It had been a week since the Doctor had gone back to the other universe, leaving his double behind. Rose was torn. She knew the Doctor—the real Doctor—was out there somewhere, alone, facing God only knew what, without her to help him.
And yet he’d told her that his double needed her, just like he had needed her when they first met. She didn’t see how; he seemed fine to her. She thought back to that scene on the beach…
“When I last stood on this beach on the worst day of my life...what was the last thing you said to me?”
“Does it need saying?”
That had hurt. It had hurt more than anything else. After all the time they’d spent together, everything she’d gone through to find him again, he wouldn’t say it. She knew full well he loved her, but he wouldn’t say it.
Then she’d asked his double the same question, and he’d leaned over and whispered, “Rose Tyler, I love you with all my heart.”
So he’d said it, and she’d kissed him, and the Doctor had left, without even saying goodbye. That had hurt too. She had the best of both worlds; a man who looked exactly like the Doctor, with all his memories and knowledge, but human, able to be with her. But it wasn’t the same. She knew he wasn’t the real Doctor. There was only one heart beating against her chest, and his hands on her shoulders were warm.
It wasn’t fair to him, she knew. He loved her, and only her, and she was in love with someone else. But he’d say something, or look at her in a certain way, and all she could think was He looks just like him…
She’d talked to her mum about it; after all, something similar had happened to her. She was in love with Pete Tyler, had even had a child with him, but he wasn’t her Pete Tyler.
“It was weird at first,” Jackie had admitted, when Rose had asked how she had adjusted. “After all, he and I’d had totally different lives, and he was still grieving for his wife. But I helped him through it, and I realized that even though he wasn’t the man I married, he was still a good man, and deserved to be happy.”
She’d done her best to help, but the situation wasn’t the same. Her Pete was dead, like his Jackie was dead, and so they could be together without feeling guilty. But Rose knew the Doctor was alive…
She looked up from the sofa to the door to Pete’s living room. It was him. She smiled sadly. “Hello.”
“Rose, I’m sorry.” He looked just like the Doctor had, so many times, after people had died. Her heart twisted.
“Not your fault, it’s mine.” I’ve really been a cow…
“Look, if you want me to leave…”
“What?” She stared at him.
“I know I’m just a copy of him, and a rather inferior copy at that…”
“Inferior?” God, how can he think that? She suddenly thought of all the times during the past week that she’d looked through him, seeing the Doctor instead. No wonder he’d kept out of her way, no wonder he always looked so sad. The Doctor had often been sad when she knew him, so she hadn’t thought anything of it, but he’d also had periods of manic energy that his double seemed to lack. Now she knew why.
She gripped his arms and looked into his eyes, for the first time since she’d kissed him. “Listen to me. You’re a copy, but you’re not inferior. You’re human, yeah, but that’s a good thing. It means you can stay with me. He couldn’t; he can’t. You’re lucky—you’ll have something he’s always wanted.”
“And,” she cut him off, “you may have all his memories up to a week ago, but now you’ve started making your own memories. You’ve branched off from him. Don’t you dare think of yourself as inferior, or let me think of you that way either. If I do, shake me out of it.”
He gave a small smile.
She smiled back. “I think that’s the first time I’ve seen you smile all week.”
“I suppose it is.”
“You need to smile more often. You’ve got me, after all. You should be happy.”
“But do I?” She looked at him enquiringly. “Have you?”
“Of course you do.”
He pulled away from her. “I don’t want you to be with me out of pity, or because it’s the closest you’ll get to him, or because he told you to. I may be a copy, but I don’t deserve that!”
She sighed. “I know; I haven’t been fair to you. I’m sorry.”
“He was right, you know.”
She looked at him in confusion. “Who was?”
“The Doctor. I do need you.” He paused, as if gathering his thoughts. “I have all these…I dunno, memories, experiences…places I’ve been, people I’ve met, things I’ve done, a lot of them horrible…but they’re not my memories. I’m not a Time Lord, I don’t have a TARDIS, I don’t even know who I am! Everything I have belongs to someone else, even you.”
