All Night Café

Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, unfortunately. Again, I refer to Harry Potter in this story, which I've done in two of my others...can you tell I'm a fan? Apologies if you dislike the Boy Wizard; obviously he belongs to JK. Rowling. E.T isn't mine either, nor is Pretty Woman, although I do have the DVD :) What else have I referred to? Munchies belong to Nestle...I think

Author's Note: This story has a rather unusual structure, if I'm being honest. Rather than carrying on where I left off with an insight into a group of boys being awful to a young Rose, I've taken a bit of a back-pedal; this shows how the Doctor and Rose ended up in the 90's in the first place. A look at young Rose will come in Chapter 3, I hope that's OK? Please, enjoy. Let me know what you think. Finally, if I may, I'd like to dedicate this to everyone who's just taken/is sitting their exams, seeing as mine are now finished :)

The Doctor surveyed Rose over his cup of tea with barely disguised amusement, his eyes crinkling.

"What?" asked Rose, looking up from where she was drawing patterns in the spilt sugar in the table with her finger, conscious that he was staring at her.

"Nothing," he said, grinning widely and leaning back in his chair so that he was resting on only two legs.

"What?" repeated Rose more urgently, feeling slightly uncomfortable, as if he were laughing at her at her own expense.

"Seriously, nothing," the Doctor reassured her, holding his hands up, seeing that his scrutiny was causing her to blush. "I was just wondering…which one was your favourite?"

"My favourite what?" asked Rose, nonplussed. " Cheese? Alien? Film?"

"Spice Girl," said the Doctor, as if she were being deliberately stupid, "You've been sitting there for the past ten minutes, making pictures with spilt sugar, humming 'Wannabe' under your breath, and I was just wondering because…well the subject of half-alien, brain-numbing, annoyingly cheesy girl bands is one we haven't quite got round to, surprisingly enough."

" I wasn't, was I?" asked Rose with some mortification, raising a hand to her mouth, her eyes shining in embarrassment. "Ohh my life, I was," she hooted, as she realised that she had unconsciously been humming the old pop song that she'd known all the words to when she was younger. A lot younger. That had to excuse it, didn't it?

"Erm, I didn't have a favourite," she fibbed, a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth, not looking at the Doctor in the eye.

"Lying," said the Doctor in a singsong voice, laughing as Rose shook her head and emptied an entire packet of sugar into the last dregs of her now-cold tea. "Come on, you're a girl and you grew up in the 90's ergo you loved the Spice Girls and had a favourite that you unfortunately aspired to be like when you grew up," he teased her.

Rose snorted. "Yeah; that certainly happened for me, didn't it? I've ended up just like Emma Bunton," she said, sarcastically, laughing and twisting the empty sugar packet around in her fingers.

"Ahh, so Baby was your favourite?"

"Yep, I used to ask my mum to do my hair in half bunches at the top of my head, like hers," remembered Rose with a smile, pulling her blonde hair into two small handfuls to demonstrate. "I must've looked a right state!"

"Bit like now, then," said the Doctor jokingly.

"Watch it," she said warningly, reaching over to steal the crusts of his toast that he always left at the side of his plate.

He was right though; she did look a mess. The night before she and the Doctor had been invited, (well perhaps 'invited' wasn't the correct word; 'gate crashed with the aid of Psychic paper' seemed more appropriate) to some fancy, upper-class gala in the year 2011 to celebrate the launch of a new piece of revolutionary technology which, according to the Doctor, shouldn't have been readily available to humans till at least 2089.

Of course, that was his and Rose's cue to interfere, cause merry hell in the queue for the shrimp canapés, insult the host, blow up the Ladies toilets with an air freshener and sonic screwdriver, insult the host some more and errr uncover the inventor of said revolutionary piece of technology to be a bidermitologic alien from the planet Sotret.

So…just a normal adventure, really. No one had died or was taken hostage, (which was a bonus, considering Rose's track record) and the Doctor had even managed to invent a new cocktail, much to his pleasure.

