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The skating rink

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Rose Tyler gets talked into bringing her two young cousins to the local ice skating rink for their birthdays with their friends, helped by her friend Donna but her brother has just returned from Uni and is tagging along.  Rose is unaware Donna is up to her usual tricks of playing matchmaker and meets him when he accidentally trips her up before the outing then meets him again.






Rose Tyler (who never met the Doctor) gets talked into bringing her two young cousins to the local ice skating rink for their birthdays with their friends, helped by her friend Donna but her brother has just returned from Uni and is tagging along.  Rose is unaware Donna is up to her usual tricks of playing matchmaker and meets him when he accidentally trips her up before the outing then meets him again.  AU.

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Chapter 1
A/N: John's character is really the duplicate Doctor's persona

Rose Tyler, shop assistant, worked at a large London department store, fully refurbished after it had got blown up in what was thought to be a massive gas leak a few years back.  She loved working in the ladies fashion department even though she couldn't afford all the latest styles that came in all the time, occasionally buying the odd item here and there.  She had an on/off boyfriend called Mickey, who was off at the moment for sneaking to the pub to watch football when he should have been at her friend's party with her.

Donna Noble was one of her best friends but older and worked in the office.  Donna had started off as a temp but had worked her way up with her typing skills and was the general manager's secretary but always made excuses up of going around the store gathering the latest gossip, especially since before she went to work there, someone had been playing a practical joke the night the store blew up and Rose had sworn the shop window dummies that were stored in the basement had started walking towards her after she went to give the lottery money to Mr Wilson, who had since retired.

So Donna had told Rose she was a dumbo and she should stop buying the two for one lagers at the off licence near the store on her way home and they had become good friends after that.  Donna was always talking about her slightly older brother who was away at university in Exeter, never coming home much except for Christmas, always choosing to go exploring during the long holidays as he liked to travel and as Donna put it, had ants in his pants.

Rose had never really met him, only being introduced to him when Donna brought him to last year's staff Christmas party but she had been trying to get Mickey to dance properly with her instead of showing off as he always did.  She had since announced that her brother John had finished his doctorate and was coming home to take up a post at a local collage as a history professor.  Donna was aware that Rose had chucked poor Mickey out again and since she had been trying endlessly to get her brother a date with someone who wasn't into history like he was, had seen Rose as a potential candidate.

So when Rose had said this coming Sunday she had been roped into taking her two young cousins for a skating party for their birthdays that were close together, Donna had volunteered to go with her, thinking that she could bring her hopeless brother with her and introduce them.  Things were not going to be all that easy for her as she was about to find out the day John was wandering through the department store trying to find the general office in search of his sister.

He had wandered into the ladies fashion department, having misheard the direction the woman on the ground floor perfume department, who had looked him up and down carefully, had pointed him.  He could have sworn she said take the lift to the third floor and turn right, then over the other side of the floor, past the changing rooms and there was a door marked 'Office' but somewhere along the line he had gone in the wrong direction.  Instead of finding the office, he was about to collide with one Rose Tyler, who was coming out of the stockroom with a handful of silk scarves wrapped in very slippery cellophane that she was gripping very carefully with both hands so they wouldn't slide onto the floor.  Her efforts were about to be in vain as she came out from behind the dressing rooms in the corner, which was where John had gone wrong, there were dressing rooms on both sides of the floor, one for the ladies department and one for the mens, he had gone the wrong side.

Before Rose knew what was happening, someone had walked around the corner of the last dressing room and she lost her balance over a foot that was clad in a red and white converse shoe and the scarves were sliding one by one onto the floor.  Rose tried to stop them, as did the hands that accompanied the foot that she had tripped over, the arms being covered in a blue suit with red pinstripes, a purple t-shirt underneath the jacket and as she bent down trying to stop the last of them falling to join the others, finally the head that belonged with the foot and the arms.

Glancing up as the figure in front of her also bent down to try and stop the now last of the scarves falling down, she starred into the most gorgeous pair of chocolate brown eyes she had ever seen along with the wildest hair that seemed to have a mind of its own that belonged to equally the most gorgeous man she had seen in her life.  The pile of scarves now completely sliding all over the polished floor were completely forgotten about as Rose tried to stand up, the person who had caused all this now trying to gather up the slippery covers as fast as they were sliding down again back onto the floor.

The person was crouched down, balancing on his feet, hand on the back of his head, trying to find a way to retrieve the said scarves.  He looked up to see who he'd had the misfortune to trip up and cause this disaster in the first place to see a blonde woman, with hazel eyes and her arms crossed, looking mad at him.

"Now look what you've done, you've made me drop them all now," the person he had collided with snapped.  Then she saw him getting up and her mouth opened on it's own accord.

The stranger managed to find his voice as he stood up.  He was tall, way too thin and was just itching to make his retreat to avoid being scolded even further.

"I'm really, really, sorry for that, clumsy, that's me.  My sister says I'm always such a clutz and she's right.  Right, I'd best help you with these then, you hold your arms out and I'll pick them up.  Right?"

Rose would have laughed if she had been able to take her eyes off him.  Instead, she silently held her arms out as a few at a time, the scarves were laid carefully out so as they wouldn't fall back down again.  The last ones were placed on top and the man looked pleased with himself.

"Right, there you go, no harm done eh?  Good thing we weren't in the egg department!"  He saw she wasn't laughing.

"Sorry.  I hope I don't get you into trouble, for them being creased or the packaging getting dirty or for you being late back, Miss?"

Rose still hadn't found her voice yet, neither to tell him off further for being a clumsy idiot but he had already admitted he was or to say thanks for helping her but it had been his fault entirely in the first place.

He moved to one side to let her past.  "Right, I'll let you take them to wherever you were taking them to in the first place before we collided or should I say before I collided with you, or you with me, since we were both coming around the same corner at exactly the same time.  I mean come on, what are the chances of that? The laws of probability are astronomical on that one."

He still saw she wasn't amused.  "Erm, I talk too much, that's my problem, my sister says my gob doesn't stop for anything.  Anyway, can you point me in the direction of the general office?  Well I don't mean actually point to it, when I say point to it I mean tell me which direction it is, I mean, well if the general office was where you just came from, you wouldn't be carry a bunch of silk scarves, would you?"  He stopped for breath and put one hand on the back of his head.

He knew he should just quit while he wasn't ahead but he was determined to get more out of her than a telling off.  "I mean, if you've just come out of that corner with a bunch of scarves, then that must be the stockroom yeah?"

Rose managed a nod, careful so as not to disturb her loaded arms and start the process all over again.

"Can you just tell me if the general office is in the other corner by the other dressing rooms?  Someone downstairs told me it was in the corner, past the dressing rooms and since I obviously got the wrong dressing rooms, it stands to reason she must have meant the other ones.  Dressing rooms I mean.  Am I right?"

He had finally run out of steam, huh, he'd show Donna he could find his way to her office although by now she had probably sent a search party out for him, he had called her from downstairs twenty minutes ago.