She put a hand on his shoulder. She knew what it was like to be set adrift with nothing, unable to go back to your old life. “You need an identity of your own. We can work on that. First off, you need a name of your own.”
“A name?” He looked confused.
She rolled her eyes. “Yes, a name! I can’t very well call you ‘Doctor,’ when you’re not!”
“Oh, you’re as impossible as he is! You can’t be called ‘John Smith’!”
“What’s wrong with John Smith?” He looked so indignant that she had to suppress a smile.
“For one thing, no one’s called John Smith. That might work as an alias, but not a permanent name.”
He nodded. “Yeah, you’re right.” Suddenly his eyes sparkled. “Can I be Alonzo?”
His face fell. “Why not?” he pouted.
“I refuse to call you Alonzo!”
“You could call me Al.”
She growled in frustration. “And now I’m going to have that Paul Simon song running through my head all day, thank you so much!”
He ignored her. “Decimus?”
“You’re trying to make your own identity, remember? Do you really want to be called ‘Tenth’?”
“I suppose not.”
“Besides, there’s no nickname for that. People’d take the mickey.”
“James McRae,” he said suddenly.
“What’s that from?”
“It’s not from anything!” He paused. “Well, all right. One of his first Companions was called Jamie McCrimmon.”
She mouthed the name. “You know, that might actually work.”
He nodded. “James it is, then.”
“All right, you’ve got a name, now you need a job. I can talk to the people at Torchwood…” she saw his look. “They’re not bad here, really! Mickey’s gone, and Jack never worked for Torchwood here, but Jake works there, and some other people I’m friends with. They could use someone like you.”
He shrugged. “All right.”
“If you really don’t want to…”
“No, it’s fine.” He grinned suddenly. “I may not be a Time Lord, but I know more about aliens than all of you put together!”
She thought of something else. “And we’ll need to teach you to drive.”
Two weeks later, Rose was seriously reconsidering having kids, if it meant she’d have to go through this again. Jamie (as he was now calling himself) had no problem handling the car (she supposed it was simple compared to the TARDIS) but he had a tendency to ignore or forget things like stoplights and zebra crossings. She’d lost count of the number of people he’d almost mown down. She’d tried to fob him off on her mother, but Jackie had said, “He’s your boyfriend, it’s your responsibility!”
Boyfriend. Was he? Well, he certainly wasn’t a ‘boy;’ depending on how you looked at it, he was either over nine hundred years old or three weeks old, but physically he was around thirty-five. Did she care about him? She thought so. Part of her would always love the Doctor, but Jamie had a lot of his qualities.
He was different though, more open. He’d told her about what had happened while she was gone, and how the Doctor had never stopped thinking about her. She didn’t ask him about it often, since it was awkward for both of them. But he told her what he was thinking most of the time, didn’t talk too fast for her to follow (although that might be because, while he did talk fast, it was about things she understood, rather than futuristic technology.) And she sometimes found it hard to make eye contact with him for very long, because of the sheer depth of affection in his eyes, unleavened by the pain that had been there when the Doctor looked at her. She didn’t think she could live up to that kind of regard, and was afraid of falling off a pedestal.
She’d got him a job at Torchwood, and he was doing well. He was charming enough that his occasional rudeness was excusable, and he quickly made friends with the team. His knowledge had been invaluable, and he seemed happy.
He’d managed to impress the team not long after he started. Early on his third day there, Tosh had picked up something odd. “Hey, Roberta, come look at this.”
Roberta Malloy, the director of Torchwood, had gone to look over her shoulder. “Hm. Some sort of energy signature. I’ve never seen anything like it before, have you?”
“Care to take a look, James?”
He’d taken one look at the reading and his lips had gone thin.
“What is it?”
“Trouble. We have to find it, fast.”
Roberta immediately began issuing orders. “Tosh, get a tracker on that thing. Everybody else in the car. Owen…” she’d paused. “Where the hell’s Owen?”
“Haven’t seen him since he came in,” Rose said.
