Barovox was a planet renowned for its multiple markets full of mechanical parts - the galaxy’s best one-stop shop for anyone needing to do repairs on ships new and old. It was, incidentally, the Doctor’s favorite place to shop for TARDIS parts. He’d visited many times over the years, enough times that his companions usually opted out of stepping foot in the markets in favor of staying on the TARDIS or at home relaxing.
Clara had told him, in no uncertain terms, that she was not going to a glorified junkyard with him again so she was back in England while he rummaged through bits of metal, trying to find something with which to repair the time phase oscillator.
He had about given up on the stall he was at when a certain voice cut through the buzz of the marketplace. His head whipped up and he stepped away from the stall owner who was yelling at him that he either needed to pay for the part he was holding or put it back.
“Have your piece of junk back, I’m busy,” he said thrusting the broken coil back at the alien.
The Doctor’s eyes scanned the crowd as he tried to pick out where the voice had come from. He was terrible with faces and names this go round but he knew that voice and he knew he hadn’t heard it for a very long time.
He trotted through the crowd, eyes wide and head swiveling back and forth until he finally caught sight of blue and blonde in the mass of people and his hearts stuttered before galloping faster.
Even before she opened her mouth again to speak, he knew who she was. His hearts knew who she was and the name filtered from there to his brain to his mouth.
“Rose,” he breathed. It’d been so very long, millenia, since he’d seen her and the name still felt right on his tongue.
Rose stopped dead in her tracks and whipped her head around, zeroing in on the Doctor. He figured it wasn’t hard for her to figure out who had said her name when he was staring right at her, frozen in place.
She slipped through the crowd to get to him and looked up at him puzzled. “Do I know you?”
He blinked at her and then tried to give her his best scowl. He had a good face for scowling. The eyebrows were immensely helpful in that regard. “No.”
“You said my name though,” she pointed out.
“I did no such thing,” he denied.
“You did so. Plus you were staring right at me. So, out with it, what do you want and how do you know who I am?” Rose demanded, crossing her arms over her chest and staring up at him.
The Doctor suppressed a smile. Of course she wasn’t in the least bit put off my his scowl, if he remembered correctly she always gave as good as she got.
“You just reminded me of an old friend,” he said, finally.
Rose’s eyes softened and she searched his face, something about the words having sharpened her attention. “You remind me of someone, too,” she admitted. “Your eyes…”
She peered at him and then broke eye contact, shaking her head. “Thought there was a good chance of finding him here. Used to stop here all the time to get parts for his ship.”
“Good taste,” the Doctor said carefully, not wanting to give away who he was but wanting to prolong the conversation a bit longer. This was another stolen moment and he was going to treasure it.
(He thought that he had had to steal too many moments with her, that he hadn’t been given enough time with her originally. He’d stolen one attempted goodbye by burning up a sun, another when he was dying and he needed to see her again, even if she didn’t know him.)
(Maybe this time he could actually say goodbye.)
(He didn’t really want to, didn’t want to admit that this was their last stolen moment.)
“Never could understand a word of what he was saying when he started talking machines. Just my luck to keep datin’ mechanics,” she quipped with a small smile.
“This friend you’re looking for your boyfriend, then?” he asked.
Rose shrugged. “Not exactly. I love him but…” she trailed off and the Doctor wished he was better at reading expressions so he could figure out what was going on in her head.
“I’m sure you’ll find him and work things out,” he said, trying to sound as kind as possible, to try and rekindle the hope in her.
(She’d done it for him so many times, it was time he repaid the favor.)
She beamed up at him. “Thanks.” Rose scrunched her nose up. “I didn’t quite catch your name.”
“I’m no one,” he said. “Have a good life, Rose. Be happy.”
He caught a glimpse of her mouth hanging open in a shocked expression, recognition sparking in her eyes as he turned away and ducked down one of the alleyways that riddled the labyrinthine marketplace.
He peered around the corner and watched as she walked slowly down the street before disappearing in a blue flash.
“Be happy,” he repeated softly. That’s all he’d ever wanted for her and he hoped she’d found that with his other self.
(A wish for her future was better than a goodbye anyways.)
With a downward twitch of his lips he turned and headed for his TARDIS.
Shopping could wait for another day. He was going to try to take his own advice and pick up Clara for an adventure and be happy.