Now though, they were sat at a wobbly table in the far corner of a rather grotty all-night café in the west end of London, and had been sitting there for the best part of an hour, munching on stale toast washed down with weak tea. Rose's hair, which about nine hours before had been set in elaborate, soft curls now looked tatty and unkempt, as if someone had dragged her through a hedge backwards. The hem of her satin cocktail dress had ripped and was fraying around her legs and the bodice had a suspicious-looking rusty red stain sloshed down it. Somewhere along the line she had taken off her shoes and slung them under the table, as deep red welts criss-crossed her feet, where the straps of her high heels had been digging in.

The Doctor, to be quite honest didn't look that much better. He had a wide graze just beneath his left eyebrow, which was bleeding pathetically and his tuxedo suit was all rumpled and dirty, (the jacket of which he had graciously wrapped around Rose's shoulders, despite her protests that she was 'alright, honestly') The Doctor had just looked pointedly at the goose bumps spattered across her arms and chest and said nothing.

Still, despite her blistered feet and bedraggled appearance it was quite nice to be able to just sit and talk about…anything and everything and not have to worry about saving a planet or running for their lives.

Apart from a bleary-eyed lorry driver, who was downing shots of espresso at the near table, and a filthy-looking drunk near the door, who was half sprawled across his table, a fresh pool of vomit at his feet, the Doctor and Rose were the only customers. At 3 o'clock in the morning though, that probably wasn't surprising.

"Your head ok?" Rose asked him, nodding concernedly at the gash on his head.

The Doctor gingerly raised a hand to his forehead. "I'll survive," he told her, putting on a mock-brave face. "To be knocked out another day by another blibbering waiter with a cast-iron drinks tray and mush for brains."

"I thought he looked a bit like Orlando Bloom," said Rise absent-mindedly, staring out of the window at the inky-black sky and deserted street.

The Doctor gave a loud 'Harrumph!' and muttered something which sounded a lot like 'an alien if I ever saw one,' and got to his feet, draining the last of his tea in one go.

"Come on then, Miss. Tyler," he cajoled her, offering her his arm. "Your carriage awaits!"

"By 'carriage' you mean big blue box?" asked Rose, wryly struggling to stand as she attempted to wedge her swollen, aching feet back into her shoes.

"Same thing," commented the Doctor, watching her attempting to fasten her shoes. "Rose, what are you doing?"

"Trying to put my shoes on!"

"Yes, but Rose," said the Doctor matter-of-factly. "Your feet are the size of Christmas puddings. You'll never get them on. In fact, monkey's have more chance of splitting the atom than you have of putting your shoes back on."

"Well, how else am I going to get back to the TARDIS?" she said crossly. "Levitate?"

The Doctor grinned down at her, a dangerous glint in his eye. A glint that Rose knew meant 'I've just had a ridiculous idea that you will hate but let's do it anyway 'cause it'll be funny.'

"No," Rose told him sternly, misinterpreting the glint. "We're not stealing another golf cart."

The last time The Doctor and Rose had been stranded somewhere they'd 'borrowed' a golf cart from a man with a weather-beaten face, had crashed into a dozen lampposts, nearly knocked over an old lady doing her gardening and had 'forgotten' to return it. All the while laughing themselves silly, of course.

"Where're you going to get a golf cart from in the middle of London at 3 o'clock in the morning?" he asked her, incredulously, his voice going slightly high. "No, no, no; what I was going to say was that I could give you a piggy-back if you want?"

"Don't be daft!"

"Why not?"

Rose considered him for a moment. She was wearing a dress; a piggy-back was going to be difficult and plus, she'd look very ungainly and of course, she was worried about how heavy she was but then…her feet were killing.

"Ok," she said carefully. "If you're sure you don't mind?"

"Nah, I baby-sit," retorted the Doctor, giving her an enthusiastic smile before turning round and bending down slightly so that she could wrap her arms around his neck. "Just get on."

With a grunt of effort, the Doctor stood up straight and grabbed a hold of Rose's legs, just behind her knees, before the pair of them burst into nervous giggles.

"How much chips have you been eating?" he grumbled, jiggling her so that he had a tighter hold, earning himself a smack on the arm.

Bumping into rickety tables, the Doctor and Rose rather awkwardly made their way out of the café, attracting raised eyebrows from the chain-smoking waitresses.