Roberta looked around the room, counting heads. “Gwen’s gone too. Dammit, what have I told them about shagging at work?” She hit her wrist communicator. “Owen, get up here now, we’ve gotta go!”
A frustrated growl came from the communicator, then Gwen’s voice said, “Be right up.”
Roberta turned back to Jamie. “What exactly is it?”
“It’s a container for biological weapons. They were used in the war between the Skran and the Sidionites. It must have come through the Rift; both civilizations were destroyed. There’s enough agent in that to wipe out the whole planet.”
Gwen and Owen came up in time to hear the last sentence. “Bloody hell.”
“Exactly. Now we’ve gotta find it, people. Tosh, you got a trace yet?”
“Got it,” she replied, transferring it to the mobile tracking unit.
“Now, we could use a driver. Dr. Harper, if you’re not too busy?”
Owen looked faintly abashed. “Yeah, sure.”
They’d all piled into the SUV, and Tosh had directed them to a shopping centre. They’d found the person who had the container, a man in his twenties, and paid him ten quid for it, then put it in a Containment Box in the safe.
She thought over the past few weeks, and how he’d adjusted. He was settling in well, despite the driving difficulties, which he seemed to have sorted out after nearly two months. And he certainly fit in at Torchwood; after all none of them were exactly normal. Jack had never worked there, but Roberta had been the director since before the Cyberman invasion, and afterward had recruited Jake, Mickey and Pete. After Rose had been trapped in this universe Jake had got her a job at Torchwood, and Roberta had been the one who had the idea for the dimension cannon, modifying the trans-universal teleport Mickey, Jake and Pete had developed.
The alias hadn’t lasted long. Not long after he’d started using it, he told Rose, her mum and Pete to stop using it. “It still feels like an alias. I guess I just got used to ‘The Doctor.’”
“But that’s an alias too, isn’t it?” Rose had asked. “I mean, I’m sure he didn’t have ‘Doctor’ on his birth certificate, or whatever Gallifreyans use.”
He’d shaken his head. “No, but it’s the one he chose, and the one he used most often, so it’s the one I’m most comfortable with.”
“Can you tell me his real name? He never told me.”
But he’d demurred. “It’s not mine to give.”
She supposed she understood that. If the Doctor had wanted her to know his name, he would have told her. Still, it was one more secret he’d kept from her. The new Doctor didn’t keep secrets.
It had been difficult for Pete, Rose, Jackie and Jake to remember to call him “James,” and it came as a relief that they were able to call him “Doctor” again. The Torchwood team soon picked up the name. There was a period where he was still introducing himself to new people as “James,” and this caused some confusion. There were a number of variations on “I saw James the other day.”
“James McRae.” Exasperated pause. “You know, skinny chap, hair like a wind tunnel, always wearing trainers.”
“Oh! You mean the Doctor!”
“Doctor? Doctor Who?”
Now he’d dropped the alias for everything except documents that required a name. It was on his birth certificate, which Pete and Roberta had finagled for him. They’d estimated the year he was born, picked April 18th for his birthday, and for his parents’ names listed “John Smith” and “Donna Noble.” She didn’t like to think about that much. The alias was also on his driver’s licence when he’d got it, and he always signed “James McRae.”
Rose had lived with Pete and her mother for a while when she first got here; they certainly had the space. But after travelling with the Doctor, she found it stifling, and at twenty-five it was about time she was on her own, so as soon as she’d saved enough money she’d moved into a flat of her own.
As soon as the Doctor’s first cheque had arrived from Torchwood, he’d moved out of her mother and Pete’s house as well, claiming Jackie drove him mad. He’d “happened” to move into the same block of flats she lived in, and she often gave him a ride to work, since he still disliked driving.
