Though she didn't remember her dad, Rose knew exactly how he'd met her mother. "Ohh, it had been perfect," Jackie Tyler would sigh wistfully, a sad smile forming as she held her daughter. "Nineteen eighty, six years before you were born, one before we got married. Right outside Henrick's, if you can believe it. Course, the building's undergone multiple renovations in the last forty years. And that's where your gran met Granddad Prentice."
Rose had worked at the department store for the last two years, ever since she'd moved back into her mother's flat after leaving Jimmy. Though Jackie had initially been excited about Rose working at the 'Spot', she had come to resent the shop, citing that it had given her daughter 'airs and graces' not befitting a person living on the Estate. Now, she pushed Rose to go out with Mickey, the mechanic who had been her childhood best friend.
"He's got a decent job, and steady income." Jackie sniffed. "You could fare a lot worse than Mickey Smith."
"Mickey's my best mate, but I don't love him, Mum." Rose protested. "Besides, I thought you said I would meet my mysterious beau on the corner by Henrick's."
"That's wishful thinking," Jackie said firmly. "Dreaming. Coincidences, is all."
And so the story of the Meeting Place gently pushed to the side of Rose's mind. She worked in the shop, watched Mickey watch football at the pub, ate chips, and went home. And that was her life. Until she met him.
"You met someone at the shop," Jackie said as Rose walked in the flat.
"I work in a department store, I meet lots of people, Mum."
"You've met someone at the shop," Jackie repeated.
"It's not like that," Rose insisted. "The shop blew up."
Jackie's mouth dropped. "You deserve compensation!" She declared. "Lucky to be alive, you are. Did he save your life?"
"Sort of," Rose shrugged. "I was in the basement, he pulled along the corridor, we got out, and the building blew up."
"What's his name?" Jackie pressed her daughter for more information. "What's he look like? I told you that you'd meet at Henrick's."
"He's not my husband, if that's what you're thinking." Rose chuckled. "He's older than you, Mum, at least he looks it. Gray hair. Course, I suppose some men go gray a lot earlier than others."
"Gray hair is very stylish right now," Jackie gestured towards an open magazine laying on the table.
"I'm not going to marry him, Mum!" Rose laughed, exasperated. "I didn't even get his name. Introduced himself as 'the Doctor'."
There was a knock at the door.
Jackie looked at Rose, then the door. She walked across the flat and answered it. A tall man, with a thin face and gray hair, was standing there.
"You're the man who ran into my daughter today," she said matter-of-factly.
The man looked at her. "I'm here to ask," he glanced at a bit of paper in his hand, "Rose Tyler some questions about the shop blowing up."
Jackie yelled for Rose to come to the front room. Rose looked at the man, then pulled him into the kitchen. "It's work-related, Mum, give us some privacy!" She called.
"Rose Tyler." It wasn't a question. "I'm here to ask you a few questions about the destruction of the shop. Routine questions, I assure you."
"Are you police?"
"No. I'm a Doctor." The Doctor smirked slightly. "Now, Ms. Tyler, if we could get on with the questions."
"It's miss, actually." Rose didn't know why she was correcting him. "And 'Rose' is fine."
"Rose." Her name rolled off his tongue, his sharp accent… he was looking at her expectantly.
"Sorry, could you repeat that?"
Before he could answer, Jackie bustled into the kitchen. "Oh, don't mind me," she reached for the teapot. "I just need my afternoon cuppa. Would you like some?" She looked at the Doctor meaningfully.
"Mum," Rose narrowed her eyes.
"No, no thank you. I just have a few questions left to ask Miss Tyler and I'll be on my way."
Rose's mouth went dry. She answered his remaining queries with ease, all the while wondering if her mother could be right about him.
"Last question – I promise. Do you have a mobile?" The Doctor asked. "Just procedural, I assure you. In case we need clarification about some of your answers and the like."
