The tiredness began with small things.
Rose noticed it even before he did. One morning, he had trouble waking up, even though she shook his shoulder repeatedly. It had always been the other way around. The next day, he fumbled with the sonic screwdriver because he yawned. And not long after that, he stopped making fun of her for wanting to take afternoon catnaps, even though he still wouldn’t join her.
She considered bringing it up, but had no idea where to begin. It had to be that the half-human part of him was catching up. His Time Lord energy, while usually boundless, was receding in the face of mortality. Human bodies needed more rest, and his was no exception.
The thing was that they never talked about how he was half-human. Never. They never talked about the Doctor-Donna or the events that had helped bring him to life. He was just like her old Doctor in that respect—ignore it, and it’s like it never happened. Don’t feel. Live in the present. Keep your memories to yourself. Half the time, she forgot that they were in a parallel universe, because he pretended that they weren’t. He was the Doctor and she was Rose and they had their own TARDIS and a house on the beach and that was all that mattered.
Rose woke up to an empty bed. Eyes closed, she had stretched out her hand, but found rumpled covers, just slightly warm, instead of the Doctor’s wiry body. She trudged to the TARDIS’s galley, half expecting him to be in the engine room, fiddling with his beloved time machine the way he tended to do when he woke early. She found him looking down at the countertop, his back to her.
Wrapping her arms around his waist, she placed a kiss against his soft t-shirt. “Morning,” she mumbled.
“How the devil does this thing work?”
“What?” she leaned around him to see what he was doing. The sonic screwdriver whirred as he tapped it here and there around her coffee pot.
“Why can’t you drink tea like any other British person?” he whined, sounding very much like he had the time she told him they couldn’t go see the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show because it was her mum’s birthday.
“And what’s the matter with coffee?” she asked, reaching around to grab the carafe. She filled it with water from the sink. “Did they not have any on Gallifrey?”
The Doctor ran agitated fingers through his already unruly hair. “I’ll have you know we drank no such thing. Caffeine is a purely human construction.”
Rose deposited the water into the machine, and measured out the coffee grounds. “I thought you liked purely human constructions.”
He huffed. “I like you.”
He really was tired, Rose mused. Typically her comment would have launched a discussion about human bravery or something.
“I like you, too,” she said, turning on the coffee pot, which immediately began to gurgle. “And I think you’ll like coffee.”
“I doubt it.”
“You wanted to try it, didn’t you?”
His face pulled down into a frown. It was amazing how much he looked like Donna when he got upset.
Rose slid her arms around him, thinking that it was far too early in the morning for a disagreement. “You do want some,” she whispered. “You need it. Otherwise how can you stay awake for us to visit Marie Antoinette?”
Excitement vibrated in the air like the beginning tremors of an earthquake. “Eighteenth-century France?”
“Why not?” The aroma of freshly brewed coffee began to waft through the galley, and Rose already felt more awake.
His embrace tightened for a millisecond before he grabbed her arms and shook her in his enthusiasm. “Just wait til you see it Rose! Pre-revolutionary France! We’ve got to make sure we get there before things start heating up, though. Last time, I interfered with the guillotine and I think they probably want to show me how it works.”
She smiled at her Meta-Crisis Time Lord. Some things were just the same, even with Donna’s DNA in the mix. “Will I have to wear one of those ridiculous dresses that are as wide as I am tall?”
“You can wear whatever you please,” he kissed her forehead.
“Drink up, then,” Rose said. She pulled some mugs she had borrowed from her mum out of the cupboard and poured a cup.
“I don’t need it now,” he called as he bounced out of the room. She faintly heard him say to the TARDIS, “Are you ready, old girl? France again! You lucky thing, you.”
Smirking, she poured a second cup. “He’ll be back,” she whispered, setting out sugar, cream, and a spoon.
Later, when his cup of coffee had mysteriously disappeared, and Rose was washing her breakfast dishes, he bounded into the galley. “I’m ready when you are,” he announced. “1778 awaits!”
He pulled the dishrag from her hands and kissed her soundly on the mouth. He tasted of coffee and adventure. She wanted to drag him to their room and make him forget about 1778, but he was already gone, racing toward the front door.
She folded the dishrag he had dropped on the floor, and wondered what shoes would be best to run in.