Their relationship had deepened over the past few weeks, and it looked like it was on its way to becoming something serious. More and more often, she was seeing him, rather than the old Doctor, when she looked at him. He was starting to be less hesitant about showing his affection for her. After he’d taken the alias, he’d seemed slightly more comfortable with her, but he still hadn’t done anything. Then he’d started to take her hand, and look at her as if for permission, until she squeezed his hand. Or he’d hesitantly put his arm around her, and smile when she leaned her head on his shoulder. It was as if he hadn’t wanted to presume, and she’d found it both charming and frustrating. Now he seemed more relaxed, even coming up behind her at work and massaging her shoulders (which had made her nervous, since Pete worked there, too, but he hadn’t seemed to care. Rose supposed if he’d been around all her life it would have been different, but he treated her more like a stepdaughter, and wasn’t too overprotective.) The Doctor had done all that, but he still hadn’t kissed her since that day on the beach. She wondered about that, and finally decided to ask him.
She was having tea at his flat, and they were sitting in the living room. He was idly flipping through an Agatha Christie mystery while he sipped his tea, wearing his glasses.
He’d gotten them weeks ago. He’d had to order them specially, since he wanted a pair exactly like the ones his counterpart had worn. She hadn’t seen the point.
“You’re wasting your money.”
He’d looked puzzled. “What are you talking about?”
“The glasses. You don’t need them. There’s nothing wrong with your eyes.”
“But I do need them,” he protested. “I can’t think properly without them, and I’m sick of reaching into my pocket for them and having it empty.”
“So why can’t you just buy a pair of frames at the chemist’s? Why spend all the extra money?”
He looked aggrieved. “Because they wouldn’t be my glasses!”
She’d smiled at him fondly and let the matter drop.
Now, looking at him, she felt a rush of affection, and realized how lucky she was.
He looked over at her. “Yeah?”
“Why don’t you ever kiss me?”
He looked surprised. “Why, do you want me to?”
She flushed. “Well, I mean, you haven’t, since that day on the beach, and I wondered why. I mean, you’ve held my hand and put your arm around me, but never kissed me.”
“I was afraid it would be awkward. I mean, I’m not him. I didn’t want to pressure you…”
She was suddenly reminded of the Christmas after the Doctor had first regenerated, after the invasion had been stopped.
“And what about you? What are you gonna do next?”
"Well, back to the TARDIS. Same old life."
"But on your own?"
"Why, don't you wanna come?"
"I just thought that because I changed..."
"Yeah, I thought because you changed, you might not want me anymore."
He’d been sure she wouldn’t want him then, and he was sure of it now. Despite everything, he still had something of an inferiority complex. “I wouldn’t mind.”
He looked at her suspiciously. “You sure?”
She barely kept from rolling her eyes. “Look, you didn’t want to pressure me, I can understand that. But now I’m asking.”
He still hesitated. “You’re sure you’re OK with it?”
This time she did roll her eyes. She plopped down next to him on the sofa. “Yes, I’m sure!”
Rather than wearing a suit and tie like the original Doctor, he tended to wear jeans and a T-shirt, so she couldn’t haul him down by his tie or his lapels. She settled for grabbing his shoulders, and kissed him, hard.
When she broke for air, a slow smile spread across his face, ending as a full-on grin. “For God’s sake, if you want to kiss me, go ahead,” she told him.
His smile turned wicked. “All right,” and he leaned over and kissed her again.
It had been mercifully quiet at work recently, and now she was sitting at home watching TV. She’d rented the first series of the classic Star Trek, since it had been forever since she’d seen it, and was watching it when the Doctor showed up. He wanted to know what she was watching.
“Oh, it’s one of the most famous sci-fi shows. This was the first, but there were four spin-offs and a bunch of movies.”
She’d first gotten into Star Trek in the mid-nineties, when she’d poked around in some of her dad’s stuff and found a few episodes in a box of videotapes.
Jackie had been dismissive. “Oh, just more of his rubbish. Always had his head in the clouds,” but Rose had watched them, and then rented the rest of the episodes.
The Doctor squinted at the screen. “Doesn’t look like much.”
“You want to watch from the beginning? I’m not too far in.”
He looked doubtful, but said, “All right.”
So she started “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”
The criticisms started almost immediately. “That’s not how warp drive works. And what are they talking about, a barrier at the center of the galaxy?”
