fic: Tardis, Cash Only.
It’s not a bad little pub, the Tardis.
He’s constantly doing repairs, constantly having to change the taps, fix the hob, rip out the plumbing in the loo, but it adds to the charm, he’s sure.
And if some of the posters, the art on the wall, if some of it’s covering holes from remodeling he never quite finished, well, no one’s the wiser, and that, too, gives the place character. Or that’s what those Yelp reviews say anyway.
He wouldn’t change anything about his life or his bar, really, except for how sometimes, when it’s very late at night (or very early in the morning, depending on your perspective), he wishes he could just hang on to some staff for a change.
He doesn’t blame them for leaving, even helps them do it sometimes.
A few well placed calls so Jamie can stop dunking chips in a fryer and make real food in a proper restaurant.
A nudge in the right direction for Ace, because the cocktails she keeps dreaming up, especially the ones that involve fire, just aren’t appreciated by the pint-of-lager crowd his place draws.
And Sarah Jane, oh, Sarah Jane who tried so hard to stay, who offered to run the pub while he went home for family business, and wasn’t sure if he’d ever return to reopen, well, maybe he should have let her, he sees that now.
This new team he’s got though, they show some promise, which means they’ll leave, too, out his blue door and on to bigger and better things.
He hasn’t had a floor manager like Donna in years. She knows how to keep the servers in line, but knows just as well (better even, maybe) that sometimes a customer is a lost cause — one that needs to be tossed out on their arse.
There’s Martha in the kitchen, textbook cooking if he’s ever seen it, which makes sense with her in culinary school, but it’s when she gets creative, when they run out of something because he’s forgotten to pay the supplier, that she really shines. Her Weetabix chicken was a revelation on a plate.
He’s not sure what, exactly, he pays Jack for, but he brings in the customers when it’s slow, charming the queues outside some of the fancier bars nearby and convincing them to give the Tardis a shot instead.
And Mickey’s great in a bind, can run the food, unjam the till, tap the kegs, and still find time to help Donna with the Friday night crowds.
But there’s something missing.
He’s not exactly lonely behind the bar, but sometimes he wishes there were someone else with him, someone to catch the glasses he’s fond of throwing, someone who keeps an extra bottle opener in their pocket because they know how often he loses his.
What he needs is the girl sitting at Table 3.
“That’s Rose Tyler,” Mickey tells him. “We grew up together on the Estate.”
She’s the only customer in the whole place not fixed on the football match, not shouting and shoving and being a wanker.
“Can she tend bar?” He asks Mickey, because he’s watched her every time she’s gotten a drink, analyzing the gaps in the crowd, ignoring the trouble spots, skating by drunks and loudmouths, coming away with her pint, and not spilling a drop. He needs someone levelheaded like that, someone that wouldn’t let the madness the Tardis descends into sometimes get to them.
“Rose can do anything she wants,” Mickey says, and the Doctor winces at the wistful tone in his voice, because if there’s history there, domestics, well, his isn’t the sort of place for that.
“I’ll give her a shot,” the Doctor says, because a night like tonight, he could use the extra hands, even if they don’t turn out to be a fit for long term employment.
She’s back behind the bar with him fifteen minutes later, helping only because he so very clearly needs it, and it’s already a brilliant fit. She’s reaching around to plunk in the olives he’s forgotten, not too heavy on the pour, Guinness with the brewery standard head on top.
He’s probably already a little bit in love with her, but it might just be the shots Jack forced on them, trooping in with a group of tourists and 300 pounds worth of their business.
She sticks around, too, that night, helps him clean the place up long after everyone has shoved off, making Hemingway references and smiling when he tells her in a parallel universe, his bar is called A Clean Well-Lighted Place.
He wants to walk her home, or put her in a cab, at the very least, before he heads upstairs to sleep, but she waves him off. Nothing in this neighborhood that Rose Tyler can’t handle she tells him; in response he asks her to stay.
“You could come work here,” he says.
And she turns him down.
They’re slammed again the next night and he follows Mickey around for an hour until he gives over her number.
She shows up again, a bottle opener in her pocket, and this time when he offers, she accepts.
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