“I remember everything.” The Doctor stares at Rose, unwilling to leave this bloody beach before she knows and understands who he really is. “Everything, Rose. Same memories, remember?” He pauses. “Well, same memories up to the point I siphoned off my regeneration energy into my handy spare hand.” He wiggles his fingers at Rose.
Rose sighs, shuddering slightly from the cold, and finally meets his gaze. His single heart clenches at the streaks of tears trailing down her cheeks, but he waits patiently for her to respond. “Sometimes I forget you’re an alien. A proper alien.”
“What?” He’s a bit flummoxed at her unexpected statement.
She takes a few steps closer to his side and hesitantly places her hand against his chest, over his heart, mirroring her earlier action. “‘S just… I forget how alien you really are. How you can change your face and walk away from death a different man... but still the same man.” He nods at her statement, and after several moments, she continues. “I remember something you said, once. At Deffry Vale. You said ‘it’s the curse of the Time Lords,’ living on alone– How you couldn’t live the rest of your life with me.”
Swallowing heavily at the memory, when he’d almost said too much (and everything), the Doctor nods again, unsure of the meaning behind her words.
Rose’s eyes flick back to his, and she chews on her bottom lip. “You’ve always wanted this, haven’t you? One life to live. A mortal life.”
“With you, yes, especially in this body.” His answer is immediate, the words slipping out of his mouth before he knows it. “I’ve always been fascinated with humans and the way you live your wonderfully brief lives, but I never really wanted it until you came into my life. I never had a reason to want it.”
Rose studies him intently, and he struggles to maintain his neutral stance, struggles to avoid defaulting to his nervous tics. Her eyes search his for several long moments, looking for something he may never understand, until she nods.
“You’re the Doctor,” she says, “and because you’re the Doctor, I love you. But the Doctor’s also in the other universe, and I love him, too, even though you… he… left me. Again. I don’t know how…” Her voice cracks. “I don’t know how I can love both of you when only one of you is here.”
The Doctor’s heart breaks, understanding the conflict in Rose’s heart. “Rose, before I say anything else, you have to know one thing. I will never leave you. I’m not held back by the same ‘curse of the Time Lords’ my other self is. I have one life to live, and I’d love to spend it with you, if you’ll let me. One life, one heart. Yours.” He gently cups Rose’s cheek in his hand. “I know you’ll always love him, and even if it makes me jealous, I don’t want you to stop.”
To his relief, Rose smiles, and despite the sad edge to it, the sight makes him lighter. She covers his hand with hers and nuzzles her cheek further into his hand. “I’m gonna need a little time, yeah? I know you’re the Doctor, I know it. I do. But you – another you – just left me again after I worked so hard to get back, and that’s… It hurts. It hurts so much, Doctor.”
“I know,” he says and pulls Rose tight against him. Against her ear, he whispers, “And lucky for you, I think I have some time to wait.” She nods into his chest and wraps her arms around him, and for several minutes, they stand on the beach and linger in the other’s embrace.
After a few minutes, he gently nudges Rose away, takes her hand, and leads her toward where Jackie waits.
They’ll be alright, he thinks.