“It’s science fiction, it’s not meant to be accurate, now hush.”
She glared at him, and he was quiet for the rest of the episode, although at times he snorted.
They watched three more episodes, and the complaining continued. “Couldn’t they get a real Scottish actor?”
“Apparently he decided on the accent himself.”
“Still, he could do better. And what’s with the start-and-stop speeches Kirk makes?”
She grimaced. “Yeah, he got made fun of constantly for that.”
Then, “What kind of a ship is that? It’s just a light spinning around.”
“This was a low-budget show made in the 60s; the effects are going to be cheesy.”
And a bit later, “That alien’s just a dog with bits stuck on!”
“Low-budget show, remember?” She was starting to get fed up. “Look, I know it’s not state-of the-art, but this was the beginning of a major cultural movement. I happen to enjoy Star Trek, so if it’s too quaint or misinformed for you, you can leave!”
He looked contrite. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean any of it.”
“Well at least give it a chance. You gotta have some suspension of disbelief.”
“All right, fine.”
“I think that’s enough for now anyway. You hungry? We could get a takeaway.”
They watched a few more episodes when he was over, but he kept complaining, so she gave up. But after a few weeks went by without watching it he asked her, “When are we going to watch more Star Trek?”
She looked at him in surprise. “I thought you thought it was rubbish.”
He looked faintly embarrassed. “I want to find out what happens.”
She grinned at him. “I’ll make a Trekkie of you yet!”
He started coming over fairly regularly after work, and they’d watch a few episodes of Star Trek. When they finished the first season, she rented the second. By that point he was starting to really get into it, and he didn’t complain anymore, although he still had questions.
“A Russian character? In the middle of the Cold War?”
“Yeah, the creator wanted to attract a younger audience, so he got a young actor. He wanted to pay tribute to the fact that the Russians were the first in space. He actually said that the Russians complained and demanded a Russian character, but it was just a PR stunt.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Lifelong Trekkie. I know all the trivia. The actor wasn’t Russian…”
“Obwiosly, vith thet accent,” The Doctor said, and she giggled.
“And it was in the middle of the Cold War, like you said, so Chekov’s pretty much a stereotype.”
“‘It vas a Russian inwention.’”
She giggled again. “Exactly.”
“And a war in the 1990s? Why pick a time that was going to be contradicted so soon?”
She shrugged. “I guess he didn’t expect it to still be popular twenty years later. Most of the Star Treks mention something in the ‘past’ that didn’t happen. Doesn’t make the show less interesting.”
When they finished with the series, they started on the films. When they were watching The Wrath of Khan he paused the DVD near the end.
“He’s not dead is he? Not really? He can’t be dead, it’s not fair!”
“Just watch the movie,” she told him.
When Leonard Nimoy gave the end narration, he looked at her. “What does that mean?”
“Wait for the next film.”
When they found Spock on the Genesis Planet he turned to her happily. “See! Told you he wasn’t dead!”
She laughed and kissed him.
A few days later they were sitting together in her flat. There’d been all kinds of trouble at work lately; first it was Weevils coming up out of the sewers two weeks ago, then a crashed Leranite ship with two surviving crew they had to cover up and get home last week, and today the T’Kyrians had tried to sell them their radioactive waste as a power source.
The Doctor had recognized the ship, and warned the team that the T’Kyrians had a reputation as con artists. They transported a sample of the “power source” down, and he’d recognized it immediately.
“Their engines expel this, and they can never shift it. Their planet’s full of places that no-one can live in because of this stuff.”
“Why don’t they come up with an alternative?” Rose had asked.
He shrugged. “This is cheap, convenient, and it works. They don’t mind polluting the planet as long as they can get somewhere fast.”
She’d glared at him. After all, humans were working on alternatives to petrol, although it had perhaps taken them too long, and he didn’t need to make pointed comments.
“Is it satisfactory?” The voice of the T’Kyrian captain came over the comm.
The Doctor had got on to answer him. “Oi, I know you lot. You’re not using Earth as a place to dump your rubbish, now take your ‘power source’ and bugger off.”