"I don't know," mused Rose good-naturedly, the chilly night air hitting them, whipping their hair around their faces as they got outside. "First you gave me your jacket, now you're giving me a piggy-back," she said shaking her head, her warm breath tickling the back of the Doctor's neck. "You're becoming quite the gentleman."

"I know, it's disgusting isn't it?" said the Doctor, happily.

As he turned a corner and walked down a quiet street, full of semi-detached houses with broken windows and tangles of graffiti scrawled across the brickwork, Rose suddenly realised how tightly she was wrapped round him. Her face was pressed into his untidy mop of soft hair, which smelt of shampoo and caramel and all…Doctor-ish, and with her clasped hands resting on his chest, she could feel its soft rise and fall as he breathed in and out.

"Rose?" asked the Doctor slowly, as if he had been pondering something for a long time and a thought had finally occurred to him.

"Mmh?" she replied, resting her chin on his shoulder, comfortably.

"What makes you think I don't know what your favourite cheese is?" he piped up, acknowledging her movement by leaning his head against hers for a brief second.

"You what?" asked Rose, completely nonplussed. "Favourite cheese? What?"

"Just before, when I asked you which one was your favourite, you said 'Favourite what…cheese?' Yes?"


"Well, why would I have to ask you what your favourite cheese is, when I already know?" he puzzled, sounding mildly put out.

"Do you?" asked Rose, her eyebrows knitting together, surprised. She couldn't remember ever discussing something as random as cheese with the Doctor. Still…there was a first time for everything. Cheese talk Brilliant

"I didn't think I had a favourite," she said truthfully, grinning down at him as he tightened his grip around her legs.

"Well, you do," the Doctor informed her, kicking an empty can as he crossed the road, causing an almighty clatter in the quiet night. Well, early morning really. "It's stilton," he said, proudly.

"Oh yeah…"

"Annnd seeing as you mentioned it, I also happen to know exactly what your favourite alien and film is."

"Go on, then," Rose prompted him, waiting to see what nonsense he would come up with.

"Your favourite alien is E.T," he carried on, and although Rose couldn't see to be sure, she knew that the Doctor had rolled his eyes. "And unfortunately, your favourite film is Pretty Woman."

"Nope," said Rose, smiling widely.

"What do you mean 'no'? You were quoting from it the other day! Blabbering on about corners and rails…"

"No no no, I mean, yeah Pretty Woman is my favourite film," she said, giving him a light kick with her bare heel. "Not that there's anything wrong with that, either but no, my favourite alien's not E.T."

"Oh," said the Doctor dejectedly, as if she had deliberately tricked him. "What is it then? The Zygons? Not the Gelth?"

"No, I'm not saying," she said, hugging him to her for warmth because yes, she would admit it…she was very cold and the night air was slightly damp and…well, she just liked holding onto the Doctor. It felt safe and comforting and…nice? Oh 'nice' was an awful word but still, she liked hugging the Doctor. Probably more than she should.

"Oh come on, tell me," he whined, tilting his head back so that he could look at he properly.

"No!" Rose said, smugly. "Work it out, Clouseau."

"Fine, I will," replied the Doctor, huffily. " You know, I met Clouseau, once? Mad as a March hare. Used his tie as toilet roll and kept soil in his shoes."

Rose made a disbelieving noise. She knew the Doctor was a brilliant man, beyond brilliant in fact; she'd be the first person to admit to his intellect and sheer charm and announce it to the half-listening universe if she had to, but there were times when she just wasn't sure where she stood with him, whether to take him seriously or not. Only last week they'd been talking about Julie Andrews, (as you do) when he'd matter-of-factly stated that it had been him who had first coined the word '' yet he'd just never wanted to take the credit. Which seemed ridiculous, but knowing the Doctor, could be true. It was hard to tell which of his throwaway, nonsense comments should be taken seriously and which shouldn't. 'I met Clouseau' was no exception.

