Four days was all it took. Four days, and John Noble had arrived at an irrefutable conclusion-he had fallen for Rose Tyler, and fallen hard. An over the moon, no holds barred, free fall. It was both terrifying and utterly exhilarating; and he loved every second of it. Since that Sunday morning, John had continued to venture to the coffee shop, spending as much time there as possible, all in an endeavor to be close to Rose. To see her eyes light up, hear her laugh or even just to hear the sound of her voice was like being on a high. Everything about her was intoxicating; it was as if she was in his veins.
Despite all of that, there was one thing standing in his way-Rose herself. Granted, she appeared genuinely happy to see him when he came into the shop. And John would bet good money that her eyes lit up when they fixed with his. There were times that he would catch her discretely watching him from the corner of her eye, and what he saw in her eyes made his heart soar. Her eyes were filled with such warmth and tenderness, it was hard to breathe at times. It was undeniable that there was something between them—it was nearly palpable. And that wasn't just his ego talking.
However, there was something else between them—an unknown barrier that Rose had put in place. It was as if they were on opposite sides of a glass partition—visible to each other, yet unable to make contact. The look in her eyes Sunday night had confused him. The longing was evident, smoldering in intensity. Yet, there was no mistaking a strong, forbidding force behind them. They practically cried out, "No. I can't." John wasn't sure if that second look was meant for him or if it was an internal resolve on her part. Whatever the answer, it was still painful to see.
John was at a lost, and that confusion was made worse by the fact that relationships were never his strongest suit. The last one was a definite testament to that fact—but he thought as little about that phenomenal disaster as humanly possible. It was these events that led JOhn to seek counsel from the last person he ever, ever would have expected—Jack. He was currently in his brother-in-law's spacious office, stretched out the length of the couch, with his arm over his face and waiting for him to return from some afternoon meeting. John wasn't quite sure how long he had lain there, but it felt like eternity before he heard the door open and Jack mumble something to his assistant before closing the door.
"I just want to make something very clear. What I'm about to do will never—I repeat never—happen again," John said, still lying on the couch.
"John? First of all, where the heck are you? And second, what on earth are you talking about?" replied a puzzled Jack.
Propping himself up, John looked up Jack and took a harsh swallow before saying, "I came to…to ask for—God, can't believe I'm doing this—to ask for your…advice."
His brow furrowing quizzically, Jack looked at him. "About what? Your book?"
"Actually, about…relationships," he mumbled.
Jack couldn't help but laugh outright. "What about them exactly?" he asked, tossing the papers he'd been holding onto his desk and then sitting in the chair across from John.
John laid his head back down, looking at the ceiling as he talked. The ceiling wasn't judgmental. The ceiling didn't bloody smirk at him, like he was certain Jack was at the moment. "So…you know how I mentioned that I was intrigued by Rose?"
"Yes, I believe that was your choice of words," Jack said with a smirk.
"Weelll…maybe I'm a little bit more than just intrigued," John admitted hesitantly.
"Define 'a little bit more.'"
"More as in I feel like I've touched a live wire every time I see her. Or hear her voice. Or think about her. That's all I do too—think about her. Plus, I may or may not...frequently…uh, dream about her," John replied, mumbling the last part unsuccessfully.
"Oh? Do tell," Jack said jokingly—well, mostly joking.
John finally turned to him, giving him a look that was a cross between a glare and exasperation.
Jack allowed one more grin before sobering his expression. "Seriously though, what do you need from me? You love her, go do something about it, ya idiot!"
John shot up straight at an amazingly rapid speed at Jack's statement. "Whoa! Love? Who said love?! I didn't say love. I don't recall hearing that word at all! Where did you get love?" he rambled.
At his denial, Jack gave John an incredulous look that said in no uncertain terms, "You're an idiot."
"Ok…," he sighed, "Maybe I'm a little bit in love...a bit!"
At that, the look then morphed into, "Is there even a word for your level of stupidity?"
"Alright," John finally acquiesced, "A lot in love," he finished, sighing and flopping back onto the couch.
"There ya go—give the man a medal. So, what exactly do you need from me? I don't see what the issue is here," Jack asked, genuinely at a loss.
"I can't figure her, Jack. There are times when I catch her looking at me and there's no denying that something is there. But, then I try to inch closer to doing something about it and—BAM!—she puts up this guard. I can't make out it if it's me or what in the world is going on," he sighed once again, running a hand through his hair in frustration. "I know I'm no expert at this sort of thing—case in point, the bloody Yvonne fiasco. But with Rose…Jack I want this. I want…no, need her. I'm desperate, which is why I'm here of all places, forgoing all pretenses of dignity and subjecting myself to the risk of eternal mocking and humiliation."