Rose finally found her voice.  "Follow me, if you can avoid tripping me up again."

He smiled and followed her, noticing her rather cute bum in her shaped trousers that he swore designers made them like that for men to go around ogling women's posteriors.  He kept his distance for fear of her stopping suddenly and he fell over her.  Then he laughed to himself, Donna would have killed herself laughing at what had just happened, him, getting all tongue-tied over tripping a young blonde woman up and her literally falling for him.

Rose stopped by the next set of dressing rooms.  "Behind the last one, the door that's marked 'General Office' and not the one marked 'Staff Only' not that you'd get in, it's coded."

"Thanks.  I'm really sorry about what happened back there.  Perhaps I can make it up to you?"

"It's ok, no damage.  I have to get back now.  Good luck."

"Good luck?" he asked, confused.

"With your interview, for the mens department?  That's why you want the general office, isn't it?"

He didn't want to contradict her, seeing he was responsible for the incident that just occurred.  "Right. Thanks."

Rose watched him walk to the corner and disappear.  If he got a job in the men's department, he would be a walking disaster but there again, he had a cute bum and it would be something pleasant to stare at all day when she was supposed to be tidying the displays instead of that creep Roger ogling her every time she went in his direction.  She had seen him when he was supposed to be doing something and positioning himself to get a better look, hence why she had taken to wearing trousers and why he had been banned from going anywhere near the stockrooms after he had followed some of the other girls in.

Donna had told her of the pleasure she'd had typing his warning letter on behalf of all the girls concerned and she had elaborated a bit from what Mr Jenkins had initially told her to type.  She said well what was the point in being a secretary if you couldn't sway a bit?

Rose went and deposited the scarves onto the counter where she was going to sort them out back into the designs, which she had started out with them being in the correct order until that moron had made her drop them all.  As she was laying them all out carefully, making sure no dirt had got on the wrappers, one of the other girls came over.

"Rose, why are you sorting them?  Didn't you get four out of each box and put them all together?"

"Well yes, I did but some idiot going for an interview mistook the stockroom for the general office and came around the corner as I was coming out and made me drop them.  Heaven help us if the prat gets a job."

"Wait a minute Rose.  Was he tall, thin and his hair looked like it had been stuck up with invisible gel by any chance?"

"Yeah.  Why, do you know him?"

"Rose, that's Donna's brother, John.  She rang just before you came back to see if anyone knew where he was, he called her twenty minutes ago and seems to have got lost."

"Are you kidding me Sandra?  That was Donna's brother?  No way.  Mind you, he talks as much as Donna so it probably was him.  Anyway I showed him where the office was, he should have found her by now.  He's still a prat though, he walked right into me and sent these scarves all over the floor."

Sandra laughed.  "Don't you remember him from the Christmas party?"

"No, I was too busy getting Mickey to stop showing off.  Why?"

"Oh nothing except all the girls were trying to chat him up and get a date with him but he turned them all down, said he was going back to Uni.  I mean come on, that was a poor excuse if ever I heard one, he's too old to be a student."

"Donna said he was doing his doctorate or something."

"Oh well, that explains it then.  There was another reason he turned them all down," Sandra sniggered.

"Oh please tell me he's not on the other bus or something?  Is he married, engaged?"

"Why would you care?  You said he was a prat."

"Yeah, well he is and I've just dumped Mickey for the umpteenth time so I'm not in the mood for Donna's matchmaking.  They always end up being a disaster, I've not forgiven her for trying to get me to out with that bloke from the electrical department, he was a moron."

"Rose, the reason why he turned them all down was because he was staring at you all night."

Rose almost let all the scarves slide onto the floor again, until Sandra slammed her hand onto the counter to stop them.

"Still think he's a prat?"

ooooooooo{silversurfer60}ooooooooo

John had just gone around the corner of the dressing room, carefully in case anyone was coming out and opened the door to the office.  He was racking his brains trying to think where he had seen her before, that young blonde he had been a complete and utter idiot in front of, then it hit him.  She was the blonde from the Christmas party he had not been able to take his eyes off all night and had been with that show-off trying to make an impression on the dance floor and she had looked like she had wanted the said floor to swallow her.

He'd been trying to get up the courage all night to ask her to dance, when the bloke she was with was getting drinks or talking to someone and ignoring her.  How could he have forgotten about her?  Every woman at the party had been trying to get him to dance or get his phone number, all except her.  She hadn't looked like she had been having much fun.

He opened the second door and saw a room full of people at various desks and saw Donna's office door open and the fiery redhead stood with a cordless phone in her hand and pressing some buttons, who stopped mid-dial when she saw him.

"Where have you been dumbo?  I've been ringing around the whole store looking for you."

"Erm, nice to see you too Sis."

He wasn't about to say he had been getting tangled up quite literally with the blonde of his dreams he had been pining after at the Christmas party.  Donna would have a field-day with that.
Chapter 2
A/N: Sorry, I should have mentioned this story is based very loosely on 'Secret Smile' but John is definitely not Brendan Block in this case!  It's just a case of 'boy meets girl at local skating rink' and I've changed the character to that of the duplicate Doctor to avoid confusion because he acts just like him.  It also references some of David Tennant's very own t-shirts and jackets he wears!

Donna didn't work on Saturdays so she was instructing her hapless brother in the art of behaving when she took him to the local ice skating rink the following day.

"Remember, there will lots of kids in the group.  I'm helping Rose look after the girls, getting their skates and looking after their jackets and things.  Rose said there will be four boys so you can look after them?  Are you going on the ice?"

"Well yeah, course I am, brilliant skater I am!"

Donna seriously doubted it.  She still hadn't told him she was setting it up as a date for him and her friend, neither of them would fall for it if she had come out with the fact it was an actual date as such so this had been the perfect excuse to get them together.

John still hadn't told his sister he had encountered the blonde woman from the Christmas party, her name now apparently was Rose.  What a beautiful name, she was indeed a flower.  When he had bumped into her the other day, he had been all flummoxed and not able to function properly and had been lost for words, well proper words of more than one syllable anyway.  He'd asked her name but she had refused the invitation to give it and she had thought he was there for an interview, something he'd not wanted to correct her on but if he'd got his thoughts straight, he would have put her right.

She may be now disappointed he didn't get the job – or not.  Maybe Donna had set her straight, trust his sister.

Donna was talking to him again.  "Oi, well if you're going on the ice, I'm not, you're a walking disaster on land let alone on the ice.  You and Rose organise the kids and I'll look after everything.  You do remember her, don't you?  From the Christmas party?  She was with her loser boyfriend though what she sees in him I don't know. He was the one showing off on the dance floor."

"What?  Oh yeah, I remember.  Will he be at the skating rink as well?"

Donna didn't want to get his hopes up that Rose may well be on her own as at the last count she had since dumped her useless boyfriend but Rose being Rose had probably already taken him back since she was such a sucker for his pleading for her to take him back and had done so on numerous occasions.