"Clouseau wasn't real, was he?" Rose asked skeptically, speaking into the Doctor's hair as they came to the end of the dark street. At the corner, before the roads trundled into the run-down estate there was a children's playground. The chains from the swings had broken and lay on the ground amongst shards of shattered glass; the metal slide was caked in mud and had rude words, insults and mobile numbers scrawled all over it in thick black marker; and everything else; the see-saws, the roundabout, and the climbing frame had collapsed in a heap of coloured wood and rusty paint-covered metal.

" Course he was real!" said the Doctor, sounding highly affronted. "Well the character's not; of course he's not, but the lunatic the character was based on was very real…bit of a sandwich short of a picnic, though."

"Who was the real man he was based on?" asked Rose, the theme to the Pink Panther sneaking into her head.

"An inspector from the 40's," the Doctor told her, knowledgably. "A police inspector; an English man. Not sure where the French bit came from actually, but he was yeah…very real. Very stupid."

"Did he die?" asked Rose, not sure if she wanted to know the answer, fiddling with a fine, loose thread on his shoulder.

"Oh yes, he died," the Doctor said grimly." Lopped two tablespoons of cyanide into his lemonade because he thought it was sherbet."

Rose flinched, sucking in air through her teeth and screwing up her face, as if the very thought of it pained her. "Ow…nasty. Poor him."

"Yeah," agreed the Doctor, morosely, his voice sounding very hollow.

The pair of them fell into a shared, silence, although it was not an uneasy one; they were both just reflecting on the Doctor had said. Thankfully, they knew each other well enough to know when they needed to ponder something, to be left to their own thoughts and not talk to one another. For a good five minutes, neither of them said anything but Rose became unconsciously aware that she was holding on to him tighter than was strictly necessary. But then, the Doctor was doing the same to her so…fair and square, really.

"Rose," said the Doctor, thoughtfully after a while. "Do you know what I want? What I 'really, really want'?" he quipped, remembering her hummed song from before with a slight grin.

" A 'zig-a-zig-ah'?" suggested Rose, mock-innocently, cottoning on to the fact that he was gently teasing her about her choice of song.

"Nope," he said with a maddening, full-watt Doctor Smile. " I want a Sherbet Fountain!" he revealed, sounding like an excited child. "Right now, really I could just do with a Sherbet Fountain."

"What?" she squeaked, sounding utterly flummoxed, her brown eyes lighting up in amusement. "Why on earth do you want a Sherbet Fountain? Actually, scratch that. Why on earth do you want a Sherbet Fountain at 3 o'clock in the morning when you've just had toast?"

"Ngh," said the Doctor, by way of reply. Obviously he was unable to come up with anything more satisfactory. " I just…thinking about old Clouseau and his cyanidey sherbet…it made me want a Sherbet Fountain. They're all…sherbety."

"Nooo?" said Rose sounding sarcastically incredulous. "Sherbet Fountains are all 'sherbety'? Well!"

"Ahhh shush, Miss. Sarcastic Wit 2011. I'm very fond of Sherbet Fountains."

"You would be," replied Rose. "I used to go to the newsagents after school every Friday and buy sweets to have on the way home. I always bought Munchies," she said wistfully. "The one time I bought a Sherbet Fountain I picked at it for about ten minutes till the paper got all soggy and I got brown sticky marks all over my hands and the sherbet went brown and started clumping together…then I gave it to Mickey."

"Why?" asked the Doctor. "Why don't you like Sherbet Fountains? They're brilliant! Honestly, the sweets you lot come up with! You get a stick of liquorice and you dip it into a little paper tube of sherbet and lick it off…. it's genius! You know, nowhere else in the universe has Sherbet Fountains?"

"Lucky us," mumbled Rose. "I don't know, I just don't like Sherbet Fountains, is that a crime?"

It came out sharper than she'd intended it to. She hadn't meant to snap at him, but Sherbet Fountains were something she was very tetchy about. They brought back bad memories from her childhood. Memories of being chased home by a thuggish group of boys; of being taunted for the fact that she had no father and lived on the Powell Estate; of having her chair kicked at school; of crying in the toilets during lunchtime, scrubbing her face with the brown, scratchy paper towels.

"Sorry," she said quietly, playing with a tuft of his hair absent-mindedly, twisting it up into a spike and then smoothing it down again. "Bad experience with a Sherbet Fountain."

