but I half expected it. Why don't we take this slowly then? How long did it take you and the other me?"

Rose smiled. "About a week, just as we moved in together."

"Blimey, I must be losing my touch then?" he grinned.

"Oh I don't know Doctor, I think you've still got it but I'll have to check on that."

Moving his arm from her shoulder, he pulled her closer. "Is that right?" he asked, putting his other one around her waist.

Rose ruffled his hair and put her other arm around his neck.

"Mum said I wasn't being fair, she said you went away knowing you'd never see me again while I got the chance to get you back."

"Well, imagine your mother getting something right?" he grinned.

Jackie had chosen that moment to open the hatch. "Oi, I heard that."

Rose giggled as Jackie closed it again. If they were going to make up, she wasn't going to watch. She waited a few minutes then dared look again to see them kissing, arms around each other.

"Daft pair, they don't know how lucky they are to see each other again," she said to herself as she checked on the turkey she'd had in the oven since she got up.

A while later, they were all sat around the table, Mickey had reluctantly joined them and the Doctor had won a pink paper hat when he and Rose had pulled a Christmas cracker and given it to her, Rose smiling at him. Then Jackie got a call to say to go outside, it was snowing. As the Doctor stood holding Rose's hand, he got another feeling that things had gone rather differently the last time around but since he thought it was trickling down slowly from the future, he hadn't got the full picture.

Rose squeezed his hand. "Whatcha thinking about Doctor?" she asked, kissing his cheek then trying to dodge some snow.

"Ah, nothing my love. So, where shall we go first then?"

Still holding his hand, she pointed to some stars, then saw a shooting star fly across the sky. "That way?" she asked, then changing her mind.

"Well how about that way?" he asked smiling at her and stealing a kiss, Mickey looking like he wanted to throw up again.

"I think you two are completely mad," her mother told them, her arms folded. "You just got each other back and you're off again."

"Yes but Jackie, this time, Rose and I will enjoy the experience so much better. Don't you think Rose?"

"Yeah? Can we just stay until morning?"

"For you, anything, as long as your mother doesn't throw me out?" he asked, looking at who was sooner or later going to become his sort of mother-in-law.

"I never threw ya out before, did I?" Jackie protested.

Rose noticed Mickey was sneaking off.

"Leave him love, we'll see him again soon enough, his curiosity will get the better of him and he'll start looking for excuses to bring us back, trust me."

"You know that because?"

"Because I'm getting it from the other me, slowly and that's fine because you know what?"

Rose shook her head. He took her to one side, out of the earshot of the few people who'd remained.

"Because I think what I said is true Rose, I am becoming him more and more and I think, well I have a theory we, well me and the future me, well eventually, well, we'll merge, become one."

Rose was stunned. This was not what she was expecting. "Wow, you really think so? So, that's good, yeah, because then, there's only gonna be one of ya and I don't have to worry about my Doctor in the future being ok, right?"

"Oh that is so right Rose, this is what he meant. How did he know though I wonder? If this is only happening now? Oh, I get it."

"Are you gonna share?"

"The regeneration Rose, the regeneration, you absorbing the time vortex, me taking it out of you. I did tell you that?"

"You just did, is that how I got back to you, to save you?"

"Well yes but never mind that now. You told the Tardis you wanted to go back to me, the Tardis knew the time vortex would be taken from you and that I'd regenerate, are you with me?" Rose nodded, trying to keep up. "The Tardis somehow connected herself to the other Tardis your Doctor was using and wham!" he clapped his hand, making a few people turn towards them.

The Doctor grinned and waved until they'd all gone back inside.

"A fusion of the two Tardises, two identical Doctors. Rose, it's not that the thoughts are trickling down from the future at all, it's me, us absorbing them but they're starting to wear off as time passes. It wouldn't be good if I knew what was going to happen in the future. I remember a few things though," he told her, letting them into the block of flats and Rose staring at him.

"You know the code," she stated, not believing what she was hearing.

"Well not just that but you told me something, well that I'd have to be careful about knowing what was going to happen because people would take advantage of it."

"Yeah, I told that to John when he first got here. It's true then? You're my Doctor?"

"Oh yes Rose, I think I just might be. Are you ok with that?" he asked as they reached her floor.

"Yeah, of course I'm ok with it. Why wouldn't I be?"

"Well I thought because I'd changed slightly, well you wouldn't believe me."

"You're only a bit different but it's you, you're John. You've been tryin' to tell me that all day and I couldn't grasp it."

"Well, it's just a bit of a shock, that's all. I never noticed it but it's becoming clear now. I'll only remember the past, not the future, that's all to come but I know something valuable."

"You do?" Rose asked as they reached Jackie's door. "Are ya gonna tell me?"

He wasn't quite sure if he should tell her the other him had figured out a way to prevent them being parted but what it involved was too much to tell her, that his two worst enemies would come together and cause her to be flung towards the void and a figure from her past would be the one to save her but he'd been right, she'd been taken to another parallel universe. His other self though, before they had almost fully merged had managed to relay a way to prevent it but until then, he was going to spend every moment he could making up for the time they'd been apart.

As they lay in Rose's bed that night, getting to know each other again, he made her a promise.

"Rose, whatever was the reason to split us up, I'm going to make it my mission to prevent it, you just have to trust me."

"I do trust you John. I know you wouldn't let me go anywhere without a fight."

"Oh no Rose, I most definitely wouldn't let you go without a fight my love," he assured her, stroking her bare arm as she lay next to him in just a vest top and shorts.

As she fell asleep after they made a start, the Doctor lay awake, already formulating how he would use the clever Tardis to save the woman he loved from being taken from him. His other self had let him know that he'd planned on getting there the exact moment Rose had let go of a lever of some kind and he'd appear just in time for her to land gently inside the ship so now, he had to work on some kind of remote control to have the ship land at the right time and open the doors.

How much time he had, he'd no idea because now, he intended putting it off for as long as possible and as usual, his other self had no idea how much time had passed because being with Rose wasn't half as long as he wanted to be with her and now, he knew he could save her, well they could save her, now he was sharing this body with the other him from the future but he wasn't going to tell Rose that.

The End!

A/N: I decided to end on this note rather than have them go through the entire second series and beyond and the end I did have planned, I may make into another story at some point but I thought I would end on the idea Rose and her Doctor were back together again without her completely rejecting the other one.