"Yeah, probably."  It would be a pleasant surprise to him if she was alone, Rose would bring Mickey just for moral support if she had indeed taken him back but that remained to be seen.

John wasn't going to admit he had already met her again and now completely blown any remote chance of seeing her other than with her boyfriend at the skating rink.  He had well and truly blown it on that score.

Rose had not mentioned to Donna her rather unusual encounter with her brother, she was too embarrassed and would have to admit that through his fault she had nearly ruined two dozen assorted silk scarves.  So on the Sunday morning, Rose went across the courtyard to the other block of flats to collect her two cousins, nine year old Becky and 12 year old Katie and told their mother they would be fine while she got the party ready for them.  The skating rink was only a ten minute walk and the various guests parents would bring them round afterwards, she just had to get the girls and any strays back to the party.

Donna was waiting in the foyer while John was pacing up and down watching kids with parents all checking they had everything they needed, presents were being taken to the party afterwards so no-one lost anything.  One girl was pouting because her friend had been sick and couldn't attend and another was throwing a tantrum for some reason or other he couldn't fathom out.  Thinking maybe he should make a rather hasty retreat and make some excuse or other to disappear, Donna was watching him.

"Why are you so nervous Doc?"

"I've told you, don't call me Doc.  Just because I've got my doctorate doesn't mean I have to be called that, does it?  Although my students will have to call me 'Doctor' all the time, may as well get used to it.  Yeah, you can call me Doctor."

Donna just rolled her eyes and turned to a woman who was asking if she was with the skating party.

"Oh, we're just waiting for the birthday girls, Rose is bringing them, she'll be here soon, must have got held up."  Donna looked at her watch, they were ten minutes early, did the woman have something better to do than see her kid into the party?

Rose came through the doors with her two cousins lagging behind her, giggling because they had asked where Mickey was and she had told them she had dumped him again and they were making bets with each other she would be back with him tomorrow or find a new one.  Spending money was going to lost somewhere along the line.

Rose spoke up.  "Hands up those are here for Becky and Katie's party?"

Thirteen hands shot up including her two cousins and Rose could have sworn there should have only been twelve and one had phoned to say they were sick so that should have been eleven.  Then she did a count and John was holding his and Donna's hands up, Donna battling with him to put at least hers down.

"Very funny I'm sure.  Donna, is he with you?"

Then she saw his face as he looked up from where he was inspecting his off-white mucky converse.  With a sheepish grin and dashing white teeth, he mumbled a 'Sorry' and put them down, sticking his hands in his tweed jacket pocket.  Under his blue and red tweed jacket with a red velvet collar and red pocket flaps, he wore a t-shirt of a black and white monkey wearing a hat and a scarf.  Very mature, Rose thought, especially in front of a bunch of kids.

Donna was pretending she wasn't with him.

"Right everyone to the desk to get their skates, give your shoes to the lady and tell her what size skates you want then walk into the rink and put them on in there, Donna here will be waiting to take your jackets and look after anything for the girls and the boys, well, you're with him."  Rose pointed to John, who was busy flicking his hair and making a face while the girls were all giggling.

"I'm skating too, Donna said I had to watch the boys with you."

It was Rose's turn to roll her eyes, remembering what a disaster he had been the other day, let alone on the ice.  One by the one, Rose counted the kids, whose parents had long since vanished and she paid the woman behind the desk for nine kids and two adults skate hire, glad her aunt had given her the money but she had to pay for her own and looked at Donna's brother.

"You'll have to pay for your skate hire, I've only got enough to pay for mine."

He was mid-way through checking the size on his skates when he got the hint.

"Oh yes, sorry.  Here, then let me pay for yours, since you're letting me join you."

He dug into his trouser pocket and brought out a battered leather wallet and fished a twenty pound note out.  How much did he think it cost?  Rose had paid for the kids and John handed the money to the cashier, pocketing the change.

"Right then – Allons-y, best go join the kids and Donna, she'll be knee-deep in jackets by now!"

He darted off in the direction of the rink-side and spotted his sister, who was helping a girl tie her laces.

As soon as John sat down two of the boys came over to him and asked for help with theirs, Rose took one of them and put him on a seat.  Her two cousins were still laughing since John's hair had got even wilder and he was watching Rose fasten the boy's laces and were giggling when he tied the laces wrong because he couldn't concentrate.

Eventually, they got the last of the kids sorted, Donna surrounded by jackets, toy cars and dolls that they hadn't handed back to their parents, everyone went in the same direction, taking to the ice like ducks to water, leaving Rose and John to follow behind them, keeping to the sides to watch them and make sure they didn't fall.  It wasn't going to be one of the kids that fell.

John had stopped to look for Rose, who had somehow skated off without him and watched one of them show off by skating backwards and didn't see Rose come round for the second time, which was unusual since for twenty minutes, he had followed her around staring at her bum.  When Rose turned to see Donna, she didn't see John's long lanky leg stuck out, which he had carelessly forgotten people might be just skating past so when Rose turned back, she tripped and nearly went head first until John caught her and up-righted her as she just landed on her knees.

"Hey, you alright?" he asked, pulling her up by her wrists.  "You weren't looking where you were going, didn't you see me?"

Rose was staring at him.  The cheek of him, he was just standing there with his leg stuck out.  "Huh?  You were the one who had his leg stuck out, I'm not psychic, you weren't there a minute ago when I was skating along."

"Yes I was, I was watching one of the kids, I've been here for ages."  Not quite true, he had only been there a few minutes, having lost sight of her.

She grabbed hold of the side of the barrier and brushed her knees down with one hand, holding on with the other.  John moved nearer and grabbed her, nearly pulling her down again.  Rose pushed his arm away.

Donna was watching with interest, trust him to mess it up but he seemed to be at least talking to her, even if it was to apologise.  Becky and Katie were over the other side, holding onto each others arms and covering their mouths, giggling.

"Betcha Rose will start going out with him," Katie said.

Her sister shook her head.  "No way, he's worse than Mickey!"

"I bet you 20p she'll go out with him."

Becky considered it.  There was no way Rose would be seen dead with him, he had spiky hair, a kid's t-shirt and a kid's attitude, he was ten times worse than Mickey. "You're on!"

Rose made her way to the gap to go sit down and check the knee she had landed on, John followed her and sat down next to her.

"Sorry, it probably was my fault.  I didn't make you hurt your knee did I?"

Rose rolled her trousers leg up and saw a red mark on her knee and started rubbing it.  It was just a bit grazed but it was throbbing a bit.  So much for skating but she had the kids to watch.

John saw her concern.  "I'll watch out for them if any of them needs any help."  He thought about maybe rubbing her knee but thought he would get a slap if he did.

"I'm John by the way, in case you didn't know.  We weren't properly introduced the other day.  I wasn't going for an interview, thank goodness.  I mean what store would take me on?  Donna says I'm a walking disaster."

Rose couldn't agree with him more.  She pulled her trousers leg back down and tried to get up but her knee gave way.