"Ah yes; they can be devilish little blighters," remarked the Doctor knowingly, attempting to make light of her surliness. Somehow, he'd obviously sensed that she didn't want to talk about it and so he wasn't going to press her further; for which she was very grateful. She had a flighty, fanciful feeling that the Doctor probably knew her better that either of them would care to admit.

"Next time we're in the Vortex," said the Doctor wryly, after a small silence as they neared an empty car park full of abandoned supermarket trolleys, crisp burnt out shells of cars that had obviously been set alight, empty vodka bottles and piles of mirrors and razor blades strewn all over the ground like lethal confetti, but with a familiar blue wooden box tucked away between an overflowing skip and a bottle bank. "I'm chucking you out in an airlock."

"Why?" asked Rose stiltedly. She was used to his playful threats and regarded them with cautious amusement rather than real worry. The fact of the matter was; the Doctor was about as capable of throwing her out in an airlock as Rose was of standing on her head, reciting War and Peace in Urdu whilst playing the piano with her toes. Not capable at all.

"Because you've got the Spice Girls stuck in my head," he told her shortly. "And that's not a very nice thing to do. You have no compassion for my sanity."

"What little of it you have left!" Rose laughed as they drew closer to the TARDIS, loose stones and broken glass crunching under his feet as he walked.

"Admittedly, yes; it has dwindled rapidly ever since you started traveling with me," he assured her, seriously.

"Cheers," said Rose, as he stopped in front of the TARDIS, cautiously loosening her hands from around his neck.

"Which pocket's your key in?" she asked, realising that she would have to be the one to open the door, seeing as the Doctor had his hands a bit full. Holding her legs, actually.

"I don't know," he said, unhelpfully. "Use yours!"

"There's no pockets in a cocktail dress," Rose told him frankly, sticking her hand into the left pocket of the Doctor's tuxedo jacket, which she still had around her shoulders. Her hands brushed all manner of strange, unidentifiable objects; smooth, shiny surfaces, rough pellets, spindly instruments, bus tickets, bananas, books, tea bags…

"Then where's your TARDIS key? Do you not have it with you?" he asked her, sounding alarmed and ever so slightly reproachful. "I thought I told you to always have it with you?"

"I do have it with me," Rose retorted vaguely, only half paying attention as she switched to try another of his seemingly endless pockets.

"Where is it then, if you have no pockets?" he asked, confused.

"You don't want to know," she told him. Oh fantastic. This pocket was full of crumbly biscuits, a torch, a water gun, and a tube of toothpaste, old invitations, ancient coins and a small silver key.

This, she drew out carefully and inserted into the rusty lock of the TARDIS, wiggling it about expertly. The TARDIS was old and temperamental. You had to have a certain knack to be able to open it; even then though, the TARDIS would only cooperate if she felt like it. Fortunately, tonight she allowed her doors to be opened straight away; perhaps because she was fed up of being parked in such a dodgy area. Whatever the reason, Rose was very glad because as much as she'd enjoyed her piggy back; walking through a less than pleasant area of future London at 3 o'clock in the morning clinging on to the Doctor, teasing and laughing with him; she was very cold and no matter how well she tried to stifle a yawn, very tired.

The homey, familiar smell of the TARDIS and the soothing hum of its walls were particularly welcoming tonight as they went in, the Doctor stooping, his gangly frame folding so that Rose didn't bump her head on the doorframe. Which was very nice of him. Rose loved the smell of the TARDIS; it smelt old and dusty and comforting, yet there was also an undercurrent of engine oil and burning electricity. It reminded her of museums and old churches; which was the smell of Time, according to the Doctor. He was adamant that Time had a smell. 'Why would it not?' he'd stressed. Most of all, though, she probably loved the TARDIS because it reminded her of the Doctor. The Doctor and his beloved TARDIS were inextricably linked. It was hard to imagine the Doctor without his blue box, or to think of anyone else manning the console…

"Here we are," called the Doctor cheerfully. "Back again."

Almost regretfully, he let go of Rose's legs, so she could slide down to the floor; quite ungracefully actually, but that didn't matter. Rose almost whimpered as she detached herself from him; it was as if her favourite teddy bear had been taken away.