"Oh, yeah. Course. Zero seven seven zero zero, nine zero zero nine four two," Rose rattled off. Jackie's eyebrows had nearly disappeared into her hairline from where she stood lurking.
"Let me see your mobile?" He requested. He typed something in. "One of my numbers. Just in case you remember something else that you would like to talk about." The Doctor stood, his hand extended. "Thank you for your time, Rose. We'll be contacting you shortly."
Jackie showed him the door, and was visibly elated when she returned. "Just you wait and see, Rose. He'll be back, in an 'unofficial' capacity, no doubt."
Rose only shook her head.
"I'm going to phone Bev," Jackie smirked.
"Whatever, Mum," Rose sighed. She looked at the clock. "M going to see Mickey, the match must be nearly over." Jackie was already on the phone, no doubt telling Bev all about Rose's new 'love'.
She'd meant to see Mickey. But, stopping in the little café, who did she run into but 'the Doctor'. Literally, she'd run into him, her holding two cups of tea, him with a coffee and a novel. Her blouse was soaked, clinging to her, and his white button up was stained. Rose told herself that she imagined that his eye lingered over her breasts slightly longer than perhaps he should have, that he wasn't checking her out. That did not stop her from discretely raking him over, hurriedly pressing a handful of napkins to his chest in an attempt to sop up the spilled drinks.
"I'm so sorry," she'd exclaimed, not noticing at first whom she'd run into.
"Hello," and she'd noticed how his eyes lit up when he smiled.
"Hello," she'd replied, her tongue poking out of a shy smile. "M sorry, here," and she'd wadded the napkins together.
Gently, he took her hand from his chest, balling up and tossing the wet napkins. He did not let go of her hand. "Fancy meeting you here," he said, nonchalant.
"Hello," Rose said again, at a loss for words. The Doctor's smile grew.
"Well, then, Rose," he grinned, "I suppose that we'll need to buy new drinks."
"All right then. But you ran into me, so you can pay," her tongue poked out of her teeth again.
"No money," the Doctor patted his pockets innocently.
"Alright then. Drinks on me, tightwad. Come on." Rose ordered two coffees and they stood next to each other, not quite touching.
The silence was palpable. "You know, my mum and dad, and my gran and grandad, they met each other for the first time outside Henrick's," Rose finally mentioned.
"I'm sure that lots of people have met by Henrick's," the Doctor said dismissively. "We met outside Henrick's."
"And now we're having coffee together," Rose pointed out. She laughed. "If my mum was here, she'd say we'd be walking down the aisle in five years."
"Well, I can't walk down the aisle to someone that I barely know," the Doctor jested. He added, more seriously, "tell me a bit about yourself."
So Rose told him about her work and her search for a new job, how she'd loved doing gymnastics as a kid. She briefly mentioned that she didn't graduate, but had been toying with the idea of taking some correspondence or night courses so that she could eventually take her A-levels.
In return, she learned that the Doctor's real name was John Braxiatel, that he had had a family, but they were gone (on this he did not elucidate, though he did mention a granddaughter whom he had been close to). The Doctor had done some work for the government and held several doctorates, including one in medicine, and that it had been his brother whom had first, jokingly, bestowed the title of 'Doctor' upon the young John.
At one point, they'd ordered a basket of chips, the empty dish lying forgotten at the edge of the table. Despite herself, Rose found that the Doctor intrigued her. So much so, that she was startled when Mickey called, demanding where the hell had she been and that Jackie had called him four times asking about her. Hanging up, Rose realized that it was nearly midnight.
He walked her back to the flat. "I'd like to see you again," Rose admitted, half to herself.
"I do have your number," his eyes were alight with interest, his Scottish accent rough.
Rose grinned again, her tongue once more making an appearance. The Doctor's eyes flickered to her mouth and he ever-so-briefly contemplated kissing her.
"Goodnight," Rose pressed a quick kiss to his cheek, leaving him behind as she walked back to her flat.