"You're not going to be able to skate on that now.  I'll go get Donna."

"No, I'll be ok, really.  She has all that stuff to look after, I'll be fine."

"Then let me go and take her place, she'll help you get your skates off and get your shoes for you.  She'll know what to do."  He left her and went to get Donna.

Donna came fussing over a minute later.  "What did that useless brother of mine do now  Rose?  Are you hurt?"

"Just my knee, it's a bit sore."

"I saw you go down and his attempt for him to stop you going flat on your face. Really Rose, didn't you see him there?"

"No, I was looking for you, he wasn't there the last time I went round then he just appeared from nowhere."

Donna laughed.  "Yeah?  Like he just beamed in from nowhere?  He was watching for you Rose, in case you hadn't noticed, he's been following you around staring at your bum for twenty minutes, then you go ahead of him and he stopped to find you.  Looks like you found him instead."

Donna was pleased with herself and Rose was wondering why Donna was the second person in a few days to tell her that her brother had been watching her.  Should she start to get worried?

Donna went off with Rose's skates to go get her shoes but since she was passing John and he'd caused this, she whacked his arm and told him to go get them and take them to her.  She was still determined to get these two together although his chances with Rose were getting slimmer by the minute.

She pushed the ice skates under his nose.  "Here, you caused this, you go get her shoes then you can take them to her and while you're at it, go get her a coffee or something, I'll watch the kids, they seem to be having fun and I'll call you if I need you."

John nodded, knowing he was responsible for Rose's injury.  Five minutes later, he was stood in front of Rose, well not stood, leaning back against the barrier, blocking her view, not that she could do anything.

He put her shoes at the side of her and held out the drink.  "Peace offering?" he asked hopefully.

Rose took the carton and he held out a stirrer and some sugar sachets, which she waved away.  "Thanks."

"Your shoes, you should put them on.  I'm just off to get my skates from Donna, in case the kids need any help."

"I think they're doing rather well, it will be hard to get them to leave, which will be in about half an hour.  Can you go round them all up in time?  Their parents should be waiting for them outside, they'll get their shoes for them then take them to the rest of the party.  I just have to get Katie and Becky back home though it will take me a bit longer now."

"It's ok, I can give you a lift, I picked Donna up."

"Oh, don't you live with her?"

"Ha!  Got my own place, well just moved in actually, not had a flat warming party yet.  You should come over.  I mean when I have my house warming party, not come over just to see my flat.  Not that you'd want to come and see my flat or anything I mean why should you?"

Rose smiled.  Donna was right, she should have seen him, how could she have missed him but he had been watching her and her friend at work said he'd been watching her at the Christmas party.  Even though he was Donna's brother, she knew nothing about him and he had just come back from university, goodness knows what he had been up to there.
Chapter 3
John went back out onto the ice to round everyone up, skating up to the kids who were going around either in pairs or hanging onto each other's arms in threes and fours and herded them all toward the nearest gap where Donna was sitting.  He took off his own skates and padded back to where Rose was trying to put weight on her leg, her knee now hurting even more.

"Here let me help you?" he offered, holding his arm out.

Rose took it and leaned on his shoulder, much to the amusement of Becky and Katie who were getting their jackets from Donna.  She called them over.

"Girls, we're getting a lift back from John and Donna so you two go with her to his car, I'll be there in a minute, I hurt my knee."

The two girls sniggered.  "Yeah Rose, we saw you go down and we saw him picking you up.  Did you fall for him?"  Becky was hiding her mouth behind her hands at Rose's reaction.

"I'll tell your mum about you young lady," Rose smiled back.

Katie joined in.  "Yeah but Rose, we saw him stick his leg out when you were about to go past."

John looked at the girl.  "What?  No I didn't," he said, trying to defend the fact he'd had his leg stuck out before Rose had fallen over it, not that it was any excuse for having it stuck out in the first place and someone was bound to trip over it sooner or later, it just happened to have been Rose.

"You did so," Becky said.  "Me and Katie saw you watching her and you were waiting for her."

Rose looked at him, her cousins got up to all sorts of things and wouldn't put it past them they were making it all up but there again, Donna had said that he had been watching her there and at the Christmas party so maybe they were right this time but she shouldn't encourage them.

"Never mind, I'll be ok.  Go on, you two go ahead and tell your friends you'll see them at your place."

John helped her back into the foyer and retrieved his shoes, the last of the kids were leaving and Donna and the girls had already gone out to the car park.  While they were waiting for Rose and John, the girls were arguing over their bet.

"Oi, you two, stop betting, you're too young," Donna laughed.

"But Auntie Donna, Rose said she'd dumped Mickey again, we were only betting Rose would go out with John."

"Were you now?  Well that's my department, you just watch."

The girls stared at her.  "You're on our side?" Katie said, looking at her sister.

"Well duh, course I am.  I've been trying to get my brother to go on a date since he came back from university."

"You were?  Can we help?" both girls asked together.

"Well actually, yeah, you can but best not just now, here they come."

Rose and John were coming through the doors and Rose had her arm slung around John's shoulder.  Becky and Katie nudged each other.

"This is going to be easy, we can make some money out of this," Katie told her younger sister.

"Yeah, from all of them," Becky laughed back.

Once in the car, Rose in the front as she couldn't bend her knee, John drove them back to The Powell Estate and parked just behind the two girls' block of flats.  Donna wasn't going to originally go to the rest of the party but since John had to help Rose upstairs, she didn't have a choice.  Some kids were also just getting out of cars and going in the same direction and Donna followed the girls up the stairs to the second floor while Rose and John took the lift.

"It's feeling much better now John, really, you can let go now," Rose insisted.

He let go but her knee gave way again.

"You should get that looked at you know."

"I'll get my mum to look at it when I get back home."

"Do you live far away then?"

Rose laughed.  "No, just across the way, it's not far.  Once I get to the party you can go if you want.  My mum will be there anyway, she'll help me home."

That was a thought, would she tell her mother that she hadn't been looking where she was going and fallen over him or blame it entirely on him?  She didn't have to worry since her cousins were way ahead of her.

They had gone inside with Donna and their remaining friends and told their auntie Jackie all about it and Jackie Tyler was waiting at the door as Rose hobbled along the walk-way to their flat.  Jackie was eyeing the young man whose daughter's arm was around him.

"And what exactly happened to you?  Honestly Rose, you were supposed to be looking after the kids."

Rose tried to explain what happened, taking some of the blame but the two girls had already told her Rose had got a new boyfriend, trying to cause as much mischief as they could.

"And who's this then?  Your cousins said he's your new boyfriend."  She looked at John, who was pulling Rose's arm from around his neck and passing her over to her mother, who took hold of her as Rose hobbled inside.

"Girls say he tripped you up, is that right?  And you," she tapped her finger on John's shoulder, "should keep your long legs out of the way, tripping my daughter up.  She could have been really hurt."

Rose couldn't let him take all the blame and her mother was continuing to prod him.