"Thanks for the lift," she said, smiling widely up at him. "Better than a taxi any day!"

"Mmh," replied the Doctor. "Taxi's are warmer. You look like an ice sculpture."

He paced around the center console until he found a beige-brown, thick woolen blanket, which was wide and long enough to be the main sail of the Flying Dutchman. Well, nearly. This, he threw at Rose, deftly, who wrapped it around her shoulders like a cloak and sat herself in the squeaky captain's chair, tucking her chilled feet underneath her and pulling the blanket down over her knees.

"We had a good night, didn't we?" said Rose happily, as the Doctor came and sat beside her, his long legs resting on the console. "We stopped an acne-ridden alien from taking control of the planet, blew up a loo, got free food, no one died and you got to swan around the place pretending to be James Bond in your snappy tuxedo!"

"And that thick waiter asked you for your number," the Doctor reminded her, staring at his outstretched feet, though Rose couldn't tell whether he sounded amused or displeased about this. She turned sideways so she could study his chiseled, angular profile but his expression was impassive.

"Oh yeah," said Rose, remembering the devastatingly good-looking but slightly slow waiter who had taken an obvious shine to her and asked for her mobile number…just before he'd stepped backwards, slipped on an ice-cube and knocked a thoroughly bad-tempered Doctor out with his drinks tray.

"Did you give it to him, by the way?" asked the Doctor curiously, still resolutely staring at his shoes.

Rose gave a mischievous grin and twirled a strand of hair around her finger, purposefully dodging his question and inching closer to him so she could rest her head tiredly on his shoulder.

"Definitely not a bad night," she said, yawning.

"Did you?" asked the Doctor sharply; shrugging her off him so he could look at her properly; intense brown eyes seeking hers. Rose faced him, her easy smile fading. A strange, indefinable look passed over the Doctor's face; he looked genuinely interested in her answer, yet resigned at the same time, and there was something flickering behind his eyes. Was he…could he be faintly jealous? Or just fiercely protective of her? She gazed at him, unsurely. Mutely, she shook her head, trying to understand why she felt vaguely disappointed when the Doctor broke their intent look and rearranged his features into an expression that was obviously supposed to be casual indifference.

"Good," he said lightly. "Didn't look intelligent enough to be able to use a mobile phone, anyway. Come on," he said leaping to his feet, with all the coiled energy of a Jack in the Box. "I will escort you to your bedroom young miss."

Rose shot him a baleful stare, like a cat who had been lazing in the sun on a hot summers day that had been told to move. "I'm not going anywhere," she told him, rearranging herself in the chair so that she was in a more comfortable position. "My legs refuse to move and I am far too comfy to care. A fleet of Daleks and my mum in a temper couldn't get me to go to bed, so you're certainly not going to make me."

The Doctor looked down at his fatigued, stubborn companion, at her messy hair falling down over her face, her eyes sleepy and soft. She always managed to look extraordinarily young when she was tired; like a little girl rather than the headstrong, independent young woman he was used to.

"Fine," he gave in, his lip curling into an amused smile as he sat back down again and stretched his arm out to her so she could loll against his shoulder. "I will once again consent to be your pillow," he said heavily. "But if you start snoring…"

"I know, I know. You'll hold my nose and put a cactus in my mouth or something," said Rose sleepily, settling herself against him.

"Well I will!" he promised her, his eyes glinting as she brushed her hair out of her face and rearranged her blanket.

Rose said nothing, allowing her eyelids to close, but she didn't go to sleep, enjoying the feel of the Doctor's warm arm pressed against her cheek.

"Rose?" said the Doctor, moving so that she fitted more snugly into the crook of his neck, under his arm; her wispy hair tickling her face. "How does 1997 sound to you?"

"1997? What about it?"

" Taking you back to the 90's? 1999 was a good year but 1997? Height of the Spice Girls' popularity! A time when no one knew who Britney Spears was…when cheese pop reigned! Tell you what, June/July-ish 1997, just after Tony Blair became Prime Minister and just before Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was first published…we can just waltz in and buy it! Imagine! Not having to queue for a Harry Potter book with a group of over-obsessive teenage girls in hand painted T-shirts! Rose, we've got to go!"

