The Mysterious Stranger
AN: I wanted to write a human!Doctor AU, because I’ve seen so many good ones, and I wanted to add to the collection! Also, Rose won’t work at Henrik’s or live in London.
She wasn’t going anywhere in Saxon, population: 210. Her graduating class had 50 people in it, and the party lasted long into the night, the smell of grilled corn permeating the air, taking with it her last hopes of escaping the town.
She had applied to Harvard, but she received a rejection letter.
Dear Ms. Tyler, we regret to inform you that we cannot offer you a place at Harvard University during the 2005-2006 school year. We encourage you to apply again.
That letter played through her mind every second of the day. It wasn’t fair: she studied until 3am on nights with tests to pull off straight A’s, she was Salutatorian, damnit. Now all she had to show for it was a 9-12am job at the Saxon Diner. Best pie in Saxon, coffee was mediocre. And she told the customers exactly that. No use in sugar coating, right?
She used to have this big dream of leaving England, traveling to the States for college, then traveling around the world. But both of those were out the window with bills to pay. She could only save a few dollars a week in a jar labelled Someday.
Then someday seemed to be coming true. A bloke her mum’s age came to the diner. A passerby that was the whole talk of the town. No one traveled through Saxon, but here he was. All roughness and leather, short cropped hair, and a sullen expression.
“I’ll have a coffee, please,” he ordered.
“Might wanna rethink that, mate,” she said. “Best pie in Saxon, but the coffee is mediocre.”
“Fine, whatever.” He waved her off. “Order me what you think I’ll like.”
Order for a complete stranger? He was way too confident in her, she couldn’t even make a choice of what socks she was going to wear.
“Erm, okay,” she said finally.
After worrying her lip for five minutes by the kitchen, she ordered a strong cup of Earl Grey and a slice of apple pie.
“Waitress!” the man called.
She hurried over. “Uh, yeah?”
“What’s your name?” he asked, smiling.
“Pretty name, for a waitress.”
“Oi, what’s that mean, then?”
“Just that you usually get Debras or Flos. I don’t care for them much.”
“Alright.” Rose turned to leave.
“Wait, sit down,” he invited, pointing to the empty booth seat across from him.
“You’re very nice,” she started, “but I have customers to tend to.”
“Are they ghosts?” he smirked, motioning to the empty diner. “Look, I get it. A strange bloke is askin’ ya to sit with him and he’s probably as old as your mum. I just make it a point to meet one stranger on my stops.” His eyes pleaded with her to stay, and she sighed, relenting.
“Guess it won’t hurt.” She smoothed down her apron and long skirt before sitting down.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Really? I had you pegged for sixteen.”
“I can show you my license and diploma!” she exclaimed, fists clenched on her lap.
“Nah. I believe you. You go to college, then?”
“No.” Rose lowered her head. “I applied at Harvard, but got rejected. It was all or nothin’.”
“Seems like kind of a silly motto,” he teased, playing with the paper his straw for his water had come out of.
“Well, it’s mine,” she bit back defiantly. “It doesn’t matter, anyway. I’m savin’ up at home. Got a jar, and when it’s full, I’m off travelin’. Gonna leave this place behind.”
The bloke smiled at her sadly. “Traveling is nice, but trust me, you’re gonna miss home.”
“You don’t know me then. What’s your name, by the way?”
“Just...John?” she asked.
“Yup,” he answered, popping the P.
“Order up!” The voice yelled from the kitchen.
“That would be you, excuse me.” Rose stood up quickly and gathered up the plate and cup.
She sat the order down gingerly in front of them.
“There ya are.”
“Have a bite,” he offered, holding out the fork tantalizingly in front of her face.
“Nah, I shouldn’t. On the job.”
“It’s a bite of pie! Not a sip of alcohol!”
Rose sighed and took the fork. She took off the slightest fraction of an inch from the slice.
“And what do you call that?” he asked, disgusted. “Don’t tell me you can’t eat calories.”
“Nah, s’just not mine, is it?”
“That’s a pathetic bite,” he said. “Take a bigger one.”
She sighed, blowing a few wisps of hair that had come out of her ponytail away from her mouth. She dug the fork into the slice very deep this time and put it in her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully, carefully.
John smiled. “Good, then?”
“Of course,” she agreed.
He took the fork from her and took his own bite. “Mmm,” he agreed. “Definitely the best pie in Saxon.”
They passed the last few hours until closing time like this. Rose eventually ordering her own cuppa, and sharing quite a few pieces of pie.
“Time to close up,” she told him, looking at her watch. “This was nice, John.”
“It was,” he agreed. He rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Is there any possible way we could meet again?” he asked quietly.
“You know where to find me,” she grinned, sticking her tongue in between her teeth.
He nodded slowly. “Can I walk you home?”
“Nah, I’ll be fine. Thanks though.”
He put his hands in his pockets and shuffled out the diner door. Rose didn’t know what possessed her, but she rushed out after him.
“Wait!” she called. “Maybe it would be nice to walk home with someone.”