"Leave him alone mum, it was just as much my fault as his and I don't know what the girls told you, he's not my boyfriend, he's Donna's brother."

Jackie stood open-mouthed.  "Let's have a look at that knee then."

She led Rose into the bathroom and got the first aid kit out and cleaned her knee and put a bandage on it.  John was still in the doorway, looking for Donna, who had disappeared into the kitchen to help carry more drinks and sandwiches to the dozen or so youngsters gathered around the extended table in the living room.  He spotted his sister and went in.

"Donna, you ready to go?"

"Oh, I was going to stay a while and help.  You go if you want?"

"It's a long way back to Chiswick Donna," he laughed.  "I guess that means I've gotta stay then?"

He went to join the kids who were fighting over various sandwiches and pulling the contents out they didn't like and putting crisps into them by the handful.

Rose came back out of the bathroom, walking slightly better now her knee had been bandaged and John got up off the chair he'd sat on, holding up a paper plate filled with sandwiches that hadn't been sabotaged and two fairy cakes with edible ball-bearings, banana flavoured.  She sat on the sofa opposite him and he put his plate on the coffee table.  The kids would leave it alone, the jelly and icecream was just arriving, carried on a tray by Donna.

John grabbed two and handed one to Rose and grabbed two spoons from the table. Rose smiled at him.  He then went back and took two empty plastic cups and poured some juice into them and took them back to where Rose was sitting.  She had put down the jelly and she took one of the cups.  John retrieved his stash of sandwiches and offered her one, which she took gratefully.

"How's the knee?"

"Better, thanks though it was totally avoidable, on both our parts."

"Yeah, sorry.  I was a bit clumsy.  Let me make it up to you?"  He held out the plate that now only held two cakes.

Rose took one and thanked him.  "Were you watching me?"

He couldn't very well deny it.  "Weelll, sort of but I honestly never saw you coming towards me."

Rose looked at him.  "Donna said you were at the Christmas party, sorry, I don't remember you, my ex was showing off."

"That's ok, there were a lot of people there and I'm sorry for leading you on the other day, making you think I was there for a job interview.  Bad call."

Rose smiled.  John moved absent-mindedly nearer to Rose, passing the dish of now melted icecream and jelly.  Rose laughed and turned it away.

"Nah, I think I'll pass, thanks, though those banana cakes were nice."

John got up to see if there were any on the table but there were none left so he went into the kitchen and spied some on a plate.  Donna spotted him taking some and slapped his hand.

"Oi, they're for the kids," she protested, as she watched him bypass her hand and make another attempt.

Who he now knew was Rose's mother was with another woman and they were both staring at him.

"These are for Rose, she likes them."

Donna relented.  "Well ok then and don't you be long, I'm leaving soon."

John retreated back into the living room and put the plate on the coffee table but it was too late, Katie and Becky had spied them sitting together and were whispering with their friends at the table.  Suddenly there was giggling and it seemed the betting was on as spending money was now on John and Rose actually getting together and their friends were divided.

Donna appeared at the kitchen door.  "Oi, John, I'm ready now."

She came over to where Rose was sitting now resting her leg on the coffee table.

"Are you coming to work tomorrow Rose?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine, I'll just rest up when I get home.  See you tomorrow.  Bye John, it was nice to meet you properly despite the accident."

John flicked his spiky hair back and grinned.  He held his hand out to Rose and shook hers.  "Yes, it was nice to meet you too, brilliant, molto bene, belisimo. Remember what I said about that flat warming party?  I'll let Donna know when I'm having one."  He let go eventually.

Rose watched him leave.  Donna whacked his arm as he stood in the doorway, saying goodbye to Jackie and the girls mother.  John was staring back into the living room but Rose was out of sight.  They got outside but Donna stopped, causing John to collide with her as he had been looking back to see if Rose was following.

"Dumbo, go ask her out properly.  You at least owe her that much."

"What?  Oh you mean ask Rose out?"

"Spaceman!  Course I mean Rose, I didn't mean Jackie did I?"

"Who's Jackie?"

She whacked his arm again.

"Oi, what was that for?"

"For being a dunce.  Go back and ask her out, properly."

He shook his head.  "Why would she want to go out with me?"  He nudged past Donna and made his way to the lift.

Donna caught up.  "What do you mean?  Listen, how do you know unless you ask her?"

"Because all women turn me down or go out with me once, ever since I split with…" he stopped.  "I don't want to talk about it, I can't keep going on one date then getting dumped just because they think I talk too much."

"Rose isn't like that.  Go back and ask her or I'm not leaving."

"Fine, we'll just stay here then."  He leaned against the door to the stairs next to the lift.

"You're as stubborn as gramps, you take after him.  He'd tell you to ask her out, he knows her and you've not been to see him since you got back."

"I've been busy getting my flat and my new job sorted.  Ok, I'll have a flat warming party and you can bring her with you, bring some of your friends from work, I don't know anybody.  Will you help me organise it?"

Donna grinned.  She was halfway there.  "Yeah, course I will you dumbo, you're clueless you are."

Once in the car, Donna was already planning the party.  She knew some of the other women were dying to get to know him but he wasn't interested in them otherwise he wouldn't have spent the entire Christmas party politely turning them down, trying to get a chance to speak to Rose, who hadn't even seen him.  He also wouldn't have made a fool of himself in front of the skaters either and Sandra had told her that Rose had bumped into him the other afternoon and he had sent all the silk scarves in every direction.

She didn't know why Rose had not said anything, they usually told each other everything but maybe Rose was embarrassed by it to admit anything.  She was going to fix that and next Saturday night, she was going to organise his party and get Rose to help her and leave them alone for a while and if nothing happened, she was definitely going to get worried.  She couldn't bear to see them dancing around each other for much longer.

So the invitations went out to a select few who had boyfriends and a few from the office and Donna set about her plan to get Rose there before the rest of them on some pretence.  Rose was to go after work, Donna had been there all afternoon and got a taxi home to go get changed, telling Rose to get there for seven and to bring some paper plates as she had conveniently forgotten them and the party was starting at eight and John still had to put the food out onto the table.  It was nothing fancy, just party food and a few various cakes, John insisting they got banana fairy cakes 'cos Rose liked them.  Donna had whacked his arm and smiled at him.

"Now you're getting it.  Find out what she likes to eat and invite her out.  I know she likes Chinese, take her to the one down the road and you know she likes skating, well if some idiot doesn't keep tripping her up that is," Donna said, before she left.

"Yes, well, don't go harping on about that Donna, I'd rather forget about it."

"Well if you hadn't you may not have bothered with this party.  Anyway everyone will be here at eight but Rose might be a bit late, she has further to come and she has to go home to get changed first."

That was a downright lie, Donna had told her how to get directly from the store to John's flat via the underground and a bus and she should be there about an hour before everyone else arrived, giving them some time alone.  Rose had questioned why everyone else was arriving at eight but she had got away with it, pointing out she had the furthest to go and while she was at it, to pick up the paper plates she had ordered from the stationery department before she left.