Rose sat up, taking in his excited expression and bright shiny eyes and positively beamed back at him.

"Yeah! Yeah, that sounds great! Love to," she said, squeezing his arm, looking a bit perkier but still absolutely shattered; her face had paled with tiredness and her eyes were all droopy.

"I could even buy a Sherbet Fountain!" he exclaimed, moving as if to set the coordinates immediately, but upon seeing Rose's baggy eyes he seemed to change his mind. "After you've been to sleep first, though," he told her, shaking his head half-fondly, half-exasperatedly. "Honestly, you and your human lot have an unhealthy need to snooze off to the Land of Nod every other hour, how do you stand it? I tried going to sleep once…didn't think it was much cop. You just…"

"Doctor?" Rose interrupted him tiredly.

"Yes, Rose?"

Rose kept her eyes closed but raised her right hand up towards him, fingers straight, as if she were a traffic warden commanding him to stop in his impromptu rant. "Talk to the hand," she giggled, weakly.

"What?" he said, looking at her hand, warily. "Talk to your hand? It'd be quite worrying if I got a reply…"

"No, no. It was an expression that was knocked about in the 90's! Everyone said it, whenever they didn't want to listen to what someone had to say…Mickey said it all the time. It annoyed me so much I whacked him with my packed lunch box!" she said groggily. "Everyone had plastic lunchboxes with stickers on them! And Jellies! Ohhh I had a pink, glittery pair…" she burbled, her voice fading as sleep began to finally claim her.

The Doctor decided that it was probably best not to ask her what 'Jellies' were. Half asleep though she was, she was still muttering incomprehensible nonsense under her breath. He picked up the words 'Wonky Donkey' and 'Mr. Postman' before he gave up on trying to make sense out of what she was saying. Wonky Donkey? And she told him he was barking…

He sat still for a moment, as her snuffly breathing grew deep and steady, looking fondly down at his sleeping best friend. She had forgotten to take her make-up off again, he noted as he glanced down at her spiky eyelashes, which were clumped together with too much mascara, and her powdery foundation which was beginning to wear off too, revealing small pink spots dotted in and around her hairline. Her lips still bore traces of the glossy lipstick she'd been wearing, but the cold night air had left them looking dry and cracked. Her nose, he noticed was decorated with both freckles and the occasional blackhead, which he hadn't really picked up on before because they'd never been in quite such close proximity. Not consciously anyway. He'd never been able to openly stare at her, to study her face as if committing it to memory; they were both too self-conscious for that.

A small niggling at the back of his mind told him that watching her as she slept, all curled up against him was a bit too intimate, and he felt a small shiver of embarrassment creep over him. Pulling on his ear uncomfortably, he wrapped the blanket more tightly around her, which was gaping at her chest and fingered the cut on his head unconsciously, which was stinging and sticky with congealed blood.

"Night, Rose," he said quietly, rubbing her shoulder somewhat awkwardly for want of something better to do.

What was she dreaming about, he pondered, looking at her closed lids. Golf carts, canapés and Orlando Bloom-esque imbeciles probably, he thought wryly; an image of the too-perfect, too-toned perma-tanned waiter chatting up his…mate popping into his mind, causing him to wrinkle his nose in distaste. 'I've lost my number, can I have yours?' he'd asked her, the smarmy fool. Rose's expression had been priceless; halfway between pity and bewilderment. The Doctor, on the other hand had merely looked thundery and had attempted to drag Rose off to examine the canapés, which he'd told her looked suspicious, like reconstituted alien meat…even though they had in fact looked perfectly fine, before the waiter had skidded on that insufferable ice-cube and flailed his arms around like a windmill to regain his balance; knocking the Doctor out with his trusty tray in the process.

Rose was right, though. Save for the tray-wielding waiter and the more obvious fracas with a power-hungry alien, it had been a good night. He and Rose; they'd had a whale of a time.

Hopefully tomorrow would be just as good, he thought brightly. Back to 1997…he was looking forward to his Sherbet Fountain.

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