The T’Kyrians hadn’t replied, but the sample had disappeared, and the ship had left. “I dunno, honestly, they must be getting desperate to come here!”
“And just what’s that supposed to mean?” Owen had snapped.
He’d run a hand through his hair. “Sorry, didn’t mean that the way it came out. I only meant that most everyone else knows what they’re like. A T’Kyrian’d sell you his mother if he thought it’d make a profit. Everyone else knows better than to deal with them. But Earth hardly believes in aliens, so they can trick you.”
This explanation had mollified him not at all, and he’d grumbled something about superior ex-aliens.
Rose shifted on the sofa and stretched, trying to ease the tension in her shoulders and neck, and groaned. “Sometimes I wonder why I ever took this job!”
He began to massage her shoulders. “Because knowing what’s out there, you can’t go back to working in a shop?”
“Guess so. Mmm, that feels good.” She really was lucky to have him. In the past few weeks she’d started to appreciate all the little things he did for her, not just shoulder massages, but opening the car door for her, taking her hand when she was worried, leaning against her when they watched TV. She started to relax, the knots in her muscles finally loosening, then leaned over and kissed him. “I don’t deserve you.”
His answering grin was positively wicked. “So make it up to me.” He pulled her into his lap and they snogged for a while. She ran her hands up under his T-shirt, then pulled it off.
Things had never gone this far before, but she didn’t care. They’d been on the edge of this for months now, and she was more than ready. As they moved to the bedroom and he laid her down on the bed, she reflected that it was a good thing she’d never made love with the other Doctor, since now she wouldn’t be unconsciously comparing. She had no expectations, and he shattered them all.
She stared at the ceiling for a few moments, then turned to him. She saw the anxious look in his eye, and smiled. “That was brilliant.”
He gave her a soft smile, and brushed her hair back from her face. The simple intimacy of the gesture touched her more than anything else he had done. “Yeah,” he said softly. “It was.” He looked at her for a moment, then said, “I’ve never done that before.”
At her incredulous look, he hastened to add, “I mean as myself, I’ve never had sex before.”
“Well, I should hope not! I’d hate to think you’d been shagging Gwen on the side!”
He snorted. “Oh, come on! She’s a perfectly nice girl, but I wouldn’t shag her!”
“Oh, is Ianto more your type?” she asked sweetly.
He threw a pillow at her, so of course she retaliated.
Ten minutes later they collapsed on the sofa, breathless with exertion and laughter. He looked over at her, his eyes shining, and said, “I’m glad you were my first.”
She smiled softly, and kissed him. “Me too.”
A few weeks later he moved into her flat. It made sense; after all he spent most of his time there anyway, and once they’d had sex there didn’t seem to be any point in his living somewhere else.
Despite the aliens, their life was fairly ordinary. They’d shop at Tesco’s, where she’d have to keep him from buying all the bananas they had in stock, go out for a drink with the Torchwood team and lie in on the weekends.
“Domestic,” he’d said one day.
“Hmm?” Rose looked up from her book, to see him looking around, at the flat, at her, in something like wonder.
“This is all so domestic. He never thought he could do domestic. Thought it’d bore him to death.”
Something cold slid into her stomach. “And what about you? Are you bored?”
“No, of course not! Actually, the only reason he thought that was sour grapes; he knew he could never have it, so he convinced himself he didn’t want it.”
“Are you sure? I mean, you’ve been everywhere. It must be a bit of a let-down to be stuck on Earth.”
He sat down next to her. “It did take some getting used to, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, not a TARDIS, not the whole of time and space, nothing. You’re all the adventure I need.”
“You know, from anyone else, that’d sound like a line.”
He grinned at her. “But?”
“But coming from you I believe it.”
“You should believe it. It’s true.”
When the date they’d picked for the Doctor’s birthday came around, Rose decided to throw him a surprise party. They’d have it at Pete’s house, since it was bigger, and there was less chance of being discovered. Jackie made a cake, and Ianto made the refreshments. She, Gwen and Tosh put up the decorations.