Rose found John's apartment, he had found one near where Donna lived and Donna was contemplating getting her own place but didn't really want to leave her mother and her grandad now her dad was gone.  Her mother was just getting over it especially after Donna's fiancĂ© disappeared on the day of their wedding but she never dwelt on it.  Now she was bent on playing matchmaker for her brother now he had finished his studies.

Rose had told her mother she may stay at Donna's since it was a fair way back to her own flat she shared with her and only a short taxi ride away to Donna's so she had got changed at work and made her way there.  She was surprised when John answered the door buzzer and let her in.

"Hi Rose, bit early aren't you?" he greeted her, taking the carrier bag from her.

She had another shoulder bag with her trousers and her t-shirt in and threw it on the nearest chair.

He came out of the kitchen.  "I'll make some tea, before everyone arrives.  Donna went to get changed, she said you might be a bit late actually."

"Came straight from work, saved time."  She could only imagine what his sister had told him and suspected she had done it on purpose.

John brought in the drinks and sat beside her.  "So, your knee, it's better now?"

"Yeah, it was ok after a few days, no permanent damage thank goodness.  Donna said you had a new job."

"Yeah, history professor at a local college, start in September.  Though if it doesn't work out, I could always ask Donna to get me a job in the store, maybe in the men's department?"

Rose laughed.  He would be certainly better to look at than creepy Roger.  John moved nearer as he put his cup down, then he got up.

"Best get ready for the party, I don't think a suit is appropriate for the occasion. Won't be long.  Just put my jeans and t-shirt on.  Why don't you sort the music?  You know what kind to play at parties.  How about some Beatles?  Everyone likes them don't they?"

Rose laughed.  "They're my favourite band."

"Mine too, what's your favourite track?"

Rose cringed.  "Go on, you can tell me," he laughed, nudging her elbow and looking at the dress she was wearing and admiring her legs.

No, he didn't want to even go there, Sophia had left him devastated when she had left to go to the states and dumped him by text when she met an actor.  He knew Donna was trying to get him to date Rose but they would gang up on him, he didn't want to be caught in the middle.

He got up.  "Let me see if I can guess?  I'll be right back."

Rose smiled.  He came back a minute later and held an olive coloured t-shirt in front of him and turned it round.  It had The Beatles and their Yellow Submarine. Rose laughed.

"How did you guess?"

He lowered his head to look at it.

"It's mine too," he admitted.  He offered the t-shirt to Rose.  "Here, you can have it if you want it?"

Rose took it from him.  "Oh, I can't, it's yours."

"No, I want you to have it, really.  I'll keep it for you until you leave, if you like. Why don't I put your shoulder bag in my room for now, everyone will be here soon and my bedroom is out of bounds."

Rose got up and offered him the bag.  She followed him out of the living room and he hung the bag in the wardrobe, out of the way.  She was just about to turn around when he flung his jacket onto the bed and began unbuttoning his shirt, Rose wanted to turn but couldn't as he took no notice she was still in his bedroom and took his shirt off, then crossed back to the wardrobe and selected a black t-shirt with a star on it and grinned at her like nothing was wrong.

Rose gulped at seeing his bare chest with the smattering of hair across it as he put the t-shirt over his head and pulled it down, spoiling the view.

"I'd better get back in the living room, in case someone arrives," she managed to splutter, not sure she would ever get that image out of her mind and definitely not wanting to ever forget it.

"Right, yes, good idea Rose.  Donna will be here soon."

Rose turned to leave but not until he went to unfasten his trousers and she was sorely tempted to stay and enjoy the rest of the show.  She should sell tickets to it, saving the best spot for herself.  She told herself to get a grip and get her mind out of the gutter.

Soon, everyone started to arrive and Donna was taking charge in the kitchen, bringing more food out and John had grabbed hold of Rose to dance to another lively Beatles tune and she was actually enjoying herself.  Donna was keeping an eye out for couples straying near her brother's bedroom door, where he had put a big 'No Entry' sign on and was shouting an 'Oi to those who lingered.  Donna happened to think it was rude of anyone who was invited to a party to have the nerve to go into someone else's bedroom.

John and Rose were laughing at a joke he made as Donna approached them, pleased her efforts had finally paid off after last weeks fiasco of him tripping up her friend but as the evening wound up and people began to leave, Donna asked how she was getting home and did she want to stay at her place?

John answered for her.  "Oh, it's ok Donna, I'll make certain Rose gets home."

Donna smiled and wondered if it was actually going to be tonight.

Once Donna had left, John had a question for Rose.  "So, earlier, when I was getting changed, you made no attempt to leave when I took my shirt off."

He moved up close to her and pushed her hair behind her ear, then leaned down and kissed her cheek.

"Well, I was rather enjoying the show actually."

She reached up and put her arms around his shoulders.

"Oh, is that right?  Are you going to run away if I invite you to watch the rest?"

Rose giggled.  She knew her cousins would get a kick out of it if John was to become her new boyfriend and it would really annoy Mickey if he realised there was actually life after him and she was never going back.  It would mean she had to introduce him properly to her mother as she had complained all week about the idiot who had tripped her up and then had the nerve to turn up at the party.

"No, so are you going to invite me then?"

He smiled and before she knew it, he had lifted the t-shirt over his head and put his arms around her, then leaned down and whispered, "Oh yes Rose, you're invited."

He leaned further, tracing her cheek then her jaw and began kissing along it, sending shivers down her spine and finally angled his face to hers.

"Well then, it would be rude of me to refuse."

"Oh yes Rose, it most certainly would."

He found the right angle and kissed her chastely until she responded then their lips locked and tongues battled, which resulted in John lifting her up and carrying her into the bedroom.  After relieving her of her dress, Rose climbed into his bed and watched him unfasten his jeans then he climbed in the bed beside her, throwing a white t-shirt at her as she pulled the straps down on her bra and pulled the t-shirt on and she threw the bra over the headboard.

"Let's just take this slowly Rose, I'm not in any hurry are you?"

"No, I just split up with someone so fine, let's just get to know each other shall we, some more of that kissing would be nice."

"It most certainly would and I split from someone too, I'm not quite over it completely yet."

"It's ok John, it takes a while, that's why I kept going back.  I could never find anyone else."

"Me neither, let's help each other shall we?

Rose gave him her answer.  Her cousins would be laughing as they collected their money.
Chapter 4

After snogging the life out of each other and falling asleep, Rose was the first to wake up and smiled at the sight of John, who was snoring softly and his hair totally wild.  She traced her hand down his cheek and watched him twitch and then did it some more.  They had stopped short of having sex, John said he wasn't ready just yet and Rose backed down, knowing she was just out of her relationship and she had only ever been with Mickey despite almost getting tangled up with that even bigger loser Jimmy and had the sense to refuse a second date with him.  She'd heard afterwards he'd picked up one of her friends and had been abusive to her and got her into debt.

