"It's been two years. And I know every excuse you have by heart. But I love you, and it's time." Jackie Tyler was decidedly not taking 'no' for an answer. Her daughter had been avoiding the idea of a relationship for far too long. Sure, the likelihood of her finding a love like the one she'd lost was impossibly low. However, that didn't mean she couldn't at least have a good time with someone.
Rose started to roll her eyes, but closed them tightly before her mother could call her on it. She was doing just fine living a day to day life. The last thing she needed was the distraction of dating. Being second in command at Torchwood, her life was a busy one.
Her mother was not backing down and Rose knew that it was a miracle it hadn't already come to this before now. Resisting the urge to roll her eyes at the crossed arms and stern look from her mother, Rose sighed in resignation.
"Great. I'll make the arrangements." Jackie was off, already dialing a number on her mobile.
Less than a week later Rose dressed in as casual a dress as her mother would allow, a simple grey number that clung to her hips and cut off just a above her calves. Her hair curled in loose waves, falling over her shoulders, and bouncing as she walked.
The car dropped her off at the entrance of the restaurant and Rose took a deep breath after exiting the vehicle. She just had to get through this one evening, and then she could go home and relax in a nice warm bath.
Inside, she gave her name to the hostess and was led to a table in a secluded corner. Her date was already there, seated and sipping his drink. Rose glanced at her wrist to verify she wasn't late. In fact, she was a few minutes early. He stood up and offered a hand, his grip firm but gentle.
Her mind blanked completely as her eyes took in the Doctor's face. Not the Doctor. Will. His name was Will- something with a B.
She wanted to turn around and walk away, go straight to her mother's house, and yell at her. Had her mum met this man? Had she any idea what he looked like? A simple warning would have been much appreciated, Rose thought just before he mind began reeling.
Then again, she reasoned, her mother would never have agreed to this had she known. The whole point was for Rose to move on. And well, dating a man who looked so impossibly like her Doctor would not be conducive to that.
"You must be Rose, you look lovely. I'm Will." He motioned for her to sit and they both took their seats. A waiter came by and Rose ordered herself a Malbec.
"I have to tell you, I've never really done anything like this." She was working to keep the polite smile on her face and her voice level. How incredibly rude would it be to just excuse herself and leave now? Very rude, she decided.
"Neither have I. A friend has been a bit worried about me, thought a night out with someone new might be good." He was smiling easily at her, and Rose felt bad. It wasn't his fault. And it wasn't like she could explain. By the way, you look just like the man I love but am forever separated from as a result of timey wimey reasons you could not possibly understand.
They didn't speak again until they ordered their dinners. Rose tried, but was unable to think of an interesting conversation starter as she was so distracted by the smattering of freckles just below Will's left eye. They were sprinkled in a familiar pattern she had seen on the Doctor's face; one she had seen a million times. Thankfully, once the waiter had left Will spoke.
"So, all I know about you is that you work for Vitex. I do not know what you like to do on your day off." He smiled.
"I'm not very exciting," Rose replied, trying to clear her mind of thoughts about tracing his freckles with her fingertips. "In all honesty, I usually end up lounging around at home and reading or watching telly. I prefer to relax in my down time."
"There's nothing wrong with that. I think it sounds wonderful." He leaned forward a bit.
"I really don't know anything about you. What is it that you do?" She took a sip of her wine, wishing she'd ordered something stronger. A martini maybe.
"I am a barrister. I have a son. I don't get many days off, but when I do I like to get away from the city. We have a cottage on the coast." Will seemed at ease as he spoke, but something in his eyes made Rose think he wasn't quite as comfortable as he was trying to be.
Conversation continued amicably until their plates arrived. There were some comments made over the food as they ate, but they were mostly quiet. The similarities between Will and her Doctor stopped at their appearance. Will was subdued and calm, kind and gentle. Not that the Doctor couldn't be those things, they just weren't traits that he had ever displayed often.
They talked a bit while waiting for dessert. Will was good at keeping the conversation flowing, despite Rose having a hard time thinking of what to say. She was just proud of herself for not having to flee the restaurant in lieu of an emotional meltdown.
"I know it's a bit mad, but there's a band playing just down the street, and I was wondering if you might want to go?"