Jack rolled his eyes at John's ridiculousness. "Well aside from that last little bit of melodramatic crap, I actually understand what you're sayin'. Ran into somethin' similar with Donna," Jack sympathized, leaning forward slightly.
John looked over at him, slight confusion evident. "I thought you said you all knew with a few hours you were meant to be, or whatever it was."
"No, I said that I knew after a few hours. Donna on the other hand—well, it required some effort on my part. Not everything that's worth having comes easy—rarely does actually. Sometimes ya have to fight for what you want."
John was surprised at the conviction with which Jack uttered that statement. Although, he had to admit that Jack could be quite insightful at times.
"So, what are you saying? That Rose doesn't feel anything for me? That's why I have to fight for her?"
Jack shook his head. "No, I don't know what she feels for you. I never met her, but based on what Donna's mentioned and now what you've told me, it sounds like maybe there's something goin' on behind the scenes. Without betraying Donna's confidence, I can tell you that with us, it took patience because there were things both of us needed to deal with or had running through our head. There's always a story behind things," Jack assured him with the utmost sincerity. He could see how much turmoil John was in, and the feelings he had for Rose were so blatantly apparent.
"Donna mentioned what?" John said, sitting back up as he honed in on that part of Jack's statement.
"You said 'based on what Donna's mentioned'…what's Donna mentioned? Has she talked to Rose or something? Because if so-"
"John, calm down," Jack said, halting John's ramble before it went completely out of control. "It was just little things here and there; ask her if you want to know specifics. But as far as Rose goes, my advice: Don't give up. And don't assume it's you—find out more about her and maybe you'll understand what's behind her keeping you at arm's length," Jack said, going back to his desk. "Oh, by the way, Yvonne is here visiting Daddy Dearest, so you might wanna lay low in here for a while."
Groaning, John laid back down on the sofa and once again, threw his arm over his face.
"So...anythin' you wanna talk about?"
Rose looked up at Martha, frowning. "What do ya mean?"
For the first time in a few months, tt was just the two of them. Tony was sleeping over at a schoolmate's and Mickey was over at his friend Jake's watching a match. Martha and Rose were thankful to finally have time just for them, and decided to make margaritas and watch a chick flick, something they hardly ever got to do with Mickey and Tony around. Martha was also grateful for this alone time because it was the perfect opportunity to address a topic that had been bothering her for several days.
"I mean John. Anythin' there you wanna talk about?"
Rose turned her head away and focused on the telly, not wanting to make eye contact. "Nothin' to talk about really. He's a great bloke. It's nice knowin' him. H
"Rose... Love, I know there's more to it than just that. Y'know ya can't hide much from me. Tell me what's really goin' on," she said, tugging on Rose's arm.
Rose quickly pulled away from her grasp. "Martha, we're just friends. We have a nice time talking, and he loves spendin' time with Tony. There's nothing going on. There won't be anything going on. Even if I wan-...," she trailed off, turning her eyes away, "There's nothin' goin' on, alright?"
Martha didn't bother even attempting to hide her frustration. "That's complete crap and y'know it! I know you, and I know that you feel somethin' for him—maybe more than just somethin'. And you'd have to be blind not to see that he's completely mad for you! He looked like he wanted nothin' more than to snog the life outta you on Sunday. And I saw you...you looked like you wanted him to. Even Mickey picked up on it… said that you two were makin' mooneyes at each other when he walked in to the kitchen."
Rose got up from the couch abruptly and started pacing, agitatedly running her hands through her hair. "Martha, just stop it! Alright? Stop it! There's nothin' there. Nothin' between me and 'im. Okay? Just leave it!"
Martha's own frustration was escalating. There was no denying that Rose had inherited Jackie Tyler's stubbornness. And even though Martha had loved Jackie like she was her mum, this particular trait was ticking Martha off at the moment.
"Just because ya say that doesn't make it true, Rose! Doesn't change how you feel, and it definitely doesn't make it go away! God," she practically growled, "Why are you being so bloody stubborn? What is so wrong with caring 'bout someone other than just us? Why won't you even think about the fact John cares about you and you about him? That maybe, just maybe you even love him?" she finished, borderline shouting.
Rose's eyes widened, and she stared intently at Martha. Her body began to fiercely tremble before her face contorted in pain, tears streaming down her cheeks. Sobbing, Rose fell to her knees. In an instant, Martha was at her side, gathering her into her arms and stroking her hair soothingly. Rose buried her face into Martha's chest, tears racking her body. Though sobbing and overwhelmed with emotion, Martha was still able to make out Rose's tearful protest.
"I can't…I can't…I just can't…