John was stirring, swatting her hand away and opening his eyes, just checking himself in time so as not to whisper 'Sophia' and realising it was Rose and she was far more beautiful than his ex and he would have to sear her name onto his thick scull and not make the mistake of mentioning his ex.  He took her hand and kissed the back of it.

"Hi, did I wake you?" Rose asked, giggling into his shoulder.

"Nah, been awake for ages me."

Rose laughed.  "Fibber, you were snoring."

He raised his arm to put around her shoulder.  "Then you should have woken me to shut me up, shouldn't you?"

Rose playfully hit his shoulder.  "Mmm, what are we going to do today?  Oh, I forgot, I'm supposed to babysit my cousins again tonight, sorry, I completely forgot.  Their mum and mine are going to some party.  You could come with me, if you want?"

"Ah, yes, I don't think that's a good idea, Donna said they were taking bets you would go out with me."

"Those little terrors!  I knew they were up to something and I suppose your sister was leading them on."  She pulled the covers back over her and snuggled back up to him, quite aware he still wasn't wearing a t-shirt and was only in his shorts.

"In Donna's defence, she did tell them off for it, seems they were giggling when you tripped up over me last week.  Anyway, not really a good idea to go babysitting with you, one of them may lose their pocket money."

They kissed for a while, John was fooling around and started tickling her then he got up to make some egg on toast and offered her a ride back home, via a walk in the park.  They walked hand in hand along the river, John hiring them a boat for an hour and Rose admiring his rowing skills, he then drove her back home and she asked if he wanted to go up to the flat.

"I don't think your mother likes me, not after last Sunday."

"Oh come on, she's not that bad, she was just upset that I was hurt.  Come and say hello."

Against his better judgement, he agreed to go meet Jackie and Rose let them in.

"It's just me Mum, Donna's brother gave me a ride home."

Jackie's voice shouted from the kitchen.  "Oh he did, did he?  Isn't he the one who tripped you up last week and your cousins said he was your boyfriend, you've been denying all week.  What do you see in…."  She stopped and opened her mouth to continue but stopped dead instead.  "Oh, you brought him back with you then? What was his name again?"

John held out his hand.  It's John, John Noble, I'm Donna's brother.  Nice to meet your properly Mrs Tyler."

Jackie just scowled at him. "And where did you get to last night Madam?  Did you stay with Donna?"

She couldn't say otherwise without risking John getting his face slapped.  Instead, Rose headed for the living room and told John to wait for her.  She went back in the kitchen and closed the door.

"Yes Mum, I stayed with Donna, don't get all hot and bothered.  I'm gonna get changed then head over to look after Katie and Becky, John's going home I think."

"I hope so, those two girls were bad enough last Sunday that their own mother couldn't get them to stop giggling.  What was so funny?"

Rose shrugged her shoulders and switched the kettle on.  The least she could do was make coffee for John since he had brought her home.  She knew very well why the girls had been giggling but she wasn't going to tell her mother.  Donna hadn't mentioned that the girls bet about her going out with John but told her the girls had been laughing at John watching her skate off and looking for her.  Last night though, she should have known her friend would trick her into getting to the party early and it had paid off.

She changed into her jeans and the t-shirt John had given her, which was baggy on her and went to rescue John, taking him some coffee.  Jackie had obviously been grilling him since he was sat quietly and pretending to watch the news.  She then dragged him up and told him he could walk her across to the other flat and Rose told her mother she would see her later.  Once outside, she apologised.

"Hope my mum didn't interrogate you too much?" she asked as she kissed his cheek.

"Nah, had worse though I never admitted that you stayed with me last night, she would have slapped me all the way back to Chiswick."

Rose laughed and took his hand.  Once outside at her cousins' flat, she asked him if he wanted to stay.

"Best not huh?  Don't want those girls losing too much spending money in a week. Last night was brilliant, wasn't it?"

He toed the ground with his converse, which explained why they looked dirty.  Rose thought he must do that a lot.

"I can see you again, can't I?  I mean, I hope that wasn't just a one off.  The party I mean and plus the brilliant snogging last night, you're a great snogger Rose."

Rose blushed.  "Thanks, I suppose that's a compliment.  How about Wednesday night?  It's my day off, we could go get something to eat, if you like?"

John looked disappointed, he had hoped to see her before Wednesday but he supposed she was right and they had just got to know each other, he didn't want to overwhelm her.  So he put on his best smile.

"Great!  Why don't I pick you up after work?  There's a great Chinese near where I live or we could go to the pictures and then grab a burger, if you want?"

"Yeah, seeing a film sounds good.  I could meet you and we could go to the complex at the mall near me, that way you don't have to park in the centre of London."

That arranged, Rose went towards the stairs of the other block of flats, pulling him around the corner.  "Night then John, see you on Wednesday, you have my number, don't you?"

"Erm, no but I'll get it from Donna, I'll wait outside the store for you, I'll use the car park, you get an hour's free parking."

Rose kissed him fervently and her heart skipped.  He certainly was a good snogger.

Rose went up to the flat and was greeted by Katie.

"Hi Rose, come in.  Did you go out with John then?"

"I'm not telling you!" Rose joked.

"Aw, come on Rose, spill the beans."

Just then, the girls' mother appeared.  "Rose, I want a word with you, in the kitchen."

Rose knew she was in bother.

"Don't let the girls play up, Becky should be in bed no later than eight thirty and Katie before ten, make sure they turn their lights out and one more thing, what were you playing at last Sunday?"

Rose had a puzzled look on her face.

"The girls wouldn't stop laughing all week and they suddenly had more pocket money that I gave them, they said they got it from their friends at the skating party but I don't believe them.  Do you know anything about it?"

Rose shook her head then changed her mind when she saw the look on the woman's face.  "Sorry, it may have something to do with John, Donna's brother."

"Well you shouldn't encourage them especially to bet their friends you'd go out with him.  Are you going out with him?"

"Well, just since last night, after his party he asked me out and we're going out on Wednesday night but don't tell the girls."

The girls' mother left and Rose laid down the law as usual and Katie got Rose to confess she really did like John and Katie said she knew it.  She had just got both girls to go to their rooms so she could watch TV when she got a message from John.  He had not wasted any time getting her number from Donna, she would have to have words with her friend for giving it to him so fast but they had spent the night together though it was mostly innocent.

The text asked if he could come up to the flat, he was still downstairs.  Rose rolled her eyes.  He must have waited to see her mother leave and then rung his sister. There were no rules that said she couldn't have some company while she watched the girls, it wasn't like she was a teenager sneaking her boyfriend in so she sent a text back for him to come up.  Five minutes later, there was a knock on the door and John stood there with a big grin on his face.

"Is the coast clear?  Can I come in?"

Rose grabbed his arm and led him into the living room before the girls rumbled she had some company.  Too late as Becky came out of her room on some pretence.

"Oh hi John, what are you doing here?  Where's auntie Donna?"

"Erm, she's at home why?"