Dancing involved touching. That sudden thought caused every nerve ending in Rose's body to begin tingling. Unsure of how even the least bit of physical contact with a man whose hands were a carbon copy of her Doctor's own manly hairy hands would cause her to react, Rose decided to excuse herself for the evening. She would politely tell Will he was very sweet, but she really wasn't looking for a relationship. She was only here to appease her mother. Instead, she was frustrated to find herself nodding in agreement before vocalizing her desire to join him.
Will paid their bill for dinner and led her down the street to a small club. The band was already playing as he led Rose to the bar for drinks. She got her martini this time and forced herself to sip it slowly, even though her nervous system begged her to suck it down in two big gulps and ask for another.
A group had formed a makeshift dance floor and Rose watched them move around. Will was tapping his foot to the beat of the song and she questioned why she was here. Her insides were threatening to lurch, she felt a lump of emotion in the back of her throat, and her mind was screaming for her to get the bloody hell out of this place. Yet, her feet stayed planted and she was somehow managing to smile pleasantly at Will each time his eyes met hers. He probably thought their date was a success thus far and was currently trying to think of a good excuse to see her again. Rose wasn't so sure she had the strength to endure another evening of such inner turmoil, but how could she decline another invitation from him? Despite her better judgment, she was drawn to his gentle demeanor.
Rose acknowledged to herself that it was possibly the simple joy of seeing his all too familiar face - she had finally resigned to never being afforded that luxury ever again. Will's was a bit older, with a few extra crinkles around the eyes when he smiled his not quite so manic but still as heart stoppingly gorgeous smile. There were no sideburns framing this face, but his left ear was also a bit wonky like her Doctor's was.
He noticed her staring and smiled, reaching out to take her hand. "Let's dance," he said as he was already leading her onto the floor.
His hands felt the same, only better. How was that possible, she wondered. There was something more in Will's touch, something the Doctor always tried to suppress. As his hands settled on her hips, so settled the queasy feeling in Rose's gut. The vomit inducing flips and dips her stomach had been torturing her with all evening began to melt into not so unwelcome nervous butterflies. Rose finally started to relax for the first time since entering the restaurant and let her own hands rest on Will's shoulders. The song was slow and they swayed together with the small crowd.
Will leaned in, his lips close to her ear. "They're a local band, I'm friends with the drummer." He smiled brightly at her and she felt her own smile broaden. An automatic response. She turned her head to the side, breaking eye contact and focusing on the other dancers around them.
Her partner was talented, leading her easily across the floor. Despite herself, she started wondering about his story. What had happened to put him in the circumstance to accept a blind date?
Someone bumped into her back, pressing her against his chest and his arms immediately steadied her there. She made no move to re-establish the previous distance between them, and he seemed content to hold her close.
As the music switched gears to something more upbeat his hands slid to her waist, guiding her hips to move in sync with his own. Rose let her eyes close, allowing herself to just enjoy the movement and the feel of the standup bass beat thrumming through her chest.
When they left the dance floor, Will's hand comfortably at her lower back, Rose was surprised to see how much time had passed. Somehow she'd managed to actually enjoy herself, despite the harsh reminders of things she could never have.
Will waved down a cab outside and Rose chewed her lip, the reality of the situation sinking in. She couldn't actually date a man who looked so much like the Doctor, could she? Taking a deep breath, she readied herself to say no to another outing with this man who'd been so kind and such wonderful company.
As Rose began to speak, she found Will's lips against hers with a gentle pressure. The words her mind had been composing were suddenly gone.
"Rose, you are...a wonderful woman. And when the time comes that I feel ready to move forward and pursue a new relationship, to put my past truly behind me, I'd be lucky to do so with someone like you. I am sorry, but I'm just not there yet."
She was speechless, wasn't she the one who was going to let him down easy? Her sigh must have clued him in to her exact thoughts as he smiled softly.
Rose quirked her lips, "Seems we've more in common than we knew."
The cab pulled up to the curb and Rose leaned up to kiss Will's cheek before getting inside. Once she was alone in her flat, she began reliving each moment spent with Will in her mind. He was so lovely - not only his physical appearance, but his attentiveness and ability to make pleasant conversation. She then realized just how disappointed she was to not be seeing him again.
Rose slept soundly for the first time since she had arrived in Pete's World. She woke the next morning with a knowing smile on her lips. She could finally move on with her life here in this universe. And so she did, never expecting to receive a text message just a few short weeks later. An invitation to coffee from the charming Mr. Will Burton. Just as friends, he had added.
Well, Rose smiled to herself, it was a start.