The eighteenth was a Saturday, and when everything was ready Rose phoned him.
“Rose, how are you?”
“Doctor, could you get over to my mum’s place right away?”
Immediately concern filled his voice. “Why, what’s wrong?”
“I dunno…it’s just…it’s really weird, I’ve never seen anything like it before?”
“Are your family all right?”
“They’re fine. I’ll phone the rest of the team, just…can you come?”
“On my way.”
Ten minutes later there was a knock at the door. Rose motioned everyone to hide. She’d explained the concept of a surprise party to Tony, and the four-year-old was excited.
She opened the door, and the Doctor looked over her shoulder anxiously. “What’s going on? Where is it?”
“In here,” she led him into the living room.
He only had a second to register the streamers and balloons, and the pile of presents on the table, and say, “What?” before Jackie, Pete, Tony and the Torchwood team jumped out and yelled “Surprise!”
“What?” He looked at her, confused. “I thought you said there was something you’d never seen before.”
“Well I never had seen a surprise party for a Time Lord clone before!” she told him.
“A surprise party, silly. Honestly, for someone who’s supposed to be super-smart you can be really thick sometimes.”
He looked offended, and she laughed. “Happy birthday,” she said, and leaned over and kissed him.
Half an hour later, most of the food was gone. Everyone had complimented Ianto’s cooking, and he’d brushed it off with a modest “It was nothing,” but the Doctor had corrected him.
“This is the most brilliant ‘nothing’ I’ve ever tasted, particularly the potato cakes, and that’s saying something.”
Ianto had blushed and mumbled something, and the Doctor had just rolled his eyes. “Some blokes don’t know how to take a compliment.”
“Oh, leave him alone,” Tosh had protested.
“I hope you’re not too full,” Rose said. “After all, there’s still the birthday cake to go.”
“Yeah,” Jackie said. “I made that.”
The Doctor grimaced. “Good thing Owen’s a doctor.”
“Oi!” Jackie protested as Owen snickered and Rose punched him. “Ow!”
He’d looked put-upon, but subsided.
They’d brought out the cake (banana, of course), and lit the candles. “I’m supposed to blow them out, yeah?”
“Yeah, but we have to sing first.”
After they’d sung, Rose told him to make a wish.
“Don’t need to. I have everything I want.” But he’d got all the candles on the first try, and they’d clapped. Pete cut the cake, and gave him the first slice.
When he took a bite, his eyes widened. “I take back that comment I made earlier, this is fantastic!” Jackie looked pleased.
After the cake, he’d opened presents, his face lit with an unholy glee. The first present he opened had been a homemade blue and green scarf from Jackie. He put it on immediately. “You’re revealing a whole plethora of hidden talents today, Jackie.”
“Yeah, well, don’t get used to it,” she muttered, and he grinned.
Tony walked over to him. “Happy berfday,” he said, and handed him a piece of paper.
The Doctor looked at it gravely. “Thank you, Tony. Obviously the birth of a nebula, yeah?”
Tony thought a moment, then grinned and nodded.
“Keep an eye on this one, Jackie. He’s got talent.”
Then he opened Pete’s present, just an envelope. He’d copped out and bought him a gift card to Harrod’s but the Doctor thanked him enthusiastically anyway.
Jake handed him the next-to-last present, which was small and thin. “This is from Torchwood.”
Rose had been told about this, but the Doctor’s incredulous grin made it clear this was the last thing he’d expected. He lifted the sonic screwdriver out of the wrapping, and beamed at them. “This is beyond brilliant! Thank you!” He turned it on and took a scan of the room.
“It’s just a prototype,” Jake said. “You’ll probably have to adjust it some, but it should work alright.”
“And you’re giving this to me?”
“Who else should have it?” Roberta asked.
“Thank you,” he said again. “All of you.” His look widened to include Ianto, Gwen, Owen and Tosh. “I’m assuming you had a lot to do with this?” he asked Tosh.
“A bit, yeah,” she’d confessed.
“This is some really advanced circuitry. You did a great job.”