"Oh nothing, I'll catch up with her later," the girl smiled, wanting to congratulate her for getting Rose and John together, it was going to be so much fun, John was a dream to wind up, even more so than Mickey as the girls used to run him ragged.

Katie also crept out of her room to say hello and disappeared again, probably sniggering at the fact they had been right all along and Donna had played her part. She made a note to thank her, this was going to be ace.

John settled on the sofa next to Rose, feet on the coffee table to which he got his leg slapped.

"Down, you're not at home now."

He sulked.  "Sorry Rosie."

She decided to let the name slide as long as he didn't make a habit of it.  There was only one person called her that and he was thousands of miles away, Jack Harkness had worked at the department store as a temp and had bowled male and female members of staff off their feet, including Rose but he had gone back home when his work permit ran out but he had been fun.  He used to take everyone out on a Friday night and get them sloshed, much to Mickey's dismay, he had got jealous.

John decided to move closer, putting his arm around the back of the sofa, pretending to be interested in what Rose was watching on TV and let his hand wander to her shoulder.  She grabbed it and pulled it around her.

"Why are you being so shy John?  You weren't shy last night."  She turned and kissed his cheek.

That started a cushion fight as they both tried to keep the noise down but Katie happened to come out of her room and caught them.

"I knew it Rose, I knew it!"

"Hey, I didn't start the fight, he did."

John grinned and put his cushion down.

"You're supposed to be in bed in ten minutes Katie so you'd best carry on with what you came out for."

The girl just giggled and went to what she had come out of her room for.

"See what you did?" Rose joked, nudging him.

John smiled, he'd had the desired effect, she wasn't mad at him, she was trying to tell him she was glad he'd changed his mind.  Just after ten though, there was a knock on the door and Rose knew the girls mother had taken her key.  She got up, followed by John and she looked through the door viewer, it was Mickey.  How had he found out where she was?  Then she realised that her mother must have told him and she had mentioned she would be alone with the girls.  She thought about just ignoring the knock but he would only knock again and disturb the girls.

She opened the door, John stayed behind her.  "Mickey, it's late, what do you want?"

Mickey looked at Rose, then at John, who now had his hand on her shoulder, protectively.  "Who's this then?"

"This is John, Donna's brother, he's babysitting with me."

"Your mother said you were alone, I just saw her down the pub."

"She shouldn't have told you where I was.  What are you doing here?"

"I came to see you, to ask you…"  He stopped, knowing there was no chance now as Rose put her arm around John's waist.

"You'd best leave Mickey, you'll disturb the girls."

"Right, ok then, I'll leave.  I can see I'm not wanted."  He turned away and Rose watched him walk down the walkway.

She turned back to John, putting both her arms around his waist just as Mickey turned back in time to see them.  He knew he had lost her this time, he had messed her around for the last time.

Rose took John back into the living room.  "Sorry about that, that was my ex, in case you hadn't already gathered that.  My mum shouldn't have told him where I was, she's under the illusion I'd still take him back again.  I wouldn't mind, she saw me with you today, I thought she would sort of get the hint."

"It's ok Rose, it was bound to happen sooner or later.  No risk of you meeting mine, she's in America.  Let's just forget it shall we?  No harm done."

He pulled her over and kissed her.  When the girls mother got back, John walked Rose back home and saw her to her door.

"I'd best not invite you in, me and my mother are going to be having words."

John laughed.  "I'd love to see that.  Goodnight then Rosie, can I see you tomorrow night?  Maybe we can go out and get something to eat, I can pick you up from the store, it's nearer than coming all the way out here and you having to get the bus home."

It was the least she could do since he had just met her ex.  "Ok then, I'll meet you outside at five thirty then, you can take me to that Chinese you were telling me about."

"Brilliant!  See you tomorrow then."

They kissed goodnight again and John walked off, Rose watching him.  Neither of them knew Mickey was watching from below.  John came out of the doorway feeling pleased with himself but wishing they had spent the night alone.  He was walking back to his car when a figure stepped out of the shadows.  He recognised Rose's ex boyfriend.

"You stole my girl," Mickey stated, folding his arms and standing in front of John.

John wasn't going to take the bait.  He had done self-defence at uni and could defend himself, it was sort of a hobby now, he still practised.

"I think you've got your wires slightly crossed because she told me last week she wasn't seeing you any more, now if you'll excuse me, I'll be on my way."

Mickey didn't like it when someone stood up to him.  "Well, we'll see about that, she always comes back to me, just you wait until she dumps you mate."

John knew that wouldn't affect how he felt about Rose and doubted she would leave him to go back to this man, he was pathetic, grovelling to get her back and threatening him.  He just went on his way and forgot about it.  Tomorrow night, he was going on a proper date with the more than brilliant Rose Tyler.

Rose went back inside and confronted her mother.  "Mum, how could you?  Why did you tell Mickey where I was?"

Jackie looked down at her feet.  "I thought you'd make up again Rose, you've known him a long time and you always go back to him, why is this time any different?"

"Because I'm going out with John.  He has a proper job, he's a history professor, not a mechanic and he's got a lovely apartment near Donna's, I was at a party there last night and I'm through with going out with losers like Mickey who spend all their money at the pub and on betting on the football.  John's different, he treats me properly and I'm going out with him tomorrow night after work so don't wait up."

"He's too old for you Rose."

Rose had heard enough.  She stormed into her room and slammed the door.  Her mother was not going to run her life for her, that was over with and there was no way she was stopping seeing John and going back with Mickey.  She sent John a text, knowing he would answer when he got home but he answered right back.  He told her he had just had a run-in with Mickey.  Rose made her mind up and told him to come to the flats and wait downstairs for her and she stuffed what she could into a holdall and threw her key on the table.

"I'm leaving Mum, I'm going to stay with John because I'm tired of going out to the pub every night and having to watch football and I'm tired of being told I'll go back to him because every time I split up with him, you talk me into going back.  Well not this time."

She got a message asking if she wanted him to come up.  She replied saying she was on her way down.

"I'll come back for the rest of my things."

"Rose, don't leave like this.  I'm sorry.  Look, I'll pass my driving test and do mobile hairdressing, I'll tell Jimbo no the next time he comes round but don't leave."

"Everyone leave home in the end mum, I'm only moving to Chiswick."

She knew she should have asked him but if he didn't want her to stay with him just yet, she could stay with Donna for a few days.  She closed the door behind her and walked down the stairs, John was eagerly waiting for her.  He took the bag silently and she put her arm in his.

"You leaving home Rosie?" he asked.

"Well no, why do you think I've got the bag you 'nana?" she laughed.  "I can stay with Donna, if you're not ready to have a flatmate."

John looked at her, reaching the car.  "I had a run-in with your ex on my way from your block.  He told me you'd go running back to him."

"Oh yeah?  That's what he thinks.  By the way, why does your sister call you spaceman?"

"Oh Rose, you have no idea!" he replied as he put the car into gear and they drove off together as John laughed and said, "Allons-y! Rose Tyler.''

The End!


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