She smiled and shook her head.
Finally Rose gave him her present. He unwrapped the DVD case and read it “Star Trek: The Original Series - Series One Remastered Edition.”
“Should fix some of the cheesier special effects,” she told him.
“Fantastic! Thank you!” He looked at the rest of them. “All of you. This was wonderful.”
“You’re worth it,” Rose told him.
On the evening of July fifth, the Doctor sat in the living room looking at her for a long time. “What?”
“Do you know what day it is?” he asked softly.
She smiled. “July fifth.”
He nodded. “Our anniversary, if you like.”
She smiled, thinking back to a year ago, when she’d first met him. She’d come a long way since then; they both had. “I suppose it is.”
He suddenly sprang up. “Put on something nice, I’m taking you out.”
“Go on, go on!”
A bit bemused at what seemed like another of his wild impulses, Rose did as she was told.
When she came out, wearing a slinky blue dress and white flats, complemented with a blue clutch, faux diamond earrings and a silver necklace, he gaped at her for a moment. She giggled. “Oi! Put your eyes back in!”
He coughed, and pulled himself together. He had changed into a tux, but she was amused to see that he was still wearing his trainers. “Come on, let’s go,”
She followed him out to the car park, and they got in the car. “Where are we going?”
He gave her a mysterious smile. “You’ll see.”
They drove for awhile, then he turned off Greville Street , into Bleeding Heart Yard.
“The Bleeding Heart Restaurant? But it’s so expensive!”
“Relax, my treat. Besides, it’s a special occasion.”
The maitre d’ looked down his nose at the Doctor’s trainers, but seated them in the Terrace Room. The Doctor calmly ordered champagne, as though he ate in fancy restaurants all the time.
“What are you having?” he asked awhile later. “I’m having the Barbary Duck.”
She stared at the menu, bewildered. “I dunno.”
“Mind if I order for you?”
She raised her hands in agreement.
The maitre d’ was back. The Doctor rubbed his hands together. “Right, one Magret de Canard Rôti, Endives Caramélisées au Citron, Purée Vanillé et Sauce Bigarade and one Tranche de Cabillaud Rôtie , Gratin de Champignons sauvages et Pommes de terre rosti.”
“Very good, sir,” he replied, and left, while Rose was still gaping at the Doctor’s flawless French accent. Evidently he’d picked up some other languages in his lifetime, despite the TARDIS’ translation field.
“What did you order me?” she asked him.
“Roast Tranche of Cod with a Potato Rosti and Wild Mushroom Gratin,” he replied promptly.
They sat in silence until the food came, and then were busy eating. Rose wondered what had brought this on. It had seemed like a whim, but she realized now he must have been planning this. She was lucky to have someone so considerate.
When they’d finished eating, he asked, “Dessert?”
“Why not?” She looked at the dessert menu. “I think I’ll get the chocolate assortment.”
He nodded. “I’m having the Cigar of Praline Cream.”
She glanced again at the menu. “With mango and banana sorbet. Why am I not surprised?”
He looked innocent. “Why not? Bananas are good!”
She rolled her eyes at him, as he placed the order.
While they were waiting, she looked at him, until he began to fidget. “What? Do I have something on my face?”
“Just thinking how lucky I am, is all,” she replied.
He beamed at her. “Me too,” and took her hand.
They finished dessert, and the maitre d cleared away the plates. Rose got up to leave, but stopped at his hand on her wrist. “One last thing.”
Curious, she sat back down, as he stood up, walked around the table to stand in front of her, and took a deep breath. He fumbled something she couldn’t see out of his suit jacket, and got down on one knee.
Rose’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. He spoke. “I’m afraid I’m going to make a shambles of this, but this past year has been the happiest of my life…” he paused. “Well, you know what I mean. Being with you…I wanted to do the thing properly.” He looked at her. “Rose Tyler, will you be my companion for the rest of our lives?”
She laughed, tears streaming down her face. “Oh, yes!”
He carefully slipped the ring on her finger, and she pulled him up for a kiss.